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Oatmeal Types

Burning Question: Are Traditional & Instant Oatmeal the Same?

My guy and I are both big fans of oatmeal for breakfast, and on a recent morning, the two of us got into a discussion about the differences between old-fashioned oatmeal, quick-cooking oats, instant oatmeal, and steel-cut oatmeal — all of which are in our pantry. What makes each one distinctive? And do they all have the same nutritional value?

All types of oatmeal are made from groats, or ground oats that have been hulled, or dehusked. Traditional, old-fashioned oatmeal — the kind most commonly seen in cereal, granola, and muesli — is made from groats that have been steamed, rolled flat, and then flaked. Quick-cooking rolled oats, sometimes called quick oats, are cut into small pieces before being steamed and rolled. Irish oatmeal is my personal favorite; also known as steel-cut oatmeal, it is made up of groats that have been chopped into small pieces instead of flattened. It has a chewier texture and takes longer to cook. Instant oatmeal is precooked and then dried.

The nutritional profile across all varieties of oatmeal is the same — although certain types are often portrayed as nutritionally inferior. Instant oatmeal, for example, is still a whole grain, but it has a higher glycemic index and is more likely to contain sweeteners or sodium.


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Join The Conversation
celiachef celiachef 4 years
I have Celiac Disease, and I am a huge fan of Bob's thick cut Gluten Free oats. I cook them in a mini crock pot with 3:1 water to oats. I flavor with a little vanilla and cinnamon and sugar. Breakfast rissotto, chubby oats in creamy oat body. Instant oats just don't have the mouthfeel and slow food taste of real oats.
Hitsugi Hitsugi 4 years
Rolled oats ( hulled oats that have been steamed then rolled out ) hence the name ROLLED oats. Quick Oats, well at least in my country are rolled oats just cut smaller to cook quicker. An american man on youtube said Quick Oats are par cooked but I fail to beleive that. Though, as for me I really think Quick, Rolled or Steel Cut Oats are all healthy better than sugar and salt ladened commercial cereals, but of corse SCOs are the least prossesed and more Whole, but all 3 are heathy options :D
Ozark-Mountain-Man Ozark-Mountain-Man 4 years
I like either one. A trick I have devised is to add a couple tablespoons of sugar free preserves to the bowl after it is cooked, flavors nicely with much less calories and sugar.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 8 years
I like the texture and flavor of steel-cut oats better than the others.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 8 years
Excellent explanation! I believe the less processed the better.
amybdk amybdk 8 years
Steel cut oats! They come out much heartier and more filling than quick cooking oats.
RaincityChicky RaincityChicky 8 years
I love steel cut oats! Actually, if you soak them over night they cook in about 5 min in the morning. They also easier to digest and better for you...
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
steel cut takes MUCH longer to cook, but it is SOOOOOOOOOOO WORTH IT!!!
luckykarma luckykarma 8 years
I keep hearing about steel cut oats and I think I am going to try them! I have never had anything different than instant oatmeal and I am excited!
wednesday_adams wednesday_adams 8 years
Love steel cut oats on a cold morning. To cut down on sugar, I also mix flavored instant oatmeal with plain quick oats and add some cinnamon.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I prefer the steel-cut oats for eating, but I usually use the old-fashioned ones for cooking. Is there a big difference in cooking if you use the old fashioned ones instead of the quick-cooking ones in a recipe?
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