Steel-Cut Oats vs. Oatmeal

Last Update: September 27, 2022

Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, oatmeal … breakfast shouldn’t be confusing (especially if you haven’t had your morning coffee yet). That’s why we’re breaking down the difference between steel-cut oats versus oatmeal. Most oatmeal recipes call for rolled oats or quick-cooking oats, but steel-cut oats are a great option for a heartier take on this popular breakfast. Some porridges are even made with other grains such as quinoa or millet. The sky really is the limit when it comes to this comforting and warm morning meal.

What Are Steel-Cut Oats?


Steel-cut oats have a few different monikers, like Irish Oats or Scottish Oats. The groats—the whole grain that contains the germ and bran—are cut into small pieces with a sharp metal blade that gives the grain a look that’s similar to rice. The earthy, toothsome flavor makes for a hearty bowl, but beware: steel-cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats.

How to Make Overnight Steel-Cut Oats

For lovers of steel-cut oats, here’s the good news: you can prep breakfast the night before so it’s practically done when you wake up. Just place 1 cup of steel-cut oats and 4 cups of water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and leave it on the stovetop overnight. In the morning, you’ll just need to simmer the oats for five to ten minutes to warm them through and absorb any remaining liquid before serving.

Health Benefits of Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are known for having a lower glycemic index value and can be helpful for managing blood sugar, especially for diabetics. A ¼ cup serving of rolled oats from Bob’s Red Mill contains:

  • 160 calories
  • 4 grams of dietary fiber
  • 5 grams of protein
  • 13 milligrams of calcium
  • 2 milligrams of iron

What Is Oatmeal?


Oatmeal is a popular porridge-like breakfast made of whole grains like rolled oats, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, or quinoa. Rolled oats are the most popular option when it comes to cooking up a quick batch. Rolled oats are groats that have been steamed, then flattened, and because they have a bigger surface area, they cook up a lot quicker than steel-cut oats. (Great for busy mornings when you need something a little more instant!) And speaking of instant, instant oats exist—they’re more processed than rolled oats, having been pre-cooked, dried out, and rolled out paper thin.

Health Benefits of Oatmeal

Whether you choose rolled oats or steel-cut oats to make your oatmeal, the nutritional benefits are similar. Since rolled oats are more processed than their steel-cut counterparts, read your labels carefully to avoid any options that include extra sugar or chemicals. Studies have shown oatmeal to be one of the ingredients that can help lower cholesterol, making it a great way to start your morning if you’re looking to manage your health.

The Best Oats Products

From practically instant oatmeals to steel-cut, find the best oat product that’s right for you.


McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal

McCann’s Irish Oatmeal tins have been lovingly stored in pantries around the world for more than 150 years. It’s made from whole-grain Irish oats and delivers vitamins and other nutrients to fuel your day.

Thrive Market Organic Gluten-Free Rolled Oats

These organic rolled oats are perfect if you love oatmeal but have gluten sensitivities. The bag is free of artificial ingredients and preservatives, and can be added to your baked goods with ease.

Three Bears Wild Blueberry Oatmeal Cup

If you have food allergies, you’ll want to stock up on these oatmeal cups—they’re free of the 8 top allergens and feature a mix of GF instant oats with probiotics and dried fruit.

Best Oatmeal Recipes

Oats are a versatile ingredient for all sorts of dishes including breakfast (obviously) to dessert (oh, yeah) and even savory dinners.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Transform basic oats into a pudding-like morning meal that’s scented with warm spices and studded with carrots, apples, and raisins. It’s naturally sweet but tastes oh-so-decadent.

Carrot cake oatmeal

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

An instant oatmeal recipe is worth keeping in your back pocket for busy mornings. You can make a big batch on the weekend, then portion out servings for the week.

Instant Oatmeal Recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats

Chocolate and peanut butter are really great flavor pals, especially in oatmeal. This recipe is boosted with chia seeds, cacao powder, honey, and organic oat milk.

Savory Mushroom and Kale Oatmeal Bowl

Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. This savory bowl stirs rolled oats with pantry ingredients like protein powder, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder, then tops it with roasted veggies. It’s ready in 30 minutes!

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Baking a warm batch of cookies is always a good idea, right? These oatmeal raisin cookies are pretty classic—but vegan! Instead of butter, this recipe uses rich coconut oil.

Vegan oatmeal raisin cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Smoothie

Next, take those favorite cookie flavors and stick them in your breakfast smoothie. Fuel yourself on the go with oat milk, protein powder, cinnamon, maple syrup, and raisins. It also makes a great after-school stack for kiddos.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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