Kitchn Love Letters

You’ve Been Making Oatmeal Wrong Your Entire Life

published May 2, 2023
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peanut butter oatmeal in a bowl with fruit and honey near it
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

We’ve all been there: It’s the day before your weekly grocery store trip and you’re almost out of all your breakfast staples. You settle for a bowl of oatmeal, but you’re short on milk and have no fresh fruit to jazz it up with. Finding myself in this kind of bind recently, I reached for the jar of apple butter that’d been languishing in my fridge for weeks. After adding a few spoonfuls to my instant oats and almond milk, I could hardly believe I hadn’t tried it before.

What’s So Great About Das Dutchman Essenhaus Apple Butter?

Apple butter isn’t a condiment I always keep on hand. I love the flavor, just not the texture it adds to a piece of toast. But I had about half a jar left over after making a delicious punch that called for a generous spoonful. 

There are lots of tasty ways to use apple butter, though. While it’s not my favorite toast spread, it is perfect on a warm biscuit. The rich consistency makes it a perfect substitute for applesauce or pumpkin in baked goods. Not to mention the sweetness it can add when brushed onto roasted chicken or a glazed ham.

Despite its versatility, all apple butters are not created equal. Every brand has their own signature recipe with varying levels of sugar and spice. Das Dutchman Essenhaus makes its butter with apples, cider, cinnamon, and allspice. The addition of apple cider doubles down on the warm spices and creates a richer flavor.

Credit: Danielle Deavens

What’s the Best Way to Use Das Dutchman Essenhaus Apple Butter?

In my breakfast, apple butter served a few purposes. Texture-wise, I needed something that would thicken the oatmeal while supplementing the liquid content provided by the small splash of almond milk I had left in the fridge. In the flavor department, I’ve always loved oatmeal made with warm spices. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in the apple butter were perfect. 

Perhaps the best part of this breakfast hack is how easily it all comes together. For mine, I combined oats, milk, apple butter, and a pinch of salt to a bowl, measuring according to package directions — about half milk and half apple butter to make up the required amount of liquid. If you want an extra layer of decadence, sneak in a pat of butter before sticking it all in the microwave. Then cook according to package directions as well. A couple of minutes later, give it a stir and it’ll be ready to eat. 

Oatmeal is often touted as an uninspiring breakfast option. The headlines about it being high in fiber and rich in nutrients probably don’t help its street cred, and without a little extra effort, the flavor is nothing to write home about. But apple butter throws all that out the window. It is exactly the texture and flavor enhancer you need to boost your bowlful. 

Buy: Das Dutchman Essenhaus Apple Butter, $5.18 for 12 ounces at H-E-B

What flavor boosters are you adding to your breakfasts? Sound off in the comments below.