Instant Oatmeal


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In just a few minutes, you can make enough homemade instant oatmeal for the entire week. Add chia and ground flax seeds for texture and flavor, then customize with your favorite mix-ins.

mason jars with homemade oatmeal on a white table

Homemade instant oatmeal is more affordable than store-bought oatmeal packets and cooks in exactly the same way (with hot water poured over top). It’s so simple that my six-year-olds use this recipe to make their own breakfast most mornings.

little girls add toppings to their oatmeal
adding toppings to oatmeal

It’s back to school time! And although I’m not really feeling that exclamation mark, I’m trying my best to get my head back in the game in this very strange year. I always love the return to regular routines that the fall brings. I love the chance to reset, buy the kids new supplies and lunch boxes, get back into my meal planning groove (including making a lot of a twist on this instant oatmeal recipe, Mason Jar Overnight Oats), and embrace the shift in seasons.

adding toppings to oatmeal

But this Covid year is a weird one. Next Tuesday is our first day of school. Molly and Clara are entering first grade and it will be entirely online. We’re trying our best to look at this as a temporary twist that gives us more flexibility than usual. I’ve got a white board purchased and a home school station set up. We’re trying our best to stay positive!

mason jars of homemade oatmeal on a white table

A positive start to the morning can take a lot of different forms, but for us this fall, it will look something like cheerful jars of homemade instant oatmeal lined up in the pantry. These sweet little instant oatmeals are customized with our favorite mix-ins. Chocolate chips and peanut butter for the kids. Cinnamon and apples for me. Mixed berries for Frank.

a mason jar of homemade oatmeal next to a bag of peanut powder

Assemble the jars with mix-ins ahead of time, or just mix up a big batch of the oatmeal, scoop out individual servings whenever you’re ready and top them at the table. Either way, you’ll never need to buy those expensive store-bought oatmeal packets again!

oatmeal topped with brown sugar in a clear bowl

Be sure to see below for more information on the flax and chia seeds included in the recipe. They add flavor, texture, and nutrition.


  • Quick-Cook Oats – These are regular rolled oats that have been ground down to smaller pieces so that cook more quickly. They are also sometimes called 1-Minute Oats. See below for an easy substitute using rolled oats.
  • Dark Brown Sugar – I like to lightly sweeten the oatmeal ahead of time with dark brown sugar. It has a rich caramel flavor and a little goes a long way. If you prefer, you can skip this and add sugar to taste once the oatmeal has been prepared.
  • Chia Seeds – These little nutritional powerhouse chia seeds turn creamy in hot water, so they add great texture to the oatmeal. I usually buy them at Costco, off Amazon, or at Trader Joe’s.
  • Ground Flax Seeds – These can be found at most grocery stores. I usually buy mine in a large bag at Costco, off Amazon, or at Trader Joe’s. It’s important to use ground flax seeds (not whole) to get all of the nutritional benefits. They taste slightly nutty and give the oatmeal a flavor similar to all those fancy store-bought oatmeals with “toasted oats” without the extra effort. I store ground flax in the freezer and a bag lasts forever. 
oatmeal topped with brown sugar in a clear bowl

Substitute for Quick-Cook or 1-Minute Oats

Instead of Quick-Cook (1-minute) Oats you can substitute “Rolled Oats” or “Old-Fashioned Oats” that have been pulsed in a blender or food processor until they are roughly half of their original size.

canister of oatmeal

Why I make Homemade Instant Oatmeal

I originally started making this years ago when I found myself looking for a quick, reasonably healthy mid-morning snack at an airport. I was tempted to buy an adorable pre-packed cup of oatmeal that said the barista could just add hot milk or water when I noticed that those single serving oatmeal cups were six dollars. For oatmeal.

This homemade oatmeal costs less than 50 cents per serving. It’s enough to make me remember to pack my own oatmeal when I travel. 

mason jars of homemade oatmeal seen from above

Favorite Dry Mix-ins for Oatmeal

The sky is the limit, but here are some of our favorite dry mix-ins for instant oatmeal. All of these can be added to the dry oatmeal and will rehydrate when you add hot water.

  • Dried / Dehydrated Berries
  • Dried / Dehydrated Apples
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Peanut Butter Powder  
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Dried Coconut Flakes
  • Goji Berries
  • Cacao Nibs
adding a top to a mason jar full of oatmeal
little girl writes her name on the lid of a mason jar

More Oatmeal Recipes

Ingredients for Homemade Instant Oatmeal

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mason jars with homemade oatmeal on a white table
4.61 from 23 votes

Instant Oatmeal

In just a few minutes, you can make enough homemade instant oatmeal for the entire week. Add chia and ground flax seeds for texture and flavor, then customize with your favorite mix-ins.
This recipe makes 10 servings (about ¾ cup each that can be divided between 8 oz jars).
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 servings


  • Mixing Bowl
  • 8-ounce Mason Jars


  • 16 ounces quick-cook or "1-minute" oats (see note)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (1 cup = 100 grams)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • mix-ins of choice (see notes for ideas)


  • Combine the oats, sugar, chia seeds, and ground flax in a large mixing bowl. Stir until evenly mixed (this is easiest to do with clean hands).
  • Transfer the oat mixture to a large sealed container (you can often put it right back into the container the oats came in) or divide it between jars.
  • Add any dry mix-ins on top if you’d like.
  • To prepare: Pour hot water or warm milk over oats until completely covered. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir well and serve!


Look for Quick-Cook (1-minute) Oats in the cereal aisle. These are ground into small pieces and will cook quickly with the addition of hot water. If you can’t find these, you can substitute 16 oz of “Rolled Oats” or “Old-Fashioned Oats” and then pulse them in a blender or food processor until they are roughly half of their original size.
For dry mix-ins, try:
    • Dried / Dehydrated Berries
    • Dried / Dehydrated Apples
    • Ground Cinnamon
    • Peanut Butter Powder  
    • Mini Chocolate Chips
    • Cocoa Powder
    • Dried Coconut Flakes
    • Goji Berries
    • Cacao Nibs


Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 199IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $4.00
Calories: 115
Keyword: breakfast, easy breakfast recipe, homemade oatmeal, make ahead, make with kids, oatmeal
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I add powdered milk as well and do not grind my old fashioned oats but use 50/50 with quick oats. My first attempt was okay BUT I quickly learned that 8 oz of oats is not a cup, 2 oz is not 2 cups. I knew I had something messed up when I couldn’t even manage 10 jars with 1/2 cup of mix in each.

  2. I use chopped steamed apples and cinnamon. It is better than packaged ones and you control the sugar. I try to use no packaged processed anything. Thanks for all your great suggestions.

  3. Hi Jess, I just made the base and am excited to try it. For 1 serving of the base how much dried peanut butter would you recommend?
    Thank you!

  4. Hi….I just made this and love the flavor. The only problem I had was when mixed with 1/2 cup of hot water was that it was too thick . I was just wondering if I did something wrong. The flavor is perfect though.

  5. 5 stars
    I have been looking for a while for instant oats. Needed to prepare some for an elderly relative who isn’t cooking for herself. I took the suggestion of toasting the oatmeal before putting it into a food processor.

    Thank you so much for this recipe. So much more economical not to mention environmentally friendlier since those single serve packages are so wasteful.

  6. Hi! Just wondering how long you think these will keep in jars without any extra toppings? Thank you!

    1. Hi Virginia! Honestly, without the toppings, this will keep for a long time. I’ve probably had it in my pantry for a month or more if I’m not eating it every day. I wrote an older post where I have pictures of the way I used to store large batches – in a big glass jar. I just scoop out a bit every day –

    1. Hi Sara – steel cut oats require much longer to cook, so the recipe would definitely have to be adapted to account for that. I’m not sure how it would turn out, but if you try it please let me know!

    2. 4 stars
      I just did an adaptation with steel cut oats using 5 cups steel cut, that I put in the food processor to pulse a bit. Added 5 cups rolled oats along with the flax and chia. My husband is diabetic, so I omitted the brown sugar. 1/2 cup mix with 1 cup water/milk. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Let set for 1 minute.

  7. 5 stars
    I just found your recipe. I’m gluten free and the prepared packs of GF oatmeal are getting quite expensive not to mention ingredients I can’t pronounce scare me (and the fact I just used my last packet today and don’t feel like shopping). A big tub of certified GF oats is much cheaper and I love your addition of chia and flaxseed. I actually have all the ingredients for once. A friend uses coconut sugar (with a little bit of maple syrup when cooking them) I’ll try both sugars and compare. Thank you for all the tips also. PS and I can’t wait to get my hands on PB powder. Absolute heaven!