We love this oatmeal and enjoy it almost every morning. Below, find all of our best tips for making oatmeal on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Watch the Video
Related: We love this strawberry banana baked oatmeal.
We eat oatmeal for breakfast most mornings. It’s easy, heart-healthy, and filling. Here’s how we make oatmeal. Follow our tips for tasty, perfectly cooked oatmeal at home.
Types of Oatmeal
Old fashioned or rolled oats are what we’ll be working with today. Old fashioned or rolled oats are what we buy the most often. They look like flat, roundish discs. Whole grains of oats are steamed and then pressed until flattened to make them. This light processing speeds up the cooking time since the flattened shape cooks quickly. We use rolled oats in other recipes like granola bars, oatmeal cookies, baked oatmeal, and overnight oats.
Quick oats (also called instant oats) are pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats. Quick oats get their name because they cook faster than the other oat varieties. The short cooking time is a bonus, but they often become mushy after cooking.
Steel-cut oats are whole oat groats cut into small bits (instead of rolled into flat discs like with rolled oats). They take longer to cook than other oat varieties but are delicious. When cooked, steel-cut oats have a creamy, chewy texture. In our house, steel-cut oats are referred to fancy oatmeal. We love them!
How to Make Oatmeal
The best method for cooking oatmeal is our stovetop method. It takes about 10 minutes and is simple. However, we understand that even a few minutes saved in the morning can be a game-changer, so we have also shared our method for cooking oatmeal in the microwave. This method is for rolled oats (also called Old Fashioned oats).
When making oatmeal, you can use water, milk (dairy or non-dairy), or a combination. For our everyday oatmeal, we stick with water, but for an extra creamy bowl of oatmeal, use 50% or all milk.
When cooking rolled oats, the ratio to remember is one part oatmeal to two parts liquid. Here are a few portions to help you out:
- One serving = 1/2 cup rolled oats + 1 cup liquid (water, milk, or a combination)
- Two servings = 1 cup rolled oats + 2 cups liquid (water, milk, or a combination)
- Three servings = 1 ½ cups rolled oats + 3 cups liquid (water, milk, or a combination)
- Four servings = 2 cups rolled oats + 4 cups liquid (water, milk, or a combination)
If you ever find that your oatmeal is too dry, add an extra splash of water or milk, and it will loosen up for you.
Stovetop Method for the Best Oatmeal
Using the stove is my preferred method. To do it:
- Bring the water or milk to a simmer and stir in the oats.
- Turn the heat down until a very low simmer.
- Cook this way until most of the liquid is absorbed and the oats are tender.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid, leave it alone for a minute or two, and then serve.
In general, the cooking time will be five to ten minutes. However, I typically buy extra-thick rolled oats, so my cooking time tends to be closer to ten minutes (maybe a minute or two more).
How to Cook Oatmeal in the Microwave
Using a microwave to cook oatmeal is a quick and easy solution for busy mornings. I’ve never been quite as happy with the texture of my oatmeal after using the microwave compared to the stove, but since this minimizes dishes and cooking time, it’s worth knowing how to do it.
When using the microwave, cook one serving at a time and use a taller-sided bowl so that as the oatmeal bubbles away inside the microwave, it doesn’t overflow.
Combine 1 cup of liquid (water, milk, or a combination) with 1/2 cup of rolled oats in a large tall-sided bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes, and then leave the bowl inside the microwave for another minute or two before serving.
Our Family’s Favorite Oatmeal Recipes and Toppings
You can see the three oatmeal recipes we love most in the photos. We rotate through these during the week.
Oatmeal with Blueberries and Peanut Butter — Here’s Adam’s favorite. After cooking our oatmeal, we pile on fresh or thawed frozen blueberries and add a big dollop of peanut butter. The oats, berries, and nut butter keep us all full until lunchtime.
Oatmeal with Strawberries, Almonds, and Ground Flax — Our son loves strawberries so this is his favorite. For even more sticking power, consider swapping the almonds for a dollop of almond butter.
Oatmeal with Sliced Bananas, Walnuts, and Honey — Here’s my favorite of the three options shown. I love banana nut muffins, and this bowl of oats reminds me of them. If you don’t eat honey, swap it for maple syrup or another sweetener like coconut sugar.
You can stir just about anything you love into cooked oatmeal, but here’s a bit of extra oatmeal inspiration for you:
- Toasted nuts and seeds like walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or roasted pumpkin seeds
- Nut butter like peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter
- Chia seeds, hemp seeds, or ground flax
- Splash of cream or non-dairy milk
- Brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup
- Dried fruit (like cranberries, mulberries, or raisins)
- Fresh fruit like berries, bananas, or apples (try these stovetop cinnamon apples)
- Baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice
- Sautéed spinach or kale and a poached egg or soft boiled egg
Our Best Everyday Oatmeal
We love this oatmeal and enjoy it almost every morning. The best method for cooking oatmeal is our stovetop method. It takes about 10 minutes and is simple. However, we understand that even a few minutes saved in the morning can be a game-changer, so we have also shared our method for cooking oatmeal in the microwave.
You can use water, milk or a combination of the two to make oatmeal. For our everyday oatmeal, we stick with water, but for an extra creamy bowl of oatmeal, use 50% or all milk (dairy or non-dairy milk both work).
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will NeedBasic Oatmeal
1/2 cup rolled oats (also called Old Fashioned oats)
1 cup water, milk (dairy or non-dairy milk), or a combination of water and milk
Pinch saltOptional Toppings
1/4 cup fresh fruit like berries or diced apples
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Honey, maple syrup, or sugar to drizzle or sprinkle on top
- How to Make Oatmeal on the Stovetop
1Bring the water (or milk) and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the oats, and then turn the heat down to cook at a low simmer. Cook, stirring every once in a while until the oats have mostly absorbed the liquid, 5 to 10 minutes.
2Take the saucepan off of the heat and cover with a lid. Leave for one to two minutes, and then serve with your favorite oatmeal toppings. To make our everyday oatmeal, stir in 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, add a handful of blueberries, and top with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
- How to Make Oatmeal in the Microwave
1Combine 1 cup of liquid (water, milk, or a combination of the two) with 1/2 cup of rolled oats in a large tall-sided bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes, and then leave the bowl inside the microwave for another minute or two before serving. To make our everyday oatmeal, stir in 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, add a handful of blueberries, and top with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- For gluten-free oatmeal, make sure that the oats and any toppings that you plan to use are certified gluten-free.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We did not include any toppings in the calculations.