Save Money, Shop Bulk: A Guide to Oats

Cooking Tips & Tricks / Uncategorized

Steel-cut, quick cook, instant, and rolled. What do these all have in common? They are types of oats! While they may all start as whole-kernel oats, each type ends up having very different characteristics. Let’s dive into each variety of oats, how to use them, and the nutritional benefits that all oats hold!

Types of Oats

Instant Oats

Instant oats have been fully cooked, dried, and then rolled thin for packaging. The pre-processing of these oats allows for a quicker cooking time, making them a convenient choice for people with a busy schedule. You can often find this type of oat in single-serving flavored oatmeal packets. These often have extra added sugars, which may be something to keep track of if you are living with diabetes. The oats in these packages don’t last as long as others due to the added ingredients, and therefore are good for around 6 to 9 months. 

Quick Oats

These oats are rolled thin and cut into small pieces during processing. This helps them to cook faster than rolled and steel-cut oats. Quick oats are not processed as much as instant oats, so they typically retain more fiber and are slightly slower to fully cook. These oats are great to add to dishes like Banana Baked Oatmeal or Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sneak them into any baked breads, muffins, pancakes, and even smoothies for extra fiber! 

You can also use these oats as a substitute for breadcrumbs in many dishes to retain moisture and add some extra nutrition. Add them to recipes like Southwest Turkey Burgers or French Onion Meatball Subs

Rolled Oats (Old-Fashioned Oats)

Rolled oats are also known as old-fashioned oats. They are made by steaming a whole kernel oat and then rolling them flat into flakes. These oats have more texture compared to quick or instant oats and can handle a recipe with more moisture without getting overly soggy or mushy. Rolled oats are great to use for a cup of overnight oats or added into dishes to bulk up recipes. Similar to quick oats, rolled oats are great to add to any baked goods or entree for extra flavor and texture. Try them in some of our favorites, Oatmeal Pumpkin Bites or PB & J Oat Bars, great as breakfast, dessert, or a snack. 

Steel-cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are toasted, whole-kernel oats that have been cut into smaller pieces by a steel blade. Because these oats have been lightly processed, they remain rich in fiber and tend to stay chewy and crunchy compared to other oats. These oats have a longer storage life than others and can last up to 2 years if stored properly. 

Oats Cooking Time

Time to cook oatmeal from quickest to longest when prepared on the stove. Cook times may depend on the brand and amount being prepared, but these are general ranges for each type of oat:

Instant Oats 1-2 minutesQuick Oats 1-3 minutesRolled Oats 10-20 minutesSteel-cut Oats 20-30 minutes

Storing Oats

Store unopened, dry oats in a cool and dry place in your pantry. To prevent oats from spoiling, it’s important to keep them away from moisture, direct sunlight, heat, and humidity. This can cause mold to develop and ruin the oats. To store oats properly, keep them in a cool, dry place.

Oats Nutrition

Oats are a type of cereal grain, falling under the grain category of MyPlate. They are rich in fiber with 8g of fiber per 1 cup serving. The fiber in oats helps support a healthy heart, regular digestion, and steady blood sugar levels. This type of fiber in oats called soluble fiber is good for gut health because it feeds good gut bacteria to help maintain a healthy gut environment. It also may help lower blood cholesterol, which is beneficial for a healthy heart. Lastly, oats provide steady, consistent energy. Thanks to the fiber in oats, they are digested slower in the body helping you to feel energized over a longer time without having a sugar crash.


Oats can be used in a variety of ways outside of oatmeal itself. They are a nutritious, high-fiber, low-cost whole-grain you can add to baked goods, smoothies, granola, cereal, and other entrees for extra fiber! It is important to store oats in a cool, dry place to give them a longer shelf life. 

What are your favorite ways to use oats? Let us know in the comments below. 

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