Researching the best oatmeal cookers provided the opportunity to explore a variety of cooking tools. While oatmeal cookers are not their own appliance, items like rice cookers, pressure cookers, and slow cookers can all prepare an incredible batch of the cozy, filling dish. And, of course, we can’t ignore the humble microwave or classic stovetop as tried and true methods. With so many ways to cook oatmeal, it only made sense to go through all the options.
“As a self-confessed oatmeal addict, the two key things to making good oatmeal are the ingredients you use and how long you cook the oats,” says Yasmeen Ali, plant-based chef and creator behind Munching with Moriyah. With help from Ali, additional experts, and vigorous research of online reviews, we found the best items, from rice cookers to cereal bowls, to cook excellent oatmeal—and received advice about toppings and flavors, too. Whether you prefer high-tech appliances or a simple saucepan, the following oatmeal cookers offer something for every style.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
- Best Value: Aroma Professional
- Best Microwave-Friendly: Unbreakable Cereal Bowls
- Best Combo: Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
- Best Stovetop: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Saucepan
- Best Slow Cooker: Cuisinart ® 3.5 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker
Best Overall: Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer
Price: $147.49 | Capacity: Three cups | Program setting: For steel oats only
- Included delay and keep warm settings
- Preset for steel-cut oats
- Water lines on inside of pot
- Oatmeal takes about an hour to cook
- Hand-wash only
Why we chose it: The Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker can prepare everything from steel-cut oats to cakes, and includes a variety of features for ease of use and storage.
The secret to this incredible rice cooker? An extra large heater that cooks your oats from the bottom, sides, and top, which guarantees perfect oats every time. “I’ve always encouraged my fellow oatmeal lovers to purchase a small nonstick rice cooker for quick and consistent results,” says Samantha Stephens, the chef and founder behind New York City’s OatMeals, an oatmeal-exclusive café (now closed). “Some rice cookers have a ‘porridge’ setting, but traditional rice settings produce beautiful, pillowy oats as well.”
Though the Zojirushi only includes a setting for steel-cut oats, you can cook rolled oats using the “white rice” setting. It will take about an hour for the steel-cut oatmeal to be ready, but you can set a delay on the cooker before you go to bed, ensuring that breakfast is ready as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning. The cooker is user-friendly, with measurement marks for water on the inside of the pot, a removable steam vent for high-temperature cooking, a handle for portability, and a “keep warm” function that kicks in automatically once the timer goes off. Though it is pricey, you get what you pay for with this versatile cooker that does much more than cook oatmeal.
Best Value: Aroma Professional
Price: $49.99 | Capacity: 10 cups | Program setting: For steel oats only
- Dishwasher safe
- Plenty of settings
- Water condenses on the rim of the pot
- Feels flimsy
Why we chose it: For less than $50, this handy cooker whips up oatmeal in under an hour.
This model may be on the lower end of the market, but its large capacity, many functions, and insertable steamer tray make it a steal. The oatmeal setting can cook steel-cut oats in about 45 minutes or less, and the white rice setting will make quick work of rolled oats, too. If you plan to use the cooker for more than just oats, you’re in luck. The Aroma Professional includes an insertable steam tray that can steam meat and vegetables while rice or quinoa cooks, and it includes the ability to sauté, pan sear, or simmer. Use caution when removing the lid of the cooker, though—water condenses on the rim and can be very hot.
Best Microwave-Friendly: Unbreakable Cereal Bowls
Price: $9.99 | Capacity: About 24 ounces | Program setting: N/A
- Easy to clean
- Bottoms can get hot
- Can stain
Why we chose it: Made from natural wheat stalks, these lightweight bowls are deep enough to microwave oatmeal and virtually indestructible.
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be a project. Using your microwave and a deep bowl such as these, you can have oatmeal ready in just a minute or two. Free from plastics and other toxins, the bowls are made from organic wheat straw fiber. They are dishwasher safe and easy to clean, but the bowls may stain depending on your ingredients.
Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices, makes oatmeal in her microwave when she hasn’t meal-prepped a larger batch. “If you don’t have time to make a large batch of oatmeal in the morning, there’s nothing wrong with using a bowl and a microwave to get the job done,” she says. “Be sure to use a larger bowl or ramekin when microwaving to ensure the oatmeal doesn’t spill over the sides when cooking.”
Best Combo: Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Price: $129.99 | Capacity: Six quarts | Program setting: For porridge
- Feeds a crowd
Why we chose it: A multipurpose tool that makes batch cooking a breeze.
Made to fit nine functions in one appliance, the Instant Pot serves as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and so much more. And, of course, it makes it quick and easy to cook a large batch of oatmeal that can feed the family all week. Its one-touch porridge setting can pressure cook steel cut oats in about 6 minutes, or you can cook any type of oatmeal by manually entering the time and pressure level. It is pricey, but it’s the perfect item for the gadget-loving cook who likes to do it all.
Best Stovetop: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Saucepan
Price: $215 | Capacity: 1 ¾ quart | Program setting: N/A
- May be heavy for some
Why we chose it: A solid, heavy-bottomed pot that will cook oatmeal without burning or sticking.
While rice cookers and pressure cookers are certainly convenient, there’s something nice about taking the time in the morning to prepare a luxurious bowl of oats on your stovetop. To do so, you need a heavy-bottomed pot that won’t burn, overflow, or stick, and this Le Creuset saucepan checks all the boxes. While it is expensive, consider it an investment. It’s made to last, oven-safe, and beautiful to display.
Best Slow Cooker: Cuisinart ® 3.5 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker
Best Slow Cooker
Price: $59.95 | Capacity: 3.5 quarts | Program setting: None for oats
- Hands-off cooking
- Easy to use
- Small enough for one or two people
- Not suitable for a large family
Why we chose it: A traditional slow cooker that takes all the work out of oatmeal.
Prep oatmeal the night before and set it to slow cook—you’ll have breakfast ready by the time your alarm goes off, and it will have taken minimal effort to make. With a “keep warm” setting that automatically kicks in once the timer goes off, there’s no need to worry about your oatmeal going cold or congealed before you’re ready to eat. Compared to other options on this list, it’s a low-tech option that’s not complicated, expensive, or overwhelming. And, sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Oatmeal Maker
An oatmeal cooker isn’t its own product. Rather, it’s another kitchen appliance, like a rice cooker or pressure cooker, that can be used to make oatmeal. Before purchasing one of these items, take stock of what you already have and what you need in your kitchen. There’s no need to purchase a second rice cooker if you already have one, but you may be in need of a sturdy pot or classic slow cooker.
Not all of the above appliances are designed to cook oats fast. Rice cookers, for example, don’t save a lot of time compared to stovetop cooking, but they offer consistent results and the option to set it and forget it. Conversely, an Instant Pot or microwave-friendly bowl can cook oatmeal in minutes, but may be more hands-on and less consistent.
Type of Oats
Most of the rice cookers and pressure cookers have specific settings for steel-cut oats, not rolled. Steel-cut oats are smaller in size and have a firmer texture. “Steel-cut oatmeal is my favorite because of the heartier texture and mouthfeel, similar to rice or risotto,” says Samantha. They also take longer to cook when compared to rolled oats, though there are quick-cooking styles available. If you prefer rolled oats, you can cook them in a rice cooker on the “white rice” setting, or use something like your microwave or stovetop.
What is the best way to cook oats?
While the best way to cook oats depends on individual needs, most experts recommend preparing oatmeal on the stove for the most control over temperature and consistency. “I prefer cooking oats on the stove, mainly because I have more control,” Ali says. “The microwave and slow cooker tend to make the oats too mushy, without leaving any bite to the oat grain. The stovetop method wins every time.”
For perfect stovetop oatmeal, she recommends cooking the oats for at least 8 minutes. “This allows the oat grain enough time to break down and disperse its starches—which makes the oatmeal super creamy,” she says. “My typical method of cooking oatmeal is to let the oats come to a boil on medium-high heat on the stove, which usually takes 3 minutes. Once the oats have begun to boil, I turn the heat down to low and let the oats cook away, uncovered, for another 5 minutes until they are thick and creamy.”
Is oatmeal a healthy breakfast?
In short, yes. “Oatmeal is one of my go-to breakfast options,” Burgess says. “Whether you enjoy rolled oats or instant oats, they’re filled with satiating fiber and health-promoting nutrients. In fact, some research found that soluble fiber (a component found in oats) may help decrease fat around the waistline. Try topping oatmeal with nourishing additions like fresh berries, nut butter, and protein-packed Greek yogurt.”
What is the healthiest way to cook oatmeal?
In terms of health, there isn’t a significant benefit to one particular cooking method. The answer lies in how you prepare and top your oatmeal. “Focus on adding in a source of healthy fats and protein,” Ali says. “Consider a nut or seed butter for healthy fats, and hemp seeds or protein powder for a plant-protein source. This will ensure that the oatmeal bowl is nutritionally balanced with complex carbs, healthy fats, and plant protein.”
Don’t be afraid to explore the savory side, too. “Try toasting your oats in a sauté pan with a little olive oil or butter for a few minutes before adding water to bring out the oats’ nutty, natural flavor,” Stephens suggests. “Enjoy with non-traditional toppings like cheeses, vegetables, or eggs, or serve as a savory side dish to accompany fish, meat, or poultry.”
The best oatmeal cooker depends on what you’re looking for and what you’re hoping to achieve. Before purchasing your cookware of choice, take your time constraints and availability into account. And, most importantly, have fun with your oatmeal! With so many options for flavors and textures, it’s impossible to get bored.
To find the best oatmeal cookers, we considered all the options: rice cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, saucepans, and microwave-friendly bowls. From there, we read reviews of all the products, taking into account the speed, capacity, and level of attentiveness needed for each one. Additionally, we spoke to experts Mackenzie Burgess, Yasmeen Ali, and Samantha Stephens to get their recommendations and advice about the best ways to prepare oatmeal.