The Delicious Oatmeal Hack I Do Every Single Morning to Make It Unbelievably Creamy

published Apr 3, 2024
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peanut butter oatmeal in a bowl with fruit and honey near it
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

We’re in week 11 of 2024, and so far my husband and I have made at least 55 bowls of oatmeal. We’re not Quaker Oats fanatics, but our youngest daughter is quite possibly the world’s biggest fan. To prepare her morning bowl, we used to follow the instructions on the cardboard tub: Bring a cup of water to a boil, add 1/2 cup oats, and then simmer for 5 minutes. But the oats always came out dry, and definitely never creamy. Now the oatmeal I make for her tastes so straight-up luxurious, I get excited about having a bowl myself. The trick? Soaking the oats.

I’m not talking about overnight oats! Although those can be wonderful, too. This trick makes the coziest, creamiest, dreamiest bowl of warm oatmeal. All you need to do is soak the oats in water for 30 minutes before cooking on the stovetop.

Why You Should Pre-Soak Your Oatmeal 

I discovered this brilliant little tip from Rebecca Firkser — a food writer, soon-to-be cookbook author, and contributor on The Kitchn — who posted about it on Instagram in 2022. Firkser told me she discovered the tip from the 26 Grains cookbook, which she bought after having “the best oatmeal of [her] life at their London restaurant.” I saved it in my app, like I do many kitchen hacks, and quite possibly never would’ve actually tried it had it not been for my 2-year-old oatmeal stan. Now there’s no going back. 

When you soak old-fashioned oats in oatmeal before cooking, they absorb the liquid and get a head-start on softening. When they cook, they take on an ultra-creamy, almost airy texture. I find pre-soaked oats are also easier to cook. When you follow the package instructions, the water evaporates way too soon (even after reducing the heat) and each little oat gets separated and tastes a bit al dente. When you cook pre-soaked oats in more liquid, on the other hand, it becomes softer, fluffier, and about 100x more delicious. 

Credit: Lauren Miyashiro

Exactly How to Make Better Oatmeal

The pre-soak trick is flexible. “The ratio I’ve personally landed on is a 1:1 ratio of rolled oats to water, soaked in a pot at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours,” Firkser says. When it’s time to cook, she adds another 1 to 1 1/2 parts of liquid (she uses a combination of water and milk) and “a good splash of vanilla extract.” She cooks it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the oats are creamy, “depending on how long they have soaked and how much is in the pot.”

Personally, if I’m just making one bowl, I combine 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. I usually do this right after waking up, then will move on to unloading the dishwasher and packing lunches. After 30ish minutes, but before my darling little monster has awoken, I’ll add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 whole milk and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. My point: It’s easy to tweak the method based on your personal preference, mood, or level of patience. 

This oatmeal is so good that these days, I make a double-batch — with peanut butter, cinnamon, and honey swirled into both my bowl and my daughter’s. Rainbow sprinkles for hers, and flaky sea salt for me. 

This article originally published on The Kitchn. See it there: The Delicious Oatmeal Hack I Do Every Single Morning to Make It Unbelievably Creamy