breaking it down: oats

A few months ago, I was in the grocery store discussing oats with a stranger…you know, the usual.

She explained that she was buying steel cuts oats because they were the “healthiest kind”, but she was frustrated how long they took to make. She also preferred the texture of instant oats over steel cut. I explained that all oats were created equal, so she should get they kind she truly enjoys! Afterwards, I checked out the oatmeal options at the store.

They only offered 1 brand of steel cut oats.

It was organic.

And the most expensive option on the shelf.

No wonder people think it’s always expensive to “eat healthy!”

I’m here to set the record straight by breaking it down for you + giving you accurate nutrition information to decide for your own taste buds!

There are 3 major varieties: steel cut, rolled, + instant/quick oats. There’s also a 4th, less commonly used option called oat groats.

  • Oat groats are simply the entire kernel with the hull removed.
    • The hull is more commonly used in animal feeds than for human consumption.
  • Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been chopped into smaller pieces.
  • Rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed then rolled into flat flakes.
  • Quick oats are oat groats that have been chopped into smaller pieces before being steamed + rolled into flakes.
L to R: steel cut, rolled, quick

Notice a trend?

All these oats are the exact same thing just broken down into different textures. 

Nutritionally — also identical. Each a whole grain with the same amount of protein, fiber, etc. per serving.

quick oats vs. steel cut oats

So, when it comes to your morning porridge — choose whichever you enjoy the most + have time to make!

Lastly, if a recipe calls for quick oats, you can always lightly blend rolled oats as a substitution. Beware of replacing rolled oats for quick oats in a recipe since they may absorb less liquid than quick. It might work depending on the recipe, but no guarantees!


Let’s chat.

What’s your favorite way to have oats?

I love adding a variety of toppings [whaddup chocolate!] to my oats, but ultimately, I’m a sucker for a plain ole bowl of the good stuff!


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  1. I’ve been into muesli lately. Sometimes I’ll make a bare bones version at home using what I normally have stocked in the panty. It all takes less than 5 minutes – mix raw oats with chopped walnuts, flax seeds, dried coconut, cinnamon, then add it with fresh berries and yogurt.

    1. So good — love that! I’ve tried several non-raw granolas, but haven’t found one I’m completely in love with yet! I’ll need to give homemade muesli a shot.

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