Not Mushy Oatmeal, the Only Way to Make It

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Oatmeal can be a delicious, hearty, and nutritious breakfast, as long as you don’t make mushy oatmeal. Win every morning with this easy recipe for Not Mushy Oatmeal.

Not Mushy Oatmeal | Life as Mom

Children learn what they live.

My mom had that on a plaque at our house growing up. And I’m finding it very true in many instances of life, particularly in food choices.

You see, my parents did not like oatmeal as children. Or liver. As a result, those are two foods I was never required to eat. Neither of them liked it, so why force their kids to eat it? Instead they fed us cream of wheat.

Which I think is nasty and will never subject my children to. You see, I learned early on not to feed my kids things that I didn’t like. Ha!

Children learn what they live — or they go the other way.

Unlike my parents, I love oatmeal. But, I don’t like oatmeal prepared according to package directions. Too mushy. Too soggy. Too much like what prompted poor Oliver Twist  to say, “Please sir, could I have some more?”

Uh, no thanks.

Instead, I make my oatmeal to be more like rice with very little moisture left behind. If you don’t care for regular oatmeal, you might like it my way!

Not Mushy Oatmeal | Life as Mom

The method is pretty simple. Instead of a 2-1 ratio of water to oats that most manufacturer’s recommend, use a 1-1 ratio. Equal parts of oats and water will allow the oats to absorb all the liquid and be slightly al dente. No mush.

Serve with a spoonful of dark brown sugar and a tablespoon of real cream. Or if you want to gild the lily, add to those toppings a handful of toasted nuts and a handful of dried cranberries or raisins or cherries.

The result? A hot breakfast with texture! Something to sink your teeth into.

Please, sir, could I have some more?

This ranks high on my list of whole grain recipes. Whole grains is what we’re working in at our house to improve our family’s diet.

(I also did a series on whole grains several years ago on Good Cheap Eats. If you haven’t visited already, pop over to learn some basics about grains, find some great whole grain recipes, and learn about whole grain storage.)

How I make this good:

Whenever possible, I like to cook with plain old ingredients. While the convenience of mixes and canned sauces is nice, I feel better about feeding my family just real food whenever possible. (Go here for some of my reasons on all that.)

This recipe has no processed ingredients, just real food. I like that. You can use gluten-free oats if you like. I usually try to buy non-GMO oats when I can. If not, I buy them in bulk from Costco or Sprouts.

Not Mushy Oatmeal | Life as Mom

How to make this cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

(If you don’t already do so, consider following Good Cheap Eats, my food blog, where I regularly share money-saving tips and budget-friendly recipes.)

Tools I use to make this recipe easy:

This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment. However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.

Not Mushy Oatmeal
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Oatmeal can be a delicious, hearty, and nutritious breakfast, as long as you don’t make mushy oatmeal. Win every morning with this easy recipe for Not Mushy Oatmeal.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast, oatmeal, rolled oats
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • toppings: cream brown sugar, toasted nuts, dried fruit
  1. Bring 1 cup water and a pinch of salt to boil in a pan. Stir in 1 cup old fashioned oats. Do not use quick oats — too mushy! Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes, covered. The oats will absorb all the liquid and be slightly al dente. No mush.

  2. Serve with desired toppings.

Not Mushy Oatmeal | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. If you want some oats with texture, definitely try making muesli, and use steel-cut oats. It’s a really nice breakfast during the summer when hot oatmeal isn’t as appealing. And you can keep it inexpensive by using any kind of juice – lately I’ve been using orange juice and just adding chopped apples in the morning.

  2. Oooh. I never thought about pecans and cranberries in oatmeal. I’ll bet it’s delicious.

  3. I agree, yuck, Cream of Wheat. I’ve been adding a spoonful of peanut butter to my oatmeal, it makes it really creamy and adds some extra protein.
    Thanks for hosting!

  4. i am so with you! hated oatmeal until i made steel cut oats, which have a texture more similar to brown rice. next time i have a run out and the only thing left is rolled oats, i’ll try cooking them with less water as you suggest!

  5. I’m going to have to try these. I’ve never liked oatmeal ’cause its too mushy, totally a texture thing. I’ll have to try this.

  6. Sheri says:

    I totally agree! I can’t stand mushy oatmeal. It reminds me of something you would feed someone without teeth, you just need to mush it with your tongue, yuck! I like slightly undercooked steel cut oats. they have a good bite to them!

  7. Awesome, important topic! I have tons of whole grain recipes; it was so hard to choose what to enter! If you need cornbread, biscuits, tortillas, or breadmaker bread, check out my recipes tab. I’m actually in the middle of a whole grains series, too, including sourdough. You would hate my oatmeal, though – it’s “soaked”, so it’s definitely soggy. 😉 Katie

  8. We need more whole grains in our diet!!

  9. Tina says:

    Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cookies

    1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 1/2 cups oats

    beat butter, sugars and eggs, when blended add the rest of the ingredients except oats. When well blended, add oats and stir until mixed.

    Preheat oven to 350. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 mins. Cool on baking sheet for 5 mins, then move to baking rack.

    Recipe can be easily doubled, this recipe makes approx two dozen 2″ cookies.

  10. That’s just how I like my oatmeal, too. Simple, not mushy, al dente. Yum! I always serve it with boiled eggs.

  11. I’ve wanted to “like” oatmeal but just couldn’t stand the mushy gross texture. I’ll have to try your version and see if it can convert me 🙂

  12. I love toasted pecans in anything. I can’t believe I forgot about URS today. Better late than never.

  13. I can’t wait to check out everyone’s links. Mine included pearl barley but I guess that’s not a whole grain 🙁 Ooops! Thanks for sharing your yummy recipes everyone 🙂

  14. Marylouise says:

    I have tried & tried to eat oatmeal( because it`s so good for you) but could never get past the texture.I will definitely try this one…Thanks!

  15. yum! I am going to try this. I love oatmeal – but only dry. The cooked stuff is way too mushy. LOL. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Marj M. says:

    MMM, This is how I’m going to make oatmeal tomorrow morn. Just never thought about reducing the water. Thank you so very much.

  17. nanajan says:

    something I never considered until a few years ago beyond a soup ingredient , was cooking with Barley. a young gal from Czech Republic who stayed one summer with us, prepared it for us, check out any website for Czech Food and enter the words Barley, she made it with Onions and Cheese and baked it in the oven. Apparently they eat it on Christmas Day, the dish in their language is in reference to St John. it is delicious and I have made it many times, my vegetarian friends love it too as a main dish. Sorry I dont have the exact recipe but look it up on the internet. enjoy!

  18. nanajan says:

    OOOPs. if barley isnt a whole grain, what is it? sorry about the previous entry. but it is good to eat.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @nanajan, we’re going to let barley come to the party. I think some would say that “pearl barley” isn’t whole since its bran has been removed. Kind of like white rice, I think. But, we’re gonna let it wear the whole grain hat. 😉

  19. I love that you added the cranberries too, it looks delicious. I am glad to have found you tonight, as you’re food on a Thursday. This is my first time, so great to meet you. Thank you for hosting!

  20. Brenda says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I don’t like mushy oatmeal either, I made this kind this morning, added a bit of butter, brown sugar, dates and walnuts and I’m loving it!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Brenda, so glad you liked it! Thanks for letting us know. Here’s another one won over to oatmeal. 😉

  21. Christy B. says:

    I had a hankering for oatmeal yesterday, so I fished through the cupboard only to find some “best by 2008” instant packets. Figuring that was only a guideline and they’d still be edible, I made some. And I gagged it down. My one year old seemed to like it, though!

    This morning I found this recipe. Yum! I didn’t have the ingredients to fancy it up so it was just flavored with brown sugar and whole milk. I loved the non-mushy texture of the oats. I’ll definitely make it again. And while it may take a little longer than the microwave kind, it did give me a time to race to get the dishes done in. 😉

    Oh yeah, and the one year old hated it! Spit out every bite. *sigh* there’s no accounting for taste. 🙂

  22. JLynn says:

    This is fab! I can not tell you how much I hate eating oatmeal because it reminds me of paste! Can’t wait to try this in the morning. Thank you so much!!

  23. I add 1/2 cup raisins to 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup old-fashioned oats and cook at medium temp for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and put lid on, and let sit for 6 minutes. Remove lid and add 2T brown sugar. My kids do not like mushy oatmeal or when their grandpa adds milk once it’s in the bowl.

  24. This is fabulous! I have not ever had oatmeal like this. I love it!

  25. Meg D says:

    As a library paste oatmeal hater, there’s a surefire way to cook oats with better texture (like this) in the microwave. Put your dry old-fashioned oats in a large microwaveable cereal bowl (you need room to bubble), add just enough cold water (or juice) to float, microwave on high for 1 minute (add 30 seconds for mushier oats or lower power microwaves). Enjoy! I put a spoonful of peanut butter in it, but we ate it with a drizzle of molasses or cinnamon or carob powder as kids. My mom also makes this with apple juice in place of water.

    • MH in OH says:

      YES! Microwave your oatmeal, who has time for the stovetop? 🙂 My husband taught me this years ago when we were dating. About 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Thick Cut Oats + a little more than 1/2 cup water in a large cereal bowl. 3:35 on power level 6 in our microwave – I tried different times and power levels before settling on this one. Then I add a tablespoon of ground flax seed, cinnamon, a drizzle of maple syrup, and raisins and walnuts. All the water should not be absorbed by the oats when it comes out of the microwave – the raisins soak up some and get nice and plump. If it is too dry I add a splash of milk, but I like oatmeal to be chewy not mushy. This is my go-to breakfast most days of the year.

  26. Jennifer G says:

    Yes! I like my oatmeal to be about the consistency of oatmeal cookie dough! Love your recipe 🙂

  27. Lorrie says:

    So glad to run across someone else who likes al dente oatmeal. I made mine this morning with walnuts, blueberries and unsweetened shredded coconut. (gluten free oats)

  28. Alice E says:

    I fix my ‘not mushy’ oatmeal with a different method. For 2 servings:

    Bring one and one half cups of water to as rolling boil. Add salt if you wish. Add one cup of old-fashioned oats to pan and stir to moisten. Put the lid on the pan and turn off the fire under it. Now leave it alone and don’t lift the lid for 10 minutes. Uncover it and serve. If you wish you may add dried fruit at the same time as the oats.

    My husband eats this with sugar. I prefer butter and salt, grated cheese or topping it with an over-easy egg since I don’t really like sweets early in the morning. Neither of us add milk. This leaves the flakes of oats separate and is a favorite with my husband who doesn’t like his oats mushy either. I like the fact that I don’t have to stand over the pan and it can’t burn.

    I may try reducing the amount of water, but this works for us and is so easy. Just set the timer for 10 minutes and do something else.

  29. I don’t even cook my oatmeal because I like a cold, but filling, breakfast – raw oats, peanut butter, banana, milk!

  30. I hate mushy oat. Use steel cut oat for sure. I like savoury oat, so my favourite and easiest version is to add Marmite (it’s an acquired taste), fried anchovies and chopped spring onion. I also like sweet version with coconut milk and palm sugar.

  31. I absolutely LOVE cream of wheat!! I also love a hot cereal called Oat Bran. My parents were really never around for breakfast for us growing up. Dad worked days and mom worked nights. But going by gramma was the best because she would have all the warm breakfast cereals!!! Nothing like oatmeal and cream of wheat at Grams. I will say we were not fans of Malto Meal. YUCK!!

  32. Courtney L says:

    I happened upon this post on a rare rainy morning here in LA. I whipped up some oatmeal with your recipe and my girls devoured it before school. Yeah! Thanks!

  33. Debi says:

    LOVE! This is the texture I’ve been looking for. I made it like this on accident once and could never figure out what I did different! Thank you!

  34. Sara says:

    Okay, I REALLY hate oatmeal… the smell, the texture… all of it. But a friend of mine made some that was a LOT more dry than the “regular” paste. I tried a little bite, and was pleasantly surprised that it’s didn’t smell disgusting, resemble mush, and didn’t taste awful!! She said you HAVE to use old fashioned oats. I’m going to have to make a trip to the store for oats before I can try this, but that pecan and cranberry combo is just up my alley! I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll like it since I know I need to eat healthier!!

  35. Morgan says:

    This was pretty good! It was the first time I could take a bite of oatmeal and not spit it out. I’ll try it with steel cut next time.

  36. Karl says:

    Has anyone substituted Soy Milk or Almond Milk for the water? I’m new to this whole eating healthy and I don’t want to destroy a potential good thing by trying something stupid like adding an ingredient and making it taste bad.

    • I’ve seen recipes for copycat Jamba Juice oats that use soy milk, so I think you’re good to go. However, you could just make a half batch this way and a half batch with one of those milks to see which you like better.

  37. Jeannie says:

    Thanks Jessica! This looks just like the oatmeal my mom used to make when I was a kid. Very dry, and like you said, rice like. I will be heading to the store today for rolled oats. I have a question though, do you cover the pot while the oatmeal cooks, or leave the lid off?

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