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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (45 g) old fashioned rolled, steel-cut, or instant oats

  • 1 cup (240 ml) water or milk

  • 1 cup (240 ml)almond, coconut, soy milk, or other non-dairy alternative (optional)

  • Various toppings, spices, and additives (to taste)

Method 1 Microwaving Oatmeal

  1. Image titled Make Oatmeal Step 1

    1

    Pour the oatmeal into a microwave safe bowl. For most types of oats, like quick-cooking or rolled oats, an average serving size is about ½ cup (45 g). If you’re preparing instant oatmeal, simply open the package and dump the contents into the bowl—they’re pre-portioned, so there’s no need to do a lot of measuring.[1]
    • Use level scoops with a dry measuring cup to portion out loose oats.
  2. 2

    Add 1 cup (240 ml) of water and stir. Fill a liquid measuring cup to the 1 cup (240 ml) mark with cold water, then pour it on top of the dry oats. Give the oats a stir until the water is evenly distributed throughout. There should be no clumps or dry spots in the bowl.[2]
    • 1 cup (240 ml) of water may look like a lot in ½ cup (45 gm) of oats, but keep in mind that the oats will absorb moisture quickly when cooked.
    • For thicker, creamier oatmeal, you can also use milk in place of water.
  3. Image titled Make Oatmeal Step 3

    3

    Microwave the oatmeal for 1½-2 minutes. Stick the oats in the microwave and heat them on high power. For softer, creamier oatmeal, set the cook time to 1½ minutes. If you’d prefer a thicker bowl, up the time to 2 minutes, or even slightly longer.[3]
    • If you’re making a heartier kind of oatmeal, like traditional rolled or steel-cut oats, you may need to increase the cook time to 2½-3 minutes to make sure they’re tender.[4]
  4. 4

    Stir the oatmeal thoroughly. Remove the bowl from the microwave carefully—it will be hot! After another quick stir, your oatmeal will be ready to eat.
    • Allow the oatmeal to cool for a minute or two before you take your first spoonful.
  5. 5

    Mix in your favorite flavors. At this point, you can add a few healthy and delicious toppings, such as butter, honey, cream, fresh berries, dried fruit, or toasted nuts. Just stir in as much or as little as of each ingredient as you'd like and enjoy![5]
    • Give packaged instant oatmeal a taste before adding anything else. These tend to be flavored with additives like brown sugar, cinnamon, and apples, so they might not need much.

Method 2 Cooking Rolled or Steel-Cut Oats on the Stove

  1. 1

    Fill a shallow pot with 1 cup (240 ml) of water or milk. Use a standardized measuring cup to make sure you have just the right amount of liquid. Oats simmered in water will cook faster and retain more of their original firmness. Preparing your oatmeal with milk will lend it more of a soft, smooth texture.[6]
    • A smaller pot, like a saucepan, will provide the best results, since the oats need to be partially submerged in order to cook.
    • Only steel-cut or rolled oats should be prepared on the stovetop. Other varieties, like packaged instant oatmeal and quick-cooking oats, are designed to be cooked in the microwave.[7]
  2. 2

    Bring the water or milk to a low boil. Heat the pot over medium-high heat until it just begin to bubble. This is the optimal temperature for simmering oats. It’s important to boil the water or milk before you add the oats so that they don’t absorb too much moisture and become soggy.[8]
    • You can also use a combination of milk and water for creamier oatmeal without an excessive amount of calories.[9]
    • Be careful not to let the water or milk get too hot, or it will evaporate quickly and cause the oatmeal to scorch.
  3. 3

    Add ½ cup (45 gm) of oats and stir. Portion out your oats using level scoops with a dry measuring cup. ½ cup (45 g) of oats is considered a standard serving for one person. If you want to make more, simply make room for an extra ½ cup (45 g) of oats and ¾-1 cup (180-240 ml) of water or milk.[10]
    • Throw in a pinch of salt to give the oats more flavor.
  4. 4

    Simmer the oatmeal until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir the oatmeal periodically while it's cooking, but avoid giving it too much attention. Exact cook times will vary depending on the amount and type of oats you’re preparing. Rather than watching the clock, keep a close eye on the oatmeal as it thickens.[11]
    • It may take anywhere from 8-10 minutes to simmer a pot of old fashioned rolled oats. Because of their tougher texture, steel-cut oats may require as long as 20 minutes to soften up.[12]
    • Over stirring oats breaks down their starches, causing them to turn gluey and neutralizing much of their natural flavor.
  5. 5

    Remove the oatmeal from the heat. Once the oatmeal has taken on your preferred texture, transfer it to a deep serving bowl. Using a spoon or spatula to scrape the sides of the pot will spare you some added cleanup later on. And, of course, make sure the bowl you're using is large enough to hold whatever other toppings you plan on incorporating.
    • Keep in mind that the oatmeal will continue to thicken a little as it cools, so it may be a good idea to take it off the stovetop a tad before it looks just right.
  6. 6

    Mix in other flavorful additives. While the oatmeal is piping hot, add a pat of butter, a spoonful of natural peanut butter, or a handful of raisins. If you like it sweet, try sprinkling on a little brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or fruit preserves. It's hard to go wrong![13]
    • Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice can offer a good counterbalance to sweeter ingredients.[14]
    • Allow the oatmeal to cool to a safe temperature before digging in.

Method 3 Making Oatmeal with Boiling Water

  1. 1

    Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Fill a tea kettle with fresh water and place it on the stovetop over high heat. An electric tea kettle will also work just fine. While the water is warming up, you can go ahead and get the other components of your breakfast ready.
    • This method can be used to prepare packaged instant oatmeal as well as the slower-cooking steel-cut and rolled varieties.
  2. 2

    Pour ½ cup (45 g) of oats into a bowl. This will make enough oatmeal for a single person. For larger servings, portion out another ½ cup (45 g) of oats at a time. You’ll need to add ½-1 cup (120-240 ml) of boiling water for every ½ cup (45 g) of oats you’re preparing.[15]
    • Using a dry measuring cup will help you get a more precise oat-to-water ratio.
    • Add a pinch of salt to the dry oats to bring out more of their flavor.
  3. 3

    Pour the boiling water over the oats. Once the water reaches a boil, turn off the heat and open the spout to allow some of the steam to escape. Stir the oats continuously as you drizzle in the water. For softer oats, use about 1¼ cups (300 ml) of water. If you prefer your oatmeal nice and thick, stop at ¾-1 cup (180-240 ml).
    • The oats will puff up and thicken as they cook, which means it’s usually better to use a little more water than you think you need.
  4. Image titled Make Oatmeal Step 15

    4

    Let the oatmeal cool prior to eating. After pouring in the boiling water, the oatmeal will be scalding hot for several minutes. To avoid burning your mouth, hold off on taking a bite until most of the steam has dissipated. You’ll be glad you did once you get that first taste!
    • A splash of cream or a dollop of Greek yogurt will help fresh-cooked oats cool off quicker.[16]
  5. 5

    Add your toppings of choice. Sweeten up a bowl of plain oats with honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup. Then, heap on banana slices, granola clusters, or semisweet chocolate morsels. Finish with a dash of cinnamon sugar or apple pie seasoning.[17]
    • Don’t be afraid to play around with unusual flavors like dried cherries, pistachios, or shaved coconut when you feel like something a little different.
    • Try serving your oatmeal like an acai bowl—stir in blended acai berry smoothie and other wholesome ingredients like chia seeds, nut butters, and fresh fruit.[18]

Method 4 Fixing Overnight Oatmeal with Rolled Oats

  1. 1

    Scoop ½ cup (45 g) of rolled oats into a small container. Mason jars are ideal for this purpose, since they’ll offer you the ability to control your portion size. However, any deep, open container will work. Once the oats are inside, give them a shake to level them.[19]
    • Rolled oats work best for making overnight oatmeal—instant oats will quickly become mushy once liquid is added, while steel-cut oats won’t soften enough, and will remain dry and tough.[20]
    • If your mornings tend to be pretty frenzied, mix up your overnight oatmeal in a plastic storage container so you can savor it on the go.
  2. 2

    Add an equal portion of milk or non-dairy milk substitute. Pour in about ½ cup (120 ml) of cold milk, or use almond, coconut, or soy milk instead. This will provide the moisture for the oatmeal. You’re aiming for approximately a 1:1 ratio of oats to milk.[21]
    • It may take a couple trial runs before you get the proportions exactly right. If your overnight oatmeal turns out a little soggy the first time, cut back on the amount of milk you use on your next attempt. If they’re overly dry, add an extra splash just before serving.[22]
  3. 3

    Stir the contents of the container thoroughly. Keep stirring until the texture of the oats is consistent from top to bottom. Otherwise, you’ll end up with unappetizing dry patches.[23]
    • You can also add other dry ingredients at this stage, such as chia seeds, flax, and ground spices.
  4. Image titled Make Oatmeal Step 20

    4

    Refrigerate the oats overnight. Cover the container and place it on the center shelf of your refrigerator. As the oatmeal sits, it will slowly absorb the milk and become plump and tender. It will need 3-5 hours before it’s ready to eat. For the smoothest possible texture, leave it for 7-8 hours.[24]
    • If the container you’ve selected doesn’t come with a built-in lid, secure a piece of plastic wrap or aluminum foil around the opening.
    • Refrigerating overnight oats for longer than abut 10 hours may result in a soggy, inedible mess.
  5. 5

    Top with your favorite flavors and enjoy cold. After the oatmeal comes out of the fridge, fill the container the rest of the way with tasty toppings like honey, Greek yogurt, or chocolate-hazelnut spread. Health-conscious eaters can turn to more nourishing offerings like fresh fruit and unsweetened nut butters instead.[25]
    • Try using mashed bananas to supply sweetness rather than traditional sweeteners.[26]
    • Get creative! There’s virtually no limit to the number of unique flavor combinations you can come up with.
    • If the idea of chowing down on cold oatmeal doesn't appeal to you, you can also pop an individual serving in the microwave for a minute or two.

Community Q&A

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  • Is cooking time the same if I increase the amount of oatmeal?

    wikiHow Contributor

    If you increase the amount of oatmeal, then you may have to increase the cooking time slightly to get the same consistency. Just keep an eye on the oatmeal and turn it off whenever it gets to the consistency you desire.

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    Not Helpful 0 Helpful 9

  • Why do people seem to have trouble following the instructions on the box?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Some people might have thrown away the box without looking at the directions, or they may struggle to follow written instructions (especially if they have something like dyslexia). It can be nice for some people to have step-by-step pictures along with the opportunity to ask questions.

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    Not Helpful 0 Helpful 7

  • How I make oatmeal with only water in an electric kettle?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Just put the oatmeal in a bowl, boil some water in the kettle, pour the hot water over the oatmeal, and let it sit and 'make' itself for a few minutes.

    Thanks!

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    Not Helpful 1 Helpful 11

  • Is it okay if I add ground cinnamon?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Yes. It's fine to add whatever you like.

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    Not Helpful 4 Helpful 16

  • How long does it take quick oats to cook in milk?

    wikiHow Contributor

    It is the same same as water -- just follow the same package directions as for water.

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    Not Helpful 8 Helpful 24

  • Can I cook oatmeal without hot water?

    wikiHow Contributor

    If you don't have some hot liquid, it will not cook. But you can do overnight oats or just eat it like muesli, raw. Some kinds of instant oatmeal don't required hot liquid, but it need to soak so it takes lot more time.

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    Not Helpful 1 Helpful 7

  • Can I mix the water with milk?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Yes, you can cook it in just water or milk or both. You can also cook it in just water and after it's done, add a little bit of milk.

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    Not Helpful 8 Helpful 21

  • How can I stop making thick, dry oatmeal?

    wikiHow Contributor

    There are two simple ways: reduce the amount of oatmeal you put in the same volume of water, or increase the volume of water you put in the same amount of oatmeal.

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    Not Helpful 7 Helpful 19

  • How can I make oatmeal for a flat stomach?

    wikiHow Contributor

    First, use natural oats, not the sweetened one. Cook your oats with water or a half and half ratio water and milk if you think it's tasteless with only water. You can add ground cinnamon and vanilla beans. They are good to boost your metabolism and make it taste better. Don't forget to put some healthy fats and protein. You can put some all-natural nut butter or a half teaspoon coconut oil or an egg white. For the toppings, go with fruits, nuts, and if you want a salty oatmeal, add some veggies and a fried egg if you want. Doing your oatmeal with some cocoa powder is also good.

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    Not Helpful 2 Helpful 8

  • What is the best option to cook oatmeal if I want to lose weight?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Use unflavored oats with no sugar, butter, or milk.

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    Not Helpful 2 Helpful 6

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Quick Summary

Did this video help you? The easiest way to make oatmeal is to boil ½ a cup of oatmeal in 1 cup of water and stir it as it simmers. Once the oatmeal has thickened to your liking, remove it from heat and add in any flavorings and toppings that you want, like brown sugar, cream, or nuts.

Tips

  • When you’re making oatmeal for the whole family, set out your toppings buffet-style to create build-your-own oatmeal bar.
  • For the sake of convenience, consider whipping up a large batch of oatmeal in advance and keeping it in the fridge until you need it. You can then scoop out as much as you want, add 1-2 tablespoons of water of milk, and heat it up in the microwave.
  • Use almond, coconut, or soy milk as a substitute for dairy for a more nutritious, lower-calorie breakfast.

Warnings

  • It’s a good idea to clean your pot immediately after making oatmeal on the stovetop. Once the remnants dry, they’ll be next to impossible to get off without a long soak.
  • Never leave a boiling pot or kettle unattended. Not only is this a fire hazard, but you also risk ruining your breakfast!

Things You'll Need

Microwaved Oatmeal

  • Microwave

  • Microwave-safe serving bowl

  • Measuring cups (for both dry and liquid ingredients)

  • Spoon

Stovetop Oatmeal

  • Shallow pot or saucepan

  • Measuring cups (for both dry and liquid ingredients)

  • Spoon

Boiling Water Oatmeal

  • Tea kettle

  • Measuring cups (for both dry and liquid ingredients)

  • Spoon

Overnight Oatmeal

  • Mason jar or similar container

  • Measuring cups (for both dry and liquid ingredients)

  • Spoon

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