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Instant oatmeal is a quick breakfast that’s easy to whip up, even on really busy mornings. But not all instant oatmeals are as delicious and filling as they are convenient. Some are too mushy and others are too sweet. Some aren’t even good for you, packing in as much as a tablespoon of sugar. The best instant oatmeals are the ones that taste great, have good ingredients, fill you up until lunch, and don’t supply you with a boatload of sugar before you’ve even left the house. Every single one of the instant oatmeals on this list checks off all four of those boxes and more.
Here are the best instant oatmeals on the market.
Best Overall: Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick Cooking Rolled Oats is a no-frills instant oatmeal, but that’s what makes it great. The only ingredient is organic whole grain oats, which are the perfect neutral base for your favorite oatmeal mix-ins and toppings. Unlike flavored oatmeals that can have a lot of added sugar, plain oatmeal starts with 0 grams and lets you control how much (if any) you add.
It has a thick, hearty texture and each serving provides 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein and is ready in two to three minutes, depending on how you cook it. And rather than coming in individual packets, this instant oatmeal comes in a 16-ounce bag, so you can choose how much—or how little—you want.
Best Organic: Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal
The Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal is another plain oatmeal option that contains a single ingredient: whole grain rolled oats. The oats are minimally processed, so they hold up well to hot water or milk, giving you hearty oatmeal with lots of texture. Unlike Bob’s Red Mill oats, this instant oatmeal is pre-portioned into individual packets, so you can easily grab a single serving or take one with you on the go.
Best Gluten-Free: RXBar Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups, Apple Cinnamon
All oats are technically gluten-free, but since the majority of them are processed on equipment that’s shared with gluten-containing grains, they get contaminated with gluten somewhere along the way. If you’re after oats that are totally gluten-free, you have to find an option that’s labeled that way, like the RXBar Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups.
Not only are the oats certified gluten-free, but these oatmeal cups contain no added sugar and are sweetened only with dates and apples. They also have added protein in the form of egg whites and almonds. In addition to apple cinnamon, RXBar also offers maple, chocolate, and vanilla almond.
Best Steel Cut: Better Oats Instant Steel Cut Oatmeal with Flaxseeds
Traditionally, steel-cut oats take a lot longer to cook than other forms of oatmeal, but this instant version is ready in less than three minutes. Although it does contain some added sugar, it also has 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein (from flaxseeds) per serving, so it keeps you full longer.
The fiber also slows down digestion so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like other highly-processed, sweetened instant oatmeals. The ingredient list is really great too, with only seven easily recognizable ingredients, including whole grain steel-cut oats, sugar, flaxseeds, salt, and maple syrup.
Best Cups: Umpqua Oats Oatmeal Cups, Maple Pecan
Umpqua Oats takes the convenience of instant oatmeal up a notch by putting everything in a microwave-safe cup that you can easily take with you on the go. There are no artificial ingredients or fillers and each "lower-sugar recipe" has 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber so you stay full longer. Umpqua Oats also takes texture seriously, making sure to use only large whole grain oats that hold their shape so you never have to eat mushy oatmeal.
You can choose from six flavors—apple cranberry, fruit and nut, maple pecan, triple berry, vanilla almond, and unsweetened blueberry apple—or get a variety pack that includes two flavors of your choice.
Best Flavored: Purely Elizabeth Collagen Protein Oats Cup, Blueberry Walnut
Purely Elizabeth combines freeze-dried blueberries, walnuts, and cinnamon to make one of the best flavored instant oatmeals out there. Made with certified gluten-free oats and whole food ingredients, like quinoa flakes and chia seeds, each bite has just the right amount of flavor and sweetness. It’s sweetened only with coconut sugar and has a pretty low amount of added sugar (5 grams) compared to other flavored instant oatmeals. It also has added collagen protein, which brings this instant oatmeal up to a whopping 11 grams of protein per serving.
If that wasn’t enough, each cup includes a NuttZo Nut Butter packet so you can squeeze some extra nutty deliciousness (and extra protein) right on top.
Best High-Protein: Kodiak Cakes Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Packets
With 12 grams of protein per serving, the Kodiak Cakes Chocolate Chip Oatmeal was made with the everyday adventurer in mind. It combines several highly bioavailable protein sources, like whey protein isolate and pea protein concentrate, with whole grain rolled oats and semisweet chocolate chips to give you thick, hearty oatmeal that’s as filling as it is delicious.
This instant oatmeal is especially great for busy mornings because, when microwaved, it’s ready in less than one minute—and it only takes two to three minutes on the stove.
Best Variety: Quaker Instant Oatmeal Lower Sugar Variety Pack
If you’re having trouble deciding on just one instant oatmeal flavor, the Quaker Instant Oatmeal Lower Sugar Variety Pack has you covered. It contains three of Quaker’s fan-favorite flavors—apples and cinnamon, maple and brown sugar, and cinnamon and spice—that are specially formulated to have 35 percent less sugar than their regular flavored counterparts. Each serving contains only 4 to 5 grams of sugar, compared to about 12 grams in the regular varieties.
And if you’re worried about artificial sweeteners, don’t be. The sugar is replaced with monk fruit, a natural sweetener that has no carbs and no calories but still tastes delicious.
The Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick Cooking Rolled Oats make a hearty, plain oatmeal that gives you control over added ingredients, but if you want an instant oatmeal that’s already flavored for you, try the RXBar Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups in Apple Cinnamon or the Purely Elizabeth Collagen Protein Oat Cup.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food and beverage-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.