This Is How to Make Oatmeal Taste Better, According to a Cookbook Editor

Go beyond the packet! Here's how to add flavor to oatmeal with fruit, nuts and other sweet and savory mix-ins.

Delicious and healthy, oatmeal takes the cake when it comes to a hot, satisfying breakfast. Not only is oatmeal one of the easiest dishes you can make, but it is also high in protein and the variations on these cozy bowls of comfort are only limited by your pantry and imagination. See how simple it is to make this modest little oat taste amazing when you add fruit, nuts, spices and other tasty mix-ins.

How to Add Flavor to Oatmeal

Whether you’re whipping up a bowl for yourself or treating overnight guests to a homemade breakfast, try one of these fresh takes on the old-fashioned favorite.

Stir in fresh or dried fruit

Looking for an easy way to get an extra serving of fruit into your day? Add essential vitamins and nutrients by topping your oats with fresh apple, banana, pineapple, peaches, cherries, kiwi or berries. And don’t forget dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, figs, dates, currants and apricots. With these ideas, or tasty recipes like Brown Sugar & Banana Oatmeal, eating more fruit with breakfast has never been easier.

Add savory ingredients

Take oatmeal to the next level by giving it a savory twist. The flavor goes up a notch when you toss in cooked meat (bacon, ham or sausage), any type of cheese, pico de gallo, or even a poached or sunny-side-up egg. And if you want to get really crazy, add some hot sauce to turn up the heat.

Top with crunchy extras

If you like a little crunch when you munch, top your oats with chocolate chips, pecans, almonds, peanuts, toasted coconut, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds. Nut lovers will enjoy this fruit-nut baked oatmeal.

Mix in a natural sweetener

If you have a sweet tooth, skip the sugar-laden instant packet and instead add one of these delightful mix-ins: honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, agave nectar or flavor extracts such as vanilla, almond or cherry. Or make your bowl extra creamy and indulgent by stirring in dairy milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, Greek yogurt, kefir or chocolate milk.

Health Benefits of Oatmeal

If these fresh and fun flavor variations still haven’t convinced you, ponder the health benefits of oatmeal before your next breakfast.

  • Helps manage weight. Oatmeal helps curb your cravings because it takes a long time to digest, making you feel fuller longer. Goodbye, midmorning snack attack!
  • Keeps your heart healthy. A nurses’ health study found those who ate oatmeal five or more times a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 29%.
  • Wards off diabetes. The high fiber and complex carbohydrates in oatmeal have been shown to reduce both blood sugar and insulin levels, an important asset in controlling diabetes.
  • Keeps high cholesterol in check. Studies have shown that oatmeal lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and may also boost levels of HDL cholesterol (the good, protective kind).

So there you have it. Oatmeal can be a tasty, healthy part of any meal. And in additional to being a meal on its own, you can mix oatmeal into meatloaf, burgers or fish cakes, use it to thicken soups or sauces, or even turn it into a topping for a fruit crisp.

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Amy Glander
Amy is a book editor at Taste of Home where she gets to pour her passions for food and storytelling into trade and series cookbooks. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her antiquing, cooking and baking from her favorite vintage cookbooks and exploring Milwaukee’s urban beauty with her digital SLR in hand.