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How to make oatmeal: your complete guide for how to make oatmeal on the stovetop with milk or water and a variety of delicious toppings!
Oatmeal is a staple in my house because it’s healthy, delicious, and easy to make. We have it most mornings, with overnight oats in the summer and slow cooker steel-cut oats in winter. Between those seasons, there is nothing like a nice bowl of oatmeal cooked on the stovetop. It is a great basic meal that you can dress up in any way that you want.
Oatmeal is one of those staples that every kitchen should have. I love that it keeps you full and gives you energy all morning long.
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What kind of oats should I use to make oatmeal?
Learning how to make oatmeal is an important kitchen basic that I cannot recommend enough. Luckily, it is also one of the easiest meals to learn as well. All it takes is a bit of patience and some creativity. There are many types of oats you can use: steel cut, rolled, and old-fashioned are the most common. In this recipe, we are making oatmeal with old-fashioned oats.
I use old-fashioned oats because they are less processed than rolled oats but cook more quickly than steel-cut oats, which are the least processed but take up to 30 minutes to make. Instead, old-fashioned oats take about 5 minutes to make and have a bit more texture to them after being cooked while still being just as creamy as the boxed instant oats you grew up with.
If you are gluten free, be sure to get certified gluten free oats. While oats are naturally gluten free, they are processed in facilities that also process wheat products, so may be contaminated with gluten.
How To Make Oatmeal
I like to make oatmeal with milk instead of water in my basic recipe because of the added flavor and creaminess. If you are wondering how to make thick oatmeal, use milk and slightly decrease the amount that you use. Butter and salt aren’t required but enhance the flavor of the oats. These ingredients also work well in both sweet and savory oatmeal. For the full recipe including all measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Combine ingredients. Mix the oats, milk, salt, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook the oatmeal. Stir the mixture until it begins to bubble and the oats soften. This should take about 5 minutes and the mixture should look thick and creamy. Add more milk or water if you prefer a thinner oatmeal.
- Add your mix-ins. This oatmeal is delicious as is, or mix-ins can be added. Read more on ways to flavor your oatmeal below.
The Perfect Ratio
Whether you prefer to make your oatmeal with milk or water, I recommend using a ratio of 1:2, one part oatmeal to two parts liquid. For one serving, I use 1/2 cup oatmeal with one cup of milk. If you want a thinner oatmeal, add more until you reach your desired consistency.
When making your oatmeal, you can get as creative as you want when it comes to adding flavor! I prefer to include mix-ins at two stages of making my oatmeal. In the saucepan just before the oats are ready, I will include things like peanut butter or cheese, ingredients that work best when melted and thoroughly incorporated into the oats.
I like to add more mix-ins like dried or fresh berries, nuts, or diced bacon after I put my oatmeal in my bowl. Here are a few ideas on how to add flavor to your oatmeal:
- Sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, coconut flakes, or peanut butter make great sweet mix-ins.
- Cheese and herbs can be added for savory oatmeal.
- Fruit like bananas, berries, apples, or peaches are delicious.
How do I microwave oatmeal?
While this is THE BEST oatmeal recipe made on the stovetop, I do have a guide for how to make oatmeal in the microwave.
Oatmeal is such a versatile recipe. Once you know how to cook oatmeal, you can get as creative as you’d like with all of your toppings and add-ins. Enjoy!
How to Make Oatmeal in the Microwave
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Store any leftover oatmeal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave, adding a splash of milk or water and stirring halfway through.
Other Oatmeal Breakfast Recipes
For another great oatmeal recipe, try my Instant Pot Maple Banana Bread Oatmeal. It’s delicious!
If you try this simple oatmeal recipe or any of my other recipes, please let me know by leaving a comment below!
How to Make Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- mix-ins as desired
- Mix together the oats, milk, salt, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir the mixture until it begins to bubble and the oats soften. This should take about 5 minutes and the mixture should look thick and creamy. Add more milk or water if you prefer a thinner oatmeal.
- Add in any mix-ins that you desire. Sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, or peanut butter make great sweet mix-ins to add. Alternatively, you can consider cheese and herbs for savory oatmeal.
- Pour the cooked oats into a bowl. Add in any other mix-ins as desired such as nuts, dried berries, or bacon.