Steel-cut oatmeal vs. The instant stuff

It’s winter. Oatmeal is hot. Nuff said… but what about the type of oatmeal? Does it really make a difference if you eat the instant stuff vs. the steel-cut? I didn’t think it did… but man was I wrong.


Link: The New York Times > Dining & Wine > Eating Well: Oatmeal to Please the Palate and the Label-Obsessed.

"What is so appealing about oatmeal, especially the kind made from
steel-cut oats, is its nutty flavor and texture. "  The same is true
with proper rice, not that instant stuff. There’s a nutty nuance to the
aroma and flavor that will keep instant rice forever banned from my

I’ve never thought about oatmeal in the same militant terms as I do
rice, but after reading this NYT piece, maybe I will. My biggest
concern was the time; at 5:30 in the morning, I barely trust myself
with a safety razor, much less a hot stove. But Burros knocks that down:

"Surely one reason people have turned to instant oatmeal
is that it takes only a couple of minutes. Steel-cut takes 20 to 30
minutes, and rolled about 5. For those who like old-fashioned oatmeal
for breakfast but don’t have much time, two shortcuts are available.

Steel-cut oats can be prepared and refrigerated for several days.
For breakfast a portion can be placed in a microwave-ready cereal bowl
with milk and heated about three minutes. (The exact time depends on
the microwave.) It’s a good idea to stir it once halfway through. Or it
can be cooked from scratch in a microwave in a container tall enough to
keep the liquid from boiling over for 12 to 14 minutes."

When you put it that way, steel-cut oats may be on my bulk-bins shopping list, right along with basmati rice by the pound.

12 comments on “Steel-cut oatmeal vs. The instant stuff
  1. Charlie says:

    Do it!!!
    I have become a steel-cut oats addict and I actually prefer it now to the “usual” weekend breakfast fare (bacon, eggs, pancakes, etc.). I eat it with fruit(apples, pears, orange sections), and satisfy my bad side with Pop-tarts (unfrosted strawberry) or toast.
    I don’t mind the time it takes, either, because by the time I get the fruit ready, and toast ready, and coffee ready, it’s done.
    PS–I think it’s ‘Country Choice’ that makes an organic version.

  2. Too right! I actually made the switch a little while back, and yeah, I’m never going back. The nutty flavor? Definitely. Tricking it out however I want? I love it.
    Usually what I do, is make a few days worth at a time (since the article said it keeps well), usually putting in some honey, cinnamon, maybe a bit of nutmeg. Then in the morning, I scoop some in a bowl, maybe a dab of milk for moisture, nuke for 1 3/4 minutes, and top with peanuts and raisins when it comes out.
    Tasty way to get the day started.

  3. Ernie says:

    New to “Stel-Cut Oatmeal. What are some of its more popular brand nammes? Where can I buy it? Thanx for the help

  4. Hmmmm… not sure about brand names. Usually it’ll be on the package, as part of the overall marketing/make you salivate material.
    Good bet: go to the supermarket and ask someone there. (Be sure to check the label for added sugars and other rot you don’t need)
    Best bet: go to a health food store. They’ll have either packaged brands, or, most likely (and better) they’ll have it in bulk, and you can get as much or as little as you want.

  5. monkey says:

    There’s always the slow cooker method… 4 parts water to 1 part steel cut oats, and any delicious dried fruits you’d wish to add, into the crock pot before you go to bed, set it on low, and wake up 8 hours later to hot breakfast.

  6. Damn – now that does sound good. And with fall coming on, good timing on that suggestion – methinks I’ll be trying that out soon.

  7. DaisyPatch says:

    We make ours in a 3 cup rice cooker. I like mine “sloppy” so I put in 1 cup steelcut oat mix (more on that later), 4 cups water, 1 tsp olive oil, sprinkle of salt, and a handful of anything frozen (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.) or 1 chopped apple or raisins. I optionally often add 1 T. lecithin granules. I make my oatmeal mix with 4 parts steel cuts oats and 1 part freshly ground flaxseed ( I grind it in a little electric coffee grinder.) Our rice cooker is a Sanyo EC-503 that we got at Amazon. It is teflon-coated and automatically knows when the oatmeal is done and switches from cook to warm. My husband puts a little milk on it and some sucanat. I pile more fruit on ( banana, kiwi, nuked apple chunks, etc) and put on a dollop of plain cream-top yogurt and sprinkle with cinnamon. I’ve never tried toasting the grains first in the olive oil – a trick I just read about this morning – so I think I will try that next to see if it changes the flavor. I would love to put walnuts or almonds in mine but I save my calories for later in the day.

  8. That sounds absolutely incredible. Thank you for posting it, DaisyPatch – I’m going to have to try it out!

  9. I was searching for ‘steel cut oats directions’ and came upon this entry. Imagine my surprise when I found that we share a last name! How cool is that. 🙂
    I will have to check out your other writings!

  10. That’s awesome! Go St. Clair 🙂 Thanks for coming by, and I hope the oatmeal info is helping. Please leave a note of what you do – any mods, how you like to fix it, etc., always good to see what other people do.

  11. gail says:

    I put one heaping cup into two cups of boiling water. Immediately remove from the heat, cover and let sit at room temperature over night. The next morning I divide it into four portions, eat one and refrigerate the remainder. I microwave one portion for about a minute. This makes a wonderful (no slime) texture like long grain rice.

  12. Patricia Strong says:

    This has been truly enlightening. I was looking up information for a friend who consumes instant oatmeal as he feels it takes far too much time for regular. I really enjoy steel cut organic oatmeal and was so pleased to come across all these ideas for cooking it without bother.
    My friend is diabetic as well as overweight. I so want to help him conquer the weight and the health problems. I have a rice cooker which I got for my husband – it is mostly unused. Now I can press it into service for oatmeal. How charming…

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Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter

Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

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