How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good Without Sugar

I don’t know about you, but I used to hate oatmeal. Seriously, it made me gag. Now I genuinely look forward to it. I might even go so far as so to say that it’s my favorite meal of the day! Read on to learn how I upleveled my oats, and how you can too, without any sugar or sweeteners!

Common Oatmeal Mistakes

  • Using water instead of milk or yogurt (which makes them creamy)
  • Using boring toppings
  • Using the wrong cooking time or method for the type of oats
  • Using a type of oats that doesn’t match your texture preferences

Ok, so if you’re having any of those issues, let’s fix that right now.

For me, the thing that made oatmeal go from glue-y and gag-inducing to a flavorful, creamy, delicious morning treat was the addition of milk or yogurt and kick-ass toppings. Also, my discovery of steel-cut oats.

Three Types of Oats

There are three main types of oats, which differ mostly in how finely they are milled. This affects the cooking method and texture.

Steel Cut

What They’re Like: Chewy, creamy, grains retain lots of texture and structure. Takes a while to cook, about 30 minutes. Good for batch cooking and reheats well.

Best Methods: Stovetop or Pressure Cooker

Rolled/Old Fashioned

What They’re Like: Oats retain some structure, can be porridgey or stiff, depending on preference. Cooks in a few minutes.

Best Methods: Stovetop, Microwave, or Overnight


What They’re Like: Almost no structure when cooked, but can be soft and pillowy. Cooks in seconds.

Method: Add Boiling Water, Stovetop, Microwave, or Overnight

Three Cooking Methods

These are the three ways I make oatmeal, each with pros and cons.

Overnight Oats

Recipe: (1 Serving)

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) dry rolled oats
  • 1 tsp super seed mix
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based milk or yogurt of choice
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Stir together oats, yogurt or milk, seeds, and cinnamon.
  2. If using yogurt, you’ll need to add water so it doesn’t turn in to cement. Experiment with the texture you like best. I add about 1/8 cup water. It should be fairly runny because the oats and seeds will soak up the liquid.
  3. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. In the morning, top with desired toppings.


Recipe: (1 Serving)

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) dry rolled oats
  • 1 tsp super seed mix
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the oats, water, seeds, and salt. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  2. When the oats start getting too thick and sticking, add the 1/2 cup of milk. Or if you like soupier oats, cook entirely with water and pour the milk on after transferring the oats to a bowl.
  3. Top with desired toppings.

Instant Pot

Recipe (1 Serving)

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) dry steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) plant-based milk of choice
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tsp super seed mix
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Place your trivet in your Instant Pot and pour 1 cup of water under it.
  2. Add all ingredients to a oven-safe Pyrex dish. Place it on the trivet.
  3. Close the pot lid to Sealing. Set it to Manual (high pressure) for 4 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  4. Top with desired toppings.

Steel Cut Oats in the Instant Pot

Many people who don’t like the texture of regular oatmeal enjoy steel cut oats. They have much more structure, chew, and texture than rolled oats. They take longer to cook than rolled oats but you can also buy quick-cooking steel cut oats that take less time. My favorite method is the pot-in-pot instant pot method above. No mess, quick, perfect every time, and totally hands off! They also reheat well when loosened up with a little bit of water or milk, so they are great for batch cooking ahead for the week.

I use the ​pot-in-pot method​, because I love that you can eat your breakfast right out of the container you cooked it in, and the cleanup is as easy as washing the bowl you ate your oatmeal in!

Oatmeal Topping Ideas

Here are a few of my favorite combos for a decadent oatmeal experience.

What are your favorite oatmeal toppings? Comment below!


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  8. Wow. Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this Katie! I am definitely going to try the overnight oats. It looks so delicious! I have written that oatmeal can also help lose weight: Do you agree?

    • I don’t know about that, I know that I lost 70 lb and ate oatmeal almost every day, but I credit the BLE system and food plan for that, not just the oatmeal.

  9. Hi Kate, so glad I found your blog – I have just finished my first week of the 14 day challenge, and then heading to boot camp. I’m looking for clarification….I have been measuring my milk in fluid ounces, but it looks like you measure by weight? Is it the same, or should I switch and measure EVERYTHING by weight??

  10. Karen Miller

    There is a difference between weight and volume for measuring. Ounces for fluids means volume, not weight. So, I measure my milk with measuring cup, in ounces. It doesn’t necessarily weigh 4 ounces on a scale however.

    • Right. It is recommended that we weight with a digital food scale rather than measuring in cups or volume. So by ounces I mean weight not fluid ounces.

  11. Hi! I’m brand new at BLE, so forgive my confused state! I don’t see Seeds and Nuts (ie, Fat) as part of Breakfast . Or is there info in the Notes??

  12. Love, love, love you Katie. Thank you for taking all the headache out of cooking for me. I appreciate you sharing your story, your recipes and being kind and generous. Such a relief. Feeling hopeful. much love to you – Vicki Heal

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  15. Doree N

    Do you grind your seeds?

  16. LOL! I get my nuts at Trader Joe’s too. Best prices! And I like overnight BUCKWHEAT groats even better than oatmeal. Dreamy texture, ‘al dente’. 🙂

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  18. Thanks so much for this info. So helpful!!! I hope to be an oatmeal convert, like you 🙂
    Question: can I use steel cut oats in the overnight oats with milk ? You have rolled oats listed. Just wondering if steel cut don’t work well ?
    Thanks !!!

    • Steel cut oats don’t work for overnight oats. They will not hydrate fully. I’d recommend rolled oats. My favorite way to prepare steel cut oats (quickly) is in the Instant Pot.

  19. Rachael Weber

    I am new to oatmeal. I didn’t like it when I was a kid so I never tried to eat it again but I like oatmeal cookies and I like oats in things. I tried overnight oats for the first time this morning. (The flavor was ok….I didn’t put enough stuff in it for flavor. I made it on a whim because I am trying to find new healthy breakfasts that don’t involve eggs.) My problem is that half way through eating them, they became excessively thick. Think cement. I couldn’t eat anymore. The consistency was too offputting. What did I do wrong?

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  24. Thanks so much for the tip on steel cut oats, pot-in-pot. Do you have a favorite brand of steel cut oats?

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