If ever there were a time where we need recipes that require few ingredients, offer unlimited flexibility and take little time to make, this is it. I’ve been making this Super Easy Oatmeal for about seven years now and you’ll want to add it to your morning rotation too. In fact, it’s so easy, you don’t even need a recipe, just my easy oatmeal primer that’s more or less a formula. But being super nice, I provide a recipe too.
An Ingenious Method for Making Oatmeal
About seven years ago, a friend shared her method and recipe for making oatmeal with me. I mention the method before the recipe because I’d never thought to make oatmeal this way before.
Sure, I’ve made lots of oatmeal over the years on the stovetop. I have a dim memory of also making it in the microwave at some point, though generally I prefer to use the stove. I’m also familiar with overnight refrigerator oatmeal. I’ve yet to try it, but might give this recipe a spin. I also haven’t joined the savoury oatmeal crowd yet. What can I say, my bucket list is long.
But I have to say, my friend’s method revolutionized my oatmeal-making game. How so? you might be wondering. It’s simply this: you put all the ingredients in your breakfast bowl, add just-boiled water, stir, cover and let sit for 10 minutes or so. And voila, oatmeal.
That’s it. That’s the secret. And if you’re like me, you’re now asking yourself, Why did I never think of that? Or maybe you have. In which case, you’re probably shaking your head and have already moved down to the recipe I’m sharing below.
An Easy Oatmeal Primer: The Formula
As I said in the intro, Super Easy Oatmeal is infinitely variable. That’s where a formula comes in. My easy oatmeal primer starts with whatever constitutes a serving of oatmeal for you. In my case, that’s 1/3 cup of large flake oatmeal.
To that, I add several categories of enhancements.
The Healthy Stuff
I usually add in at least some of the following items to up the nutrition factor of my breakfast. How much in total? Well, it depends and it’s never the same, but let’s say up to a tablespoon or so in total. Additions to consider include:
- Ground flax
- Hemp hearts
- Chia seeds (you’ll need extra water if you use chia seeds because those little suckers are highly absorptive)
- … and more
The Embellishments: (Mostly) Dried Fruit and Nuts
You’ll notice that I don’t add any sweetener to my oatmeal (hey, if you want to, go ahead). I rely principally on dried fruit to add sweetness. I probably add about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of dried fruit. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but remember, this is just one serving of oatmeal. Not only is a lot of other stuff going in there, but I like little pops of sweet and tangy chewy goodness.
Personally, I don’t think of shredded coconut as a dried fruit (Is it? No time to research that right now …), so I add maybe a half tablespoon over and above the other fruit.
And after that I add some chopped nuts. My go-to are walnuts, but I might use almonds or whatever other nuts I happen to have on hand.
You might be getting the idea that this oatmeal is a great way to use up little odds and ends of ingredients in your kitchen. Yes, you are right.
Here are some of my favourite additions. (Remember, the idea is to mix and match — if you add everything to one serving you may not be able to find the oatmeal.)
- Dried cranberries (I prefer the ones sweetened with apple juice if I can get my hands on them)
- Dried sour cherries (a real treat, and I usually only add a few of these so they’re a real prize when I spoon one into my mouth)
- Chopped dried apricots
- A chopped medjool date
- Ooh, what about some chopped crystallized ginger for a punch of zing?
- Shredded coconut
- Chopped nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios
- Cacao nibs
- … and more
I don’t happen to care for dried goji berries and golden berries, but hey, unless you’re making this oatmeal for me, knock yourself out!
Occasionally, once I’ve mixed the oatmeal mixture I put a scattering of frozen blueberries or raspberries on top before covering the dish. This allows the berries to thaw and you can stir them in when the oatmeal is ready. My favourite way to have oatmeal is to serve it laden with fresh fruit. But it’s early spring as I write this and I only buy berries in season, but then add them liberally once the oatmeal is ready to eat.
I always add cinnamon to my oatmeal. I love not just its flavour, but its warming quality and the sweetness it lends. But of course you can use any of your favourite spices and other flavourings in whatever combinations you like to play up the fruits and nuts that you’re using. Here are some ideas:
- Cinnamon (I prefer no more than 1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
- Pumpkin spice blend
- Unsweetened cocoa power
- … and more
So, I think you get the idea. This oatmeal is versatile. If you’re like me, you might make it pretty much the same every single time. Or you might like something different on the regular.
And a Couple More Thoughts
About the amount of water… It’s important not to add too much, because who likes watery oatmeal? I generally add the boiling/very hot water just up to the level of the oatmeal in the bowl, stir well, and cover. If it seems too dry after 10 minutes or so so, add a bit more hot water and let it set a bit longer.
I find the oats retain some of their chewiness using this method, but you can still achieve creaminess.
And yes, I confess, there are times I’ve forgotten about it and come back to it after 30 minutes or longer (hmm, there’s this thing on my stove called a timer …). It usually needs a little more water after sitting that long, but that’s easily taken care of. Its forgiving nature is just another reason I call this Super Easy Oatmeal.
To make breakfast even easier and faster, you can mix up a big batch and store it in a jar. When I travel (remember travelling?), I like to take some with me for easy hotel-room breakfasts. I just run water through the coffee maker as if I’m making tea and use it for the oatmeal.
And with the easy oatmeal primer dispensed with, let’s move on to the recipe for the particular version pictured here, shall we? This is my Super Easy Oatmeal with Cocoa. I actually got this idea from a reader over on the Urban Cottage Life Facebook page. I love how you inspire me!
Let’s Make Super Easy Oatmeal with Cocoa
The recipe my friend shared with me is delicious. But not only did she ask me not to share it, but I also couldn’t resist tweaking it over the years to come up with my own go-to version. Sometimes I modify that to come up with new twists and keep breakfast time an adventure. The cocoa in this recipe is such a twist. I won’t add it every time, but it adds a “treat” factor to my usual breakfast.
The method for this oatmeal is quick and easy, and you can play with the additions and flavourings in a myriad of ways. But if you're just looking for a recipe to follow, here it is! (If cocoa's not your thing, just leave it out). When I made mine I used dried cranberries, but cherries and chocolate are a classic combo, so I'll try that next time.
- 1/3 cup large flake oatmeal
- 2 tsp ground flax
- 1/2 tbsp raisins
- 1/2 tbsp dried cranberries or cherries
- 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, loosely scooped
- 1 tbsp walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- boiling water
Combine all the dry ingredients in a small heatproof serving bowl and serve. Add freshly boiled water just to cover and stir well. Cover the dish with a plate and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Uncover and stir again. If the mixture seems too dry for your liking, stir in a bit more water and let it sit, covered, for another 5 minutes.
Two More Odes to Oatmeal + a Bonus
These aren’t recipes, per se, but two more ideas for your morning oatmeal. These oatmeals were made by cooking the oats with milk and cinnamon in a pot on the stovetop. One “recipe” requires a placid lake in the background. See Oatmeal with Blueberries and Chopped Apricot, and Oatmeal with Blueberries and Strawberries. And as a bonus, here’s my primer on making basic granola, which of course features oatmeal.
Published 2020 04 13