There’s something incredibly comforting about starting your day with a bowl of warm oatmeal. It’s filling, delicious, affordable, and easy to customize based on your taste preferences.
There are so many types of oatmeal on the market that it can be confusing to know which one to choose.
The different styles of oatmeal come down to how the oat itself is processed and goes from the least processed oat groat, which only has the husk removed, right down to instant oatmeal and everything in between.
You can’t really go wrong in terms of nutrition, since they are all packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. In terms of calories, they range from about 140-180 calories per 40-gram serving, which is about 1/4 cup dried oatmeal.
Depending on your preference you might enjoy the nutty, chewy flavor of steel-cut oats or perhaps you prefer the creaminess of Scottish oatmeal.
Regardless of your preference, there is sure to be a type of oatmeal that suits your taste buds and the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen.
Read on to discover the different types of oatmeal, their nutritional breakdowns, and the best way to prepare them for a perfectly cozy and filling breakfast to start your day.
Whole Oat Groats
As we work through this list we are going to look at different oatmeals starting from the least processed to the most processed. At the top of our list are whole oat groats.
These have basically been picked and dried, and not much else has been done to them otherwise other than being husked to remove the outer shell.
The outer shell of the oat grain is inedible, so it is always removed, regardless of the type of oatmeal you enjoy.
Otherwise, they are basically a complete whole grain, and so they contain the most fiber and nutrition of any oatmeal on this list.
However, this does come at a cost since they also take the most time to prepare since you have to do all the processing in your kitchen.
Per 45 grams of dry oat groats, you get a whopping 5 grams of dietary fiber and 6 grams of protein, which makes them an awesome choice for breakfast.
They also contain vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber to help with digestion. They clock in at about 180 calories per 1/4 cup dry groats.
What Do Oat Groats Taste Like?
Oat groats have a delicious nutty and slightly sweet flavor, and they have a chewy, firm texture, which is miles away from some softer, mushier oatmeals on this list.
Oat groats are great for folks who like a little more chew and texture to their morning oatmeal and a richer, deeper flavor.
They complement soft fruits and delicious toppings really well and since they soak up a lot of liquid as they cook, there is a lot of opportunity to infuse them with flavor.
How To Prepare Whole Oat Groats
To prepare the best oat groats follow these instructions. You might want to soak your oat groats overnight to reduce the cooking time.
- Soak 1 cup of oat groats overnight. Add them to a large bowl and cover with water.
- The next morning, rinse your oat groats and add to a pot with 3 cups of water, milk, dairy alternatives, or a combination. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt.
- Bring your water and oats to a boil and stir. Loosely cover the pot with a lid so that some steam can escape and let them simmer for about 25 minutes. Give them the occasional stir.
- After 25 minutes have passed, fully cover the pot, turn the stove off, and let them steam for 10 minutes with the lid on.
- Once steamed, add your toppings such as maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut, nuts, seeds, apple, banana, cream, yogurt, or anything else that you like.
Steel-Cut or Irish Oats
Steel-cut or Irish oats are next on the list since they are basically oat groats that have been cut 2-3 times to make them slightly smaller than the whole groat. They also have the husk removed, but otherwise are intact.
They have the same nutritional profile as oat groats, so they make a great choice for folks who want the nutrition of groats, without the lengthy cooking time.
They do have a slightly lower calorie count than oat groats, coming in at 150 calories per 40 grams of dried oats.
What Do Steel-Cut Oats Taste Like?
Steel-cut oats taste pretty much the exact same as oat groats. They have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is rich and delicious.
They are also a little chewy and slightly firm, even when cooked, but not quite as much as the oat groats. Steel-cut oats are a perfect choice for a hearty breakfast.
How To Prepare Steel-Cut or Irish Oats
Unlike oat groats, you don’t need to soak steel-cut oats overnight. If you want to toast them, it adds a delicious flavor.
- Heat a frying pan over medium and once warmed add 1 cup of your steel cut oats.
- Toast your oats for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant and slightly browned. Pour into a bowl and set aside. You can skip these first two steps if you want.
- Place a medium saucepan on the stove and add 2 cups of water and 1.5 cups of coconut milk, milk, or non-dairy alternative. Turn to medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.
- Add the steel-cut oats and 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to simmer and let the oats cook, partially covered, for about 20 minutes.
- Cook until oats are your preferred texture. Some people like them chewier while others prefer a creamier oatmeal. You can add more liquid if you want it more porridge-like.
- Add your favorite toppings to the pot (maple syrup, brown sugar, yogurt, fruit, nuts, seeds, berries) and stir together. Turn off the heat and enjoy.
I love Scottish oats because, unlike whole oat groats or steel-cut oats, these are ground, which gives you a completely different oatmeal experience.
The grinding isn’t as fine as flour, but it is much smaller than flaked or cut oats, which makes them unique.
They have slightly less fiber and protein than the whole oat groats and steel-cut, coming in at about 4.2 grams of fiber per 50 grams of oats and 5.2 grams of protein.
They still contain soluble fiber that’s great for digestion, plus tons of vitamins and minerals. Per 1/4 cup dry oats you’re getting about 140 calories.
Depending on your texture preference, these might be the perfect choice for you.
What Do Scottish Oats Taste Like?
These oats have a great nutty flavor that isn’t quite as intense as the oat groats or steel-cut oats.
Once cooked it is creamier and more like a porridge than traditional oatmeal, but it’s so good! If you haven’t tried these oats, I highly recommend picking some up.
How To Prepare Scottish Oats
No need to soak these oats. They cook quickly since they are ground.
- Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to boil on the stovetop. For creamier oats, you can use milk or a non-dairy alternative instead or a combination of water and milk.
- Once boiling, stir in one cup of the Scottish oats and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the stove and add some butter, brown sugar, and any other toppings you enjoy. I like combining crunchy nuts and seeds with the creamy texture of Scottish oats.
If you like apple in your oatmeal, try cutting up one apple and cooking it with your oats and a little cinnamon so it’s soft and creamy.
Rolled or Old-Fashioned Oats
Rolled oats might be the most common type of oatmeal on this list and the easiest to find at the grocery store.
To prepare rolled oats, the groats are steamed and then rolled flat using large disks or drums. This process breaks the oat groat apart so it absorbs water easier and cooks quicker.
These oats also have less fiber and protein than steel-cut or oat groats, but are pretty close in terms of the Scottish oats.
Per 40 gram serving of rolled oats you are going to get about 4 grams of fiber (half soluble and half insoluble) and 5 grams of protein, so it’s pretty close.
You will still get plenty of vitamins and minerals in your rolled oats, so it comes down to a texture and taste preference.
What Do Rolled Oats Taste Like?
Thanks to the processing of these oats, they have a milder flavor than oat groats and steel-cut oats. They are also creamier and softer in texture and tend to cook a lot quicker than some of the less processed varieties of oatmeal.
If you like a softer oatmeal, but don’t want the completely ground texture of Scottish oatmeal, then rolled oats might be the perfect choice for your breakfast.
How To Prepare Rolled Oats
Rolled oats are going to cook up quickly for a delicious and creamy oatmeal.
- Bring 1 cup of water, 1 cup of milk (or non-dairy alternative), and 1/2 a teaspoon salt to a gentle boil on the stovetop.
- Stir in 1 cup of rolled oats and reduce to simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for about 3 minutes.
- Add your favorite toppings and flavors to the pot such as brown sugar, banana, cinnamon, maple syrup, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, berries, or anything else you like. Enjoy!
When comparing quick oats to old-fashioned oats, they are quite similar. Both are steamed and rolled flat.
The only difference is that quick oats are generally rolled flatter and are partially cooked by steaming so that once they get to your kitchen, they cook super fast.
Quick oats have the same nutrient profile as your rolled oats clocking in about 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per 40-gram serving.
There are 150 calories per 40 grams of dried quick oats. The benefit here is that they cook a lot faster than your rolled oats, clocking in at about 1 minute.
What Do Quick Oats Taste Like?
Quick oats taste similar to rolled oats. They have a mellower flavor than the oat groats or steel-cut oats and the texture is soft and creamy once cooked.
There isn’t generally much chewiness once they have been cooked. If you want creamier oatmeal, just add more cooking liquid.
How To Prepare Quick Oats
The cooking process for quick oats is super simple and super fast.
- Bring 2 cups of water or a combination of water and milk (or non-dairy alternative) plus 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil on the stove.
- Stir in 1 cup of quick oats and cook for about a minute, stirring continuously.
- Remove the oats from the stove and add in any delicious toppings you enjoy. I like to add some yogurt, maple syrup, cinnamon, and banana for a creamy and decadent start to the day. Feel free to get creative and use the nuts, seeds, fruits, and sweeteners you like best.
Finally, we come to the most processed, but quickest to cook, oatmeal on the list: instant oats.
This variety of oatmeal has been precooked, dried, and then rolled thinner than both old-fashioned and quick oats so that they cook immediately.
Like the other varieties of oats on this list, you are still getting about 4 grams of fiber per 40-gram serving and around 6 grams of protein, which nudges it ahead of a few other styles on this list. There are about 150 calories per 40 grams.
You’ll also still get all the great vitamins and minerals found in a classic bowl of oats, though there may not be quite as much as you would get in a bowl of whole oat groats.
What Do Instant Oats Taste Like?
When it comes to instant oatmeal, you are often trading off time for a bit of quality.
Often they can cook up quite mushy, which might be a bonus for some folks depending on preference. They don’t generally have as strong of a nutty oat flavor as some other varieties of oatmeal.
The benefit is that they cook immediately when you add water, so they are perfect for folks who are on the go.
And if you like to add different flavors and toppings, it often doesn’t make much of a difference what the texture of the oats is actually like.
How To Prepare Instant Oats
The beauty of instant oats is that all you have to do is stir your heated milk or water into the oats and let it sit for a couple of minutes and voila! Breakfast is served.
- Per 1/3 cup of instant oats heat 2/3 cups of water or milk (or non-dairy alternative) to a boil.
- Add the oats to a bowl and pour the boiled liquid over the oats. Give them a stir and then let them sit for 2 minutes.
- Top your instant oats with nuts, seeds, berries, apples, bananas, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, yogurt, or cream and enjoy.
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