Oatmeal. Something we all know and love. (At least most of us.) Growing up, my mom would always make oatmeal using rolled oats, with lots of milk and cinnamon, and this is still my favorite way to eat it. But something has always confused me about oatmeal. And that is, what’s the difference between rolled, steel-cut, and instant? Well, they all start off as oats groats, which are essentially just unprocessed oats. The only difference in these three types is the way the oat groats are processed. The processing affects the texture and cooking time of each.
This type of oat is made simply by chopping up the oat groat into small pieces. It takes the longest to cook and tends to retain its shape even once it’s been cooked. It has a chewy texture and is digested very slowly, keeping you full for longer. They are also the most calorie-dense type of oats.
As I said before, rolled oats are my personal favorite type of oats. To process these, they are first steamed and then flattened into small disc-like shapes. These oats cook much quicker than steel-cut oats and absorb a lot more liquid, so they expand quite a bit while cooking. They’re also very versatile and can be used in many different recipes, especially baked goods.
The last type of oats are instant oats, likely spotted in your average college freshman’s dorm room for mornings when the dining hall isn’t an option. These oats are the most processed, making them the quickest to cook, taking only about 1 or 2 minutes. These are essentially just rolled oats flattened a little bit more and cut into smaller pieces.
While these three types of oats may have different cooking times, textures, and processing, they are all generally equally nutritious. This is because they all contain the whole grain of the oat. So gobble up that oatmeal! Do you have a favorite type of oat?