There are several different types of oatmeal out there and today we are comparing two of the most popular: old-fashioned (aka rolled-oats) vs quick oats. We'll look at everything from how they're made, taste and nutritional differences, cost variance, and more. Plus I'll share some of my favorite recipes! Let's get to it!
Both types of oatmeal start out as oat groats. The main difference between old-fashioned oats and quick oats comes down to how they are processed and the resulting shape, texture, and cooking time.
(Quick aside: Old-fashioned oats are also called "rolled oats". This is because oat grains are steamed and then flattened between heavy rollers, giving them their thin and flat shape. Why are they also called "old-fashioned"? I actually did a lot of research and even the internet doesn't know.)
As you can see from the pictures, uncooked old-fashioned oat grains are large and uniform in their oval shape. They are a bit thicker and a tad bit darker.
Uncooked quick oats on the other hand are smaller, irregularly shaped bits. They are also thinner.
The difference in appearance is even bigger once the grains have been cooked. The cooked old-fashioned oats are a lovely golden color. You can still see the individual grains as they clump together.
Quick oats are much paler when they are cooked. They also appear mushy.
Rolled oats and quick oats actually taste pretty similar. The big difference comes down to their texture. Rolled oats are much chewier while quick oats are much creamier and smooth.
The difference in texture might help you decide which type of oat you should use in a recipe. Rolled oats hold their shape well and give things a nice chew. This makes them perfect for baked goods and cookies.
Quick oats are better for blending into recipes. They are most often used as a quick breakfast (hello instant oatmeal packets). But they can also be used in other recipes to help hold things together, like meatballs.
When it comes to whole grains, the more processing a grain goes through, the less nutrition it usually has. In the case of rolled oats vs quick oats, however, their nutritional values are actually the same!
From the nutrition label above, you can see that both old-fashioned oats and quick oats are very healthy! They are low in fat, and have a good amount of fiber and protein in them. They are also high in iron.
Oatmeal doesn't naturally contain any sugar, but you'll often see oatmeal breakfast recipes loaded with sugar! So watch how much brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or dried fruit you add to your morning oatmeal. You can easily make oatmeal unhealthy with the number of things you mix in.
Oats are naturally gluten-free. Oftentimes, however, they come into contact with other gluten products, like wheat or barley, during processing or transportation. So if you are a person who must seriously avoid gluten, you should look for oats that are specifically labeled "gluten-free." If you are just casually avoiding gluten then any oats should be just fine for you.
Rolled oats and quick oats have a glycemic index of 55.
⏲️ Cook Time
Suprise, Suprise! Quick oats cook faster than old-fashioned oats.
Old-fashioned oats usually cook on the stove for about 7 minutes, while quick oats only take 1 minute.
You can use other methods to cook your oatmeal too.
Old-fashioned oats can be made on the stove, microwave, instant pot, or crock pot.
For cooking quick oats, I would recommend using the stove or the microwave. I think you could technically use the instant pot or crock pot to make quick oats, but I think it would take a lot longer, making the use of "quick" oats pointless.
Oatmeal in general is very budget-friendly. It is a lot less expensive than most other whole grains.
Quick oats are just slightly less expensive than rolled oats. As of April 2023, at a Walmart in Washington State, you can get quick oats for 9.5 cents an ounce. Old-fashioned oats are 13.8 cents an ounce.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to Quaker Oats, "If you're using oats in a non-oatmeal recipe, it is important to use what's called for so the that the recipe turns out right."
That being said, I have personally used old-fashioned oats in many a recipe that calls for quick oats and have had the recipe turn out perfectly. I would be more hesitant to substitute quick oats in place of old-fashioned ones because they can get mushy.
Fun fact: you can actually make quick oats out of old-fashioned oats. Check out how here!
Neither! They actually have the exact same nutritional values. (See the nutrition section for more info).
Because of their texture, old-fashioned oats are better in cookies. In fact, if you're trying to make the best chocolate chip cookie in the world, consider adding oatmeal. A little bit of chew really makes soft chocolate chip cookies bonkers delicious.
Here are some of my favorite oatmeal recipes!
I hope you've enjoyed reading about the differences between old-fashioned oats and quick oats. Let me know in the comments which one you prefer to eat!
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