11 Ways to Eat Oats When You Hate Oatmeal


I went a long stretch of time without eating any oats if I could avoid it. I blame it on oatmeal — or rather, the pre-packaged instant oatmeal that I had foraged from my mom's pantry once. The goopy, pale mush tasted like something between cardboard and sawdust.

Sure, the fact that I couldn't boil water without some kind of kitchen mishap (don't ask) could've had something to do with it…but that was years ago! I'm proud to say that I've learned a few tricks since then — including how to add oats to my diet without relying on oatmeal.

You see, oats are amazing. They're packed with fiber, protein, and vitamins, and contain an antioxidant unique to oats that reduce the risk of heart disease. The health benefits of oats go on and on, and the best part is, even the more processed oats — like instant oatmeal — retain about the same amount of nutrients as the least-processed steel-cut oats (although additional ingredients can make it less healthy).

All oats start off as oat groats, which are then processed at varying levels to get steel-cut, rolled, old-fashioned, quick-cooking, or instant oats. The texture, density, and cooking time of each will be different, so be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly if you're substituting one kind of oat for another.

1. Oats in Bread

I love bread — pretty much every kind. So if you add oats in bread, I'd love that too. The possibilities are endless when it comes to oats in bread, but one of my favorites is oat soda bread. While this particular recipe calls for homemade oat flour (just dump the oats in a food processor and pulse), I like to keep the oats whole for the hearty texture. Blueberry oat quick bread is another fast-baking, no-fuss bread.

(More oat-and-blueberry options to come, because it's almost blueberry season, and I love blueberries. If you're not a fan, just replace it with another kind of berry.)

These quick breads are denser than yeast breads, so if you prefer something light and fluffy (though I should warn you, yeast breads take more time and work), try birdseed bread.

2. Oats in Other Baked Goodies

Oatmeal cookies are yummy as they are, but chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are truly something special. It's right up there with oat and maple syrup scones (such buttery goodness!) and banana oat muffins. No brunch is complete without muffins. And scones. And cookies.

3. Blended Oats

When it comes to adding oats to your food, it doesn't get any easier than a smoothie. Just add everything in your blender and GO! At my house, we like a bit of milk, some rolled oats, and whatever fresh fruits are lying around — currently, that's bananas. And I must say, a banana oat smoothie is an excellent way to start the day.

Besides a smoothie, you can also make oat milk in a blender. It's a quick and cheap way to get a nut-free milk alternative, and adjusting the milk to your taste is easy peasy. However, this recipe does call for pouring hot water into the blender container (although I've seen others out there that don't), so be very, very careful.

4. Raw Oats

Muesli is a traditional Swiss cereal that's basically a mix of uncooked rolled oats and dried fruits and nuts. Today, you can buy it in packaged form, but why bother when muesli is so easy to make? You can change it up any way you like — toasted oat and coconut muesli? Yes. You can soak it with milk overnight (which makes it easier to digest), or not — just mix before serving. Or mix it with fruit juice, which some argue is the correct way to enjoy muesli. Or top it with yogurt. Take your pick…and change it up every morning!

5. Oats With Fruits

Need a fun, healthy snack for kids — and adults? Apple sandwiches with honeyed peanut butter, oats, and raisins are easy to put together and even easier to adapt to suit any food allergies or taste preferences. If you can't get enough of the oats and apples combo, be sure to try Waldorf salad with steel-cut oats.

6. Oats Cooked With Vegetables

Don't make the mistake of limiting oats to breads and breakfast foods. Use oats and oat bran for the crust of a mushroom and spinach quiche. Crunchy + Creamy = YUM.

And OK, sure, quiche is sort of a breakfast food, but let's not dwell on that because I want to introduce you to steel-cut oat risotto with butternut squash and mushroom. Didn't think oats could be this savory and delicious, huh? (I sure didn't!)

7. Oats Cooked With Meat

Considering the nutty crunchiness of raw oats, of course you can use it to bread chicken. Oatmeal-crusted chicken tenders are a great to include in any frugal meal plan, but don't forget turkey and oat burgers when you whip out the grill this summer.

Oh, you can make meatloaf with oats, too? (Again — of course you can.)

8. Oats for Dessert

Are you ready for no bake chocolate oat bars? I know I am! You won't need an oven for these bars — simply melt the ingredients, mix them up, and refrigerate until it all sets. If you have 45 minutes to devote to stirring oatmeal (just stick with me here; it'll be worth it), give oatmeal brulée a whirl! Topped with fresh berries and nuts, this dessert is sure to impress your taste buds. Or try roasted blueberry coconut quinoa parfait with coconut granola. There's so much flavor and texture, it's a miracle anyone can stop at only one parfait.

9. Oats Between Meals

Speaking of granola, here's another food you never have to buy again. Homemade granola is nutritious, delicious, and frugalicious. Eat it as is, or like a cereal, or in a parfait (see above), or sprinkle it over home-baked goodies (see farther above). On its own, granola is a filling snack to tide you over until the next meal, and it's easy to carry when you're on the go.

Need another snacking option? Try these no bake oatmeal peanut butter bites. I know sharing is caring, but it wouldn't hurt to reserve a few before you announce they're ready for eatin'. Just in case.

10. Oats for Happy Hour

Lest you think there is any food or drink that oats can't party with, I give you oat and honey vodka and whiskied jungle oats.

11. Finally, Oats as Oatmeal, but Better

I know, the point is to avoid oatmeal…but I believe in second chances, especially when it comes to food. Oatmeal can change!

For example, steel-cut oatmeal is denser and chewier than run-of-the-mill quick oats, and has a nutty punch to it. On the liquid front, switch out water for the milk of your choice. I'm partial to soy, but almond milk tastes great, too — you can't go wrong with blueberry-almond oatmeal. (Unless you're, um, allergic to almonds. Don't use almonds or almond milk if you're allergic to almonds.)

If changing up the ingredients isn't enough to make you pro-oatmeal, you can also try other cooking methods. Baked oatmeal is sure to put the wow factor in any brunch spread, while stir fried oatmeal is an "easy one-pan hot breakfast" that's super versatile to boot. And if you're like me, the easier it is to make something, the tastier it seems to be — which makes slow-cooked oatmeal simply delicious!

Now, if (for some bizarre reason) you have leftover cooked oats, finish it off with fried oatmeal wedges. You read that correctly. Fried. Oatmeal.

Didn't I say that oats are amazing?

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Guest's picture

These are great tips on how to make my kids eat oatmeals. They just simply hate it. But I haven't tried oats with bread.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

Oats in fresh-baked bread is my favorite form of oats! It's so hearty and homey. Even if a recipe doesn't call for oats, I toss some in anyway to replace some flour, then add more liquids so the bread won't come out dense and tough. (Thanks, trial and error!)

Guest's picture

I LOVE my granola bar recipe. However, I don't pretend it's healthy--with that much honey and butter, it certainly isn't! It is, however, a fabulous occasional treat.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

Hey, that sounds pretty healthy for a treat! (Like, compared to a cake smothered in a gallon of buttercream. Or a fried twinkie. Point is, health-wise, it could be worse!)

Guest's picture
Someone's Mom

Raw oats? Oats cooked with vegetables? Oat bread? Yuk! I'll take oatmeal any day.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

I, too, was skeptical about raw oats, but my cousin swears by the soak-it-for-15-minutes method. And that's the great thing about oats! It's so versatile, even if you don't like it one way, there are plenty others to try. =)

Guest's picture

At our house we ove Oatmeal pancakes. They come out nice and fluffy and nobody knows there's oatmeal in them.

Guest's picture

This post is absolutely amazing. Never in a million years would I have thought of doing anything with oats other than boiling it as porridge or baking it in bread. I am definitely going to try breading my chicken with it.

Guest's picture

Mix oats with eggs fry them up in a skillet with a little butter and treat as you would ground beef for tacos, and a few other recipes. Its not a perfect substitute for meat and definitely not vegan, but surprisingly tasty and hearty. Also if you use egg whites very nutritious protein, water soluble fibre, all in a tasty (and mouth pleasing texture) package.

Sometimes we just add a little salt and pepper and a touch of other savory seasonings to make a very satisfying main dish.

It sounds crazy till you try it. Oaty eggs are a keeper.

Guest's picture

I like oats but hate oatmeal - I pour a bunch over my cold cereal and milk, sweeten with honey -works for me

Guest's picture

I just had a captain obvious kind of revelation: Raw instant oatmeal. Those instant oatmeal packs have a lot of flavor in them that gets watered down when you make them. Just pour the packet straight into your mouth and it's like this awesome flavorful snack pack.

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