The Best Way to Cook Oatmeal Isn’t What’s Written on the Cardboard Tub—It’s This
For supreme flavor and texture, you should ignore what the oatmeal “experts” say is best.
You’re cooking your oatmeal incorrectly.
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but someone has to do it. So that’s my job today.
You’re cooking it wrong because you’re probably following the directions on the tub. Or you’re doing it the way you saw your mom do it for years—adding the rolled oats to boiling hot water and stirring until it’s creamy, smooth, and probably closer to gelatinous slime than toothsome whole-grain breakfast.
I’m right, aren’t I?
It’s OK. I used to be one of you. Then, one day, after making this Risotto-Style Pasta with Caramelized Onions, I had a flavor epiphany.
In that dish, toasting the rice-sized acini di pepe turned it nutty. (The recipe note says “malted.” I’d agree.) It was a miraculous flavor transformation in a step that seemed almost too easy for the reward.
So if toasting tiny pieces of pasta could work flavor miracles, what could toasting oats do for my morning bowl of oatmeal?
As it turns out, a lot.
Toasting either old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats turns them nutty with a delicate sweetness. When they cook, they retain a chewy toothsome bite that’s lost when you cook oatmeal the way the manufacturer suggests typically. (You can also toast steel-cut oats, but they’re more toothsome than rolled or old-fashioned oats to begin with.)
I’ve found that toasted oats need less sweeteners, too, because the natural sweetness is highlighted in the pre-boiling step. Toasting almost seems to zap a bit of the astringent zing I find some quick-cooking oats have. A short pour of maple syrup sweetens these stupendous oats perfectly.
If you’re curious about the difference between your everyday oats and toasted oats, try toasting a small batch of oats first. You’ll see the difference immediately in both look (the individual grains remains intact) and taste.
How to Toast Oats
1. In a medium skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. (You can skip this if you want.)
2. Add 1 cup of old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats. Stir to evenly distribute the butter.
3. Toast 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats become fragrant and a shade or two darker.
4. Cook the oats as you normally would. The oats may cook a bit faster after toasting, so keep an eye on the pot in order to prevent overcooking. Serves 2.
If you batch cook these oats for the week, the cooked oats can be stored up to five days in an airtight container in a dark, cool spot.
This way, you don’t have to add the toasting time to your morning routine. Just be sure to cool the oats completely before closing them in a jar or container. This will cut down on moisture and help your oats retain their best flavor and texture when you do cook them.
5 Other Places You Can Use Toasted Oats
Oatmeal isn’t the only place toasted oats make a big flavor difference. Consider toasting some for your: