Recipe Spotlight

How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good

No more spackle for breakfast.

Published Jan. 3, 2023.

A hearty bowl of oatmeal is a classic meal usually eaten as breakfast. Done properly, the nutty flavors of the oats pair well with fruit, nuts, and spices.

But if you’ve ever had bland, overcooked oatmeal, you know it can remind you of spackle. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Oatmeal can taste however you want. And it deserves a place on your table.

Here are 8 ways to tastier oatmeal, just to get you started.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

1. Toast the Oats

One of the best ways to taste more of the oats themselves is to toast them. Toasting brings out their nuttiness. Now they’ll cook up perfectly in this Slow-Cooker Irish Oatmeal.

And it’s not just oats; you should also toast your nuts before adding them to your oats. Toasting nuts helps deepen their flavor and develops their internal sugars. They just taste better. So don’t skip toasting the pecans to top a bowl of Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Carrots and Cherries.

2. Make it Savory

Oats don’t have to be sweet, even for breakfast. When you make your oats savory, you can add ingredients such as white wine and fresh thyme for a luxurious bowl of Instant Pot Savory Oatmeal with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms.

New Release!

The Complete Modern Pantry

When you need to improvise, capture the ethos of true pantry cooking with a unique approach: build simple dishes and combine hundreds of flavor combinations that leave you plenty of room to play (and use up what you have on hand).

3. Go Beyond Water for the Cooking Liquid

We recommend cooking steel cut oats in a mixture of water and milk for soft, creamy results with a bit of chew. But you can also kick up the flavor of your oats with:

  • Carrot juice. Trust us. With a combination of grated carrots, currants, and spices, this recipe for Carrot Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal is essentially a bowl of carrot cake without all the sugar. 
  • Orange juice. The warming flavors of dried cranberries and cardamom with a tangy kick of orange juice makes this Cranberry-Orange Steel-Cut Oatmeal feel like fall for breakfast, all year long. 
  • Apple cider. Mix some leftover apple cider and a grated apple into your overnight oats for the ultimate flavor in Apple-Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal.

4. Stir in Ingredients

Once you’ve seasoned your oats to your liking, add mix-ins for additional sweetness, crunch, or a pop of spice.

This is a members' feature.