This is one of our base recipes. If you love our overnight oats recipe, you’ll love this simple stovetop oatmeal recipe! It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, uses pantry staples, is packed with nutrition and full of flavor. Make a batch of stovetop oatmeal for breakfast this week, and as always, adjust to YOUR taste!
Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for Making the Basic Oatmeal Recipe
Learning how to make stovetop oatmeal is as easy as 1-2-3! Combine, stir, and simmer – that’s it!
The basic oatmeal-to-water ratio is 1:2, but because we use milk for half of the liquid in the recipe, it is 1:1:1 (oatmeal:water:milk).
Stir together the first five ingredients to ensure even flavor distribution.
If you want a creamier oatmeal, use a creamy milk. Skim and almond milk are thinner, whereas whole milk and cashew are creamier. Be mindful of daily saturated fat intake if using whole.
Don’t over-stir, or the oats will become gummy. Just a quick stir to mix everything together, and that should do the trick!
If using a fruit or vegetable puree, such as applesauce or pumpkin puree, stir it in with the water, milk, and spices.
Toast nuts before adding for best flavor.
You can change the type of oats you use in this recipe, depending on what you like and have on hand! Just note that cooking times may vary. Learn more about the different types of oats in this article: Different Types of Oats.
- Water: substitute equal parts milk for extra creamy stovetop oatmeal.
- Milk or Milk Alternative: use regular or dairy-free milk. We recommend plain varieties to reduce added sugars, but if you have sweetened on hand, leave out the added sweetener. You can also substitute eggnog for a fun holiday variation, but definitely leave out the added sweetener.
- Sweetener: use agave, brown sugar, honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup. You can also use jam, juice, or pureed fruit in place of sweetener.
- Flavor Extract: use vanilla, almond, or coconut for best flavor.
- Spice: use cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, apple pie spice, pumpkin spice, or make your own spice blend!
- Oats: old fashioned, rolled, or quick oats all work. Steel cut oats work in this recipe too, but note that cooking time increases. Cook according to package directions.
Base Recipe Variations
Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste! Keep it simple or spice it up!
Use these additional ingredients for even more flavorful oats.
- Fruit: use any fruit of your choosing. Diced apple, diced pear, sliced banana, fresh berries, and frozen blueberries are just some ideas.
- Fruit or Vegetable Puree: use mashed sweet potato, pumpkin puree, mashed banana, applesauce, or pureed butternut squash. Mix in with the milk if using.
- Dried Fruit: use any dried fruit – raisins, chopped figs, cranberries, cherries, and dried blueberries all work well. If using larger fruits such as dried apricots, figs, or prunes, dice into smaller pieces before adding.
- Nuts, Seeds, or Nut Butter: sliced or slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds, or hemp seeds all add great texture and nutrition. Toast before adding for better flavor. If using nut butter, don’t worry if it doesn’t combine thoroughly. It will soften overnight and be easier to mix when ready to eat.
- Coconut Flakes: use unsweetened coconut shreds, flakes, or smiles.
- Mini Chocolate Chips: substitute dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks for best flavor. We don’t recommend using milk or white chocolate, as these are not generally healthy options.
Cocoa Powder: mix cocoa powder in with the milk and oats, or add just a dash before serving.
Want to make your stovetop oatmeal vegan? Use a milk alternative, such as almond, soy, or cashew milk.
Want some oatmeal recipe inspiration?
Use these recipe variations for inspiration, then have fun exploring other flavors, ingredients, and textures!
Take a look at our overnight oats base recipe and its variations for even more ideas!
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:
Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!
Is stovetop oatmeal healthy?
Yes! Hot oatmeal is a great breakfast to start your morning. Packed with fiber, protein, and flavor, stovetop oatmeal will keep you satisfied and energized throughout your morning. This recipe features oats, milk, fruit, and nuts/seeds.
Oats are whole grains, making them rich in disease-fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Any variety of oats provide a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Fiber is important for digestion, satiety, stable blood sugar, good cholesterol, and healthy gut bacteria. Complex carbohydrates are important for steady energy and focus.
Milk or Milk Alternative
Whether you choose to use cow’s milk or a plant based alternative, you are sure to get some nutritional benefit. Cow’s milk is a great source of protein, calcium, vitamins A & D, and more. There are so many plant-based milk alternatives that it’s hard to generalize their benefits, so be sure to read the nutrition label. Soy milk is the most comparable to cow’s milk.
Learn more in our plant-based milk vs cow’s milk article!
Dried, fresh, frozen, shredded, and pureed fruits are all packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Together, these nutrients help reduce inflammation and prevent chronic disease.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain plant-based protein and healthy monounsaturated fats which are good for heart health. These nutrients also help you feel satisfied until your next meal.
Learn more about the benefits of whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in our book, To Your Taste!
Serving Suggestions for the Best Stovetop Oatmeal
Enjoy this oatmeal recipe as is, or add a splash more milk, a drizzle of nut butter, a sprinkle of dried fruit, or a few dark chocolate chips to your taste!
How to Store Cooked Oatmeal
Want to make a big batch of oatmeal today to eat throughout the week? Multiply the recipe by your desired yield, cook, cool, then place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
When ready to eat, dish out individual servings, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy hot or cold!
Want More Breakfast Oat Recipes?
Try out these base recipes, then have fun customizing them to your taste!
Stovetop Oatmeal Base Recipe
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk or milk alternative
- 1 teaspoon natural sweetener (or to taste)
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon flavor extract and/or spice
- Dash kosher salt
- ½ cup old fashioned oats
Toppings or mix-ins to YOUR taste
- ½ cup fresh or thawed from frozen fruit
- ½ cup fruit or vegetable puree (sweet potato, pumpkin, etc.)
- 2 Tablespoons dried fruit
- 1-2 Tablespoons toasted nuts, seeds, or nut butter
- 1-2 Tablespoons toasted coconut
- ½-1 Tablespoon mini chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- In a small saucepan, combine milk, water, sweetener, spices, flavor extract, salt, and optional fruit or vegetable puree. Bring to a boil.
- Add oats, reduce heat, and stir to combine. Simmer for 4-6 minutes or until oats are plump and liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove from heat and let settle for another minute before eating. Oatmeal will thicken as it cools.
- Mix in or top with additional ingredients to YOUR taste. Enjoy!