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.

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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.

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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!

overhead image of 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.

Ingredients

  • 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. 

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. 

overhead image of mason jars of homemade oatmeal on a white countertop

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 Easy Oatmeal Recipes

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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

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • 8-ounce Mason Jars

Ingredients 

  • 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)

Instructions 

  • 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!

Notes

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

Nutrition

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 InquiringChef.com. 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.

4.61 from 23 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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34 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Good morning, I pinned your oatmeal recipe awhile back because it sounds intriguing. I’m taking a trip at the end of the month with a lengthy flight and thought this would be the perfect time to try it!
    After trying the recipe I found that I didn’t care for the raw taste of the oats so I experimented a little and found that if you toast the oats before putting them in the food processor, it gives them a pleasant nutty flavor:)
    Thanks you for sharing this recipe 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy – that’s such a great point. I absolutely love toasted oats. I’ll add that as a tip to this recipe because I’m sure others would love to try that. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh I’m having this right now topped w almonds & chocolate chips w soymilk – it’s wonderful wonderful wonderful. I’m in oatmeal heaven~ I forgot to prepare my overnight oats last night and was craving my oats and then I saw your recipe. This is definitely a keeper. Thank you so much!

  3. Question- what are the amounts for add-ins and flavorings for the individual size packets? it seems like 1 cup of nuts and 1 TBSP of flavor wouldn’t go far enough for the whole big batch… but would be WAAAYY too much for the little bag servings? REALLY wan t to try these with my kiddos… but not sure on those amounts! Thanks!

  4. Love this idea, but really like the whole oats. Does it work with the whole ones, or do I need to process them in order to get the water to absorb properly?

    1. Anna – sorry I’m late getting back to you. Perhaps you’ve already given this a try, but I thought I’d chime in. I HAVE made this with whole rolled oats because I quite like the chewy texture of whole oats. Just like you pointed out though, the whole oats don’t absorb water nearly as well as they do after they are processed so the texture won’t be quite as smooth and creamy with whole oats.

  5. I found your site today. I am late to the party! I can’t wait to make many of your recipes and I’m sharing on Pinterest and Facebook. Also sending this one to my grandchildren! I can’t rate yet because I haven’t tried it.

    1. Marsha – I’m so glad you found us as well! That homemade instant oatmeal is a total staple in our house – with the weather cooling off, I just made another big batch of it. Hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

  6. This is great – my daughter LOVES those instant oatmeal cups and they’re expensive and full of “stuff” that I would rather avoid – we were just saying we could probably do better making our own, and this just appeared! LOVE!!!

  7. Whoa, chocolate coconut and macadamia nut oatmeal sounds more like a dessert than a breakfast – I definitely want to try that one! Apparently, when I was little, I’d ask my mom to make oatmeal for breakfast, because I got to watch TV while she was getting breakfast ready and I knew that oatmeal took longer than cold cereal or eggs. Despite my sneaky reasoning, I’ve become an oatmeal fan for life!

    1. Oh I am so on board with that strategy – if a few minutes of cartoons buys me a lifetime of oatmeal love for my kids – seems like a very worthwhile trade!

  8. I just love your recipes and blog in general, not to mention keeping up with Clara & Molly! I learn something frequently…who knew there was “powdered PB” ?

    1. Oh my goodness, if you haven’t tried powdered PB, I highly recommend it! I was skeptical, but they extract the oils from it and leave you with all the flavor and a ton less fat. But I really love it because you can add it to any recipe without changing the recipe at all, so I fold it into oatmeal, cookies, and brownies all the time – extra tasty peanut butter flavor in any recipe!