How to Make Oatmeal

5 from 9094 votes

This is a guide for how to make oatmeal on the stovetop and in the microwave, plus four ways to customize. It's a heart-healthy easy staple breakfast recipe

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There’s one thing I buy in jumbo size in my house – it’s old fashioned oats! I eat oats for breakfast Monday thru Friday – in the summer I love cold overnight oats, and in the winter, I’m all about warm oatmeal! I share my bowl of oatmeal often on Instagram and Snapchat and I always get questions about how to make oatmeal. So here’s how to make this easy staple recipe. And you’ll never wonder again what to have for a healthy breakfast!

4 bowls of oatmeal, showing the variety of toppings
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What I love about oatmeal is that it’s really quick and easy to make, you can customize it with any toppings, and it keeps you full with lots of energy to last your morning! And I love that routine in my morning to have something consistent that I know will make my body feel good.

What you need to make oatmeal

It all starts with the simplest ingredients. You’ll need old fashioned oats or rolled oats, milk, water and a dash of salt. Those are the only 4 ingredients you need to to make oatmeal.

There are 3 types of oats out there.

  1. Quick Oats: These are more fine oats that can be cooked really quickly. You can certainly use those, but I don’t recommend them because they are more processed in general and only save you an extra minute of cooking time.
  2. Steel Cut Oats: This is the whole oat, unrolled and unprocessed type. These take the longest time to cook, and need at least 20 minutes on the stovetop. Be sure to also check out my tutorial on how to cook steel cut oats.
  3. Old Fashioned Oats or Rolled Oats: In between the quick oats and steel cut oats, you’ll find old fashioned or rolled oats. They are pretty similar, but the rolled ones are slightly rolled/pressed, which makes them more processed. These are thicker than quick oats, so they need more time to cook. Either old fashioned oats or rolled oats work great for this recipe.
Old fashioned oats in a bowl used to make oatmeal


Microwave Cooking Instructions

Start by measuring the oats and liquids. The ratio is 1:2. The usual serving size is ½ cup oats to 1 cup of water. You could switch the water for milk, but it may take longer to cook, so I usually just stick with water and add a splash for milk at the end for the best consistency, or do a mix or water and milk as pictured below.

Then place in the microwave without a cover on it (we don’t want any microwave accidents when the liquid boils). Microwave on high for 2 minutes and the consistency should be perfect.

Ratio of old fashioned oats to milk and water before cooking in microwave to make oatmeal

Stovetop Cooking Instructions

For the stovetop, you’ll still use the same ratio of old fashioned oats to liquid. But to start, you’ll want to bring the liquid to a boil in a small saucepan. Then reduce the heat to low and pour in the oats. Allow them to cook until they thicken and absorb all the liquid, stirring frequently. It will take about 5 minutes.

Regardless whether you use the microwave or the stovetop instructions, now you know how to make oatmeal and how quick and easy it is. The result is a warm cozy bowl of soft creamy oatmeal that’s ready to be topped with your favorite add-ons.

Bowl of cooked oatmeal

Healthy oatmeal recipes

I really enjoy the taste of plain oatmeal with simple brown sugar and nothing else. It’s my comfort zone. But I also like to vary up my oatmeal and use it as my base to enjoy some fresh fruit for the day. I like to have fun with some healthy oatmeal recipes that take the simple humble bowl of oats and make them an extraordinary superfood breakfast bowl. Here are 4 of my favorite recipes:

Maple Brown Sugar: This is a classic flavor most oatmeal packets come in. But the homemade maple brown sugar is so much better. I make it with brown sugar, maple syrup, pecans and cinnamon.

How to make oatmeal - maple brown sugar variation

Banana Nut: This is another one of the classic oatmeal flavors that comes in a packet, so I love recreating it with actual fresh bananas (not the taste of bananas). I usually slice half a banana and add walnuts, ground flaxseeds and cinnamon. Make a batch of candied walnuts for a sweet crunchy bite.

How to make oatmeal - banana nut variation

Strawberry & Cream: This is such a dreamy yummy combination. Just add fresh sliced strawberries, a splash of half and half or coconut cream or any non-dairy creamer, along with some honey and a touch of vanilla extract.

How to make oatmeal - strawberries and cream variation

Chocolate Peanut Butter: This one’s for the kiddos. And who am I kidding, sometimes for me too! When the oatmeal is still warm, I stir in cocoa or cacao powder and keep stirring until the mixture looks chocolatey. Then embellish the chocolate taste with chocolate chips, and add a spoon of peanut butter along with crunchy peanuts on top. My kids devour this, and it’s a bit on the indulgent side of healthy, but nonetheless still good for you.

How to make oatmeal - chocolate peanut butter variation

Oatmeal toppings

Those healthy oatmeal recipes can get you started with ideas for oatmeal toppings. But there are endless ways of topping your oatmeal. Think of it as a canvas or a starting point. Add some fruit to sweeten it and get some fiber in your body. Add some nuts and seeds for extra protein and healthy fats. Or add spices to boost the flavor without added sugar.

Here are more ideas for oatmeal toppings

  • Fruit: Fresh fruit like bananas, berries and apples; dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, apricots, dates or coconut; frozen fruits like berries or mangoes, jams, fruit zest or applesauce.
  • Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pecans or peanuts; chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.  You can also do any nut butter or seed butter.
  • Cooked Grains: Quinoa, amaranth or wheat germ. You can cook them separately or with the oatmeal. You can also add granola.
  • Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pumpkin spice or ginger.
  • Dairy: Splash of any type of milk or creamer or a dollop of yogurt
  • Protein Powder: If you’re trying to add more protein to your diet, I recommend half the normal scoop.
  • Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, brown sugar or agave syrup.

Tips on how to make oatmeal

  1. Use old fashioned oats for the best consistency. Steel cut oats have a different cooking method entirely, so I would definitely avoid those if you’re following this specific recipe. Quick oats work, but they are pretty mushy in my opinion. They work great for kids though since they only need a minute in the microwave and are easier to chew and digest.
  2. Pay attention to the oat to liquid ratio. This is usually printed on the oats package. For reference, it’s always ½ cup oats to 1 cup of water. If you use less liquid, it may not fully cook all the oats. If you use more liquid, it may end up becoming too watery. I recommend sticking to the ratio and then either making it thicker by mixing in toppings or thinner by mixing in as much milk as you want.
  3. Don’t forget the salt. I used to wonder why salt was needed to make oatmeal, but then it clicked when I first made oatmeal with salt. It has a way of making it less bland and really enhances the flavor. It’s hard to explain, but it actually brings out the sweetness and nuttiness of the oats. But all you need is a pinch.
Three bowls of oatmeal with focus on the chocolate peanut butter oameal

You can say goodbye to oatmeal packets and now start making your own oatmeal at home. It will be just as easy I promise, but even cheaper in the long run and way more delicious. The best part is that it’s totally customizable so you can decide how to make it and what oatmeal toppings you want to add.

For more oatmeal recipes:

If you’ve tried these healthy-ish feel good oatmeal recipes or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

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How to Make Oatmeal

This is a guide for how to make oatmeal on the stovetop and in the microwave, plus four ways to customize. It’s a heart-healthy easy staple breakfast recipe
5 from 9094 votes
Servings 1 serving
Calories 171
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 4 minutes
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Base Recipe

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk of choice

Maple Brown Sugar

Banana Nut

Strawberry & Cream

  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon half and half
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Peanut Butter


Microwave Instructions

  • Place the oats, water and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high for 90 seconds. Then add 15-second increments, if needed, until the oatmeal is puffed and softened. This is only necessary the first time you make it. Then you can gauge the exact time needed and repeat in the future. Add milk and stir before serving

Stovetop Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the oats. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 2-3 minutes.


  • Stir in the toppings and let rest for a few minutes to cool. Thin with a little more milk, if desired. Serve warm.


Nutrition label is for base oatmeal recipe only and does not include additions/toppings.
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 5 days in the fridge.
Make Ahead Tips: You can make the oatmeal in the microwave or on the stovetop in advance. To reheat, simply add a splash of milk or water and microwave for 1 minute.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However you can use all milk or all water in the recipe instead of doing half milk/half water. You can also use any type of milk you’d like.
* Please note the nutrition label does not include any toppings.


Serving: 1bowl, Calories: 171kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 171mg, Potassium: 147mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 1g, Calcium: 175mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American

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Recipe Rating


  1. Lynne says:

    Perfect consistency, thanks Yumna.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay! You’re so welcome!

  2. Ellie says:

    This was great! Loved it for a quick and easy breakfast. Thanks Yumma! Quick question, do you have a low calorie recipe series?

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi there, thanks so much! Not specifically low calorie, but you can sort my recipes by Diet Type here.

    2. JustAGirlWhoLikesToBake says:

      I agree with Lorenz, a lot of these comments are pretty rude. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sharing my opinion, but if you people had been talking to Yumna face to face you wouldn’t have been as nasty.

      Now for my actual feedback. (; You all who’s oatmeal turned out soupy must have been using a very different microwave then mine because my oatmeal turned out just perfect, (I made the chocolate peanut butter one) it was the perfect texture and tasted a-ma-zing! I can’t wait to try the other flavors! (Great selection Yumna!) One thing: some of the comments complained about too much salt, when in reality the recipe called for a PINCH of salt, Yumna’s fingers might be smaller than yours, therefore resulting in a smaller pinch and less salt…so that complaint was kind of unfair. Just keep playing with it.

      FYI: When I was mixing up the ingredients for the oatmeal in my bowl, I took a long time because I kept going to get ingredients, and putting them up. Plus, I couldn’t find the chocolate chips and spent a while searching for them BECAUSE THEY’RE NECESSARY. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all this, and it’s because I think since I took so long to get the oatmeal together before putting it in the microwave, the oats had some time to soak up some of the water before I put them in the microwave, and therefore resulted in less soupy oats when they were done. In conclusion, I would recommend letting the oats soak in the other ingredients for five to ten minutes before cooking.

      PS: Eat your vegetables.

  3. Ed says:

    I put all the water and milk in sauce pan and cooked the oats that way over separately. They turned out as I suspected. They have that old fashioned texture to them. A bit firm to the tongue. The amounts of oats to water I may adjust to get a texture I prefer. I would agree quick oats would be mush if cooked for the time specified. Thank you for posting this recipe.

    1. Yumna says:

      Thanks for your feedback!

  4. Ian says:


    1. Yumna says:

      Happy you enjoyed it!

  5. Shannon says:

    The ratio of water to oats, and the portion size, are both off. I usually cook my oats with twice as much water, and less oats, resulting in a creamier texture and smaller serving size. 1/4 cup oats : 1/2 cup water for 1 serving. Also add a small pinch of salt to the water before boiling. Thought I’d try this recipe on the stove top. The oats were under cooked by the time all of the liquid was absorbed. Regular oats should also take longer than 5 min to cook. Ended up adding another 1/2 cup of water heated in the microwave, and yes, the portion was too large.

    1. Yumna says:

      Sorry this didn’t work out well for you. 1/2 cup of oats is pretty standard for a serving size. There are only about 75 calories in 1/4 cup of oats which personally would not fill me up enough for breakfast, but totally understand that everyone might have a different preference on the texture of their oatmeal. Did you cook the mixture over low heat? If the heat is too high the liquid will cook off before the oats are tender.

  6. Joseph M Williams Sr says:

    I’m and oatmeal lovers in the morning 🌄 time. So you very much for this and all of your help and support

    1. Yumna says:

      You are very welcome!

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