The Secret to Better-Tasting Oatmeal Won’t Cost You a Dime

published Aug 15, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman
Slow Cooker Creamy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a weekly staple in our house. It’s inexpensive and long-lasting in the pantry, and my family loves it served warm, topped with butter, maple syrup, and fruit. There are many delicious and interesting ingredient upgrades you can make to cooked oatmeal (warm spices, a swirl of yogurt or frosting!, and toppings both sweet and savory), but my favorite upgrade to basics oats — either rolled or steel-cut — actually comes into play before the oats are cooked.

This classic Kitchn tip has been so ingrained in my oat-cooking routine that I almost forgot how brilliant it is. Here’s the single easiest upgrade that you can make to your morning oatmeal — and it is not an ingredient.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Toasting Your Oats Is Still Brilliant, You Guys

If you love muesli, then you probably already know that toasting your oats in the oven gives them a major flavor and texture improvement. What you might not know is just how well toasting oats before cooking works for basic stovetop and slow-cooked oats, too.

Toasting your rolled oats gives them a sweeter, nuttier flavor, but it also keeps the oats from getting overcooked — keeping the grain intact and making them slightly toothsome. Toasting the oats doesn’t have to be tricky or even mean dirtying another pan; you can melt a little butter in your oatmeal pot, add the oats, then stir them until they are fragrant and very lightly browned. Add your cooking liquid and voilà! You have better-tasting oats before you even get to the toppings.

You can also “batch” toast rolled oats or steel-cut oats on a baking sheet in the oven. I find this method is particularly well-suited to slow cooker oats. When I’m really on top of things, I toast a few extra cups of oats while I’m making meal-prep muesli. Toasted oats can be stored in the pantry in an airtight container as long as they cool well before storing.

Have you ever tried toasting your oats?