We Tried 9 Types of Rolled Oats and These Were the Best

Start your morning off right.

oatmeal taste test redo
Photo: Allrecipes Illustration

Rolled oats go beyond the balanced breakfast. They're a building block for a number of baked goods, including oatmeal cookies, oat streusel, and oat breads. They can be transformed into milk or hardened into granola, and they can even give meatloaf a lift.

Bake rolled oats with your favorite fruits and spices, and you've got a super healthy and portable breakfast or snack. You can even use them as substitutions for other grains, like in this oatmeal risotto. The options only end when your creativity runs out.

To us, rolled oats are more than an occasional pantry resident. Rather, they're an essential piece of any kitchen, and they work hard to keep our tummies fed and energy going. They're also a convenient, affordable way to work soluble fiber, iron, and even protein into your diet.

We tried nine types of rolled oats, including seven types of old-fashioned oats and two types of quick oats. Three of these oats were certified gluten-free. All of the oats are available in national grocery stores or online.

Best Rolled Oats at a Glance

Best Old-Fashioned Oats: Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats
Runner-up: 365 by Whole Foods Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
Best Quick Oats/ Best Gluten-Free Oats: Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Rolled Oats, Gluten Free
Best Budget Oats: Great Value Rolled Oats
Best Protein Oats: Kodiak Cakes Old Fashioned Oats

What We Looked for When Picking the Best Rolled Oats

Texture: Do you have an unappetizing childhood oatmeal experience locked away in your memory vault, or are you unable to separate the idea of oatmeal from mushy gruel? The oats' texture may be to blame. The right degree of chewiness and toothsome texture will combat and complement the how soft rolled oats get when they're exposed to hot water. A good texture will also help with durability (more on that later).

Price: As we mentioned earlier, oats aren't just a staple; they're an important element in many different dishes, several of which aren't breakfast-related at all. In most cases, a two-pound container of oats will cost you about $4; these typically have enough servings for 30 breakfasts. Anything above that price point should have added benefits, like protein or sprouted grains.

Gluten: Naturally, oats are gluten-free. However, oats are typically processed in the same facility as wheat, making the chance for contamination extremely likely. To be absolutely sure the oats you're buying lack gluten, check labels — oats that were created in a dedicated gluten-free facility will mention that on the package. If it doesn't, assume they're not gluten-free.

Durability: Oatmeal may be easy to prepare, but it's also easy to ruin. The culprit is usually too much water or spending too much time in water. Here's where durable oats really come in handy. You won't have to worry about, say, turning away for a minute and coming back to completely gloppy oats.

How We Tested Each Oatmeal

Because oats lose their appeal once they get too soft or cold, this taste test's timeline and process were altered so that the oats were only eaten in their prime moment. Rather than trying every brand at once and risking deterioration, I stretched this process out over the course of several weeks.

I prepared each type of oats by pouring them into a bowl and then adding hot water via an electric kettle. Once they were properly soaked, I added a bit of cream and jam for flavor. To directly compare similar oats, I added 1/3 cup oats to a mug and then poured over hot water, adding no toppings.

Best Old-Fashioned Oats: Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats

bob's red mill extra thick rolled oats

After trying so many types of oats that were all pretty similar, eating Bob's Red Mill's Extra Thick Rolled Oats was an experience. Not that any of the other types of oats were bad, but these oats were ideal — they held up against boiling water and maintained their toothsome texture. About half of the contenders were organic oats, including these. These were also the only oats I tried that had a distinguished taste: slightly nutty, and a pinch of oatiness.

Buy it: $3.88; Walmart

Runner-up: 365 by Whole Foods Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats

365 by whole foods organic old-fashioned rolled oats

Most of the rolled oats on this list were incredibly similar. So theoretically, you could say that unsatisfactory rolled oats are few and far between. Whole Foods brand 365's old-fashioned oats held up a little better than most of the others, and were one of the few contenders that had a distinct aroma and taste. The texture isn't quite as magical as the oats from Bob's Red Mill, but aside from that, you really can't go wrong picking either.

Buy it: $5.39; Amazon

Best Gluten-Free Oats/Best Quick Oats: Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Rolled Oats, Gluten Free

bob's red mill quick rolled oats gluten-free

There is just something about Bob's Red Mill's oats and texture. Since they're quick oats, these are rolled thinner so they'll cook a bit faster, but these still retain a good bit of buoyancy after a few minutes in hot water. Their chewiness and size would make them an excellent contender for oatmeal cookies. Additionally, these oats were processed in a gluten-free facility, so anyone with a gluten sensitivity can be assured they're safe.

Buy it: $5.58; Walmart

Best Budget Oats: Great Value Old Fashioned Oats

great value old fashioned oats

I incorrectly assumed that Walmart's Great Value oats, as the cheapest of the bunch, would sacrifice quality for the sake of price. Instead, Great Value's oats were one of my favorites. They held up just as well as the other brands, and were indistinguishable from Quaker and Whole Foods' old-fashioned oats. Plus, the price point can't be beat.

Buy it: $2.58; Walmart

Best Protein Oats: Kodiak Cakes Classic Rolled Oats

kodiak cakes protein old fashioned oats

Thanks to the added protein, Kodiak's old-fashioned oats had a great texture and the most filling oats of the bunch. They had the feel of oats with a semi-crunchy topping seamlessly added in. Often, nutritionally enhanced foods end up with a worse taste and texture, and in this case, Kodiak's oats held up on both ends.

Buy it: $5.29; Target


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