The different types of oats
Oats in all forms are undeniably one of the most nutritious breakfast foods, they’re also great for adding flavour, bulk and texture to your baking. There are many different types of oats available, choosing the wrong type can cause cooking disasters so it's useful to know the difference between them.
What are the different types of oats? There are two main types of oats, rolled oats and steel-cut oats. They both start the same way. First, the inedible hull of the raw oats is removed. This leaves the whole oat groats with germ, endosperm and bran attached. These parts are what contains the fibre, vitamins, healthy oils, and antioxidants that make oats so good for you.
Rolled oats are made by steaming whole oat groats then pressing them into flakes with steel rollers. This changes the texture, shortens cooking time and improves its shelf life. There are three types of rolled oats available in the supermarkets: traditional oats, quick oats and instant oats.
1. Traditional rolled oats or old-fashioned oats
Cook time: Traditional oats take 5-10 minutes to cook.
Traditional oats are steamed for a short time and then rolled. They still have a firm, chewy texture. Eating traditional oats generally keeps you fuller for longer, as it is less processed. They're the best variety to use in baked goods such as cookies, biscuits, muffins and crumbles unless otherwise stated in the recipe.
2. Quick oats
Cook time: Quick oats take 1-2 minutes to cook.
As the name suggests, quick oats cook faster. The grains are steamed for longer and rolled thinner. Cooked quick oats are softer, smoother and less chewy. They are more easily digestible, and therefore don't keep you as full for as long. Quick oats are also suitable to use in baking.
3. Instant oats
Cook time: Instant oats take 30-90 seconds to cook.
Instant oats are the fastest cooking. The oats are steamed longer, rolled thinner and sometimes also chopped finely. You only need to add boiling water and they are ready to eat, and they are soft rather than chewy. Some instant oats are packaged with added sugar and flavour, which won't be suitable if you need plain oats for a recipe.
Steel cut oats
Cook time: Steel cut oats take 20-30 minutes to cook.
Steel-cut oats are not rolled at all but instead chopped into coarse nubs using sharp steel blades. This gives it a rice-like appearance. Steel-cut oats have a much chewier texture. When made into porridge, it is chewy, nutty and has a different creaminess to rolled oat porridge. Other than porridge, they're great for adding to stews, soups and meat stuffing.
Now you know the difference between the main types of oats, explore delicious recipes using different types of oats below.