What if I told you there’s a better way to make oatmeal? Forget the instructions on the back of the bag. It’s about time I highlighted my go-to method for homemade oatmeal.
This oatmeal is extra flavorful and fluffy, not mushy. It’s miles better than packets of instant oatmeal or standard stovetop oatmeal. I really look forward to these oats in the morning, and they make great leftovers.
The trick is to toast old-fashioned oats in the pot first, before adding any liquid. This brings out their inherent nuttiness. You’ll find the rest of the details below, but it’s very simple to do and absolutely worth the extra few minutes.
You’ve heard me talk about what a difference toasting oats makes in my steel-cut oat recipe and toasted muesli recipe. Now we’re applying the same principle to rolled oats. Try this delicious and healthy oatmeal for breakfast!
Watch How to Make Oatmeal
How to Make Oatmeal
This basic oatmeal recipe yields extraordinary results. It’s quick, too!
You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s the gist:
- Melt butter or coconut oil in a saucepan. Technically, you can toast the oats in a dry skillet, but a little butter or coconut oil makes the final result taste even nicer.
- Add old-fashioned oats and cook, while stirring, until they smell wonderfully toasty. Old-fashioned oats, otherwise known as rolled oats, are key here. Quick-cooking oats turn to mush, and steel-cut oats require much longer on the stove.
- Pour in milk and water, plus some cinnamon and salt. Use your milk of choice (non-dairy milks work just as well), or replace it with an equal amount of water for simplicity’s sake. The cinnamon is optional but adds complementary flavor. Salt simply enhances all of the other flavors—oatmeal without salt will taste bland, and oatmeal needn’t be bland.
- Stir and cook for several minutes, then turn off the heat (yes, turn off the heat!), cover, and let the mixture rest for 7 minutes. During that time, it will magically transform into the best oatmeal you’ve ever had!
Favorite Oatmeal Toppings
- Fruit: Sliced ripe banana, fresh or defrosted berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), or fresh pomegranate
- Chia jam or fruit compote
- Drizzle of maple syrup or honey
- Pat of butter or drizzle of heavy cream
- Sprinkle of whole chia seeds, flax seeds or ground flaxseed
- Pinch of warming spices, such as extra cinnamon, ground ginger or pumpkin spice
- Greek yogurt
- Nut butter, such as peanut butter, almond butter or pecan butter
To feel full longer, add a generous dollop of nut butter or Greek yogurt to your oatmeal. They both offer some delicious creaminess in addition to healthy protein and fat.
Old-fashioned oats are a heart-healthy whole grain offering a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to my nutrition breakdown, which you can view in full underneath the recipe, one serving of this oatmeal offers a good source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and thiamin (vitamin B1).
Oats also contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that offers a range of benefits. Beta-glucan fiber is known to reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels, encourage the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract, and reduce blood sugar and insulin response. Beta-glucan is why you feel so full after eating a bowl of oatmeal. Read more about the health benefits of oats here.
More Wholesome Oat Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this oatmeal, be sure to try these recipes throughout the seasons:
- Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal
- Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
- Cherry Pecan Muesli
- Homemade Bircher Muesli
- Overnight Oats (Recipe & Tips)
Please let me know how you like this oatmeal in the comments. I love hearing from you.
How to Make the Best Oatmeal
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 18 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: N/A
- Diet: Gluten Free
The trick to making the best oatmeal? Toast it in the pot first. This oatmeal is flavorful, fluffy and truly delicious! Recipe yields 4 bowls of oatmeal and leftovers keep well for about 4 days.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ cup milk of choice or additional water
- Generous pinch of fine salt
- Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
- Melt the butter in a medium-to-large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the oats and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats smell toasty and some are starting to turn lightly golden, about 4 to 6 minutes.
- Pour the water and milk into the pot, being careful to avoid splatters. Add the salt and cinnamon, if desired. Stir to evenly incorporate the oats, then watch the pot until the mixture is bubbling rapidly around the edges. Continue cooking until the bubbles expand a couple of inches toward the center of the pot, about 3 minutes in total.
- Cover the pot and turn off the heat. If using an electric cooktop, move the pot to a cool burner. If using a gas cooktop, leave it be. Either way, let the covered pot rest for 7 minutes.
- When the timer’s up, remove the lid to check on the oats. The oats are done when they appear slightly dry and separated on top, with very little moisture remaining at the bottom of the pot. If it’s still too wet, recover the pot and let it rest for 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve as desired.
- Leftover oatmeal will keep for about 4 days. Let the oats cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.
Recipe adapted from Megan Gordan’s cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings, also featured in my recipe for Toasted Oatmeal with Strawberry Chia Jam and Coconut Whipped Cream.
Change it up: This recipe is very flexible. You can reduce or omit the butter, if desired (just toast the oats in the dry pot). Use all water and no milk, if you prefer. Omit the cinnamon or play with your own spices, to taste. Pumpkin pie spice blend would be nice, or ground ginger.
Make it gluten free: Be sure to buy certified gluten-free oats.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Use coconut oil or vegan butter (or omit and toast the oats in a dry pot). Choose a dairy-free milk or use water instead.
Sounds amazing! Thoughts on whether the toasty goodness would shine through if you roasted (step 1) but then proceeded to prep as overnight oats?
Let me know if you try it! I haven’t, but I do enjoy the toasted oat flavor.
I never leave comments, but I felt the need to leave one here. I’ve never been a big oatmeal fan because of how mushy it usually is, but this is so good. I ate the whole bowl! We’ll be making this regularly from now on. Thank you!
I’m so glad you did, Jordan! I appreciate you taking the time to review.
You are my hero. I have heretofore only been able to eat baked oatmeal because I didn’t know you could achieve this texture on the stovetop. Life-changing. Thank you!
Also– I’d love to try to achieve the same sort of fluffy chewy goodness with steel cut oats. Have you ever attempted it?
We loved these and we don’t usually eat oatmeal! I added honey to my 11 year old son’s oatmeal and fruit to mine! We found these so yummy!
This looks amazing! Do you think this would work with coconut oil spray!? I just don’t have any coconut oil in the house right now and want to make tomorrow morning!
I am not a fan of oatmeal but really liked this! I added mashed banana while cooking and a dollop of peanut butter right before eating. YUM! What recommendations do you have for reheating leftovers the next day?
I’ve never made one of your recipes that I haven’t loved. This one I will be using throughout the fall and winter months. Thanks so much!!
My husband said it was the best oatmeal he had ever eaten and I thought so too! I will never make it any other way!
Hooray! I love to hear that, Carolyn. I appreciate your review.
Question from a non-cook – what is the value in using unsalted butter if you add salt? Seems like you could save a step. How does it impact the process? I always just use the salted butter, but am probably missing something.
Salted butter is fine to use, but with unsalted butter, you can control the amount of salt you’re adding. Some recipes require precision (such as baking where you may need the right amount of salt to make the baking powder work) or will vary a lot based on taste. I only buy unsalted since it’ll work with every recipe.
I love everything about this. It makes the taste and texture everything you want oatmeal to be.
I’m glad you agree, Maria! I appreciate your review.
I made the Oatmeal, it’s my new standard for now. I am searching for ways to flavor it without adding too many calories. Maybe a little chopped chicken breast with savory seasonings? One T of cinnamon gets lost in the flavor of the oatmeal, it seems to me. I’ve tried 2 pan poached eggs over the top, because I love the flavor of the yolks.
Maybe make it a little looser (I like stiff oatmeal, I like to chew it), then add berries or fruit??
Maybe cook a banana right in with it? The banana would prob liquify…but I don’t know how much flavor. Add vanilla?
Savory Steel Cut Oatmeal. is a good option! Or my Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal may provide some inspiration.
This is my OTHER Favorite Cookie and Kate recipe. This and your wonderful Butternut Squash Soup are to die for! I’m never going back to “the old way”. Thank you, Kate.
I’m excited you loved it, Linda!
Prior to this recipe I hated oatmeal, I like this much better because not slimy mushy oats. Will experiment with my own twists. Thank you, I can now say I’d eat oatmeal this way only, which I know is healthy for my heart.
Made it this morning, took my oatmeal to the next level!
I added a little local honey, chia, flax seeds and berries.
Hooray! Thank you for sharing, Dolores.
I really liked the toasted oats! Elevated my oatmeal. And it’s especially good when your oats are getting older and losing flavor. Toasting them seems to bring back much of the flavor. I liked them with some coconut flakes, cinnamon and a few mini chocolate chips.
Thank you for your review, Laurel!
This was a nice improvement from our usual morning oatmeal in the microwave. It had nice texture and great flavor – kind of like a bread or rice pudding. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Diane! I appreciate your review.
This is the only way I will make oatmeal from now on! I went from hating oatmeal because of the mushy texture to having it twice this week after trying this recipe. I love toppings so added in peanut butter, extra cinnamon, ground flaxseed, blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup – perfection.
This is a game changer for me! I’ve always liked hot oatmeal but now I love it! This is so delicious.
I’m excited you loved it, Elizabeth! I appreciate your review.
Great recipe! I’ve avoided oatmeal as I didn’t like the mushy texture but this was great. I added almond milk with water, almond butter and then topped with a little bit of almond flakes and blueberries. Thank you for sharing this.
You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing how you made this, Padma.
This came out amazing! I will say it took forever for the liquid to reduce and I had to keep heating it up but I think I was using too low a heat. I added apples and cinnamon and brown sugar. I added the cinnamon to the butter first to toast the aromatics like you would a curry or something! Not sure it made a difference but I felt like a chef.
I had no idea oatmeal could be so delicious! Thanks for the recipe, I will be making it this way from now on (when I have the time).
Bobette M Gustafson
THANK YOU, THANK YOU – for taking the time to create the BEST oatmeal cooking method! My husband and I are trying to eat in a more healthy way and oatmeal is a part of that. But my husband has just hated everything I have tried – until THIS!!! The toasting of the oats is obviously the key – and letting it finish its cooking in the covered saucepan is perfect. I added some chia seeds; chopped some honey crisp apples; mixed some almond butter with a tiny bit of honey and drizzled it over the top along with a splash of almond milk. My husband said – “OK! I’ll eat this anytime you make it.” Coming from him – that HUGE!… and as close as he gets to saying “I LOVED IT!”
Again – thanks for this recipe and ALL that you develop/post. You are my go-to source.
You’re welcome, Bobette! I’m glad you all enjoy it.
This recipe is absolutely delicious! My family requests it several times a week! It is our go to recipe.
I love to hear that, Sarah! I appreciate your review.