Follow these easy tips for dressing up a boring bowl of oats.

Lauren Salkeld
July 23, 2020
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It's difficult to overstate oatmeal's many advantages. It's warm and satisfying, easy to make and provides good-for-you fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. The only real problem with oatmeal is that it can get a bit boring, especially if you eat it plain or limit yourself to a sprinkle of nuts and dried fruit. Thankfully, this breakfast go-to is incredibly versatile. It can be cooked in different ways, paired with a wide range of both sweet and savory ingredients and even served at different temperatures. In fact, with so many options, it would be hard to ever tire of oatmeal. Read on for six ways to reinvent this morning meal.

Go Savory

Recipe pictured above: Savory Curry Cashew Oatmeal

Sweet additions like honey, brown sugar and dried fruit may be standard, but once you open your oatmeal up to savory combinations, the options are almost endless. The simple addition of veggies and cheese turns oatmeal risotto-like, while black beans, Cheddar and scallions make for taco-inspired oats and curry, cashews and raisins create a wonderfully aromatic morning meal.

Prep Ahead

Recipe pictured above: Blueberry-Banana Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are made in advance and refrigerated in jars or containers for a convenient on-the-go breakfast. Because they're cold, they have a unique taste and texture that some folks actually prefer to traditional oatmeal. Like hot oats, overnight oats take to a wide range of flavors. Try tropical fruit, cinnamon or a savory version.

Put an Egg on Top

Recipe pictured above: Sriracha, Egg & Avocado Overnight Oats 

Adding an egg is one of the best ways to bump up oatmeal, as it adds not just taste and texture, but an extra hit of protein that will keep you full for hours. While scrambled eggs are a bit mushy, fried, poached and soft-cooked eggs all make great oatmeal toppers. Eggs can even be added to overnight oats, as in this avocado toast–inspired version.

Look Beyond Oats

Recipe pictured above: Quinoa & Chia Oatmeal Mix

Oats are a breakfast superstar, but grains like quinoa, barley and wheat berries can be added to vary the taste and texture of your breakfast. You can even forego oats completely and use grains to create a bowl that is similar but not quite the same as traditional oatmeal. And, if you're really up for experimenting, try polenta, which can be topped with different veggies—and even a fried egg!–to create a smooth and creamy take on hot cereal.

Swap Nuts for Nut Butter

Recipe pictured above: Peanut Butter Protein Overnight Oats

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, you name it—they've all been sprinkled on oatmeal to great result. But, in the interest of taking the "blah" out of your breakfast bowl, why not mix things up by swirling in some nut butter instead? Peanut butter and almond butter are the most obvious, but try experimenting with your favorites, whether homemade or store-bought. And if you're in the mood for a treat, whip up peanut butter, banana and bacon overnight oats as a nod to Elvis's favorite sandwich.

Bake Your Oats

Recipe pictured above: Vegan Pineapple & Coconut Baked Oatmeal

Baking gives oatmeal a wonderfully crisp, almost cookie-like top, and turns average oats into a meal that feels a whole lot more special. Plus, baked oatmeal can be made in advance, will take to your favorite flavor combinations—try banana, raisin, walnut or pineapple and coconut—and is great for feeding a crowd. You can also bake oatmeal in muffin cups that are perfect for on-the-go breakfasts and snacks.