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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

How To Make Oatmeal Taste Good

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Do you want to know how to make oatmeal taste good? Create the most delicious bowl of oatmeal with these tips and tricks, plus some healthy and nutritious add-ins! Oatmeal will quickly become your breakfast meal of choice!

Photo of the perfect bowl of oatmeal with oats, milk, fruit, berries, and nuts in a grey blue bowl in a guide for how to make oatmeal taste good without sugar.

When I was growing up, I pretty much had the same thing for breakfast from the time I was 5 to the time I was 18. And what was this wonderful dish that was the star of my breakfast for almost 15 years?

Oatmeal.

Yes, hot oatmeal.

And to this day, I have never gotten tired of it. I absolutely adore oatmeal. It’s delicious and creamy, hearty and satisfying. It’s also amazingly good for you: with 130–150 calories, 5g fiber and 5g protein for ½ cup of rolled oats (which makes up to 2 cups of cooked oatmeal).

The problem is most people don’t have the same affinity for oatmeal as I do. But because I’ve made my morning bowl of oatmeal nearly everyday for almost my entire life, I know everything about how to make oatmeal taste good!

It’s the perfect healthy breakfast (especially if you skip refined sugars), and I’m sure it will soon become one of your favorite breakfasts as well! Trust me when I say oatmeal doesn’t have to taste like cardboard. I’m going to show you how to make the best oatmeal and give you lots of ideas for customizing your own oatmeal recipes too.

🥣 What Are The Different Types Of Oats?

When preparing your morning oatmeal there are many different varieties of oats to choose from. Choosing the type of oats that you prefer will go a long way in making your bowl absolutely perfect! 

If you’ve ever wondered how oats are made, I’ll give you the short answer. When being prepared for food, oats are first milled, then steamed and heated, and then cooled in a kiln, all of which brings out their natural nutty flavor. All oats begin as oat groats, but the way that they are processed make them slightly different. And don’t let the word “processed” scare you. Some processing is a good thing!

Oat Groats: Oat groats are whole oats (the whole grain). You can actually buy oat groats and they look like a cross between brown rice and orzo. They have the most nutty flavor and the most fiber of any variety of oat. They are the wholest form of the oat and should be cooked stove-top or in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker (or in a slow cooker!).

Steel-Cut Oats: Steel cut oats are processed by chopping the whole oat groat into several pieces, rather than rolling it oat. The grain resembles rice. They are often referred to as Irish or Scottish oats. They take the second longest to prepare (next to oat groats), but are a great way to get in a lot of dietary fiber and should be cooked stove-top for best results.

Rolled Oats: Also referred to as old-fashioned oats, rolled oats are steamed to make them softer, then rolled out to look flat. Old fashioned rolled oats cook more quickly than steel cut oats, and hold their shape well during the cooking process.

Quick Oats or Instant Oats: Quick-cooking oats are the most processed. They are pre-cooked, dried, then rolled out so that they are thinner than whole oats. These are the kind of oats you’ll find in instant oatmeal packets. They cook even more quickly than rolled oats, but they don’t hold their shape as well, and have a somewhat mushy texture.

If you are giving oats a try again after a long hiatus I recommend using steel-cut or rolled oats. Rolled oats are one of my favorite ways to enjoy oatmeal because they are versatile, have a nice texture, and don’t take too long to prepare.

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love This Recipe For Oatmeal

  • Cook Oatmeal With Milk Or Water: I prefer to cook my oatmeal with water for simplicity and to save on calories, but I do add a little milk at the end to make super creamy oatmeal.
  • So Customizable: Speaking of which, the best part about making oatmeal is that it is so customizable! Cook it with your favorite fruit or add the fruit after. Add whatever sweetener you like, use whatever milk you like, and all of your favorite oatmeal toppings! There’s so many combinations you could eat oatmeal every day like I do and never get bored.
  • Different Cooking Methods: There’s many different cooking methods for cooking oatmeal! My favorite is the microwave since it only takes 5 minutes prep time and 5 minutes cook time, but stove top is really quick and easy too. You can experiment with different types of oats and different cooking methods as well. For example, steel cut oats and oat groats are great for an Instant Pot or  pressure cooker.
  • Enjoy Hot Oatmeal Or Cold Oatmeal: You can literally eat oatmeal in every season because it’s great hot or cold! Hot oatmeal will keep you warm and cozy on those crisp mornings. Overnight oats are super refreshing in the summer.

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients For The Best Oatmeal Recipe

While we all have our tastes and preferences, I wanted to share with you my favorite combination of flavors for what I call “my perfect bowl of oats.” It’s one of the best ways to make oatmeal in my opinion! See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for nutritional information. For more ideas on how to make oatmeal taste good, keep reading! 

Ingredients for a recipe on how to make oatmeal taste good on a white background.
  • Rolled Oats: Rolled oats are my personal favorite! I opt for rolled oats because I like the way they retain their shape and texture, and take less than 10 minutes to cook.
  • Frozen Blueberries: I like using frozen, organic, wild blueberries: they’re a little smaller than regular blueberries, they’re a superfood, they’re loaded with natural sweetness, and I’ve heard they have more antioxidants than regular blueberries. Why do I buy them frozen? Because: 1) They’re fresh year-round 2) They become all melty and warm in the oatmeal and 3) They never go bad!
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are another great superfood because they have tons of Omega 3 healthy fats, and they add a nice texture to the oatmeal too.
  • Flax Seeds: This adds a bit of texture to the oats, a nutty flavor, and is a great source of Omega 3 healthy fats!
  • Cinnamon & A Pinch Of Salt: It’s a calorie free way to add some warmth and flavor. This brings out the natural sweetness in the rest of the ingredients and helps to balance all the flavors.
  • 1% Organic Milk: I love creamy oats, so adding a bit of milk is a must! Plus I get a bit of extra protein and calcium.
  • Honey: Last but not least, a little drizzle of honey adds a touch of sweetness that brings all the flavors together. This is optional, your oatmeal will still taste good without it!

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Rolled Oats: You can use any type of oats you like, but be aware that it will change the cooking time and the amount of liquid you need. Instant oats or quick oats need less water and take much less time to cook (and have a bit less texture), while steel-cut oats take much longer to cook (and usually more water). Oat groats take the longest amount of time and the most cooking liquid.
  • Frozen Blueberries: Any berries or fruit are fine for that matter! I love cooking frozen berries of any kind into my oatmeal. You can toss in fresh berries too, or just top your oatmeal with them when serving. Other great options: frozen cherries, sliced banana, diced apple (try with apple pie spice!), or diced peaches depending on the season.
  • Walnuts: Feel free to swap out any other nut. For a nut-free option, try raw pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds.
  • Flax Seeds: Chia seeds or hemp seeds are also great options.
  • Cinnamon: Use whatever spices you like. Ground cardamom, ginger, or pumpkin pie spice are also good choices.
  • 1% Organic Milk: Feel free to use any milk that works for you and your goals. I like to stick with organic milk, but whole milk, 2% milk, or skim milk are great. If you need non-dairy milk, try unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, or your favorite plant milk.
  • Pinch Of Salt: Skip if you’re watching your sodium intake.
  • Honey: Other liquid sweeteners include agave syrup, pure maple syrup, or date syrup. You could also try coconut sugar or brown sugar – I recommend adding it while the oatmeal is cooking it dissolves into the cooked oatmeal. I don’t recommend artificial sweeteners, but it’s your oatmeal so make it the way you want!

🔪 How To Make Amazing Microwave Oatmeal

If you’re looking for new ideas on how to make oatmeal taste good, you’ve come to the right place. Here is one way to make an amazing bowl of oatmeal:

Cook Oats With Water: Make sure to use a microwave safe bowl. Cook the oats with the water in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, and cook again in the microwave for 1-2 minutes more until all the water is absorbed.

cooked oats in a bowl

Add Berries, Spices, And Nuts: Stir in the blueberries, cinnamon, flax seed, and walnuts.

blueberries walnuts and milk added to bowl

Add Milk And Sweetener: Stir in the milk and honey until the oatmeal is creamy and the consistency you like. 

Reheat If Needed: Reheat the oatmeal as needed until it’s at a desired temperature. Serve immediately.

Best oatmeal recipe with oats, milk, fruit, berries, and nuts in a grey blue bowl.

✔️ How To Make Oatmeal On The Stove Top, Overnight, And In The Instant Pot

The method we describe above is for microwave oats – which is the easiest way to make oatmeal taste good! Using the microwave doesn’t have to mean packets of instant oatmeal. If you’re pressed for time, you can easily prepare your oats in the microwave. Just follow the directions above, stir and add any oatmeal toppings you like!

But if you want to try other cooking methods, we have instructions for the stove top, Instant Pot, and overnight in the fridge:

  • Creamy Stove Top Oats: The most traditional way to prepare oats is on the stovetop. For one serving you’ll use ½ a cup of old fashioned oats, and 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. This can take about 5–8 minutes.
  • Overnight Oats: Another favorite way to prepare oats, cold overnight oats doesn’t require any cooking! Combine ½ a cup of rolled oats with ¾ cup of your favorite milk. Add any other toppings you like. Stir together and refrigerate overnight. In the morning you’ll have a ready-to-go breakfast!
  • Instant Pot Oats: Making oatmeal for a large crowd? Using the instant pot is the way to go! Just add 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid (water or milk of choice), cook on high pressure for 2 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.

🍽 How To Make Oatmeal Taste Good: 14 Easy Tips

No matter what type of oatmeal you make, you don’t have to settle for plain oatmeal! If you did make some bland oatmeal, the good news is that there are so many different ways you can dress it up – the possibilities are endless. Choose healthy oatmeal toppings or more indulgent ones. Get ready to take your oatmeal bowl to the next level with these tips for how to make oatmeal taste better!

#1 | Add Milk For Creaminess

This can be any type of milk you like! 1% organic cow’s milk, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened soy milk, coconut milk and more will all work well. Milk brings out the creaminess in the oats, which helps with texture and flavor.

#2 | Add Nuts

Nuts add amazing crunch, texture, protein and healthy fats to your oatmeal! I love walnuts and almonds, but any nuts would taste great in your bowl of oats. Try cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and more!

#3 | Add Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Fruit and oatmeal go so well together! I typically will add fresh or frozen berries, but you could add fresh or stewed apples, diced pears, sliced bananas or caramelized bananas, and even peaches or other stone fruits!

#4 | Add Seeds

Seeds are similar to nuts in that they’re high in protein and healthy fats, and also happen to have a nice flavor and texture. Try chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds – or a mix of all of them!

#5 | Add Spices Or Extracts

Warm, sweet spices are key to making healthy oatmeal that tastes good. They are sweet without any added sugar, and have great flavor too. Try cinnamon, nutmeg, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, all spice, cardamom, almond extract and more!

#6 | Try Nut Butters And Spreads

These add creaminess, sweetness without any added sugar, healthy fats, and protein too. Try peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and more. For a nut free option, you can try sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter, or even a drizzle of coconut oil for a rich quality that’s still nut free!

#7 | Refined Sugar-Free Added Sweeteners

You can use these sparingly for just a touch of sweetness! I love agave, honey or vegan honey, maple syrup, or even stevia or monk fruit. For a fruity twist, try a drizzle of blackberry simple syrup or peach simple syrup!

#8 | Yogurt

A spoonful of unsweetened Greek yogurt is a great addition. You could also try vanilla yogurt or even cottage cheese (creamed cottage cheese is nice too!) for a nice contrast. If dairy-free, choose your favorite vegan yogurt such as coconut yogurt.

#9 | Protein Powder

Get some extra protein and mix in a half or whole scoop of your favorite protein powder! Keep in mind that you may have to add more milk. Vanilla and chocolate protein powder typically taste great in oatmeal, but use any flavor you like!

#10 | Decadent Toppings

These really take your oatmeal to the next level. I love dark chocolate chips, brown sugar, shredded coconut flakes, fruit butters, vegan nutella, white chocolate hazelnut spread, or pear compote! This is also a great way to make oatmeal for picky eaters – since they will feel like they’re getting a treat for breakfast!

#11 | Different Oatmeal Flavors

Combine some of the toppings above to create different oatmeal flavors! For an apple cinnamon flavor, combine stewed or diced apples, this easy apple curd, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. For berry vanilla, follow our recipe below. For pumpkin oatmeal, combine pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and walnuts. Or make chocolate peanut butter oatmeal using cocoa powder, peanut butter, crushed nuts of your choice, and a drizzle of maple syrup!

#12 | Turn It Into A Shake

Did you know you can blend oatmeal and your other toppings into a shake? Just add your cooked oatmeal and the rest of your toppings to a high powered blender, add your milk of choice and blend until it’s the consistency you want. You’ll need to add more milk to thin it out as needed.

#13 | Add Granola Or Cereal

Our low calorie granola or high protein granola adds amazing crunch and flavor to oatmeal! You can also try other healthy cereals or this homemade cinnamon toast crunch cereal.

#14 | Savory Oatmeal Add-Ins

Making savory oats is just like making sweet oats but without the fruit or sweetener. Use your favorite cooking method and add spices you enjoy, such as garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika (or warming spices like turmeric, curry powder, coriander, or ginger). You could even use broth instead of water. Mix in some sautéed vegetables, add cooked lentils, beans, tofu, or a fried egg and enjoy. 

💭 More Expert Tips For Making Oatmeal

  • Choose An Oat With Good Texture: Quick oats don’t take long to cook, but they become mushy in the process. If you prefer a chewier texture, choose steel-cut oats, if you prefer a creamy texture choose rolled oats.
  • The Cooking Method Matters: I have found that microwaving my oats creates the fluffiest texture, whereas cooking oatmeal on the stove helps them retain their shape better. Choose the cooking method that will result in your taste preference.
  • Experiment With Cooking Liquid: Do you like to make your oatmeal with water or milk? Experiment! Try making it both ways and see which is the better way for you.
  • Have Fun Adding Your Favorite Toppings: If you’re looking for how to make oats taste good, toppings are the key! While the foods you add to your oatmeal will really make them delicious, be careful not to go overboard. Don’t take a healthy bowl of oatmeal and turn it into a dessert (though you could definitely have a small bowl of oats for dessert!). Add any natural sweeteners you prefer, play with different spices, and add lots of fresh fruit. Topping your oats with chopped nuts gives it a nice texture, while stirring in a touch of nut butter makes it creamy and nutty. See our serving suggestions for the best topping ideas for making your oatmeal taste good.

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

Vegan Option: Add any plant-based milks to make the oatmeal creamy! Oatmeal with soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk are really delicious.

Gluten-Free Option: While this healthy recipe is naturally gluten-free, make sure your oats say certified gluten-free on the package. Some oats can come into cross contamination during processing.

🫙 Storage Directions

Here is how to store and keep cooked oatmeal.

  • Refrigerating: Refrigerate leftover cooked oats in an airtight container for 3-4 days! Reheat in the microwave and add your favorite toppings.
  • Make Ahead: I would not recommend making microwave oatmeal ahead of time (though you could certainly measure everything out in advance). Other cooking methods are more make ahead friendly (especially the pressure cooker or slow cooker).

❓Recipe FAQs

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING OATMEAL?

Oatmeal has so many health benefits! It’s high in protein (one serving of oats has 5 grams of protein), and pairs really well with other protein rich foods. It’s low in cholesterol, sugar free, low in fat, high in soluble fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals as well. It’s a balanced, healthy option for breakfast or any time of the day!

HOW TO MAKE OATMEAL HEALTHY?

If you’re wondering how to make oatmeal better for you, it all comes down to what you add to your oatmeal, since oats are naturally healthy and have no added sugar of their own. Make sure to add a low fat milk and low fat or low sugar toppings, depending on your health goals. If you are focusing on weight loss, try adding just a few nuts for protein or some fresh fruit as your sweetener.

How much oats should I have for breakfast?

Most oat products have a recommended serving size of a half cup of oats (dry). This is a good size portion for an average person, but it depends on how much you normally need to feel full, what your calorie and macro goals are, and just how hungry you are! I’d say start with a half cup. The recipe only takes 10 minutes, so you can make more if you’re still hungry! Then you’ll know how much to make next time.

DOES OATMEAL TASTE GOOD?

It certainly can! What does oatmeal taste like? Plain oatmeal is super mild in flavor and has a very slight nutty quality – but many people think plain oatmeal doesn’t taste like much of anything! Oatmeal is a blank canvas. You have to add what you like to make it taste good. Add your favorite sweetener, milk, toppings, fruit, and whatever else you like. That’s the secret to how to make plain oatmeal taste good – even for people who don’t like oatmeal!

HOW TO MAKE OATMEAL TASTE GOOD WITHOUT SUGAR?

If you’re ok with eating unrefined sugar, honey, agave, and pure maple syrup are great options. If you can’t have any sugar, try cooking your oats with naturally sweet fruit like frozen cherries or a super ripe banana mashed up. Even adding things like chopped dates will naturally sweeten your oatmeal. If you are watching your blood sugar, you could try a little stevia.

IS OATMEAL BETTER WITH MILK OR WATER?

My answer is it’s better with both! For the best tasting oatmeal, I like to cook my oats in water and add a little bit of milk to the cooked oats. If you cook the oats in milk, they will get a lot more dense and less fluffy than if you cook them in water. Additionally, cooking oats in water is a healthy way to cook oats, and you can still add milk at the end which adds creaminess and keeps the oatmeal light and fluffy!

WHY DO PEOPLE PUT EGG WHITES IN OATMEAL?

Some people feel adding egg whites to oatmeal makes the oatmeal more fluffy. I wouldn’t do this in the microwave (and I think microwave oats are really fluffy on their own!), but you can try it the next time you make a stovetop oatmeal recipe.

Oatmeal with blueberries, fruit, nuts and milk in a grey blue bowl.

🍓More Healthy Breakfast & Delicious Oatmeal Recipes to Try!

Love this healthy oatmeal recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page!

You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family-friendly food, and if you have any questions, I’m here to help!

📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

Photo of the perfect bowl of oatmeal with oats, milk, fruit, berries, and nuts in a grey blue bowl in a guide for how to make oatmeal taste good without sugar.
Print Recipe
5 from 38 votes

How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good: The Best Oatmeal Recipe

Do you want to know how to make oatmeal taste good? Create the most delicious bowl of oatmeal with these tips and tricks, plus some healthy and nutritious add-ins! Oatmeal will quickly become your breakfast meal of choice!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 349kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled oats To make this gluten-free, just use gluten-free certified oats
  • cups of water
  • ½-¾ cup frozen organic wild blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup 1% organic milk or ½ cup unsweetened soy milk, or ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Optional: Agave, or Honey to taste No more than 2 tsp honey or agave

Instructions

  • Cook the oats with the water in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, and cook again in the microwave for 1-2 minutes more until all the water is absorbed
  • Stir in the blueberries, cinnamon, flax seed, and walnuts.
  • Stir in the the milk and agave/stevia/honey until the oatmeal is creamy and the consistency you like. Reheat the oatmeal as needed until it’s at a desired temperature.

Notes

  • Choose an oat with good texture. Quick oats don’t take long to cook, but they become mushy in the process. If you prefer a chewier texture, choose steel-cut oats, if you prefer a creamy texture choose rolled oats.
  • The cooking method matters! I have found that microwaving my oats creates the fluffiest texture, whereas stovetop helps them retain their shape better. Choose the cooking method that will result in your taste preference.
  • Have fun adding your favorite toppings! While the foods you add to your oatmeal will really make them delicious, be careful not to go overboard. Don’t take a healthy bowl of oatmeal and turn it into a dessert! Add a touch of natural sweetener if you prefer, play with different spices, and add lots of fresh fruit. Topping your oats with chopped nuts gives it a nice texture, while stirring in a touch of nut butter makes it creamy and nutty. Try other toppings too like:
    • Different types of milk
    • Seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds 
    • Spices and extracts like cinnamon, nutmeg, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, all spice, cardamom, almond extract and more.
    • Different spreads – beyond peanut or almond butter, you can try cashew butter, sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter, or even a drizzle of coconut oil for a rich quality that happens to be nut free!
    • Sweet drizzles like agave, honey or vegan honey, maple syrup, stevia, monk fruit, blackberry simple syrup or peach simple syrup.
    • Greek yogurt, vanilla yogurt, plant based yogurt, or creamed cottage cheese 
    • Your favorite protein powder
    • Decadent toppings like dark chocolate chips, brown sugar, shredded coconut flakes, fruit butters, vegan nutella, white chocolate hazelnut spread, or pear compote.
    • Add granola or cereal
    • Savory oatmeal add-ins like garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika (or warming spices like turmeric, curry powder, coriander, or ginger). You could even use broth instead of water. Mix in some sautéed vegetables, add cooked lentils, beans, tofu, or a fried egg and enjoy. 
Note: Nutritional information doesn’t include optional sweeteners.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl of oatmeal | Calories: 349kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 57mg | Potassium: 484mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 14g

93 responses to “How To Make Oatmeal Taste Good”

  1. Some really delicious and healthy recipes.
    My favourite oats have half a banana, half a cup of any healthy, low fat milk, cinnamon (helps keep the insulin/glucose balance). Stir on stove top until creamy.
    Add a half a handful of whole nuts. My favourite mix is almonds, pecans and walnuts. Add a tiny bit of honey if you like it extra sweet but the bananas make it quite sweet. My favourite winter breakfast.5 stars

  2. I have to admit, I didn’t start loving oatmeal until I discovered steel cut oats. My mom always made rolled oats in the most bland way possible, and well… Anyway, thanks for all the great ideas and inspiration – the additional textures in your recipe make a big difference.5 stars

  3. It looks yummy but I fear you would shudder at the way my dad ate porridge every morning, the true Scottish way. Made with water and a pinch of salt. That’s it.5 stars

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