Instant Oats Vs. Steel-Cut Oats: Which Is Better?

Those who have stood in the baking aisle of their local grocery store pondering which kind of oats to buy may have wondered what the difference is between each kind, as Healthline discusses. The key is understanding which varieties of oats are more processed than others because the less processed the food is, the better its nutritional value. In the lineup of oats, steel-cut is the least processed, while instant oats are the most processed, and quick and rolled falling somewhere in between (via The Kitchn).

Steel-cut oats are the least processed because they are simply whole oat groats that have been cut into two or three smaller pieces with a steel blade. Steel-cut oats tend to have a chewier texture thanks to their coarse grind and have a more flavorful, nutty taste. This type of oats is very filling, but they do take longer to cook (via Bob's Red Mill).

Instant oats, on the other hand, are very processed because they are pre-cooked, dried, then pressed thinner after they've been rolled. Though this means they cook a lot faster — in a matter of minutes — they have very little texture and less flavor. Sometimes flavored packets of instant oats have other added ingredients, like skim milk or sugar, too.

Steel-cut oats are better

Steel-cut oats are better, but not just because they have more texture and flavor. Steel-cut oats have better nutritional value than instant oats, especially instant oats that are packed with added sugar. Though both kinds of oats are a whole grain that contains fiber, steel-cut oats have more of the good-for-you nutrients. Steel-cut oats will give you get more good nutrition for the price.

Steel-cut oats contain more fiber and are denser than instant oats. In fact, steel-cut oats contain enough of both soluble and insoluble fiber to make up 20 percent of the daily fiber your body needs. Not to mention, it's a good source of iron and protein too. The steel-cut variety is also naturally gluten-free and are low on the glycemic index at 55. That means this type of oats has a low chance of spiking your blood sugar. All of this adds up to steel-cut oats being one of the healthiest kinds of whole grains you can buy.