How To Make Oatmeal on the Stovetop

updated Jul 21, 2023
How To Make Oatmeal on the Stovetop: The Simplest, Easiest Method
Learn how to (finally) make that perfect pot of oatmeal — even before you've had your coffee.


Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Among the recipes that friends and family ask about most frequently, including how to make a proper pot of rice or how to cook perfect chicken breast every time, how to make a decent pot of oatmeal is always up there on the list.

It seems that every home cook is chasing that elusive ideal pot of oatmeal: thick but not mushy, and fluffy but not chewy. Making good oatmeal can happen without much brain power (even while you’re still waiting for the coffee to brew) — this recipe will show you just how to do it.

Quick Overview

What To Know About Making Oatmeal on the Stovetop

  • This version uses rolled oats.
  • Ratio of water to rolled oats is three to two.
  • Boil the water first, then drop the temp down to a gentle simmer, and add the oats.
  • Cover and let the oats rest for five minutes for it to absorb the water.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why Stovetop Cooking Makes the Best Oatmeal

Stovetop cooking gives you the most control over your oatmeal — something that Instant Pot oatmeal, rice cooker oatmeal, or slow cooker oatmeal can’t promise. It also cooks the oatmeal relatively quickly.

Most pots of oatmeal go awry in their ratio of water to oats, and with how long the oats are cooked. Instead, think of cooking oatmeal as you would other whole grains. Amounts matter and they can make a world of a difference.

For Your Information

  • This recipe calls for rolled oats — no quick-cooking or steel-cut oats here. You’ll need two cups.
  • A two-quart pot is the perfect size for making enough oatmeal to serve four people.
  • Oh, and make sure you’re stocked up on oatmeal toppings too.

3 Steps for a Perfect Pot of Oatmeal

  • Bring the water to a boil first. You want a three-to-two ratio of water to rolled oats. Bringing the water to a boil before you add the oats keeps them from absorbing too much water.
  • Add the oats at a simmer. Once boiling, drop the temp down to a gentle simmer and add the oats. Simmer for three minutes, stirring here and there. Then shut off the heat and move the pot off the burner.
  • Cover and rest for five minutes. This is where the magic happens: Let the oats absorb the water without stirring or simmering. Perfect oatmeal is just ahead, so get your toppings ready.
Credit: Leela Cyd

Some Serving Suggestions

For me, the most classic bowl of oatmeal has a little knob of butter, melting slowly into the nooks a crannies; a splash of sweet, cold cream; and just a sprinkling of dark brown sugar.

But oatmeal is in many ways the ultimate blank canvas — you can add cheese and pickled jalapeños, or fresh fruit and shaved chocolate. Really, you could eat this perfect pot of oatmeal every day and not get bored once you’ve mastered it.

1 / 5
This method is best for whole rolled oats. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Make Oatmeal on the Stovetop: The Simplest, Easiest Method

Learn how to (finally) make that perfect pot of oatmeal — even before you've had your coffee.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 3 cups


  • 1/4 teaspoon


  • 2 cups

    old-fashioned rolled oats

  • Toppings, as desired


  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Medium saucepan

  • Wooden spoon or silicone spatula


  1. Bring the water and salt to a boil. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

  2. Add the oats and simmer for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the oats and stir to combine. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Cover the pot and rest for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes (this gives the oats time to absorb more water).

  4. Top and serve as desired. Serve the oatmeal with toppings as desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.