How to Make Oatmeal on the Stove

By: Lindsay Bare

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Whether you eat them on their own or jazzed up with flavor, old-fashioned rolled oats make for a great balanced breakfast.

Oatmeal in a white bowl topped with chopped almonds and raspberries with a small white bowl of raspberries and a beige linen in the background.

Best Stovetop Oatmeal 

We’ve tested practically every way to make old-fashioned rolled oats (microwave, Instant Pot, and overnight), and there is just something special about the texture that comes from cooking them on the stovetop. We’ve found that a combination of milk and water also makes for the best of both worlds – the milk adds creaminess (plus additional protein), and the water keeps the oats from becoming too sticky.

Can you make Oatmeal on the stove?

You betcha! Oatmeal on the stovetop is a really easy way to make both single servings or large batches of oatmeal. 

Is oatmeal better cooked on the stove?

I think the stovetop is a great option for cooking oats. The frequent stirring really helps release the starches resulting in a perfect bite and texture. 

Oatmeal Stovetop Ingredients 

Stovetop oatmeal ingredients in glass bowls on a gray and white marble surface.

Here’s what you’ll use to create a simple and tasty stovetop oatmeal base:

  • ½ cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup of your milk of choice
  • ½ cup of water
  • Pinch of salt

Stovetop Oatmeal Ingredient Modifications

  • Adjust the liquid – use all milk or all water depending on your personal preference.
  • Make it dairy-free – use your dairy-free milk of choice (almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and soy milk all work great) here if you prefer!
  • Add spices – add a pinch of seasonings (cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and/or cardamom are tasty options) to really jazz up the flavor.

Oatmeal Stovetop Topping Ideas

Top down view of white bowl with oatmeal topped with raspberries and chopped almonds.

Oatmeal can really carry a variety of flavors, so make it your own and top it with whatever your taste buds desire! Here are some ideas:

  • Make it simple – add a handful of berries and some chopped almonds for simplicity and ease that doesn't compromise on added texture and flavor.
  • Make it savory – add cheese, bacon, and chopped parsley or chives for a deliciously savory oatmeal.
  • Make it tropical – use coconut milk as your liquid base and top with shredded coconut, mango, and chia seeds.
  • Make it sweet and tangy – add a scoop of full-fat Greek yogurt, a handful of blueberries, lemon zest, and a drizzle of maple syrup. 

Is it better with water or milk to cook oatmeal on the stove?

We think both! The combination of water and milk gives the oatmeal just the right amount of creaminess while also keeping the oats from becoming too sticky. The secret is to bring the two to a simmer or slow boil to prevent the milk from scalding. 

Why do you add salt to the stovetop oatmeal recipe?

We’ve found that a pinch of salt adds just the right amount of seasoning to the oatmeal to really enhance the nutty, toasty flavor of the oats.

Supplies Needed to Make Oatmeal on the Stove

How to make Oatmeal on the Stove

Hand holding Pyrex measuring container pouring milk into white pot on stove.
Hand holding copper measuring cup dumping dry oats into water and milk mixture in a white ceramic coated pot on the stove.
Hand pouring water from glass Pyrex measuring cup into white ceramic coated pot on the stove.
White ceramic coated pot with a lid on the stovetop.
  1. Bring liquid to a boil – in a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a simmer. Reduce the heat, and add the oats and salt to the saucepan. 
  2. Cook – cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats have absorbed most of the liquid. 
  3. Remove from heat – remove the pan from the heat, cover with the lid, and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy – garnish with your desired toppings and enjoy!

Oatmeal to Water Ratio 

For this stovetop old-fashioned rolled oats recipe, you’ll use a 1:2 oatmeal to liquid ratio. 

How long do you cook oatmeal on the stove?

After many test batches, we found that 5-7 minutes on the heat, plus an additional 2-3 minutes covered off the heat was just the right amount of time for beautifully creamy textured oatmeal.

How do you keep stovetop oatmeal from boiling over?

The key to keeping your oatmeal from boiling over is to cook over low heat and stir occasionally. 

Top down view of white bowl with oatmeal on a gray and white marble surface with a beige linen draped in the corner and a copper spoon to the right side.

How do you know when stovetop oats are ready?

Your stovetop oats are ready when the liquid has been absorbed and your oats have plumped up in size.

FAQs for Cooking Oatmeal Stovetop

How do you make oatmeal taste good?

The key to the best-tasting oatmeal is to add a pinch of salt at the beginning of cooking. This really enhances the flavor of the oats, similar to how salt acts in any recipe.

What can I add to the stovetop oatmeal recipe?

Whatever you can dream up! But really, oatmeal is so versatile and holds flavor really well. You can add in sliced fruit, jam, nut butters, and spices, or get really creative and add savory flavors (think: soft-boiled egg, herbs, cheese, ham, bacon), yogurt, chocolate chips, mascarpone, and more!

Can I eat this stovetop oatmeal recipe every day?

Absolutely! Stovetop oatmeal makes for a balanced meal (with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats) to start off any day.

How to Store and Reheat Stovetop Oatmeal

Stored in an airtight container, your oatmeal will be good in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, add a splash of milk or water and microwave for 45-60 seconds or warm through on the stovetop. Stir, add toppings, and enjoy!

Oatmeal in a white bowl topped with chopped almonds and raspberries with a small white bowl of raspberries and a beige linen in the background.

More Favorite Breakfast Recipes

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Stovetop Oatmeal

Old-fashioned rolled oats make for a great balanced breakfast whether you eat them on their own or jazzed up with flavor.

  • Author: Lindsay Bare
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving 1x
  • Category: Breakfast Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk (of choice)
  • ½ cup water
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a simmer. Reduce the heat and add the oats and salt to the saucepan.
  2. Cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats have absorbed most of the liquid.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with the lid, and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Garnish with your desired toppings and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use all milk or all water if desired.
  • If you want to make ahead and reheat, add a splash of milk or water and microwave for 45-60 seconds or warm through on the stovetop.
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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