I've seen several people insist that steel-cut oats are better than regular oats. What makes them different?

  • Cool post on the difference: almightydad.com/fitness-nutrition/… Aug 17, 2010 at 22:09
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    'steel-cut oats' are also called 'pinhead oats', 'irish oats', or 'scotch oats', or 'porridge oats' for those in other countries.
    – Joe
    Aug 17, 2010 at 22:29
  • It's up there with knife cut or hand torn lettuce .... sigh
    – TFD
    Mar 23, 2014 at 22:26

3 Answers 3


Specifically, steel cut oats look like little pellets, whereas rolled oats have the familiar flat shape from going through a steel roller. The rolled ones expose more surface area and therefore cook faster, but produce a different final texture. I do like the steel-cut ones better, but they take upwards of half an hour to cook. You can make a large batch and reheat it for 2-3 days if you like. I think some folks also use a pressure cooker to speed them up.

  • 4
    Do you mean you like the steel cut ones better?
    – Rebekah
    Aug 17, 2010 at 20:16

They're coarser, so they have a better texture when cooked. Rolled oats are mushy and bland, even if you get the non-instant variety. Groats are a pain in the butt to cook: like millet, they take forever.

Steel cut oats are a nice compromise (technically steel cut groats). Get some yummy groaty flavor, but the prep time is much lower (a mere half hour, instead of a week or two for whole groats).

  • Steel cut oats are also higher in fiber and some nutrients (the rollers remove some of the bran, where the fiber and some nutrients are). Aug 17, 2010 at 17:26
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    @Adam Shiemke: Do you have a source for that? The link in @Michael Pryor's comment above claims that there is no difference (of course, it's lacking a source, too; the author just says "I looked it up").
    – Rebekah
    Aug 17, 2010 at 22:31
  • Upon further research: bobsredmill.com/steel-cut-oats.html vs. bobsredmill.com/regular-rolled-oats.html Same. Quaker is a bit lower in fiber, although their quick oats are the same as rolled/steel cut, which is not the vase for bob's. Looks like I was wrong (I compared the bob's steel cut with the Quaker rolled I had at hand). Aug 18, 2010 at 13:24
  • @Adam Shiemke: Thanks for checking on that. The serving size for the steel cut oats is 1/4 cup and the serving size on the rolled oats is 1/2 cup (and is 4 g larger), but perhaps they make the same amount of hot cereal?
    – Rebekah
    Aug 19, 2010 at 12:57
  • @Rebekah Good catch, I didn't notice. If you compare the weights, the rolled are 4g more, so by weight, there might be more nutrient. The numbers aren't accurate enough to tell. Aug 19, 2010 at 13:36

Steel cut oats and rolled oats are the same initial product, and after processing they basically have the same nutritional profile. Only a low heat is used, and nutrients don't magically fly away

Both are steamed. This is done for shelf life. It quite hard to buy fresh, non steamed oats (steel cut or rolled)

Everything else is personal preference, taste, texture etc

Rolled oats cook quicker (and therefore use less energy :-) ), and can be used in many baking recipes

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