Over the years I’ve shared so many oatmealrecipes and even today it’s still one of my all-time favorite breakfasts! It’s healthy, warm, comforting and so easy to whip up. Plus, it can be customized with so many different mix-ins and toppings. I love mixing in fruit, nut butter and a variety of textures to take my oatmeal to the next level. No more boring bowls of oats over here!

Today I’m sharing how to make oatmeal on the stovetop with four different flavor variations that are so delicious… maple brown sugar, apple cinnamon, banana nut and berry almond.

Ingredients Needed

Oatmeal may be made with only rolled oats, milk or water, and salt, but I like to add cinnamon and vanilla to mine. The oats come out incredibly tasty and with the ideal consistency.

  • old fashioned rolled oats – rolled oats make for such a creamy bowl of oats. Instant, quick-cooking and steel cut oats don’t work because they don’t absorb the liquid in the same way that rolled oats do.
  • water or milk – water works great, but you can use milk if desired. I usually do a 1:2 ratio of oats to liquid. I typically use water for the liquid, but sometimes I’ll do half water and half unsweetened almond milk for creamier oats. 
  • salt – just a pinch to help bring out the nutty flavors of the oats.
  • ground cinnamon – this is optional, but I love adding it for a warming spice.
  • vanilla extract – another optional ingredient, but vanilla adds a lovely flavor.
  • toppings – this is where the magic happens! The key to making really good oatmeal is the mix-ins and toppings. I share lots of ideas below.

Various Types of Oats Explained

Three jars of different kinds of oats: steel cut oats, rolled oats and quick oats.

There are a few different oat options at the store (steel cut, old fashioned/rolled and quick oats) and they all have approximately the same amount of fiber, protein, calories, and other nutrients, but there are some differences in processing and cooking.

Steel cut oats: these are the least processed type of oats. The oat groat (the full oat “grain”) is simply cut into two or three parts to get steel cut oats. Because they are less processed, they absorb more liquid and take longer to cook. Here’s my go-to cooking method for steel cut oatmeal.

Old fashioned rolled oats: for this type of oat, the oat groats have been steamed and then rolled. This bit of processing speeds up the cook time for all of us at home. Rolled oats make for a super creamy bowl of oatmeal and are my personal favorite!

Quick or instant oats: these are the most processed of all the oat varieties. They are pre-cooked, dried, and rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats. They cook faster than steel cut or rolled oats, but they also lose a bit of texture in the cooking process so they tend to be mushy and less voluminous.

How To Make Stovetop Oatmeal

I love all types of oatmeal, but this basic stovetop oatmeal recipe might just be my favorite method of preparing oats. It’s easy to make and results in a warm, cozy bowl of oats that I can customize with different toppings. Here’s how to make it:

Step 1: Add rolled oats, water or milk and a dash of salt to a pot and heat over medium/high heat. 

Step 2: Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s ready when the oats have soaked up most of the liquid and are nice and creamy. Transfer oats to a bowl and add your favorite toppings. 

Tips for Making the Perfect Bowl of Oatmeal

  • Use rolled oats: Use old fashioned rolled oats for the best results! They made for a super creamy bowl of oatmeal. Steel cut oats take much longer to cook and require a different cooking method all together. Quick oats can be used, but I don’t love them because they tend to get super mushy.
  • Use gluten-free oats if needed: Oats are naturally gluten-free, but often cross-contaminated with gluten so if needed make sure to grab certified gluten-free rolled oats. I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free rolled oats.
  • Don’t forget the salt: Just a pinch of salt is necessary to help prevent a bland bowl of oatmeal. It also bring out the nuttiness of the oats.
  • Use the correct ratio: For this recipe I use a 1:2 ratio of oats to liquid and that seems to be the perfect ratio and one I recommend sticking to!

How to Cook Oatmeal in the Microwave

I prefer to cook my oatmeal on the stovetop, but you can also microwave it!

Just add ½ cup rolled oats with 1 cup water or milk and a dash of salt into a microwave safe bowl with plenty of room for the oats to bubble up. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and then microwave at 30 seconds increments, stirring between each one.

Cook until the oatmeal is the consistency you like – I typically cook mine for about 3 minutes but you’ll know it’s ready when most of the liquid is absorbed and the oats are hot.