How to Make Oatmeal

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Here’s an all-inclusive guide, How to Make Oatmeal, with four of the best oatmeal recipes ever. I’m sharing my go-to base oatmeal recipe plus three variations: Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal, Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal, and Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal.

We love oats and eat them often at my home! Whether it’s one of these recipes below or a batch of overnight oats, they make regular appearances for breakfast. Heck, we’ll even eat oatmeal cookies every once in a while for breakfast.

Oatmeal makes a hearty and filling breakfast that will give your body energy and important nutrients. And while it’s a great nutritious meal, it shouldn’t be something you have to gag down! These recipes make for flavor-packed, creamy, and luscious oatmeal.

Overhead image of four bowls of oatmeal that are in this comprehensive post,How to Make Oatmeal.

Say goodbye to oatmeal packets and start making your own oats in the comfort of your home. These oatmeal recipes are not only easy, they’re truly delicious. You will be craving oatmeal every single morning! Plus, when you ditch the packets, you can make your bowl of oats exactly how you’d like them.

There is nothing I dislike more than a bowl of dry oats and with these recipes, you’ll find they’re extremely creamy! There’s a higher liquid-to-oat-ratio than most recipes and this is deliberate. While the oats absorb a lot of the liquid (and more as they sit), they are meant to be creamy. 

What oats to use

There are three types of oats and the difference between the varieties is how much the original ‘groat’ has been processed.  Groats are the hulled kernels of grain, and are the most unprocessed version of the whole grain. The more the grain is processed, the more it affects the taste, texture, and cooking times.

  • Quick oats: These are the most processed of the three oat types. They’re partially cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed thinner than old fashioned oats. Quick oats have more of a mushy texture and retain less of their shape when cooked.
  • Steel cut oats: These oats are the closest to their original form. The whole groat is cut into several pieces with a steel blade and that creates steel cut oats. These oats takes the longest to cook and have a nuttier flavor and chewier texture.
  • Old fashioned oats (also called rolled oats): These oats are first steamed to make them soft and then rolled to flatten them. This processing helps them cook faster. Rolled oats retain their shape when cooked.

For these recipes we use old fashioned (rolled) oats. They cook quicker than steel cut and have a wonderfully creamy texture in these recipes.

Image of the base oatmeal recipe with fresh berries and pecans in it.

Four oatmeal recipes

Today I’m sharing my top four ways of making oatmeal: My go-to base recipe and three variations which I’ll describe below.

  • Base recipe: This base recipe is my favorite basic oatmeal; it’s a great canvas to add whatever you’d like to top it off. The rest of these recipes begin with the base recipe and then have specific flavor add-ons.
  • Peanut butter banana: If you have overripe bananas, here’s where to use them! We also add peanut butter– just a little, and feel free to amp up the amount as desired. The mashed banana adds a lot of sweetness so this version is especially popular with my kids.
  • Brown sugar and maple: This version adds a little bit of brown sugar to the mix and we love topping these oats with nuts.
  • Strawberries and cream: This version adds fresh (or frozen) diced strawberries and a little extra cream or milk. If you have coffee creamer on hand, we love adding a drizzle of it on top.

Ingredients

While oatmeal can be made with just oats and water, I’m all about truly delicious oatmeal that you’ll actually be craving the next day. So, here are a few more ingredient options, but they’re all pantry staples that don’t take much effort or time to add.

  • Old fashioned oats: These oats will retain their shape, yet become deliciously creamy in the mix. They also continue to absorb liquid as they sit.
  • Vanilla almond milk: This is my favorite milk to use in oatmeal. It adds more flavor than water without adding a lot of extra calories (especially if you get 30-calorie almond milk). It also gives the oatmeal a delicious flavor and creamier texture.
  • Coconut oil: I like adding a little coconut oil for health benefits and overall flavor; it adds a very nice subtle flavor to the oatmeal.
  • Maple syrup: This natural, antioxidant packed sweetener adds sweetness and flavor to the oatmeal. I always start by adding 1 tablespoon and may increase up to 2 tablespoons, depending on desired sweetness or whatever else is added in.
  • Salt: This ingredient balances and intensifies all the flavors.
  • Flavor enhancers: I love adding vanilla extract and ground cinnamon to my base recipe, but either can be left out (or increased).

How to make the best oatmeal 

I highly recommend the stove top for making oatmeal. It creates a luxuriously creamy and soft batch of oats. 

  1. Start by adding oats and milk to a small pot and bring to a boil. 
  2. Let boil for 30 seconds and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes (until thickened), stirring occasionally. A silicone spatula is a great tool to use here. It’s heat proof and cleans up easily.
  3. Once it’s thickened (all the liquid won’t be absorbed; it will continue to thicken and absorb more liquid), remove from heat.
  4. Add in all the other ingredients (coconut oil, maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract, and cinnamon) and stir.
  5. Serve immediately.

Overhead image of the maple brown sugar bowl of oatmeal.

Microwave cooking instructions

When using the microwave, I prefer using quick oats. The result is more soft (without defined oats), yet very creamy and tasty. Here’s my recipe for making oats in the microwave.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons additional milk or coffee creamer
  • Optional add ins: Chia seeds, crushed or chopped nuts, dried or fresh fruit, coconut flakes

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the quick oats with the milk.
  2. Microwave for 1 and 1/2 minutes.
  3. Remove and stir.
  4. Add in the sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and 2-3 tablespoons coffee creamer.
  5. Top the oatmeal with add-ins of your choice. Our favorites are chia seeds, chopped pistachios or almonds, dried blueberries, and coconut.
  6. Enjoy immediately.

Oatmeal toppings

With the four recipes I’m sharing today, I also recommend some topping ideas in the recipe card. But toppings for oatmeal are truly endless! Use the base recipe and create your favorite bowl of oats using some of the topping ideas below:

  • Yogurt: A scoop of Greek yogurt adds a nice contrasting flavor and texture.
  • Bite-sized pieces of fresh fruit: Bananas, pineapple, kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, etc.–try whatever fresh fruit you like.
  • Small frozen fruit: I prefer fresh, but frozen berries are quite good in oatmeal.
  • A handful (or two) of granola: granola adds a fun contrasting texture.
  • A handful (or two) of nuts: Try sliced or slivered almonds, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, chopped pistachios, chopped cashews, peanuts, etc.
  • Chia seeds: These small, unassuming seeds are packed with good nutrients, are rich in antioxidants, and provide fiber, iron, and calcium. They add a nice textural topping.
  • Dried fruits: Raisins, dried cranberries, currants, dried cherries, chopped dates, etc. are all great on top of oats.
  • Nut butter: Almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter drizzled over oatmeal is delicious.
  • Coconut: Toasted, unsweetened coconut adds a nice texture and flavor.
  • Sweetener: A sprinkle of brown sugar or drizzle of honey, (more) maple syrup, or agave nectar makes a nice topping to a bowl of hot oats.

Overhead image of a bowl of peanut butter and banana breakfast with fresh bananas, sliced almonds, and fresh peanut butter on top.

Oatmeal tips

  • Let the oatmeal stand: While you likely wouldn’t want a bowl of piping hot oats straight off the stove top, it’s important to let the oats stand and cool a bit. As they cool, they continue to thicken and the flavors intensify a bit further.
  • Taste test: Before sitting down to enjoy the oats, make sure to give them a quick taste test and add a little extra if flavors are lacking. An extra pinch of salt or a little extra maple syrup can make all the difference!
  • Cook it to your liking: If you would like more sturdy oats, keep them on the stove top a few extra minutes so they can continue to absorb liquid. Again, these are supposed to be creamy oats, but you can slightly reduce the liquid (1/2 cup less) if you aren’t a fan of creamy oatmeal.

Overhead image of the strawberries and cream oatmeal with fresh strawberries in it.

Use leftover old fashioned oats in these recipes

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How to Make Oatmeal

5 from 5 votes
An all inclusive guide, How to Make Oatmeal, with four of the best oatmeal recipes ever! I'm sharing my go-to base oatmeal recipe plus three variations: banana peanut butter oatmeal, strawberries and cream oatmeal, and maple brown sugar oatmeal.
Print Recipe

How to Make Oatmeal

5 from 5 votes
An all inclusive guide, How to Make Oatmeal, with four of the best oatmeal recipes ever! I'm sharing my go-to base oatmeal recipe plus three variations: banana peanut butter oatmeal, strawberries and cream oatmeal, and maple brown sugar oatmeal.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword how to make oatmeal, oatmeal
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1 -2 servings per recipe
Calories 353kcal
Cost $0.76

Ingredients

Base Oatmeal Recipe

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (up to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
  • Optional toppings: fresh berries, extra drizzle of maple syrup, chia seeds

Peanut Butter Banana

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Optional toppings: additional sliced banana, chia seeds, an extra scoop of nut butter, sliced almonds

Strawberries and Cream

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
  • 2-3 tablespoon additional milk or coffee creamer, optional
  • Optional toppings: additional strawberries, chia seeds

Maple brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional toppings: extra sprinkle of brown sugar, nuts (we like walnuts), chia seeds

Microwave Oats

  • 1/2 cup Quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons additional milk or coffee creamer
  • Optional toppings: chia seeds, crushed or chopped nuts, dried or fresh fruit, coconut flakes

Instructions

  • BASE OATMEAL RECIPE: Add 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and 2 cups almond milk to a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Once it's thickened (the liquid won't be all absorbed), remove pot from the heat; the oatmeal will continue to thicken up a bit as it sits. We do want the oats quite creamy though, so they shouldn't absorb all the liquid. Off the heat, add in the 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup (start with 1, add more as desired, I usually do 1 and 1/2 tablespoons), 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir together until smooth and transfer to a bowl (or 2 bowls). Add any desired toppings of choice and enjoy immediately.
  • PEANUT BUTTER BANANA OATMEAL RECIPE: Add 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and 2 cups almond milk to a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Once it's thickened (the liquid won't be all absorbed), remove pot from the heat; the oatmeal will continue to thicken up a bit as it sits. We do want the oats quite creamy though, so they shouldn't absorb all the liquid. While the oats are cooking, mash about 1/2 of a ripe banana to get 1/4 cup mashed banana. Off the heat, add in the mashed banana, 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Stir together until smooth and transfer to a bowl (or 2 bowls). Add any desired toppings of choice (additional sliced banana, another swirl of peanut butter, chia seeds, sliced almonds, etc.) and enjoy immediately.
  • STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM OATMEAL RECIPE: Add 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and 2 cups almond milk to a small pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Once it's thickened (the liquid won't be all absorbed), remove pot from the heat; the oatmeal will continue to thicken up a bit as it sits. We do want the oats quite creamy though, so they shouldn't absorb all the liquid. While the oats are cooking, dice the strawberries to get 1/2 cup. Off the heat, add in the 1/2 cup diced strawberries, 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup (start with 1, add more as desired), 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir together until smooth and transfer to a bowl (or 2 bowls). Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons coffee creamer or milk on top if desired. Add any desired toppings of choice (additional sliced strawberries, chia seeds, etc.) and enjoy immediately.
  • MAPLE BROWN SUGAR OATMEAL RECIPE: Add 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and 2 cups almond milk to a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Once it's thickened (the liquid won't be all absorbed), remove pot from the heat; the oatmeal will continue to thicken up a bit as it sits. We do want the oats quite creamy though, so they shouldn't absorb all the liquid. Off the heat, add in the 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir together until smooth and transfer to a bowl (or 2 bowls). Add any desired toppings of choice (extra sprinkle of brown sugar, nuts, chia seeds, etc.) and enjoy immediately.
  • MICROWAVE OATS: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the quick oats with the milk. Microwave for 1 and 1/2 minutes. Remove and stir. Add in the sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and 2-3 tablespoons coffee creamer (to texture preference). Top the oatmeal with add-ins of your choice. Our favorites are chia seeds, chopped pistachios or almonds, dried blueberries, and coconut. Enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: These calories are for the base oatmeal recipe

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 8.1g | Fat: 12.5g | Sodium: 374.8mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12.6g

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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh my, never was one for oatmeal (my bad 😉 and used to get my husband the ready-made oatmeal packets in the past. Made the banana peanut butter variation ..to start. It was outstanding! I’m an oatmeal convert!!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my, never was one for oatmeal (my bad;-) and used to get my husband the ready-made packets in the past. Made the banana peanut butter variation and it was outstanding! I’m homemade oatmeal converted!!!

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