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Taste Test: Quick Oats

Taste Test: Quick Oats

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Steel-cut oats taste great but take ages on the stove. These fast versions deliver flavor and texture.

Good Food Made Simple 100% Steel Cut Oats, $3.39 (2 [8-ounce] servings)
Hearty oats that are chewy and toothsome with just enough creaminess for a perfectly balanced bite. Delicious on their own with a little sweetener, or as a nice base for fruit, nuts, and other breakfast toppings.

Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats, $4.39 (22-ounce bag)
Slightly salty notes (though it has 0mg sodium per serving) complement the robust and nutty whole-grainy goodness. Pleasantly substantial with a full-bodied chew.

32 Easy & Yummy Oats Recipes Your Baby Will Love To Eat

A baby cannot really eat everything and for the first six months, she only has to have mother’s milk. What happens once she is all ready to have solid food? You would want to give the best possible food to her and make sure that the little one is enjoying a healthy and robust life. In case you are wondering about your baby’s diet menu, go for oats without batting an eyelid!

Oats are highly nutritional. The high fiber content makes them easily digestible. You can introduce oatmeal as and when they begin eating solids, i.e., at six months of age. Make interesting recipes with oats and add other nutritional ingredients to make the meal wholesome.

Here are some interesting and delicious recipes with oats for babies. They are easy to make! And guess what? Your little one will love these and would want more of them!

1. Oats Porridge (6 Months+)

This basic homemade oatmeal cereal recipe is really simple to prepare.

What You Need:

  1. Boil enough water in a saucepan. Add oats to the water by whisking gently.
  2. Let it cook well. Stir occasionally.
  3. Once cooked, allow it to cool and serve.

You may also add formula milk (as needed) and a pinch of green cardamom (optional), if desired, to prepare milk oats porridge.

2. Apple Oats Porridge (6 months+)

Oats porridge for babies is a delicious breakfast option when your baby is a year old.

What You Need:

  • ¼ cup oats powder
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ tsp clarified butter
  • 1 apple (medium size)
  • ¼ tsp almond powder (consult pediatrician before adding/optional)
  1. Add oats to water in a pot and cook on low flame until it softens.
  2. Wash and peel the apple and cut it into slices or puree it if needed.
  3. As the porridge thickens, add clarified butter, apple, and sweetener. Stir well.
  4. Allow it to cool and serve.

3. Oatmeal Scramble (Yummy Finger Food 8 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup soft cooked veggies or fruits of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. Whisk two egg yolks in a bowl and keep them aside.
  2. Peel a banana and cut it into slices.
  3. Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
  4. Add oatmeal, fruit, and egg yolk to the pan. Fry gently until the eggs are cooked.
  5. Break the oatmeal scramble into pieces and offer them to your little one.

4. Porridge With Apple, Pear And Apricot (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1 apple (peeled, cored, and chopped)
  • 1 ripe pear (peeled, cored, and chopped)
  • 4 ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 150ml milk
  • 15g porridge oats (3 tbsp)
  1. Add water and fruits in a pan. Cover and cook until the fruits become tender.
  2. Add porridge oats and milk in a small saucepan. Bring it to the boil and lower the flame.
  3. Keep stirring for few minutes.
  4. Mix the fruit and the porridge in a bowl and blend them together.

5. Banana Oats Porridge For Babies (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 2 tbsp oats (quick cooking oats)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soft ripe banana (chopped)
  • 3/4-1 tsp organic powdered jaggery (optional)
  1. Cook oats in three fourth cup water on low heat and stir constantly until it gets thicken.
  2. Turn off the flame, once you get porridge consistency. Allow it to cool.
  3. Add banana puree to the oat porridge.

Note: You can use quick cooking plain oats (oatmeal). If you want to add jaggery, dissolve it in a tablespoon of water, filter, and then add.

6. Creamy Oatmeal With Pears

What You Need:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pear peeled and cut into small chunks
  • milk (optional)
  1. Add rolled oats, water, and pear chunks into a saucepan.
  2. Bring it to boil over medium heat for five to seven minutes. Stir frequently.
  3. Switch off the flame and transfer to a blender and blend until you get the desired consistency.

Note: Blending is not needed to feed older babies. Add milk if needed.

7. Creamy Apple And Oat Puree

What You Need:

  • 3 sweet apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar (optional)
  • 1 tbs. baby oats
  • 2 tbs. breastmilk or formula
  1. Put the apple slices in a saucepan containing water. Bring it to boil and cook gently until it turns soft.
  2. Add the cinnamon and make a puree or mash until smooth.
  3. Sweeten with the agave nectar. Cool the applesauce and refrigerate.
  4. When needed, warm two tablespoons of applesauce and stir in milk and the oats.

8. Mango Oatmeal Recipe

What You Need:

  • 3 tbsp instant oats
  • 1 cup mango pulp
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  1. Heat a pan, add milk, and oats. Cook the oats for a few minutes and continue stirring.
  2. Turn off heat when the oats are cooked. Allow it to cool.
  3. Take mango pulp in a bowl, add sugar and cinnamon powder. Mix well. Add the oatmeal and mix well again.

9. Oat And Berry Smoothie

What You Need:

  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) uncooked oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp apple juice
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) fresh blueberries (or any other berry)
  1. Place dry oatmeal in blender to powder it.
  2. Pour in the apple juice and add the berries. Blend them all together to prepare a smoothie.
  3. Pour the mixture from the blender into a cup or bowl and serve it to your little one.

10. Oats Roti

Oats have a low fat count and serves as a good iron-rich recipe for your little one. When you want to give oats roti to your little one, you should make sure it is soft and easy to chew.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cooking rolled oats
  • 1 tsp finely chopped coriander
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 table spoon oil
  1. Take a cup of whole wheat flour and half cup of quick cooking rolled oats. Add some finely chopped coriander.
  2. Knead the dough with water and keep aside for 15 minutes. Now take small portions of dough and make round rotis.
  3. Heat a pan and cook the roti with oil, until it turns golden brown on both the sides. Serve it with yogurt.

11. Oats Dosa

What You Need:

  • ½ cup quick cook oats
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • Salt for taste
  • 2 small green chili (finely chopped)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  1. Take oats in a bowl, add rice flour and cumin.
  2. Add curry leaves, chilies, coriander leaves, water, and yogurt.
  3. Mix ingredients to get the consistency of a dosa batter.
  4. Grease your non-stick pan and heat it well. Pour a little batter on it.
  5. Add oil around it and cook it on medium flame.
  6. As the edges become loose (or light brown), turn it to the other side with a wooden spatula and cook.

12. Oats Pineapple Sheera

This is highly recommended for babies because of its high nutritional value. Do not forget to include this sweet variety of oats for baby.

What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp clarified butter
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ½ cup pineapple puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  1. Take clarified butter in a non-stick pan and add oats to it.
  2. Sauté the mixture for a few minutes and let the oats turn light brown.
  3. Now add pineapple puree and mix well. Add sugar, milk, and water in it. Cook till the water evaporates.

13. Oats Idli

These yummy and soft idlis will make your little one ask for more.

What You Need:

  • 2 cups oats flour
  • 1 cup rava
  • 1 cup yogurt or curd
  • 1 carrot (medium, grated)
  • 2 green chili (finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp coriander leaves
  • Curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Water – as needed

For Seasoning:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp split black gram
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (for babies 10 months or older)

How to make:

  1. Take a bowl, add oats flour, sooji, water, curd, carrots, chilies, curry leaves, and coriander leaves. Make a thick batter.
  2. Take a small saucepan, add oil and all ingredients for seasoning. Allow them to sizzle for a min.
  3. Pour it over the batter and mix well. Add water if needed to get the batter to a pouring consistency.
  4. Add in baking soda. Combine well.
  5. Grease an idli plate with oil. Pour a ladle full of batter in each mould.
  6. Steam it for ten minutes. Turn off the flame.
  7. Remove it and let it cool for two minutes. Slide under the idlies with a spoon to remove them.

14. Oats And Orange Halwa

What You Need:

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp clarified butter
  • 4 orange slices
  1. Take clarified butter in a non-stick pan and sauté oats in it. Add milk and sugar and let it cook for eight to ten minutes.
  2. In a separate pan, take orange pieces and sugar. Cook it for a few minutes.
  3. Now combine the two mixtures and let it simmer. Serve it warm or cold.

15. Oats Khichdi

Khichdi is a wonderful dish and when it is made from oats, it becomes a complete healthy diet.

What You Need:

  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ cup green gram
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup oats
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt for taste
  1. Take oil in a pressure cooker and add some sesame seeds, turmeric powder, and chili powder. Sauté for a few seconds.
  2. Now add green gram and oats into it and stir for a while. Add some water and salt to it.
  3. Let it cook for three whistles. Serve with curd.

16. Vegetable Oats Soup

A good way to serve healthy vegetables to your baby is by adding it in a yummy oats soup. It is filling, aromatic as well as full of nutrition.

What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • ¼ cup cabbage
  • ¼ cup carrots
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  1. Take oil in a pan and sauté cabbage and carrot in it. Add oats and sauté again.
  2. Now add the vegetable stock and let it come to a boil. Add salt and pepper as per taste.
  3. You can also add peppermint leaves for a minty flavor.

17. Banana Oats Smoothie

Power pack of health for your little one and a delicious recipe to soothe her taste buds.

What You Need:

  1. Blend curd, banana, oats, and flax seeds together in a blender.
  2. You can refrigerate it for a while and serve and watch as your baby relishes it.

18. Oats Vegetable Upma

Upma is a universal favorite snack and can serve as a healthy recipe for your little one.

What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp split black gram
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 chilli
  • Curry leaves
  • Finely chopped ginger
  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup peas
  • Salt for taste
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Take oil in a frying pan, add split black gram and sauté it. Add mustard seeds and wait for them to crackle. Now add ginger, curry leaves, and chilies.
  2. Add finely chopped vegetables such as carrot and peas. Cook for some time and add salt.
  3. Now add oats and milk and let it cook for five minutes. Serve fresh.

19. Creamy Banana Porridge

What You Need:

  • 150ml milk (formula or breastmilk)
  • 2 tbsp porridge oats
  • Banana puree or mashed banana (for taste)
  1. Add oats and milk in a microwave bowl. Heat it on a high flame for nearly two minutes.
  2. Take it out, stir well and leave the porridge to thicken and cool for a few minutes.
  3. You can also cook oats in a saucepan, but keep stirring while it is cooking.
  4. Once the porridge reaches the desired temperature and consistency, stir in the banana puree.

Note: The recipe works well even with other fruit purees like peach or apple. You can also add a sprinkle of cinnamon for flavor.

20. Apple And Sultana Baby Oatmeal (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 apple (peeled and diced)
  • small pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  1. Pour the water and juice into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add sultanas and apple slices. Sprinkle in the rolled oats and stir well on low flame.
  3. Bring the mixture to boil again. Reduce the heat and add nutmeg. Cook until it thickens.
  4. Add milk, before serving.
  5. Alternatively, you may even puree it directly in the pot using a hand blender. You may soak the
  6. sultanas (to soften them), puree them, and add to the dish.

21. Oatmeal And Banana Bars (10 Months+)

What You Need:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Mash the banana and grind the oats.
  2. Mix both of them to make a sticky dough. Now take little parts of dough and give them different kind of shapes.
  3. Bake them as briefly as 10-15 minutes.
  4. Let the bars turn golden brown and retain their chewy texture.

22. Baby Oatmeal And Veggie Combo (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1 leek (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (peeled, sliced)
  • 1 parsnip (peeled, cubed)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3 tbsp porridge oats


Remove the tough and fibrous root ends and the thick outer leaves of the leek. Trim remaining leaves and cut leek lengthwise to make it half. Wash the halves in a water bowl and chop them finely.

  1. Add all the ingredients into a saucepan along with water. Bring it to boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and cook for around 10-15 minutes until the vegetables turn tender.
  3. Once they are cooked, puree them in a food processor.
  4. You may add freshly chopped herbs for an added burst of flavor (chives or parsley are yummy).

23. Baby Oatmeal And Apple Cookies (Finger Food, 10 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • salt for taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC).
  2. Mix all the dry and wet ingredients in two separate bowls and then mix them together in one.
  3. Using a dessert spoon, place separate blobs on a greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven until firm.

24. Sugar-Free Flapjacks (10 months+)

What You Need:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • ⅓ cup butter or coconut oil (melted in the microwave)
  • 1½ bananas
  • 3 dates
  • 4 tbsp apple or orange juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC or 340ºF. Take some parchment and line a baking dish.
  2. Grind the oats in a food processor for a while and place them in a bowl.
  3. Add desiccated coconut and mix well.
  4. Blend bananas, melted coconut oil or butter, dates, and fruit juice until
  5. a sticky paste is formed.
  6. Pour the paste into the oat mixture and stir well.
  7. Scoop the mixture into the dish and make it compact by pressing it down with the back of a spoon.
  8. Bake them in the oven for around 20-25 minutes. You will find the edges of the mixture turning brown.
  9. After baking, lift the parchment paper out.
  10. Allow it to cool and cut it into small pieces.

These flapjacks can be stored for two days in an airtight container though, it is advisable to give them to babies within 24 hours of preparation. You can also freeze them by simply wrapping the flapjacks individually in parchment papers or keeping them in freezer boxes. When you want to serve them, just defrost them at room temperature in 30 minutes.

25. Homemade Oatmeal And Date Smoothie (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 10-12 oz hot water
  • 1-2 tbsp date puree/substitute with pitted dates
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt (if desired)
  1. Soak oatmeal, water, and date puree for around two hours. Blend until smooth and serve.
  2. Store the remaining in an airtight container in a refrigerator for later use. However, it is advisable to freshly prepare any food for babies. Do not add yogurt if you are refrigerating.

26. Fruity Baby Muesli (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 4 tbsp rolled oats
  • 2 apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 1 ripe pear (peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 2 tbsp water or apple juice
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  1. Soak the oats in milk for a couple of hours or overnight (if possible).
  2. Take a saucepan. Add chopped pear, apple, and apple juice or water. Cover the pan.
  3. Cook it for eight to ten minutes on low flame. Mash it with a fork after removing from the heat.
  4. Add the soaked oats and raisins. Add more fruit puree to enhance the taste.

27. Baby Overnight Oats Recipe (6 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 5 tbsp fruit puree
  • 2 tbsp infant formula/breastmilk
  • 1/3 cup old fashion oats
  1. Mix all the ingredients and stir well.
  2. Refrigerate for at least four to six hours or overnight.

28. Sugarless Oatmeal Banana Cookies (8 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 mashed banana
  • ¼ cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp organic butter (melted)
  1. Take a bowl and mix milk, oats, and vanilla. Puree the ingredients in a blender or processor.
  2. Add in mashed banana. Add flour and melted butter. Puree them. It should look more like a pancake dough now.
  3. Add a spoonful of it onto a greased cookie sheet. Now, bake for 20 minutes, until the bottoms turn golden brown.

29. Oatmeal Pancake Recipe (10 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cup oats flour
  • Salt for taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon (if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp soft butter or oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Powder oats in a processor and put them in a bowl. Add salt, cinnamon, and baking powder and combine well.
  2. Whisk milk, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Add flour and mix well. Leave it for ten minutes.
  3. Grease a pan with butter or oil and heat it. Pour a ladle of the mixture and spread gently.
  4. Cook until it is done on one side. Flip and cook the other side as well.

30. Banana-Oat Teething Biscuits (10 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 15 ml water
  • 500 ml oat flour/mixed grain baby cereal/oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mash banana in a bowl with water and canola oil.
  2. Add flour and mix well to get a smooth dough. Roll the dough until it is one-fourth inch thick and cut it into the desired shape.
  3. Place these shapes on an ungreased baking sheet. Put the sheet in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. You can see them turn golden brown.
  4. Cool completely and then serve. Store them in an airtight container.

31. Baby Food Oatmeal Bites (10 Months+)

What You Need:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 banana (mashed)
  • 1 avocado (mashed)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir in baking powder, cinnamon, and oats in a bowl.
  3. Add mashed banana, applesauce, pumpkin, and mashed avocado to the above mixture and mix well.
  4. Grease mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Scoop batter evenly among the mini muffin cups. Ensure to fill each cup completely. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not over-bake.
  6. Let the bites cool for at least five minutes in the tray. Remove wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Ensure they are soft enough for the baby to eat. Store them in an airtight container for a week, in the refrigerator.

32. Baby Banana-Oatmeal Bites (10 months+)

What You Need:

  1. Take a bowl and add the ingredients. Mix them well and pour them into the mini muffin tins.
  2. Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F.

Our Favorite Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats: Now Real Food

First things first: Now Real Food's oats made the oatmeal cookie that was unanimously voted the best. I baked a crowd-pleasing recipe classic with the top three oats and the batch made with Now puffed into perfect, nutty, chewy discs. Another contender, whose oats were a bit thicker than the oats from Now, spread too much—the thicker oats didn't absorb moisture at a quick enough rate, and thus the cookies were thinner, pocked with oats we deemed too tough. The other contender's oats were thinner than the winner—that meant the oats absorbed moisture too quickly, making for a drier cookie that stayed in a more domed shape.

Beyond cookies, we liked the subtle fruity flavor that Now's oats brought to plain toasted oats, which translated into oatmeal with a more nuanced flavor. And while the oatmeal made with Now's oats did have a sturdier texture than some other brands (which occasionally turned to mush), it was decidedly porridge-like, with few distinct oat kernels. So if you're looking for an oat that cooks into a creamy oatmeal that still has plenty of chewy oat texture, these are the oats for you.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell

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Taste Test: Quick Oats - Recipes

The Maple & Spice oatmeal comes as part of a variety pack.

The maple and spice instant oatmeal produced for Whole Foods’ 365 house brand comes as part of a variety pack that also includes apple cinnamon, cinnamon and spice, and oats and flax. We tasted this oatmeal as part of a side by side comparison with its closest counterpart at its largest competitor, Trader Joe’s maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal.

We made this oatmeal by following the box’s directions and adding ½ cup of boiling water to the dry oatmeal, stirring, and letting it sit for a couple minutes. The result was an oatmeal that was very sweet, as most instant oatmeals are, but we really enjoyed the flavor overall, thanks to the addition of “organic spices” that we wish they went into more detail with, but was heavy on the cinnamon. The other ingredients are only rolled oats, cane juice, maple sugar, salt, and natural flavor, lacking the added vitamins and minerals that go into the one from Trader Joe’s.

The texture of the oatmeal, however, was lacking. Whereas the Trader Joe’s oatmeal used whole rolled oats, these were steel cut, and the final product was a sticky, gloopy mush without much in the way of texture.

The oatmeal contains 150 calories per packet, as well as 1.5 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 13 grams of sugar.

What are quick oats?

I must admit, I had no idea what a quick oat was until I looked it up. I only knew that at the store you see regular Quaker Oats and also Quaker Quick Oats and that more often than not we buy the quick oats. We&rsquove tried both in our recipes and the quick oats have seemed to produce more pleasing results in most instances. So finally I figured I&rsquod search (google it!) and see if I could figure out the difference.

It turns out the answer is as simple as you can get. The quick oats and the regular oats are essentially the exact same thing only the quick oats are sliced thinner so that they will cook faster. Oh! That makes sense! That Quaker Oats website even says, &ldquoJust because you don&rsquot have time for a relaxing breakfast doesn&rsquot mean you don&rsquot deserve the tasty benefits of Quaker Oats&rdquo. Well, in 3 kid household time is definitely at a premium. And &ldquorelaxing&rdquo is definitely not a word that often describes meal prep and meal time. So we&rsquoll take any time savers we can get. And if you&rsquore looking to make quick and easy oatmeal cookies or quick and easy anything, then you may find that the quick oats are the right choice over regular oats. At the end of the day it&rsquos about what works best and produces the best result for you. Quaker Quick Oats have been working well for us so we don&rsquot mind giving them a proper shout out!

Make Delicious Overnight Oats by Avoiding These Common Mistakes

When it comes to fast, healthy breakfast options, it's hard to beat overnight oats. They're the ultimate big-batch food, meaning they easily double, triple, and quadruple in scale—and they get better the longer they sit. But it's not all rainbows, unicorns and chia seeds—there are a few major errors you can make when whipping up a batch of "refrigerator porridge." Avoid these common mistakes, and your mornings will be so easy, you may even have time to pick out matching socks.

At their most basic, overnight oats are raw rolled oats (or other grains, like rolled spelt, for example) that are combined with a liquid—most frequently milk, alt-milks like almond or coconut milk, or yogurt. They're seasoned, sweetened, and mixed well, then left to soften in the fridge overnight. At their best, they're creamy, spoonable porridges. But if the oats-liquid ratio is off, the grains will absorb all of the milk and lose their spoonable consistency they'll be less creamy and more akin to freshly-mixed concrete. You know what's not palatable at 7 a.m.? Freshly-mixed concrete. Make sure you have at least double the liquid per each serving of oats (so, 1 cup of milk to ½-cup of oats), increasing the amount if you want a soupier texture.

Steel-Cut Oats are best when cooked use rolled oats for refrigerator porridge. Photo: Kimberley Hasselbrink

We love the chewy, hearty texture of steel-cut oats, but they're too firm to use for overnight oats. Steel-cut are much better simmered slowly, although if you are short on time, soaking them in water overnight then draining them before simmering will drastically cut down the cooking time. On the other hand, instant oats will break down after an overnight spin in the fridge, disintegrating completely into the milk, etc. Associate food editor Rick Martinez says stick with old-fashioned regular or thick rolled oats for the best results.

If you're looking for a little crunch, don't add any nuts or seeds to the porridge until just before eating. Most fresh fruit should be added just prior to digging in, too. Banana can go either way if you add it before refrigerating, make sure it's ripe, and mash it to help it better incorporate into the porridge.

One exception: Chia seeds. These super seeds need time to absorb liquid. Martinez points out that they also help to thicken the porridge, so increase the amount of liquid accordingly. If you're grain-free, you can make a porridge with just the liquid portion and chia seeds they plump up enough to thicken any milk or alt-milk.

Cold food needs more seasoning than hot, says Martinez, so no matter what you put in your overnight oats, be sure to add a little more than you would to hot oatmeal. Martinez also considers a pinch of salt imperative. "Without salt, oats just taste like glue," he says. He also likes to use brown or raw sugar, which has deeper and richer flavor than granulated white sugar.

Another way to add flavor? Toast the oats in a dry pan until they're golden brown and nutty-smelling. They'll be much tastier in the final product.

Yes, overnight oats are one of the lowest-maintenance breakfast foods in your arsenal. But most people miss an important step in between removing them from the fridge and chowing down: re-mixing. Take a few extra seconds to stir the oats, and you'll be rewarded with the perfect mix of sweetness, chewy texture, and crunch in every bite.

We prefer rolled oats for baked goods, since their thin, flat shape gives cookies, bars, and toppings just the right amount of chew. In addition, they make good oatmeal relatively quickly. To find the best rolled oats, we rounded up five contenders and sampled each product as oatmeal (prepared according to package instructions) and in our recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (where we weighed the oats to ensure consistency).

In the oatmeal test, three products were nutty and hearty, but two were borderline unpalatable: one was too clumpy and dry, and the other was a gluey mass of goop. Worse, some tasters noticed a metallic, chemical taste in the gluey oats. Products that were mushy or parched in oatmeal made cookies that were a tad dense or dry. We were perplexed, too, by the appearance of cookies made with one “extra-thick” product they spread into flat disks with crispy edges.

To find out why, we took a closer look at the oats. There wasn’t a noticeable difference when we examined the raw extra-thick oats next to standard rolled oats, but when we painstakingly counted out 100 oats from each product and weighed them on a lab-grade scale, it turned out that the extra-thick oats had about 1,114 oats per ounce, while our preferred products had an average of about 1,200 oats per ounce. That may not seem like a huge difference, but when you consider that there are 9 ounces of oats in our standard cookie recipe, that adds up to more than 700 fewer oats to soak up liquid and provide structure—it’s no wonder that cookies made with the extra-thick oats spread so thin.

Our new winner, Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, makes perfectly formed cookies and hearty, creamy oatmeal in about 10 minutes.

Other oat milks we tried

Oatly oat drink

About the oat milk: Made with these 10% Swedish oats, water, rapeseed oil and vitamins, this oat drink is free from lactose and soya.

Comments: The yellow colour of this oat milk was off-putting, it was a bit blander than others we tried with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

Price: £1.50/1L,

Rude Health longlife unsweetened oat drink

About the oat milk: This oat drink is made from 11% organic pure oats, spring water and sea salt. It’s gluten and lactose-free and suitable for vegans.

Comments: This drink had a biscuity aroma with notes of oat, however it was too thin for our liking.

Innocent oat dairy alternative milk

About the oat milk: A blend of 15% oats, spring water and sea salt, this oat milk is free from diary and suitable for vegans.

Comments: This milk alternative was a little too sweet for some of the tasters, and had a slightly bitter aftertaste. We found the consistency to be a little too thin.

Price: £2/750ml,

Plenish organic oat dairy free milk

About the oat milk: A blend of water, 11% organic oats and sea salt, this unsweetened oat milk is suitable for vegans.

Comments: This dairy-free milk had a rich oat flavour and pleasant appearance, however it was too watery for us.


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