A favorite and common breakfast over the years has been the warm bowl of oatmeal or porridge. And it’s still a very popular meal today. Eating oatmeal for breakfast is not only healthy, but it is extremely satisfying and leaves you feeling nice and full up until lunch time. A bowl of oatmeal is also very quick and easy to make. It can take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes in the microwave or over the stove.
Many people just love the taste of a bowl of oatmeal and simply never get tired of it. But the great thing is if you wanted to you can vary the dish up quite a bit. You can try different oats, different milks, you can add spices or pieces of fruit, and then you have the topping as well. A topping of brown sugar is loved by many, but there are plenty of other toppings you can try, from banana slices to berries to nuts.
Want to try some of our recipes? Go to: 3 Microwave Oatmeal Recipes – Banana Bread, Banana Berry & Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal!
How to Make the Perfect Oatmeal Breakfast
What kind of oats should I use?
There are a few different types of oats you can try for making oatmeal. Try them all to find out which one you prefer. My personal favorite is rolled oats, I like the taste and the texture, and find they soak up milk well. But I know many, and it might be the most popular, who prefer quick oats. These are mushier and faster to cook, and taste slightly different to rolled oats.
Oats to try:
- quick oats – fast to cook and mushy
- rolled or old fashioned oats
- steel-cut oats
- Whole Oat Groats
- Scottish Oatmeal
What should I cook my oats in?
When cooking oatmeal, whether over the stove or in the microwave, you need to place your oats in either water or milk, or a mixture of both. When adding milk the oatmeal will be creamier and more filling, when adding just water, the oatmeal is lighter and you can taste the oats more. At first if you are unsure I suggest adding half water and half milk, and see how you go from there. Usually you add enough to soak all the oats, or when I cook in the microwave I add enough water so I can just see it at the edges of the bowl. If you don’t like to drink milk, there are many milk alternatives, with my favorite being soy milk. Experiment with how much milk or water you like, to get your desired consistency, and try different milks to get the taste you prefer.
Idea: My personal favorite is to cook the oats in water and heat up a small jug of milk for 2 minutes in the microwave. Then i pour warm milk over my porridge as I eat it. I add just as much as I want to achieve the perfect consistency, and it keeps it very warm. Yum! You can also pour cold milk over your cooked oats which makes it a bit more like a muesli, but delicious. Tip: Sprinkle with brown sugar before pouring milk on top, the sugar will melt!
Liquids you can add to your oats before cooking:
- half water, half milk
- skim milk
- soy milk
- almond milk
- rice milk
- oat milk
- fruit juice (mix with water if it’s a strong tasting juice)
Should I add anything else to the oats before cooking?
Before cooking your oatmeal you can add in extra ingredients to give it a certain flavor. You can completely change the taste of your oatmeal this way. Some ingredients will make it creamier, like mashed bananas, some will make it sweeter like brown sugar, berries, or chocolate. For extra sweetness and a fruity flavor, dried fruits work beautifully in oatmeal. And you can even make a savory oatmeal which is a bit different with ingredients such as salt, pepper, onion and parsley.
Some ingredients work best when added before cooking and mixed in, while others you can simply add in afterwards.
Ingredients often added to oatmeal to spice up the taste are things like:
Brown sugar is always a favorite, as well as other sugars (white, raw, coconut etc), can be mixed into oatmeal or sprinkled on top for added sweetness.
Spices like cinnamon (often mixed with sugar) give your oatmeal a great taste. Other spices you can try include ginger, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and cloves.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and other berries you want to try.
You can add any fruit you want to your oatmeal, some ideas are: bananas (mashed or sliced), apple (grated, sliced, or small cubes), peaches, melons, mangoes, plums and pears can all be added either on their own or as a combination of fruits.
Dried fruits such as apricots, dried blueberries and cranberries, as well as raisins, sultanas, dates, prunes and figs, make a really nice addition, especially when mixes with other fruits.
Nuts like pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or peanuts taste great in oatmeal, you can also toast the nuts to really bring out their flavor.
Nut or Fruit Butter:
Nut butters like peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter can all add a great taste to oatmeal, especially when mixed in with fruits. There are also fruit butters you can try like pumpkin or apple butter.
You can add seeds such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, or pumpkin seeds, or extra nutrition.
You can even add other grains to your oatmeal such as wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, amaranth, or quinoa to make your oatmeal even more satisfying.
Adding an essence like vanilla extract, almond extract or maple extract, gives you a oatmeal full of flavor very easily. Try vanilla if unsure, as it’s a favorite for many.
Choc it up:
Adding a teaspoon of cocoa powder, or some chocolate chips, or even a little chocolate drinking powder will please the chocoholics out there!
Sugar and/or fruit is a great way to sweeten your oatmeal dish, but if you are looking for something else, try stevia, maple syrup or honey.
Jams & Sauce:
If you have no fruit on hand, you can always add a jam to get that fruity taste. Strawberry, blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, pear, peach or apricot jam can be added or any other jam you like. As well as sauces, such as applesauce, peach applesauce, or plum sauce can also give you that sweet fruit flavor.
You may be surprised to find out you can make oatmeal a savory dish just be adding a few savory ingredients. Add in your favorite vegetables, like pumpkin or pumpkin puree with pumpkin pie spice, yum.
You can add spices such as salt and pepper, parsley, curry or chili powder, as well as onion, scallions or even cheese to make a savory oatmeal.
Should I add a topping? What should it be?
What you add as your topping for your oatmeal is dependent on what you like to eat as well as the flavor of the oatmeal you have made. You can serve your oatmeal plain or with some of the added ingredients above, and you can serve it with or without a topping. Fresh fruit or brown sugar are probably the most common toppings, but let’s have a look at some oatmeal topping ideas.
Oatmeal Topping Ideas:
- fresh fruit – slices, chunks, shredded or mashed
- brown sugar
- spices like cinnamon
- nuts – roasted or toasted
- raisins or sultanas
- other dried fruits
- coconut – shredded
- pour milk on top – works especially well when oatmeal was made with water
- maple syrup
- fruit or vanilla flavored yogurt
- ice cream or cream
Topping Combinations you may want to try:
- brown sugar with milk
- sliced banana and cinnamon
- sliced strawberries with blueberries, with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top
- raisins or sultanas with fruit slices like apple
- banana slices and chocolate chips (mini)
- canned peaches (coarsely chopped) and ginger (ground)
- chopped pecans and maple syrup
- almond milk and berries
- skim milk with warm apple pie filling
- dried cranberries and non-fat raspberry yogurt
Remember, you don’t have to add extra ingredients or toppings to your oatmeal. Just plain oatmeal with milk or water can actually be quite delicious. It is fun to change up the flavor though to keep it interesting, the fresh fruit is particularly delicious, but my favorite will always be simple brown sugar with almond milk oatmeal.