How to Make Oatmeal Taste Better

By Kathryn Walsh

It's filling, affordable and usually quick to make, but oatmeal is typically not the most flavorful breakfast option. Instead of thinking of this breakfast staple as bland, consider it a blank canvas on which you can build the flavors you enjoy. Experimenting with new preparations and additions can change your perception of oatmeal.

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Bowl of cooked oatmeal with jug of milk and apples.

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Adjust Techniques

Cooking oatmeal is pretty straightforward, but finding the cooking method that most appeals to your tastes may require a bit of experimentation. Try lightly toasting oats in a dry pan for a few minutes to provide your finished oatmeal with nutty flavor. If you like your oatmeal creamy, advises "Bon Appetit," add cold oats to water and boil them together; putting oats in already boiled water results in chewier oatmeal. The magazine also recommends eating oatmeal out of a deep bowl or mug to prevent it from turning cold prematurely.

Swap Liquids

A flavorful liquid brightens up your oatmeal. Rather than water or regular cow's milk, try using almond, coconut or chocolate milk -- or a combination thereof. Apple cider or sweet fruit juice are unexpected additions to oatmeal, but since fruit makes a tasty oatmeal topper, using fruit juice as the cooking liquid is a logical choice. Even if you prefer to cook oatmeal with water, try adding a splash of a different liquid to the finished dish.

Let Oatmeal Soak

Letting rolled oats steep in liquid overnight means they'll be creamy and ready to eat by morning. Combine equal parts oats and liquid plus flavorings such as vanilla extract or flavored protein powder; stir it up and refrigerate. This method requires no cooking, and you can eat the oatmeal cold or warm. Try making oatmeal in a slow cooker, an ideal method for steel-cut oats. Thoroughly butter the inside of your slow cooker at night -- or use a liner -- add oats and liquid and set it on low. The oatmeal will be ready when you wake up.

Play With Toppings

Fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon and brown sugar are typical oatmeal toppings, but they're not your only options. Mix granola, shredded coconut, chopped and toasted nuts, sunflower seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, pureed pumpkin or healthy flax, hemp or chia seeds into oatmeal, or stir in a spoonful of your favorite nut butter or jam. Savory toppings include shredded cheese, roasted veggies, eggs, crumbled bacon or sausage turn oatmeal into a satisfying breakfast or a quick-and-easy dinner.