How To Make Oatmeal On The Stove (Oatmeal Porridge)

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How to make oatmeal on the stove with water and/or milk – a delicious basic oatmeal recipe perfect for adapting and topping hundreds of ways! Plus, it can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan!

A bowl with berry oatmeal topped with seeds and herbs

I recently started sharing my morning breakfasts on Instagram, including several simple oatmeal recipes (like this Healthy Banana Oatmeal and Berry Oatmeal). No matter how I ‘fancify’ my oats, though, I tend to use a basic oatmeal recipe as my base, which is why I thought I’d share my method for how to make oatmeal on the stove – for creamy, delicious results every time!

I always have jumbo-sized bags of oats in my apartment; whether I’m using them for overnight oats, baked oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, sprinkling them into smoothies, or using them to make this basic oatmeal (aka oat porridge), there’s definitely no lack of inspiration for oat recipes in this apartment.

Oatmeal in a bowl

Oatmeal porridge is warm, comforting, wholesome, healthy, and easily customizable – what’s not to love? In fact, oats are not only 100% whole grain, but they also contain several vitamins and minerals, are rich in antioxidants, and full of fiber – to help keep you fuller for longer. Best of all, they’re naturally gluten-free and vegan!

When prepared correctly, a big bowl of oatmeal porridge will be thick and creamy without being mushy, gluey, or too chewy. Within this post, I’ll take you through my preferred oatmeal to water ratio, how to make oatmeal with milk and/or water, as well as several easy add-ins to the oatmeal basic recipe.

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The Oatmeal Ingredients

Oatmeal Base Ingredients
  • Rolled oats – make sure to use certified gluten-free, if necessary. Different types of oats will affect the cooking time, read the FAQs for more on that.
  • Water – I use a combination of water and milk when making my basic vegan oatmeal. Feel free to use all milk or water if you want it creamier vs. lower calorie.
  • Milk – I tend to use oat milk for oatmeal porridge, but feel free to swap this with your plant-based milk of choice. (i.e. almond milk or rice milk) or even dairy.
  • Salt – just a pinch will really enhance the flavor of the oatmeal, so don’t omit this.

Optional Add-Ins

Obviously, there are tons of ways to adapt and top the simple oatmeal recipe. These add-ins aren’t about adding tons of flavor, instead, they are ways to adapt your ‘base’ easily and still be able to top or flavor with whatever you’d like.

  • Add protein to oatmeal: it’s very easy to add protein to oatmeal with the addition of 1 Tbsp chia seeds/flaxseed or this 5-Seed DIY Vegan Protein Blend or omega seed mix. You could also add a scoop of your favorite plain (or flavored) protein powder.
  • Hidden veggie: I love to add finely grated zucchini to my basic oatmeal recipe (for ‘zoats’). As it cooks, it disappears into the oatmeal and is neutral enough in flavor that you can’t taste it. I suggest adding around 1/2-1 cup of the grated zucchini per 1/2 cup oats used.
  • Sweetener: use the sugar/sweetener of your choice: maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, coconut sugar, brown sugar, or the classic ‘golden syrup’ in the UK.
A bowl with berry oatmeal topped with seeds and herbs and a spoon

Simple Flavorings

  • Nut butter – for flavor and protein, add 1-2 spoonfuls of your favorite nut or seed butter of choice.
  • Chopped dried fruit: dates, raisins, cranberries, apricot, etc.
  • Shredded apple or other fresh fruits.
  • Crushed nuts: pistachios, walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
  • Chocolate: You can add healthy dark chocolate (paleo, vegan recipe), or your favorite chocolate of choice.
  • Vanilla extract: this makes for a wonderful base for tons of toppings. I use homemade vanilla extract and just add enough, to taste.
  • Spices: if I plan on topping my oats with fruits and etc, I’ll often add a little something extra to my base oats: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, pumpkin spice, etc.
  • Coconut: either shredded, coconut flakes, or even coconut butter (for healthy fats and flavor) will add texture and a little flavor. Perfect for pairing with fruits, nut butter, chocolate, etc.

How To Make Oatmeal On The Stove

The Oatmeal To Water Ratio

The most important thing for this simple oatmeal recipe is making sure you use the correct ratio of liquid to oats.

The standard ratio is 1:2 oats to liquid (1/2 cup oats with 1 cup water and/or milk- you can use either or both combined). This ratio makes thick and fluffy oats.

Oats and water

Personally, I prefer my oats to be a little ‘wetter’, so I use 1 1/4 cup liquid in total: 1 cup water and 1/4 cup milk added towards the end of the cooking process.

How To Cook Oatmeal

In a small saucepan, heat up the oats with water and salt. Bring to a boil and then let them simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Then, add the milk to the oats mixture, stir and heat for a further 1-2 minutes.

Steps for making oatmeal

By adding the milk at this point you don’t have to worry about it scalding in the pot and you still get wonderfully creamy results but with only a fraction of the calories. You could alternatively start the process with half water and half milk or all milk. Feel free to reduce the liquid to 1 cup in total if you prefer thicker oats.

Once it’s cooked to your desired texture, pour the oatmeal into a bowl and top with your toppings of choice (like this berry compote).

Steps for mixing oatmeal and compote

How Long Does Oatmeal Last?

I prefer to cook oatmeal freshly every day. However, plain oatmeal porridge will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months! Make sure to refrigerate it within an hour or two of making it though, otherwise, bacteria can start to grow. 

Reheat the oatmeal either in the microwave or on the stove. You may need to add an extra splash of water or milk to get it back to the creamy texture. 

FAQs

How to make oatmeal in the microwave?

This isn’t something I do often, as I prefer the texture of stovetop oatmeal.
Add all of the ingredients to a bowl, mix well, and then microwave on HIGH for between 2-3 minutes.
Use 1 cup liquid when doing this method and stop the microwave after a minute to stir and then heat for the remaining time.
It’s important to use a bowl with high sides as the water/milk will bubble up as it boils. You could also cover it with cling film with a few steam holes poked in it.

What are the types of oatmeal?

There are three main types of oats used to create oatmeal. Each of them is derived from oat groats, which are then processed into the various forms we recognize.
Steel-cut oats: this type of oat is actually the whole oat groat that’s been cut into several pieces. It looks more like grains like rice or barley than the typical soft oats we’re used to. This type of oat is the least processed. However, it also takes the longest to cook (up to 40 minutes!) and requires more liquid.
Rolled oats: also referred to as old-fashioned oats. These are the most common oats and are the oat groat steamed and rolled into thin flakes that are much faster to cook. These will cook creamy but still have some bite.
Quick-cook oats: also referred to as instant oats. These are actually basically rolled oats that have been cut down to smaller pieces, thus taking a shorter time to cook. Due to the smaller pieces, the texture will also change as it is creamier, with less ‘bite.’

Can I use steel-cut oats?

No, this method is specifically for rolled oats (old-fashioned oats). Steel-cut oats usually require more liquid and a lot longer time to cook (25-30 minutes!). Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to share my steel cut oats method.

Simple oatmeal in a pot

Top Tips For Stovetop Oatmeal

  • Make sure to reduce the heat to simmer as soon as it being to boil, otherwise the oatmeal can become very gummy/gluey.
  • Adjust the liquid ratio according to your preference. For creamier, thinner oats use the 1 1/4 cup liquid and 1/2 cup oats, for thicker then use 1 cup liquid only. I suggest using 1 cup to begin and thinning it in the last minute of cooking if preferred.
  • Don’t omit the salt – it really enhances the flavor and you only need a pinch!
  • For even quicker oatmeal, you can leave the oats and liquid in a covered saucepan the night before. Then cook it in the morning. Keep an eye on it though as it will take just a few minutes to be ready.
  • If you use quick-cook (instant) oats, then it will take just 2-3 minutes to cook.

If you try this basic oatmeal recipe, then let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe rating and would love to see your recreations – just tag @AlphaFoodie.

How To Make Oatmeal On The Stove (Oatmeal Porridge)

4.84 from 6 votes
By: Samira
How to make oatmeal on the stove with water and/or milk – a delicious basic oatmeal recipe perfect for adapting and topping hundreds of ways! Plus, it can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan!
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 1 Bowl

Ingredients 
 

Oatmeal Base: For creamy 'wetter' results:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats) gluten-free certified if needed
  • 1 cup water or all milk
  • 1/4 cup milk any dairy or non-dairy – I use oat milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For thicker results:

  • 1 cup liquid only use 1 cup liquid (water, milk, or a combination of the two added at the beginning of the cooking process)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, heat up the oats with the water and salt. Bring to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the milk, stir, and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
    By adding the milk at this point you don't have to worry about it scalding in the pot and you still get wonderfully creamy results but with only a fraction of the calories. You could alternatively start the process with half water and half milk or all milk – Feel free to reduce the liquid to 1 cup in total if you prefer thicker oats.
  • Once it's cooked to your desired texture, pour the oatmeal into a bowl and top with your toppings of choice (like this berry compote).

How To Store

  • I prefer to cook oatmeal freshly every day. However, cooked plain oatmeal can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days (or even frozen for up to 3 months!). Make sure to refrigerate it within an hour or two of making it though, otherwise, bacteria can start to grow.
    Reheat the oatmeal either in the microwave or on the stove. You may need to add an extra splash of water or milk to get it back to the creamy texture. The same goes for the berry compote.

Notes

  • Make sure to reduce the heat to simmer as soon as it being to boil, otherwise the oatmeal can become very gummy/gluey.
  • Adjust the liquid ratio according to your preference: For creamier, thinner oats use the 1 1/4 cups liquid and 1/2 cup oats, for thicker then use 1 cup liquid only. I suggest using 1 cup to begin and thinning it in the last minute of cooking if preferred.
  • Don’t omit the salt – it really enhances the flavor and you only need a pinch!
  • For even quicker oatmeal, you can leave the oats and liquid in a covered saucepan the night before. Then cook it in the morning. Keep an eye on it though as it will take just a few minutes to be ready.
  • If you use quick-cook (instant) oats, then it will take just 2-3 minutes to cook.

Optional Add-Ins
Obviously, there are tons of ways to adapt and top the simple oatmeal recipe. These add-ins aren’t about adding tons of flavor, instead, they are ways to adapt your ‘base’ easily and still be able to top or flavor with whatever you’d like.
  • Add protein to oatmeal: It’s very easy to add protein to oatmeal with the addition of 1tbsp chia seeds/flaxseed or this 5-Seed DIY Vegan Protein Blend or omega seed mix. You could also add a scoop of your favorite plain (or flavored) protein powder.
  • Hidden veggie: I love to add finely grated zucchini to my basic oatmeal recipe (for ‘zoats’). As it cooks, it disappears into the oatmeal and is neutral enough in flavor that you can’t taste it I suggest adding around 1/2-1 cup of the grated zucchini per 1/2 cup oats used.
  • Sweetener: Use the sugar/sweetener of your choice; maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, coconut sugar, brown sugar- or the classic ‘golden syrup’ in the UK.

Read the post above for more flavoring options and the answers to several FAQs!
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, British
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 5 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1Bowl, Calories: 191kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 331mg, Potassium: 227mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 99IU, Calcium: 97mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. Faye says:

    4 stars
    Thank you very much for the basic and yet clear instructions. Every statement helped me answer my questions about cooking basic oatmeal. And the photos were all very useful. Saves me from experimenting a lot and giving up before I even grow to like eating them. Am going to try incorporating it into my diet.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, Faye. Glad you found the instructions clear!

  2. Anneliese Mougharbel says:

    5 stars
    Yes please include your recipe for steel cut oats- my preferred type!

    Thanks so much fir your wonderful posts!

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, Anneliese. Added to the list šŸ™‚

  3. Jamie says:

    5 stars
    I make this a lot! I love it, thank you šŸ™‚ x

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jamie. Glad you are enjoying the recipe. šŸ™‚