How To Make Instant Oatmeal Taste Good When You Don't Have Much Time To Make Breakfast Every Morning
Instant oatmeal is a convenient, super fast, and relatively healthy breakfast option, not to mention it's extremely simple to make. But let's be real — finding ways to make instant oatmeal taste good can be something of a challenge. When compared to "homemade" oatmeal that's stirred on the stove with hot water or milk until it's creamy perfection, instant oatmeal is kind of like hot, wet, soggy cereal, which by comparison, is pretty gross. Unfortunately, we don't always have time to make our own oatmeal from scratch, and so we reach for a packet of the instant stuff, add some water, wait one minute and 30 seconds, and then pretend it's delicious.
Fortunately, though, there are some ways to make instant oatmeal taste better. If you've just been eating it plain, or depending on the bits of dry fruit or flavoring that are supposed to be in there... I'm sorry. You've been missing out. You can do so much better than that, and I'm going to show you how to get there.
There is no reason you shouldn't enjoy a fast breakfast that also tastes awesome. So, spend a few extra minutes grabbing some of these items, because it's worth it. I guess you could use all of these ideas at once for one giant oatmeal bowl, but that seems a little intense. Instead, pick one or two different tricks, and experiment until you find the recipe that works for you. Here are 11 ways to make instant oatmeal taste so good, you'll forget it's instant.
1. Add Real Fruit
Fresh fruit will taste much, much better than the dried up fruit or fruit flavoring you'll find in an instant oatmeal packet. You can cut up basically any kind of fruit to top your oatmeal, from apples to berries to something more tropical, like mangos. You can heat up the fruit on the stove with a little sugar and water to make it almost like a warm jam.
2. Add Honey Or Brown Sugar
If you're not into plain oatmeal with no sweetener, then you can add some sugar to your oatmeal for a sweeter taste. Honey is great when you drizzle it on top, especially over fruit. Brown sugar is nice mixed in, because it dissolves easily when the oatmeal is warm and adds a lot of extra sweetness. Either one will perk up any bowl of oatmeal right away.
3. Use Nut Butter
If you've never added Justin's Almond Butter to your oatmeal, you're not living. Just a tablespoon of it makes a bowl of oatmeal so much better. If you're not into almond butter, you can use peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, chocolate almond butter — whatever you want! It makes oatmeal creamier and flavorful, and it's a great substitute for something more sugary.
4. Make It With Milk Or Almond Milk Instead Of Water
The instructions on any packet of instant oatmeal will tell you to use water when cooking. While making oatmeal with water is the healthier option, it's not always the tastiest one. Try using milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk in place of water for something that feels heartier and more comforting.
5. Add Spices
Spices can add lots of flavor to anything, and they're a great option if you don't have much time to get fancy with your bowl of oats. Try topping your instant oatmeal with cinnamon or nutmeg for a sweet and spicy flavor. If you want to eat something that tastes like fall, opt for pumpkin pie spice. Really, though, you can use whatever you like best.
6. Add Dark Chocolate Chips
Who says you can't have candy for breakfast? A handful of dark chocolate chips will make a huge difference for your instant oatmeal. You can simply top your oatmeal with the chips, or you can mix them right in while making the oatmeal to get them melted throughout. Either way, you really can't go wrong.
7. Put Cereal On Top
If you prefer crunchiness over sweetness, pour some of your favorite cereal over your instant oatmeal. You can opt for either a healthier option with lots of fiber and maybe some dried fruit, or you can have fun with it and top it with something like Frosted Flakes or Fruit Loops. Either way, it adds some nice texture to your breakfast.
8. Sprinkle On Some Coconut
In case you haven't realized, coconut is kind of a miracle food. It tastes delicious on oatmeal, and can give a little extra sweetness or crunch. If you want something crunchy, go for coconut chips. If you'd prefer something more chewy and a lot sweeter, add shredded coconut. Either one is delicious.
9. Add Maple Syrup
Want your oatmeal to be sweeter without adding too much sugar? Maple syrup is the answer. Drizzle it over your finished oatmeal to add a nice hint of sweetness that also sort of reminds you of pancakes (in the best way possible).
10. Add Some Crunch With Nuts
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts... whatever you're into, put it right on top. Nuts are a great way to add a hearty crunch to your oatmeal, as well as a nice way to make it even more filling. They'e also heart healthy and taste delicious, which definitely doesn't hurt.
11. Add Fruit Preserves
If you don't have fresh fruit on hand, add a spoonful of preserves. They're sweet, and will taste almost as good — if not better. These are great to mix into your oatmeal so that it's smoother and creamier than just adding fruit on top. And even if you don't have preserves, jam or jelly works well also.
This article was originally published on August 24, 2015 and was updated on September 11, 2019.