Wednesday, 19 November 2008 | Tags: ,

For a hearty, stick-to-your ribs breakfast, or a tasty ingredient in cookies and other baking, oatmeal is a popular choice. But whether youíre looking for nutrition or convenience, not all oatmeal is created equally. We learn more about oatmeal and try some varieties out in a taste test.

The Basics

  • There are several types of oatmeal available to consumers:

    • Steel Cut, the traditional Scottish form, is groats (the whole oat kernel) simply cut into two or three pieces. Since it’s the least processed, it retains its nutritional qualities, but takes the longest to cook. The result is a natural, nutty, crunchy oatmeal.

    • Rolled oats are groats steamed and then flattened by a roller. Depending on the brand, some are rolled thinner than others. Cooking time can be up to 15 minutes.

    • Quick oats are also rolled but over a heat source, and the grains are sliced thinner. Cooking time is “quicker”: about five minutes.

    • Instant oats are pre-cooked before being rolled so they only need to be stirred with boiling water to reach the right consistency. Processing removes some of the vitamins and minerals, but often manufacturers put them back in. Protein, however, is not as high in instant oatmeal. Instant is also available in several flavours, but watch for the added sugar. Not meant to be used in cooking or baking.

  • If nutrition is your thing, an unprocessed rolled or steel cut oat is your best bet. Higher in fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins, this goodness is released into your body slowly, which keeps you going throughout the morning.

  • Even though you need to watch for the extra sugar in instant-flavoured oatmeal it’s still a much better breakfast choice than a danish or donut.


Since oatmeal started with the Scots, we invited a few Scottish friends over for breakfast to get an expert opinion on these oat products:


  • Store Brand Instant: 86¢ per 100g
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal: $1.07 per 100g
  • Nature’s Path Organic Instant: $1.09 per 100g


  • Robin Hood Quick Cooking (3 minutes): 37¢ per 100g
  • Quaker Quick Cooking (3–5 minutes): 46¢ per 100g
  • Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (10–20 minutes): 65¢ per 100g

Taste Test

  • We all found the organic Nature’s Path too sweet.

  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal was the favourite among the instant varieties for it’s crunchier texture and 

  • In the stove-top varieties, Robin Hood Quick Oats had good flavour and texture.

  • Some testers liked the extra crunch and nutty taste of Bob’s Steel Cut Oats.

  • Even though we couldn’t agree on brand, we all preferred the stove-top options.


For convenient instant oatmeal, Quaker Instant Oats was the top choice. We all preferred the stove-top options to the instant, but couldn’t agree on a top pick. Popular choices were Robin Hood Quick Oats and Bob’s Steel Cut Oats.

Thanks to Our Experts

Nina Hirvi, Nutritionist

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