5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Oatmeal on the Stovetop

updated May 1, 2019
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Oatmeal deserves all the praise it gets: It’s hearty, fiber-rich, wholesome, and ridiculously comforting when you wake up and really just want to stay in bed. While the porridge is incredible easy to make, there are a handful of things you can do each time you ready the oats and a saucepan to ensure your bowl will be at its very best. Here are five thing to keep in mind.

1. Cooking the oats in milk.

There was a long period in my life when I just really could not get myself to like oatmeal. I’d been taught to make it with milk, yet I despised the extra-goopy texture it delivered. I didn’t think there was any other way until I realized the back of the canister says to cook it in water. Oats cooked in milk tend to be gluey, sticky, and thick.

Follow this tip: Cook your oats in water for the best texture. If you’re hoping for a protein boost from milk (which is definitely why my dad always instructed me to cook oats in milk), add a splash after cooking.

2. Bringing the water and oats up to a boil at the same time.

Pouring the oats in with the water and bringing everything up to a boil together can lead to a pot that’s overcooked and mushy, as they’ll be cooking as soon as the water begins to heat up.

Follow this tip: For the most control of your oatmeal — and a chewy, yet not mushy, texture — boil the water first and then add the oats to the pot.

3. Not adding a pinch of salt.

At its most basic, oatmeal is a three-ingredient recipe: oats, water, and salt. The salt is as crucial as the first two ingredients since oats need to be seasoned properly to taste good.

Follow this tip: Add a pinch of salt to the pot of water and oats each and every time you make oatmeal.

4. Continually stirring the pot.

It’s tempting to want to continually stir the oats as they simmer in the pot, but it can lead to too much starch, which results in a gummy, gluey texture.

Follow this tip: Try to leave your oats undisturbed while they cook. Cover the pot as it simmers and give it just one or two stirs here and there.

5. Forgetting about that pot once you sit down to eat.

Once your oatmeal is poured into a bowl and you’ve grabbed your cup of coffee, it’s so incredibly easy to forget about that pot on the stove. You’ll regret that later when you return to find oatmeal remains pasted onto it, in need of heavy-duty scrubbing.

Follow this tip: Before you sit down with your warm, hearty breakfast, fill your empty oatmeal pot with hot water and a squeeze of dish soap. You’ll pat yourself on the back when you return to a pot that’s a cinch to clean.