By Roxanne Webber

Oatmeal is a comforting winter breakfast, but cooking it takes a while. We wondered if any of the instant varieties were any good. We tried five plain instant oatmeals (we tasted them as is and with brown sugar), and none of them won us over. You’d be better off soaking steel-cut oats overnight and cooking them for about five minutes on your stovetop in the morning, or trying the overnight slow cooker method oft-discussed on Chowhound. This taste test yielded similar results to our whole-wheat pasta taste test: The top two products tied, with scores much higher than the rest.

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They say “Made with whole grain. Good source of 10 vitamins & minerals. May help reduce the risk of heart disease.” “Judged best tasting oatmeal among natural brands. We select only the tastiest oats … that’s why we don’t need to add as much salt to our oatmeal as some other brands.” “These are the same wholesome oats you’ve come to expect from Quaker in easy to carry single-serving packets that cooks in only 90 seconds because they have been finely cut.” “Our organic hot oatmeal is made with whole grain steel cut organic rolled oats. All the convenience in a nutritious and healthy portion pack that’s quick and easy to prepare.” “Great taste like grandmother made.”
Flavor Subtly salty. We could eat this plain. Earthy. Tastes yummy and hearty and healthy and natural. A melted plastic start with a refreshingly earthy, oaty finish. Extremely salty. Sodium attack. Pretty much no flavor.
Texture Little bit of chew and not too slimy. Sticky. Breaks up in your mouth normally, like food. Very, very pasty. Like you could cement something. Wallboard compound. Super gluey.
Appearance Can see small pieces of oats. Golden brown. Nice golden color with clearly defined oats. Very pale. Doesn’t look very healthy. Homogenous. Looks milky and mushy. Gray and too chopped up.
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