I eat instant oatmeal at my office desk every morning. I think I can also get instant grits and maybe cream of wheat or something, but what other hot cereals can I make by just adding boiling water? I don't like flavored stuff and I'm not looking for recipes, just a little variety in my admittedly very bland breakfasts.

  • Most of the less common grains aren't "instant', which is what it seems you need. For example, there's amaranth but I don't think they make "instant amaranth".
    – Catija
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:00
  • Indeed. Only instant will fit my office breakfast routine, unfortunately. Amaranth does sound interesting though -- maybe I'll give it a go at home on the weekend.
    – Shane
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:02
  • Depends what you want. I prefer "old fashioned" or "regular" oats, sometimes hot, sometimes with (cold) milk - Both "quick" and "instant" oatmeal (porridge oats - flakes depending where you are) are far too gluey for my tastes, as is overcooking regular oats to that gluey consistency. Hot, they are done enough to suit me with just hot water and no "cooking."
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:06
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    Unfortunately, no. Steel cut take some real cooking, though I have simplified those (when I bother) by steaming a bowl over boiling water rather than boiling the oats in a pot (which always seemed to want to boil over on me, and require constant tending. If steaming, you need to provide adequate water and space in the bowl, but no tending or stirring is needed as they cook.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:15
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    We've done a lot of cereal grains in our rice cooker, actually... It's great because you can set it up the night before and wake up to hot porridge... well, we have a rice cooker with a timer, so that makes it easier.
    – Catija
    Jun 4, 2015 at 20:24

4 Answers 4


If you try regular oats and like them, then you might try flaked/rolled barley, if you can find it.

If you have refrigeration at work (or just bring in one-day's worth each morning), you could also add wheat germ (I can't imagine having a bowl-ful of it, but adding some to your oats would change them up.)

Wheetabix or shredded wheat can also be prepared with boiling water for a hot cereal.

Late recall - "Grape Nuts®" is another one that can be done hot, even if it normally isn't.


You can also prepare fine bulgur by just soaking it in boiled water. This website says to let it sit for 20 minutes, but I've done it with less. I wouldn't normally consider it a breakfast food, but if it's variety you crave, maybe you'll like it.

Couscous is another option. Most couscous you'll find in grocery stores in the US is an instant variety that can just be soaked for 5 minutes. It's not a cereal, though.


Consider also hot instant buckwheat cereal (one possibility from Arrowhead; I thought that Kashi used to have one also but it's not listed here).

Must it be instant? If not, you could try...

  • Go for a hands-off microwave-based preparation; boiling water with old-fashioned oats takes 5 minutes at very low power, and steel-cut oats perhaps 15 minutes at very low power (the latter is what I do most every morning...)
  • You could also (overnight) pre-soak grains to shorten the cooking time. Here's one example for pre-soaked steel cut oats from ATK.
  • Consider also making up a large batch at the beginning of the week, then heating/eating a portion each day; it will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

You can prepare semolina by adding boiling water to it. Of course, adding a boiling milk would yield better results, but that is the matter of taste.

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