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Burning Question: Are Traditional & Instant Oatmeal the Same?


My guy and I are both big fans of oatmeal for breakfast, and on a recent morning, the two of us got into a discussion about the differences between old-fashioned oatmeal, quick-cooking oats, instant oatmeal, and steel-cut oatmeal — all of which are in our pantry. What makes each one distinctive? And do they all have the same nutritional value?

All types of oatmeal are made from groats, or ground oats that have been hulled, or dehusked. Traditional, old-fashioned oatmeal — the kind most commonly seen in cereal, granola, and muesli — is made from groats that have been steamed, rolled flat, and then flaked. Quick-cooking rolled oats, sometimes called quick oats, are cut into small pieces before being steamed and rolled. Irish oatmeal is my personal favorite; also known as steel-cut oatmeal, it is made up of groats that have been chopped into small pieces instead of flattened. It has a chewier texture and takes longer to cook. Instant oatmeal is precooked and then dried.

The nutritional profile across all varieties of oatmeal is the same — although certain types are often portrayed as nutritionally inferior. Instant oatmeal, for example, is still a whole grain, but it has a higher glycemic index and is more likely to contain sweeteners or sodium.

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Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 5 years 3 weeks
I like the texture and flavor of steel-cut oats better than the others.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 5 years 4 weeks
Excellent explanation! I believe the less processed the better.
amybdk amybdk 5 years 5 weeks
Steel cut oats! They come out much heartier and more filling than quick cooking oats.
RaincityChicky RaincityChicky 5 years 5 weeks
I love steel cut oats! Actually, if you soak them over night they cook in about 5 min in the morning. They also easier to digest and better for you... http://www.highonhealth.org/why-its-very-important-to-soak-oats-before-you-eat-them/
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 5 years 5 weeks
steel cut takes MUCH longer to cook, but it is SOOOOOOOOOOO WORTH IT!!!
luckykarma luckykarma 5 years 5 weeks
I keep hearing about steel cut oats and I think I am going to try them! I have never had anything different than instant oatmeal and I am excited!
wednesday_adams wednesday_adams 5 years 5 weeks
Love steel cut oats on a cold morning. To cut down on sugar, I also mix flavored instant oatmeal with plain quick oats and add some cinnamon.
Spectra Spectra 5 years 5 weeks
I prefer the steel-cut oats for eating, but I usually use the old-fashioned ones for cooking. Is there a big difference in cooking if you use the old fashioned ones instead of the quick-cooking ones in a recipe?