Rolled Oats vs. Quick Oats vs. Steel Cut Oats

More than just a breakfast produce, although they’re ever so popular to start the day. Most kitchens will use one form or another in their meals.

Don’t we all just love oats? They are convenient, nutritious, incredibly tasty and filling. But with so many types out there and varying opinions on them, it can be hard to decide on which to settle for or which offers the most benefits.

While oats come in many different types they are usually categorized under three main varieties; steel-cut, rolled, and instant oats. But one thing is certain; they all begin as groats, that is; unbroken, whole grains, and are all also rich in fiber and protein.

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Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats vs. Instant Oats; what’s The Difference?

Not a whole lot. The difference between rolled oats vs quick oats is simply how much they have been processed, and this can in turn influence the cooking time, the texture, and the taste. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of all three types. Hopefully, it will help you decide which to go in which recipes and which to reserve for simpler uses.

Quick Oats

Quick oats go through more processing than steel-cut oats and rolled oats.  The oat is partially steam-cooked and rolled thinner than “regular” oats. This is done to reduce cooking time – typically cooks with a few minutes, is softer, milder in flavor and also has a mushy texture. Quaker is probably the best known brand.

While it is often used in instant/packaged oats containing ingredients like sugar, milk powder, and added flavors, it can be bought alone.

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Rolled Oats

Also known as old-fashioned oats, rolled oats also undergo the steaming and flattening process.  Their flavors, though not as mild as instant oats, are considerably milder than steeled-cut oats.  Because they have also been partially cooked, they take lesser time to prepare than the steel-cut oats. This is the main difference between rolled oats vs quick oats too.

They can be used in cookies, muffins, bread and cake recipes.

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Steel-Cut Oats

Also known as Irish or pinhead oats and the least processed of all three; steel-cut oats are made by cutting entire groats into several pieces instead of rolling.

This oat type takes longer to cook, tends to be chewy in texture and often keeps most of its shape even after cooking.

They are commonly used for stovetop oatmeal porridge, cakes, meatloaf and in many savory dishes.  Because they’re the least-processed, they take longer to cook.

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Steel Oats Vs. Rolled Oats Vs. Instant Oats: Which Is Best?

All oats type are nutritious and prepared right, they can taste really amazing. However, many prefer steel-cut oats, not only because they digest more slowly, but also because of their Lower Glycemic Index.  

Unlike the other oat types, it takes longer for the digestive enzymes to reach starch inside the thicker oat pieces, thus slowing the conversion to sugar.  This means, there is less sugar (glucose) in the blood after consumption.

Foods that rank higher on the Glycemic Index are more likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Eventually, these fluctuations from food may cause insulin resistance in people genetically susceptible to the condition. The result, in the end, is high blood pressure, high blood fat, obesity, and an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

With steel-cut oats, you can be certain that you’re truly consuming whole grain with a low GI ranking during the chewing process. Also, the more you chew, the better it can be for your gum.

However, while steel-cut oats are highly recommended for the reasons mentioned above, old fashioned rolled oats are a lot more nutritious and healthier than instant oats/quick oats. Consumers do not get to enjoy the intact grains (and all their beneficial properties) in the latter, and these oat types often contain artificial flavors, colors, added sugar and salt and also may contain hydrogenated oil.

Precautions When Buying Oats

When buying oats, it is best to buy them in small quantities. Oats generally have a higher fat content than most other grains and therefore tend to go bad quickly. Even after you buy your preferred oat type, you still have to make sure you store it in a refrigerator.

Some Health Benefits Of Oats

Oats are rich in several beneficial nutrients. They are great sources of proteins, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

They are usually gluten-free and so an excellent meal option for people with gluten-intolerance or with celiac disease. If you’re gluten-intolerant or dealing with celiac disease, you want to make sure that the oats you buy are certified gluten-free in order to avoid consuming products that may have come in contact with gluten during the production process.

In just 80 grams (1 cup) of dry, rolled oats, you get;

  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Calories: 308
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 56
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Iron: 20% of the RDI
  • Thiamin (b1): 26% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 28% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 34% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 20% of the RDI
  • Copper: 16% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 17% of the RDI

Oats are also rich in beta-glucan; a soluble fiber found to offer so many health properties including lowering LDL aka the “bad” cholesterol for a healthier heart.

Beta-glucan in oats has also been found to be helpful for aiding weight loss and regulating blood sugar levels.  The compound is also known to help slow digestion among other benefits.

Ways to Include Oats in Your Meals

Although a common breakfast choice, they are a healthy source of beneficial nutrients and can be enjoyed at any time. Thankfully, there are several ways that you can include oats in your diet and some of them are listed below.

Ground raw oats can be used in homemade cookies, bread, cakes, and muffins

They can be added to smoothies to meet some of your fiber needs

Also, they can be made into overnight oats when combined with cinnamon and Greek yogurt

Can be used for preparing stovetop sweet oatmeal but this time topped with peppers, salsa, eggs, avocado, and black beans

Oats can be used as a coating for chicken and fish instead of breadcrumbs

Oats can be used in making homemade granola with nuts and dried fruits. .

rolled vs quick oats in snacks

If you enjoy pancakes, you can include oats in many of your favorite pancake recipes.

Can be used instead of rice in your risotto or any other rice recipe

Can be added in soups and stews for an extra creamy texture

You can serve cooked oats with grilled veggies, tahini, and chicken for lunch or dinner

Final Thoughts

Oats are excellent sources of many beneficial nutrients and can and should be enjoyed at any time of the day. When you can, make sure you opt for one with the most nutrients and is as minimally processed as possible.

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Rolled Oats vs. Quick Oats vs. Steel Cut Oats

time to read: 5 min