How to Love Oatmeal (Without Sugar!)

I don’t know about you, but I used to HATE oatmeal. Seriously, it made me gag, and I wouldn’t touch it. 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. All I had to do was learn how to cook it right and uplevel my topping game. Keep scrolling and let me teach you all my best secrets for how to love oatmeal.

Common Oatmeal Mistakes

There are a few common reasons that people dislike oatmeal, including:

👎 Using water instead of milk which makes them watery instead of 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 Any of those sound familiar? Whether you’re an oatmeal newbie, skeptic, or fanatic, in the next few pages, let’s get nerdy about oatmeal.

Tips for Oatmeal Skeptics

Many people who don’t like the texture of regular oatmeal enjoy steel cut oats. They have much more structure, chew, and texture. 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 for cooking steel cut oats is pressure cooking (see below). There’s no mess, it’s quick, they come out perfectly every time, and it’s 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.

Different 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. If you are an oatmeal skeptic, I’d recommend starting with steel cut.

Instant/Quick

What They’re Like

Almost no structure when cooked, but can be soft and pillowy when cooked with milk. Cooks in seconds.

Best Cooking Methods

Add boiling water, stovetop, microwave, or overnight

Rolled/Old Fashioned

What They’re Like

Oats retain some structure, can be porridgey or stiff, depending on how long you cook them. Cooks in 3-5 minutes.

Best Cooking Methods

Stovetop, microwave, or overnight

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 Cooking Methods

Stovetop or pressure cooker

Oatmeal Cooking Methods

Stovetop

Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) dry rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) water
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based milk
  • cinnamon, just a pinch, to taste
  • salt, a teensy pinch

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the oats, water, milk, cinnamon, and salt. Place over low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • If you like soupier oats, you can add more water or milk toward the end of cooking, or in your serving bowl.
  • Top with wonderful and delicious things.

Overnight

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional, for a thicker pudding-like consistency)
  • 1 tsp ground flax seed (optional, for a nutrition boost!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt (just a teensy pinch!)

Instructions

  • The night before, mix up the overnight oats ingredients in a jar or lidded container.
  • Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add your desired toppings and enjoy cold!

Microwave

Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) rolled or instant oats
  • 1/4 cup (4 oz) water
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based milk
  • pinch of salt (just a teensy pinch!)

Instructions

  • To prevent the oats from boiling over in the microwave and making a mess, add pre- boiled water and use a microwavable bowl with plenty of room and high sides.
  • Don’t cover the bowl! It may seem unintuitive, but covering it makes it more likely to boil over!
  • Stir together your oats and start with 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them and stop and stir if they start getting a little bit rowdy. Add toppings and enjoy!

Instant Pot

Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) steel cut oats, dry
  • 1/4 cup (4 oz) water
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plant-based milk
  • pinch of salt (just a teensy pinch!)

Instructions

  • Place your trivet in your pressure cooker and add 1 cup of water. Place an oven safe dish on top of the trivet. (I use an oven safe glass container or small casserole dish).
  • Add 1/4 cup (1 oz) dry steel cut oats, 1/2 cup plant-based milk, and 1/4 cup water to the inside dish, along with a pinch of salt. Stir.
  • Close the lid and cook on high pressure for four minutes. Use natural release, because the oats need to steam and finish absorbing the liquid.

How to Make Simple Fruit Compote

This simple, delicious fruity sauce is mainstay of my oatmeal routine. I make small batches just about every week, in the evening, so that I wake up to a delicious morning treat to dollop onto my porridge. Click HERE to learn how to make simple fruit compote with ONE ingredient and only FIVE minutes.

Jams, jellies, and compotes are all variations on the simple concept of putting fruit in a pot and cooking it down to release it’s natural sweetness and juice, with various thickeners and sweeteners added. Ripe fruit is already so sweet and delicious, and leaving the sugar out keeps it nice and tart, which I love! Topping a bowl with fresh fruit, yogurt, and a sprinkle of granola is pure perfection. 👌

Topping Combos to Try

Strawberry rhubarb compote w/ pistachios and cashew butter

Pumpkin spiced oats w/ cranberries and pecans

Pears, hazelnuts, yogurt, and cinnamon

Cozy golden oats w/ caramelized bananas

Peach compote, yogurt & hazelnuts

Peanut butter & chia jam (or compote)

Cherry chia chocolate oats w/ cherry compote and peanut butter

Fresh figs, ricotta, walnuts, and cinnamon

Oranges, pomegranates, hemp seeds, yogurt

Looking for an Awesome Recipe & Meal Planning App?

40 Comments

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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: https://www.panaprium.com/oatmeal-weight-loss/ 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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