Easy Oatmeal Recipe + Healthy Toppings

Learn how to make oatmeal like a pro! It’s truly one of the easiest (and fastest) healthy meals you can make. Enjoy a basic bowl of oatmeal (nothing wrong with that), or get creative with endless sweet and savory flavor options. I’ll give you a few ideas and tips!

Bowls of oatmeal on a table.

When it comes to healthy breakfast recipes, overnight oats, egg muffins, chia seed pudding, and shakshuka are always on repeat. But let’s not overlook the humble bowl of oatmeal! While this healthy recipe may seem like a no brainer, you’d be surprised how often people search for the perfect recipe. One that creates a rich, creamy, and fluffy pot of oatmeal. Well, your search can stop here as I’m about to show you how you can achieve the best bowl of oatmeal in a snap!

Popular Types Of Oatmeal

The texture of oatmeal can vary, depending on the type of oats you buy. Here are three popular varieties:

  • Steel Cut Oats: Steel-cut oats are whole oat groats chopped into pieces resembling little rice grains. They retain their shape well after cooking and results in a chewy and creamy like porridge. But, the cooking time is fairly long – about 30 minutes.
  • Old Fashioned Rolled Oats: This type is my favorite to use for oatmeal! Rolled oats are steamed then rolled flat, which allows them to be cooked faster while still creating a deliciously creamy and hearty texture.
  • Quick Cooking Oats: These are the most processed oats, undergoing pre-cooked, dried, rolled, and pressed steps. Their downside? They tend to produce a mushier oatmeal. But on the bright side, they only require about one minute to cook. So if you’re in a rush, this is a great option.

Small plates of steel cut oats, rolled oats, and quick cooking oats on a table.

Ingredients For The Best Oatmeal Recipe

It takes just three ingredients to make the perfect bowl of oatmeal. Can’t beat that, eh?

  • Rolled Oats: These will create deliciously creamy porridge in just 5-10 minutes. Remember to buy certified gluten-free oats if you’re gluten-sensitive or celiac.
  • Water or Milk: For the liquid you can use water, milk or dairy-free milk (like almond milk or cashew milk), it’s up to you! For that perfect level of creaminess, a 50/50 water and milk combo is great.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt will transform a bland bowl of oatmeal into a flavorful one. Trust me, don’t leave it out.
  • Toppings: What’s oatmeal without toppings? Have fun with spices, fruits, nuts, and so much more (see below!)

Ingredients for oatmeal laying on a table

Is Oatmeal Gluten Free?

If you’re gluten intolerant or celiac (like me), you do need to be careful with what brand of oats you buy. While oats are naturally gluten-free, the facilities that process oats often process grains such as wheat, barley, or rye. And that creates significant grain “dust” which cross-contaminates the oats with gluten.

Additionally, the different types of crops are sometimes harvested with the same tools, leading to cross contamination. So it’s best to buy certified gluten-free oats to avoid any surprise flare ups.

How To Make Oatmeal Like A Pro

Just remember this ratio 1:2. For every portion of oats, you need double the amount of liquid. For a single serving with 1/2 cup of oats, that means you’ll need 1 cup of liquid.

On the Stove

Whether you’re making a single portion or 10 portions for a crowd, it’s easy to make perfect oatmeal on the stove. Here’s the process:

  • Boil water. In a small pot, bring the water or milk and salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the oats. Stir in the oats then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes to let the liquid absorb, while stirring occasionally.
  • Top and serve. Add flavorful toppings, a drizzle of milk if you’d like, and enjoy.

Oatmeal being boiled and stirred in a pot.

In the Microwave

This method is best for small or individual portions. Here’s the process:

  • Combine: The water or milk, oats, and salt in a bowl. Give it a quick stir.
  • Heat: Microwave the bowl (uncovered) on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. The oats will start to bubble a bit, so it’s best to use a larger bowl.
  • Top and serve: Again, you can add flavorful toppings, a drizzle of milk, maple syrup, etc., and enjoy.

Make Your Oatmeal Taste Amazing

With an endless array of toppings! Popular toppings include maple syrup, spices, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and nut butters. Those are fab sweet toppings, but let’s not forget that oatmeal can be savory too! Think of it like a piece of toast (they’re both made from grains after all). So whatever you’d top on toast you can top on oatmeal! Here’s a few fun ideas to get you started.

Sweet Flavors

  • Apple Cinnamon: Add diced apples, chopped pecans, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Banana Blueberry: Add sliced bananas, blueberries, a drizzle of almond butter, and a sprinkle of chia seeds.
  • Strawberries and Cream: Add diced strawberries, a dollop of yogurt, and a sprinkle of flaxseeds.
  • Raspberry Chia Jam: Add a spoonful of chia seed jam, coconut flakes, sliced almonds, and extra milk on top.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter: Stir in cacao powder, then add a drizzle of peanut butter, and shredded coconut.
  • Pumpkin Spice: Stir in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and top with chopped pecans and maple syrup.
  • Coffee, Walnut & Dates: Replace some of the liquid with a little bit of brewed coffee as it’s cooking. Then top it off with chopped dates, toasted walnuts, and banana slices.

Bowls of sweet oatmeal flavors on a table.

Savory Flavors

Savory oatmeal recipes in 2 bowls.

How To Store Leftover Cooked Oatmeal

Did you make a little too much oatmeal? Or do you want to meal prep it? Well good news, you can save it and enjoy it throughout the week.

  • To store: Let the oatmeal cool, then place in sealed containers in the fridge for 3-5 days.
  • For freezing: If you want to store it longer, just place it in the freezer. It will stay good for several months.
  • To reheat: Add a splash of water or milk to revive its creaminess and microwave your bowl for about 45 seconds (if previously thawed in the fridge). Give it a stir, and pop it back in the microwave for one more minute until you’ve reached your desired temperature.

All Your Oatmeal Questions Answered

  • Can you make oatmeal in a slow cooker? Yes – but sticking with steel-cut oats are best for this. To make it, add 1 cup of steel cut oats, 3 cups of milk (or water), and give it all a stir. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high while stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Is it better to use milk or water? You can go either way. But milk definitely makes for a creamier consistency. If you want that creamy consistency without using milk, stir a mashed banana into the oatmeal when it’s almost done.
  • What if my oatmeal is dry? Just add a splash more water or milk, and stir it in.
  • Is oatmeal good for you? Most definitely! Oatmeal is considered to be one of the healthiest breakfast options that’s a nutritional powerhouse, rich in antioxidants, it lowers cholesterol, and so much more.
  • Can you eat oatmeal for dinner? Absolutely. If you’ve watched my healthy habits video, you know my motto… you can eat any food any time of day!

Bowls of oatmeal recipes on a table next to a napkin.

More Ways To Use Oats

A bag of oats can take you much further than just a bowl of oatmeal. Here’s a few ways to get creative with them.

Oatmeal Recipe Video

You too can master the perfect bowl of oatmeal. Watch the video below for an easy, step-by-step guide and get inspired by all the topping variations!

A table of sweet and savory oatmeal recipes.

Easy Oatmeal Recipe + Healthy Toppings

5 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 7 mins
Servings: 1 serving
Author: Lisa Bryan
Learn how to make the perfect bowl of oatmeal! Rolled oats are transformed into a hearty, creamy, and ultra healthy breakfast option that's ready in just 10 minutes. And it can be made sweet or savory!


Basic Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, gluten free certified
  • 1 cup water, milk, or non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • In a small saucepan, bring the water or milk, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, stir in the oats and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the oatmeal simmer for 5 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. Make sure to stir occasionally.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid, then let it rest for a few minutes. This will give the oats time to absorb the liquid. If they look too dry, stir in a splash more liquid.
    Oatmeal being stirred in a pot.
  • Top your oatmeal with your favorite ingredients then serve!
    Oatmeal recipe with blueberries, bananas, and almond butter.

Lisa's Tips

  • To store: Let the oatmeal cool, then place in sealed containers in the fridge for 3-5 days.
  • For freezing: If you want to store it longer, just place it in the freezer. It will stay good for several months.
  • To reheat: Add a splash of water or milk to revive its creaminess and microwave your bowl for about 45 seconds (if previously thawed in the fridge). Give it a stir, and pop it back in the microwave for one more minute until you've reached your desired temperature.


Calories: 260kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 702mg, Potassium: 479mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 927IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 351mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal recipe
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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45 comments on “Easy Oatmeal Recipe + Healthy Toppings”

  1. I cook my oats in vanilla custard with diced canned peaches and a couple of tablespoons of the canning liquid ( my favourite is mango syrup) . Igbo I’ve been a good boy I did a scoop of ice cream5 stars

  2. Pumpkin Spice is looking very delicious , i am going to follow this recipe. thanks to your hard work to make this article.

  3. raisin’s, walnuts, blueberries and a touch of natural honey is another good recipe to try

  4. Hi!
    Thank you for the amazing recipes!
    Just wanted to know if it would be okay to heat the overnight soaked oats recipe.

  5. Finally, a way to have my 4 children eat every bite of a healthy breakfast with plenty of variety so they don’t get bored eating the same oatmeal recipe.5 stars

  6. Just tried my first savory oatmeal ever!! I tried the savory mushroom recipe you shared and it was DELICIOUS! I also used your tips and tricks on how to poach an egg and it turned out beautifully. So happy with these recipes :) I’ve also been eating the strawberries and cream version all week as well-SO GOOD-Thanks Lisa!5 stars

  7. I don’t eat a lot of oatmeal much anymore because it’s so carb heavy, but when I do, I follow your recipe. I LOVE all the flavor combos- I typically like the sweeter ones for breakfast (morning) and the savory ones for evening (breakfast for dinner).  5 stars

  8. Made this savory oatmeal with egg and avocado, it was a total success!! Even my toddlers liked it. Thanx so much for awesome ideas!5 stars

  9. My favorite type of breakfast. A little pinch of salt really does make the difference. Like to mash the banana and add a spoon of almond butter in my oatmeal to get the creamy texture. I also like to put a tbsp of homemade nutella in the middle of a bowl before I pour the oatmeal on it for the act of surprise when you dig in.5 stars

  10. I LOVE ALL of your recipes and videos. Is there any way you can send me or publish to video, recipes for steel-cut oats? Overnight, chewy oats are my absolute favorite, and/or cooked recipes would be so Very Appreciated. Thank you much for taking the time to address my request. You’re the Best!! 😉5 stars

  11. Thank you for reminding this option for breakfast! Very good ideas for topping. Will definitely try some of the savoury ones!

  12. Lisa, I love your website and simplicity to present all these wonderful recipes , I always share with mom and daughter every creation i copy from you. My daughter learned to make “granola bars” and mom has baked your breads.
    Thanks for giving us a different insight on savory oatmeal.5 stars

  13. So many great oatmeal recipes here! I’m a sucker for sweet oatmeal but I’m now very tempted to try some of these savory oatmeal recipes. They all look so good!5 stars

  14. Thank you for your amazing website and ideas. I am visiting your page at 1130pm and now I thinking of making oatmeal 🙂5 stars

  15. You have an Oatmeal here that would fit anyone’s taste. I love these.5 stars

    • Thanks Jessie! Having variety in flavors never hurts :)

      • As always, thank you for your great recipe. My only comment is that I would love to get the ratios for the toppings, I worry I might not get it right. Thank you for inspiring us to meal prep and eat delicious food, you make it always seem possible and so easy. 

      • Thanks for the feedback Cristina! Will keep that in mind next time.

  16. Here’s my favorite savory oatmeal. I learned this oatmeal variation at a zen meditation retreat and it is now one of my favorites at home. To cooked oatmeal add diced apple, nori cut or torn into small pieces, walnut pieces, and a splash of tamari.
    Another variation I like but don’t make often any more is oatmeal cooked with a bouilion cube or broth and some quartered mushrooms. When the oatmeal and mushrooms are cooked, top with grated cheddar cheese and some onion powder.

  17. Glad you made this oatmeal post and to see more savory ideas which is good because I cook oatmeal for supper often and now I can add some variety.5 stars

  18. I really want to try the savory ones! When I have oatmeal I cook it with a banana for natural sweetness and for milk I use coconut milk, then I add nut butter and chocolate chips 😜

  19. I really like that you can make enough for days and switch up your toppings based on that days mood.5 stars

  20. I am in complete oatmeal heaven!! I feel a little boring making it ‘just plain’ with so many options but it cooked perfectly. Can’t wait to make a savory version next.5 stars

  21. With the cold weather finally upon us here in Sonoma County (NorCal), we’re getting our oatmeal brekkies on. It’s super quick to make the steel cut oats (we like those best) in my Instant Pot with a combo of creamy coconut milk & water. I make a bunch and store in frig for the week. I had heard that the steel cut was best nutritionally so that’s what we generally use. The savory topping options you shared here look yummy so we’ll try some this week. Thanks!

    • Steel cut is definitely a great choice for thick and creamy oatmeal, especially if you have an Instant Pot. Can’t wait for you to try the savory options! I hope to add more savory flavors to the site over time as well. So stay tuned.

  22. My breakfast 90%of time is 1/2 cup quick oats cooked in MW with 1 cup water. Then add either blueberries or strawberries or hydrated dried apricots and maple syrup and 2% milk. Once a week or so i’ll have a poached egg on an english muffin.

  23. I have heard many things about soaking the oats. Would you recommend this? If no, Why not?