Old-fashioned oatmeal is like comfort in a bowl

If there’s one recipe that represents a warm, wholesome breakfast, it’s a piping hot bowl of oatmeal. The classic dish is cheap, nutritious and filling. When craving this comfort in a bowl to start the day, it’s easy to grab a packet of that instant stuff and dump in some hot water. While that can be convenient, it doesn’t take much longer to make old-fashioned oatmeal, well, the old-fashioned way: by simmering it in water or milk for several minutes.

The result is a better-tasting, better-textured product, and because you’re making it yourself, you can tailor just how much sugar and other additives go in. Besides, if you make enough to have leftovers the next day, you’ll have “instant” oatmeal then: all it takes is a trip to the microwave. It will taste just as good if not better than the first day, since the ingredients have had time to mesh.

Another bonus: Old-fashioned oatmeal easily goes from modest to marvelous with a few ingredients like brown sugar, cinnamon and dehydrated fruits like cranberries and raisins, which will plump up as they absorb the cooking liquid.

For a special treat, I like to make mine with fresh berries, which pack an extra punch when it comes to nutrition and flavor.

If you’ve always relied on that instant stuff for your oatmeal fix, grab a box labeled “old-fashioned oats” (they’re just a few bucks and last forever) and get ready start your day on an extra-wholesome note.

Blueberry & Cinnamon Old-Fashioned Oatmeal

(Makes about 4 servings)

  • 3 1/2 cups water (or milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or your choice of fruit
  • Garnish: Fresh blueberries, butter, cream
  • Music to make it by: This morning we’re waking up with the Barenaked Ladies, specifically Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits

Step 1: Grab a pot and bring the water to a boil. If using milk, only boil it briefly. Stir in the oatmeal, sugar, cinnamon and salt, which will help bring out the flavors. Let it return to a boil for a few seconds, then reduce the heat to medium low.

Step 2: When the oatmeal has cooked a few minutes, stir in the fresh berries, being careful not to crush them. If you’re using frozen or dehydrated fruit, add it at the beginning with the rest of the ingredients.

Step 3: Cook the oatmeal for a total of 5 or 6 minutes, or until it reaches the consistency that you like, stirring occasionally. When most of the liquid is gone, remove from heat, cover the pot and let it rest 2-3 minutes.

Step 4: Give the oatmeal a final stir, scoop into a bowl and garnish with additional berries, butter, cream and nuts, if desired.

Congratulations: You’ve just made a hearty, healthful breakfast the old-fashioned way. If you have oatmeal left over, put it in a sealed container so it can be zapped the next day in the microwave.

Have your own tips or questions on how to make the perfect batch of oatmeal? Comment below!


  1. Tweets that mention I Want To Cook » Old-fashioned oatmeal is like comfort in a bowl -- Topsy.com said,

    February 20, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matt Degen, Matt Degen. Matt Degen said: Feeling chilly this weekend? Fill your bowl with this amazing blueberry #oatmeal! http://tinyurl.com/4q7pe84 [...]

  2. erin bynum said,

    March 7, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    just made this tonight! it should be perfect to eat this week since i don’t like to get up too early before my 8am class!

  3. Matt Degen said,

    March 7, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

    Nice! This might be the real breakfast of champions.

  4. Kathy said,

    January 25, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

    Oh my gosh, this is the best oatmeal recipe ever! So delicious and healthy. I make mine with soy milk since I can’t have dairy, and it tastes amazing :) !

  5. Margaret Kelly said,

    April 18, 2013 @ 4:54 am

    I made this for my sons this morning and they loved it. Thank you!

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