Navigating the oatmeal aisle can raise a lot of questions. Is "rolled" the same as "quick"? Steel superior to Scottish?
It's definitely good to know your oats. They're kind of rock stars: high in fiber and protein, low in calories and your BFFs if you want to eat clean and maybe even lose some weight . But each type has its pros and cons in terms of taste, texture, cooking time and healthiness.
Here's your oatmeal cheat sheet.
Oat bran is ground from the thin outer shell (hull) of the oat grain. The hull is a powerhouse of minerals, protein and fiber. Like all oats, it contains soluble fiber, which helps protect against heart disease and diabetes. And while low in calories, oat bran is super filling — have it for breakfast and you might not need that 11:00 snack before lunch. Try it in our ridiculously easy power bowl below!
½ cup uncooked oat bran = 120 calories, 7 grams fiber, 8 grams protein
Groats are the whole kernel inside the hull. Because they're so minimally processed, they're extra good for you. The texture is more like faro or thick rice than the oatmeal you know and (maybe) love, the flavor slightly sweet and nutty. While groats take longer to cook than other whole grains (over an hour on the stove), there's a payoff: soooo much fiber and protein — roughly twice as much as brown rice.
¼ cup uncooked oat groats = 180 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein
These are simply the groat cut up into smaller pieces. They're as healthy as groats, but much creamier and more oatmeal-like in texture; plus they cook faster (15 to 20 minutes on the stove). Make a big batch on a Sunday and future you will thank you all week.
¼ cup uncooked steel cut oats = 170 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein
These are kinda like steel-cut, but a wee bit more processed (notice a pattern here?). They're made by grinding steel-cut oats about halfway to flour, leaving lots of coarse bits. (Tip: You can pulse steel-cut oats in your blender or food processor for DIY Scottish oats.) Scottish oats have the nuttiest and sweetest flavor of the oat lineup, with a chewy-to-creamy ratio landing more on the creamy side. Try our Scottish oatmeal recipe below to see how long one bowl for breakfast leaves you feeling satisfied. (We're betting hours and hours.)
¼ cup Scottish oats = 140 calories, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams protein
Also known as "old fashioned" oats, rolled oats are the easiest to find in the supermarket and are what most of us think of as oatmeal. They're also the most common type used in baking. They're made by steaming whole oat groats, then running them between rollers to make flat flakes. The steaming part partially cooks the oats, which creates a faster cook time at home (about five minutes on the stove) but makes 'em a little less nutritious. Still a great breakfast choice, though.
½ cup rolled oats = 190 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein
Quick Rolled Oats
Quick-cooking oatmeal is just like rolled oats except the oats are steamed longer and rolled thinner. The end result is a quicker-to-cook and creamier oatmeal. While the oats lose some nutrition along the way (and won't keep you full quite as long as less processed oats), they're convenient and wayyyy better than those sugary instant- oatmeal packets.
½ cup uncooked quick rolled oats = 180 calories, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams protein
Oat flour is ground from whole oat groats, steel cut oats and Scottish oats. It's completely soft and flour-like and has a wonderful nutty flavor that is amazing in baked goods. Grinding rolled oats into flour will also get the job done.
Are Oats Gluten-Free?
Technically, yes. But there can be an issue with cross-contamination, since oats are commonly grown near wheat fields, or packaged and processed in factories that also process wheat products.
Some companies offer certified gluten-free oats and oat products. This means their oats have gone through rigorous testing to make sure no gluten has managed to sneak in.
Keep in mind, though, that some people with Celiac disease and severe gluten sensitivities can't tolerate oats in any form.
Simple Scottish Oatmeal
- ½ cup Scottish oats
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons milk
- ¾ cup water
- Toppings of your choice
1. Combine the oats, milk and water in a small pot. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
2. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. The oatmeal is done when the texture is creamy and thick but pourable.
3. Portion into bowls. Add honey, maple syrup, fruits, nuts, nut butter and/or any other toppings you like.
Let the oats fully cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Place in a pot with about 2 tablespoons of milk or water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until warmed through. Or place the oats and liquid in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until hot.
- If the oatmeal gets too thick, stir in 2 tablespoons of milk or water.
- Remove from the heat while the oats are a bit thinner than you want; the mixture will thicken quite a bit after pouring into your bowl.
- You can substitute water for milk to reduce fat and calories. Or, try using unsweetened almond or soy milk for an extra nutty flavor.
Oat Bran Power Bowl
- ½ cup oat bran
- ½ cup unsweetened, non-dairy milk
- ½ cup water
1. Combine the oat bran, milk and water in a small pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.
2. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.
3. Pour into a bowl and let sit for a few minutes to thicken further. Top as desired.
My fave way to flavor: I add ½ sliced medium banana and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon just before the oat bran is finished cooking, then top it with the other half of sliced banana and a scoop of peanut butter.
See tips for cooking, storing and reheating Simple Scottish Oatmeal above — they apply here as well!