(Approx. reading time 11 mins 5 secs)
As many other things, oats seem to come in and out of fashion and we are now living one of the ‘in’ periods. Every social media platform is inundated with ugly porridge bowls hidden by carefully arranged pretty toppings and overnight oats (seriously, what is it with social media’s obsession with overnight oats?).
The great benefit of ingredients becoming popular is that they usually become more easily available and more varieties pop-up. The negative side is that prices tend to go up. Luckily oats seem to have mostly avoided the price hike and only benefited from the larger variety.
You should also check my Oats recipes Pinterest board, which will be regularly updated.
- the 7 different kinds of oats
- storing oats and foods made with oats
- some of my own recipes: bannock, oat banana cookies, baked oats, porridge toppings
- 50+ oats recipes
The 7 different kinds of oats you can buy
Oat harvesting depends on the moisture levels of the grain, if you want to learn the basic of it, I suggest checking the oat harvesting page of Hamlyn’s of Scotland.
Right after harvesting, oats usually go through 3 basic processes before they reach shops:
- de-hulling: the hull (the hard protective part of the grain) is removed.
- steaming: the de-hulled oats are steamed (but not cooked). This is done to prevent oats from going bad, or rancid, too fast.
- milling: the oats are processed to their final form from whole groats to flour.
Even with all this processing all different varieties of oats, except for oat bran, are considered whole grains.
Oat Groats are basically whole oats without the hull, but with no other process applied to them. They are not easy to find other than in health stores and online. Usually they are pricier than other options.
Groats are chewy and take a long time to cook (they are similar to wheat berries or barley). If you want to avoid the 45 to 60 minutes of cook time, a pressure cooker or a slow cooker are good options.
Steel cut oats, Irish oats, coarse oats, or pinhead oats
These are all different names for the same product: groats that have been chopped up. Steel cut oats are quite hard to find in the UK, but relatively common in the US.
They are chewy and take a long time to cook, but less than whole groats. Depending on the size they can take anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes to fully cook.
Scottish oats are similar to steel cut oats, but instead of being cut they are crushed. Traditionally, they were crushed with stones, but now it is done with machines.
They are chewy and cooking times are similar to steel cut oats, but they are slightly creamier.
Rolled oats, regular oats, old-fashioned oats, porridge oats, or oat flakes
Another collection of names that refer to the same product. This is probably the most common variety of oats available, and the cheapest. They are made while the groats are being steamed by rolling them into flakes.
Rolled oats can be cooked somewhat fast either on the stove or by using a microwave, and they have a creamy texture.
Instant oats or quick oats
Instant or quick oats are oats that have been steamed for a longer period of time, have been cut into small pieces, or both.
All kinds of oats can be instant or quick due to longer steaming periods. However, most available ones are made instant by further rolling or crushing, making them more powdery than the other kinds. Also, most instant oats come in individual packets and flavoured, but plain ones are available (if hard to find).
Instant oats cook in minutes with only boiling water needed (much like instant noodles). You can make your own instant oats by processing regular oats for a short time.
Oat flour is basically oats that have been milled into flour. As oat flour has no gluten, chemical raising agents need to be used when baking with it, and bakes usually require a lot of liquid compared to those that use wheat flour.
Baked products made with oat flour tend to have a chewier and denser texture than those made with wheat flour and they often take a longer time to fully cook.
Bran is the hull that gets removed from the groats. We can’t get many nutrients from bran, but we can make use of the fiber. Usually it is mixed with other cereals or added back to oats.
Most bran is currently used as animal feed.
Storing oats and food made with oat
Against common belief, oats can go bad. When they do, their colour will change and they will develop an acidic flavour and musky smell. As with everything, when in doubt just get rid of it. Please don’t feed it to animals, food that’s gone bad is as harmful to them as it is to us! Instead, you can compost it.
Storing before using
Stored properly, oats can last for up to 2 years when unopened and up to 3 months after being opened. Once open, oats should be kept in an airtight container in a cool and dark cupboard. Alternatively, they can be kept in the fridge to extend their life from 3 to 6 months.
Oat bran is very high in oils and will only last up to 6 months unopened and should be refrigerated once opened. Some brands of rolled oats have bran added back, these should be kept in the fridge as well.
Storing porridge and overnight oats
Once oats have been cooked into porridge, refrigeration is a must. Cooked porridge should be cooled as fast as possible and put away quickly to prevent bacterial growth. The best way to do this is to either spread the porridge on a thin layer or to put it away in individual servings. Overnight oats (or bircher muesli) should always be kept refrigerated.
Both cooked porridge and overnight oats can be warmed up using a microwave or in a pan. And they will last up to 5 days from the day they were prepared.
They can both also be frozen if they’re not going to be consumed within 5 days. To thaw, they can be left inside the fridge overnight or quickly thawed in the microwave.
Storing other oat products
When oats are used in baking, the baked products should be treated as usual. If it’s dry (such as bannock or oat muffins) it can be left outside, if it’s moist (such as cooked oats or those popular banana oat cookies) then it’s better kept in the fridge. Scroll down to see my easy recipes for all of these.
Homemade oat milk or horchata will only last for 3 or 4 days (always in the fridge) but the texture will become somewhat slimy after 2 days. If the mouthfeel puts you off, you can use it for baking.
Some of my own oat recipes
Easy oat bannock
Bannock is a crumbly flat bread similar to scones (or the American biscuits) typical of Scotland. Native Americans make a similar flatbread which is now also called bannock.
Bannocks can be either sweet or savoury, and are usually cooked on an open fire. They can be made with pretty much any grain as they don’t require gluten to raise. Wheat, barley, and oats are the most common grains used, alone or combined.
Originally bannocks were baked without any leavening agents, but currently we usually use some baking powder or baking soda to make them softer.
This recipe is for an almost not sweet oat-wheat bannock. We like having it with some butter and jam, or some ham and cheese. It works perfect with both!
Choosing the ingredients
For the flour and sugar, any basic cheap options work, you don’t need anything fancy. As for the oats, you’ll want rolled oats. Steel cut oats would be too hard, and instant oats would get lost in the mix.
You can also use butter instead of oil, but make sure it is melted first.
If you’re feeling fancy you can add all sorts of herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. We love cinnamon with raisins for a sweet combination, and smoked paprika with oregano for a savoury one.
In a bowl mix 350 grams (2 cups) of plain flour, 250 grams (2 cups) of oats, 70 grams (1/4 cup) of sugar, 35 grams (1/4 cup) of oil, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
The dough should be easy to work. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it’s too hard, add a little more oil or a bit of milk.
Shape the dough as a round flat cake and score with a knife.
Scoring makes cutting later much easier. It is not needed, but highly recommended! Once cooked a bannock is quite crumbly.
You can either bake the bannock in an oven or on the stove top.
If using an oven, bake the bannock in an oven preheated to 180 C (355 F) for approximately 50 minutes. If baking on the stovetop, cook on a pan or griddle and turn over every few minutes so that the bannock cooks evenly.
If you’re out camping, you can also bake you bannock over the fire!
Oat and banana cookies (that taste like actual cookies)
These cookies have been going around for a while. They’re very easy to make with only 2 ingredients, they’re gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free. They tick all the boxes. Except that they taste like cardboard!
They are the blandest cookies you’ll ever have! If someone tells you ‘they are so good, like real cookies’, they’re lying to you, or they have never had cookies before.
However, there are ways to make them taste as good as real cookies, but they stop being 2-ingredient cookies and that doesn’t make for a good clickbait title! But, they’re still very quick and easy.
Choosing the ingredients
For this recipe you can use either rolled oats or instant oats. If you make your own oat milk, you can also use the leftover pulp (freeze it and make the cookies when you have enough for a decent batch).
The bananas need to be either spotty and getting a bit too soft, or frozen (and thawed). But don’t use the thawing liquid if you go for frozen bananas.
As for the flavours the sky is the limit! Nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, spices, sugar, syrups, dried fruits… The one on the photo has chocolate chips, chopped salted cashews and some sprinkles on top (for added cuteness).
I’ve also made maple pecan cookies (with chopped pecans and maple syrup), snickerdoodle-inspired cookies (with cinnamon and sugar on top), and Christmas cookies with dried cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon and ginger. You should also check my porridge ideas lower down for some other flavours that would work great on these cookies.
This recipe uses cups for measures because it just works better that way as it is an open and completely customisable recipe.
Mix 1 cup of mashed bananas with 1 cup of oats.
Add up to 1/2 a cup of dry ingredients (nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, spices, sugar…) and 1/8 of a cup of wet ingredients (flavourings, essences, syrups, coffee…) and mix.
Shape and bake
Divide the cookies on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 180℃ (350℉) until golden brown.
The cookies will be ready when they slightly hard on the sides and chewy in the middle. Allow them to cool for the best flavour and texture. They can be reheated in the microwave, oven, or toaster to serve.
Easy baked oats with fruit
Oats are a great breakfast staple: affordable, easy to make, filling, and nutritious. But sometimes it’s just too hot to have a bowl of porridge in the morning.
Baked oats are a really good alternative for those days. They are basically a cooked flapjack with less sugar, and more protein. And they can be taken for a convenient on-the-go breakfast or snack. We often take baked oats with us when we spend the day at the beach or when we go hiking.
Choosing the ingredients
You’re better off with rolled oats when baking them. The full grain versions end up too chewy and the instant versions get mushy.
The fruit could be any kind of frozen fruit, just make sure they are completely thawed and you use the liquid. You can also use apple sauce.
This recipe has egg in it, but it can be very easily replaced with flax seed ‘egg’. And the sugar could be omitted if your fruit is sweet enough.
In a bowl mix 250 grams (2 cups) of rolled oats, 375 grams (2 cups) of thawed frozen fruit (juice included), 70 grams (1/4 cup) of sugar, 2 eggs, and 7 grams (1 tablespoon) of cinnamon.
Transfer to a pie, cake, or muffin cases. And make sure they mix isn’t thicker than 3 centimetres (1 1/4″) or it won’t bake properly.
Bake in the middle rack of an oven preheated to 180 C (350 F) until the oats turn golden brown and your finger doesn’t sink if you poke the mix (you’re basically checking that the eggs are cooked). The exact time would depend on the fruit you used and the size of the cases.
Porridge topping ideas
None are actual recipes, just add as much as you want depending on your preferences. Experiment! That’s most of the fun when it comes to cooking.
And don’t forget that you are not limited to porridge! You can use these toppings as mix-ins for overnight oats, or even add them as flavourings to oat cookies.
Apple pie porridge
Budget: add applesauce, ground cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Fancy: replace the applesauce with fresh chopped apples or dried apples and use a cinnamon stick. You have to add these before cooking the oats.
Peanut butter cookies porridge
Budget: add chunky peanut butter and chocolate chips.
Fancy: use chunky all-peanut peanut butter and dark chocolate shavings.
Carrot cake porridge
Budget: add shredded carrots and raisins before cooking, and walnuts before serving.
Fancy: replace the raisins with currants and the walnuts with pecans.
Budget: add peanut butter and jam.
Fancy: use all-peanut peanut butter and homemade chia jam (fruit puree and chia seeds, and a bit of sugar if needed).
Peaches and cream porridge
Budget: add canned sliced peaches and vanilla yogurt.
Fancy: add fresh sliced peaches and vanilla ice-cream.
Bakewell tart porridge
Budget: add almond essence and canned or frozen cherries.
Fancy: add flaked almonds and fresh pitted cherries.
Budget: add cranberry sauce and mixed spice (or apple pie spice mix or pumpkin spice).
Fancy: add dried cranberries and a replace some of the cooking liquid with mulled wine (use an alcohol-free wine if you don’t want to start your day drunk, my favourite one is Ikea’s).
Budget: add chopped bananas, canned or frozen pineapple and mango, and shredded coconut.
Fancy: add banana chips, dried pineapple and mango, coconut shavings, and replace some of the cooking liquid with coconut water.
Ferrero Rocher porridge
Budget: add some nutella (which is made by Ferrero).
Fancy: add dark chocolate shavings and chopped hazelnuts.
Pumpkin pie porridge
Budget: add canned pumpkin puree (Outside of the US, look of it in the ‘American’ section of the supermarket, in the UK it’s only £1) and pumpkin spice mix (or mixed spice, or apple pie spice mix).
Fancy: use homemade pumpkin puree.
50+ oat recipes from around the web
There are hundreds of fantastic recipes online. These are just some of my favourite ones that feature oats as one of the main ingredients.
Most recipes come from big-name websites because I hate having to scroll for 5 minutes through 25 ‘aesthetic’ photos on a blog to get to a recipe. The only blogs linked, are easy to read and use.
- 3-minute no-bake cookies, by Quaker
- Anzac biscuits, by Jamie Oliver
- Apple crumble with walnuts, by BBC (Mary Berry)
- Banana oat muffins, by Quaker
- Black forest cranachan, by BBC
- Breakfast bars, by BBC
- Carrot cake bread, by Quaker
- Chocolate and ginger oat biscuit, by BBC
- Chocolate chip oat energy bites, by Quaker
- Diggers, by BBC
- Easy oat cake, by allrecipes
- Flapjacks, by BBC
- Ginger oat crunch biscuits, by BBC
- Hob Nob biscuits, by allrecipes
- Honey oat roasted pears, by Food network
- How to make porridge, by BBC
- How to make overnight oats, by woman & home
- No-bake oat and chocolate macaroons, by allrecipes
- Not-so-sinful brownies, by Quaker
- Oat cinnamon rolls, by Passion kneaded
- Oaty rhubarb and ginger streusel cake, by Delicious magazine
- Oaty shortbread recipe, by Delicious magazine
- One-bowl triple chocolate oatmeal jumbles, by Quaker
- Original granola, by Deliciously Ella
- Parkin, by Delicious magazine
- Plain oatmeal cookies, by allrecipes
- Sweet potato baked oats, by allrecipes
- Baked peppers with oaty nut stuffing recipe, by Good to know
- Beetroot veggie burgers, by BBC
- Caramelised onion, mushroom and gruyere quiche with oat crust, by Food network
- Chilli cheese flapjacks, by allrecipes
- Cuban-style black beans & plantains over oatmeal, by Quaker
- Everything bagel crackers, by Chatelaine
- Haggis bon bons, by Scotland now
- Herb-goat cheese gluten free oat scones, by Quaker
- Kid’s soda bread, by BBC
- Meatzza, by BBC
- Mediterranean Deviled chicken salad, by Quaker
- Oat-crusted pork medallions with spicy mushroom sauce, by allrecipes
- Oaty pork in cider, by allrecipes
- Pan di ramerino (Tuscan rosemary bread), by allrecipes
- Pumpkin seed crackers, by allrecipes
- Roasted cauliflower & oat soup with turmeric, by Quaker
- Rye, ale and oat bread, by BBC
- Savory baked breakfast oatmeal cups, by Sondi Bruner
- Savoury oat risotto, by allrecipes
- Savoury oatmeal with mushrooms spinach and thyme, by Quaker
- Simple spinach, cottage cheese and oat pancakes, by Mostly Eating
- Simon Rimmer’s mackerel rolled in oats, by Good to know
- Skirlie, by Great British Chefs
- Staffordshire oatcakes, by allrecipes
- The life-changing loaf of bread, by SBS
- Veggie crumble, by BBC