9 Oats Varieties

This is a look at the various forms of oats.

Oats are nutrient-dense, simple to prepare, store, highly adaptable, and, above all, delicious! However, if you’re new to the world of oats, determining which variety to use and purchase can be difficult. That’s what this article is all about: to help you understand all of the numerous types of oats, when to use them, and how to cook them.

Oats are a ubiquitous pantry staple, but it’s easy to become confused with so many varieties to pick from. Cereal grass can be roasted, chopped, rolled, or crushed before reaching our kitchens.

They’re also commonly used in oatmeal, homemade granola, muesli, bread, baked items, and even uncooked preparations such as overnight oats. They are highly nutritious while also incorporating unique flavors and textures. It’s adaptable, tastes neutral, and has a long list of health benefits.

Oats are whole grains high in vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein, as well as complex carbohydrates containing insoluble, soluble, and prebiotic fibers. Soluble fiber is beneficial for decreasing cholesterol and, as a result, for heart health. Soluble fiber also increases satiety, keeps blood sugar levels stable, and improves intestinal function. Oats are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help with bone health, metabolism, immunological function, heart health, inflammation reduction, and brain health.

This post will go over the fundamental differences between steel-cut, rolled, and instant oats, as well as how to use them in your everyday cooking.

1. Whole Oat Groats

This is the oat grain in its purest, most complete form. The shell has been removed, but the bran, endosperm, and germ have all been preserved. This type of oat takes the longest to cook out of all the varieties — anything from 30-45 minutes. Cooking oat groats on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot are all options. Oat groats have a texture comparable to rice or barley, and they’re fantastic in savory dishes like oat risotto or a grain-based salad. To get the most flavor out of the grains, toast them before adding the liquid. It adds a nutty flavor to a meal, which might help it taste better. The chewy texture and nutty flavor make it ideal for savory recipes such as side dishes, soups, stews, grain bowls, and hearty hot cereals. Boil it in the same way you would spaghetti or pilaf, then drain the excess liquid.

2. Irish Oats or Steel-cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are exactly what they sound like – steel-cut oats. They’re made by using a steel blade to chop the full oat groat into 2-4 pieces. They have a somewhat chewier texture than entire oat groats. The cooking time increases as the size of the pieces increases. Steel-cut oats can be cooked on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot and take 20-30 minutes to cook. We don’t recommend microwaving steel-cut oats, using them for overnight oats, or making granola with them. Steel-cut oats can also be toasted for a more nuanced flavor. They have a nutty flavor and a chewy texture that can turn creamy and porridge-like when cooked. They are ideal for risottos and pilafs, as well as hot cereals. Cook them on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, in the microwave (ideal with steel-cut oats that cook quickly), or in a pressure cooker. The nutty flavor is enhanced by toasting the oats in a skillet before adding water!

3. Scottish Oats

Scottish oats are less widespread in the United States than steel-cut oats, but they are just as tasty! They are the best oats for porridge since they are created by stone grinding the entire oat groat. On the stovetop, they take around 10 minutes to prepare, but they can also be prepared in the microwave. In the microwave, it takes around 3 minutes to cook.

4. Old-Fashioned Oats or Rolled Oats

Because of its versatility, this is one of the most popular types of oats. The oat groat is steamed before being rolled flat between steel rollers to produce rolled oats. Different manufacturers make different thicknesses of rolled oats, but nutritionally and taste-wise, they are all the same.

The texture of thicker oats will be chewier.  When cooked, they have a mild flavor, a somewhat chewy texture, and a creamy smoothness. They’re available in thick-cut or old-fashioned varieties for even more bite. Oatmeal, overnight oats, oat milk, smoothies, baked fruit toppings, granola, muffins, snack bars, cookies, pancakes, quick bread, and bread are all great uses for this staple. Oatmeal takes 5 to 20 minutes on the stovetop, or 2 to 5 minutes in the microwave, depending on the desired consistency.

5. Quick Oats

Quick oats are a type of oat that is similar to rolled oats. They’re steamed as well, although they’re usually rolled thinner and sliced into smaller pieces, resulting in a bigger surface area and hence a faster cooking time. Quick oats are perfect for quick breakfasts, baked goods, overnight oats, smoothies, granola, energy bites, and pancakes because they cook in 1-3 minutes in the microwave. The texture of quick oats is mushier, so keep that in mind when selecting the right oat for your recipe. They’re also delicious as a binder in baked fruit toppings, overnight oats, cookies, smoothies, muffins, pancakes, and meatloaf. Sugars, flavors, and artificial sweeteners are commonly found in many brands. If you want to keep the extra ingredients to a minimum, go for unsweetened oats.

6. Instant Oats

The most processed form of rolled oats is instant oats. They are frequently pre-cooked, dried, and then broken into smaller pieces after steaming and rolling. Instant oats are the quickest to cook, requiring only a quick soak in hot water or a quick zap in the microwave to be ready to eat. Because instant oats are frequently found in processed foods, they may contain unwanted additives and sugars. Look for nutrition labels that only list one ingredient: oats when buying quick oats. The texture is mushier than instant oats.

7. Oat Bran

It is a byproduct that remains after oat processing. Although it is technically not whole grain because it is the oat groat’s outer layer, it is nutritious because of higher fiber content. It can be added to cereal, made into hot porridge, or baked into baked items to provide fiber. Oat bran adds a nutritional boost but be careful how much you use; too much oat bran can change the texture of your finished product.

8. Oat Flour

Oat flour is simply rolled oats that have been finely pulverized. This means you can produce your own oat flour as long as you have a functioning food processor. It’s commonly used in baked goods and can thicken things. However, it’s not quite as good as corn starch, potato starch, or wheat flour. Fun fact: infant oat cereal is made from finely crushed oats, so you can manufacture it yourself.

9. Gluten-Free Oats

Gluten is a protein found in various foods, including wheat, rye, barley, and triticale, but not pure oats. Gluten-free oats that have been certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization are available from several manufacturers. For those on a gluten-free diet, this is a fantastic option. If you’re gluten or oat intolerant or sensitive, or if you have celiac disease, you should avoid gluten-free oats because of the potential of cross-contamination during harvesting or processing in the production facility.

The best oats to use for making oatmeal are steel-cut, rolled, or instant oats. Oats can be cooked with water, milk, or a combination of both on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in a pressure cooker while making oatmeal. Steel-cut oats take longer to cook than instant and rolled oats. You can select the sort of oatmeal product that is most convenient for you. If you want to balance time and nutrition, some brands even sell quick-cooking steel-cut oats.

See more: Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal | Types of Bread

Oats can be used in a variety of ways in recipes.

  • A classic treat is oatmeal raisin cookies.
  • For breakfast, oat pancakes are a great idea.
  • Make no-bake energy bites with a chewy texture for a long-lasting energy boost.
  • Make your smoothies creamier.
  • Make a crispy topping for apple crisp or cobbler baked in the oven.

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