I am specifically dealing with oat flakes, however I would be happy to hear answers from the spectrum of oats.

Preferably cheap, healthy, fast and easy but a comparison of the different possible methods would be great. If anybody could tag this post with oatmeal that'd be great.

I bought a bunch of oats (a nice bulk bag), and have learned the distinction between oats and the quick cooking instant oatmeal which I love.

Upon adding boiling water to the oats, I am left with softened oats but how can I get a product similar to instant oatmeal with the bulk oats I have already purchased?

  • 2
    Can you clarify what exactly you have bought? Terminology varies from country to country so if you can describe them or link to something that matches there will be less ambiguity. This site might help To me 'oats' with no qualifier are groats, the whole grain, 'oatmeal' is groats that have been milled, and I make porridge from, Which gets confusing because for some people the thing I call 'rolled oats' are 'porridge oats', whereas the only use I've ever found for them is stopping my bread sticking to its proving basket....
    – Spagirl
    Aug 3, 2018 at 10:04
  • 1
    I am not sure what you are missing here. Is it that you didn't realize that standard oats have to be cooked before consumption? Or do you know that this is typical, but are asking if there is a way to preprocess them on your own at once, so that cooking is no longer needed later? Also, do cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/63015 or cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/47097 cover what you wanted to ask?
    – rumtscho
    Aug 3, 2018 at 16:17
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    Oats are naturally big grains that look kind of like brown rice. In order to make them cookable, those hard shells have to be breached somehow. In the US, you can usually buy either "steel cut" oats which are just groats sliced open, or "rolled" oats which are sliced open and pressed flat between rollers. Both make fine oatmeal; it just takes much longer to cook the steel-cut kind. If you have whole oats, you'll have to find a way to break into them. Aug 3, 2018 at 18:35
  • @Spagirl oat flakes question updated Aug 4, 2018 at 16:15
  • 1
    I read the question as the OP wants to know how to turn their big bag of regular oats into instant oats for future consumption
    – Cynetta
    Aug 5, 2018 at 12:18

2 Answers 2


I use large flake oats. Two-to-one by volume tap water to oats in a bowl. Don't even stir, you'll have to do something with the wet spoon if you do. Handful of dried raisins and/or cranberries. Microwave for 2 minutes at 70%. Add a few shakes of salt (salt is really important for oatmeal) and give it a good stir. When you take it out of the microwave it will look done, but stirring will reveal there are less cooked oats under the ones at the top.

Give it another 2 minutes at 70 and stir it well again. I often stir in a little milk at this point, which can cool it as well as making it creamier. If you find you would like it sweeter, a little brown sugar or maple syrup over the top and not stirred in work wonderfully.

If instead of large flake you have quick oats, you'll need less time in the microwave. Instant oats need only boiling water, but they generally only come pre-flavoured and sweetened. If you did get plain instant, you'd probably want to cut your dried fruit small so it would be ok with just boiling water. Steel cut oats need significant cooking - most people I know use a slow cooker over night. If you're not sure what you got from the bulk store, either experiment with different cooking times until you're happy, or look for pictures of various oat forms until you know what you have.

  • You could perhaps incorporate a link (there's one in my comment on the question but there are others) to a site that helps to identify different kinds of oats?
    – Spagirl
    Aug 3, 2018 at 13:31
  • @Spagirl : steel cut oats are little cylinders. 'large flake' is also known as rolled oats -- they're roughly flat circles with a darker line running down the middle. Instant oats are also flat like rolled oats, but the flakes are broken up oats, so they're not as regular in size and shape as instant.
    – Joe
    Oct 3, 2018 at 19:34
  • @Joe cheers, I’m not confused about them myself but suggested incorporating more info to make a better answer. Terminology is not always the same across the anglosphere which is why I included a disambiguating link in my comment on the question. :)
    – Spagirl
    Oct 3, 2018 at 20:43

Instant porridge/oatmeal normally has milk powder added to par-cooked oats. Non-instant porridge normally uses milk. You can make a water porridge, but soaking is good for most oats if you're going to do that. The exact method will depend on what sort of oats you have, but you will need to simmer for a few minutes at a minimum.

If you want a handy shelf-stable preparation my camping recipe works well: 60g of rolled oats, 30g of milk powder, 1 tsp sugar, and any dry flavourings you like (cinammon, dried fruit...). Add 350-400ml of hot water, bring back to the boil, turn down heat and cook until done. I actually turn the heat right off for about 10 minutes and cover/wrap in a towel, to save camping fuel and because my stove is rather fierce, before finishing off over the heat. This can also be microwaved in a large bowl - 2 minutes on high, wait a few minutes, 1 minute on high, repeat the wait/1 minute part until ready.

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