The Best Instant Oatmeals In 2023

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There's a lot to consider when it comes to your morning breakfast choices. Many people in America love to eat oatmeal for its health benefits, but not all oatmeal is created equal. Depending on your morning routine, the choice between instant oatmeal and traditional rolled oats or steel-cut oats can come down to a variety of factors. Making oatmeal from scratch at home can be a tricky and time-consuming endeavor that turns a lot of people off from this breakfast option altogether. For those who choose instant oatmeal for its convenience and ease, there are many convenient to-go cups available for every preference and price point.

There are a multitude of brands on the market offering instant oatmeal with everything from ultra-premium ingredients to eye-catching designer packaging. We checked every corner of the market to highlight the best of the best, with options available at your local grocery store as well as direct-to-consumer. To see what great instant oatmeals are out there today, read on. 

How we chose

Many Americans love the convenience of a tasty instant oatmeal. To round up the best options available, we looked at all the top brands and manufacturers currently making instant oatmeal. There are tried-and-true brands that have stood the test of time, such as Quaker and McCann's, as well as new brands like Mylk Labs and Kreatures of Habit. Even the established brands are always coming out with new products and innovations. 

We tried to provide a good combination of instant oatmeals that come in disposable cups as well as packets that you mix in your own container. Depending on your lifestyle, one may be better for you. Those that need to eat on the go will love the disposable cups. If you just want a quick breakfast at home, it might be easier to apply toppings in one of your own bowls. To choose the best, we analyzed everything from customer reviews to ingredient composition to determine the best offering for any kind of buyer. 

Best overall instant oatmeal

In this day and age, it's not enough for a breakfast food to simply be convenient or great-tasting. Consumers these days are looking for superfood ingredients in order to get the best possible start to their day. Enter Purely Elizabeth, a company offering instant oatmeals that hit every note. Tasty flavors such as blueberry walnut come packed full of organic ingredients, superfood nuts and seeds, and protein-packed collagen. Not all brands of oats are gluten-free, but Purely Elizabeth oats are. Reviewers love the included nut butter package, which adds an extra tasty and convenient element unique to this brand of instant oatmeal (though one did suggest that adding your own nut butter was better as the stuff included with the oatmeal isn't the best). Others were big fans of the hefty chunks of heart-healthy walnuts and lightly-sweetened blueberry flavor.

A 12-pack of Purely Elizabeth collagen protein oat cups is available from Amazon for $33.99 as of April 2023.

Best brandless instant oatmeal

Some people are just looking for the stripped-down instant oatmeal experience. Public Goods offers just that with its instant oatmeal cups that contain just one ingredient: oats. The plus side with instant oatmeal without added ingredients is that you are free to customize each cup with anything your heart desires. Having total control of every ingredient you put in your body is key to avoiding harmful preservatives and artificial flavorings and colorings.

Public Goods is a brandless brand, a direct-to-consumer company that aims to eliminate packaging and flashy graphics in favor of low prices and top quality. You can also buy an annual membership to Public Goods to keep costs even lower. The packing is all recyclable so this oatmeal isn't just good for you — it's good for the planet too.

A four-count package of Public Goods oatmeal cups is available on the brand's website for $8.95 as of April 2023.

Best low-ingredient flavored instant oatmeal

Just because you want flavored instant oatmeal doesn't mean you have to contend with a dozen (or more) ingredients you can't pronounce. Mylk Labs offers a great tasting, low-ingredient instant oatmeal. The almond and Himalayan pink salt flavor contains just four ingredients: gluten-free oats, almonds, organic coconut sugar, and Himalayan pink salt. Reviewers love the great taste and one reviewer even claims it to be their favorite after trying "50 different cups, recipes or brands."

At $4 per cup, the jury's out on whether it's a good deal or not. Some reviewers are willing to pay a bit more for premium (and unprocessed) ingredients, while others may prefer to stick to a more generic brand. If you are the type of person who wants to add toppings such as blueberries or fresh bananas as well, that may add to the total cost of your breakfast and is something to keep in mind when thinking about the cost.  

A 6-pack of Mylk Labs almond and Himalayan salt instant oatmeal is available on Amazon for $23.99 as of April 2023.

Best high-protein instant oatmeal

The groovy packaging of this oatmeal isn't just a marketing scheme, though it sure helps to give your pantry a little eye candy. Newcomer to the oatmeal game Kreatures of Habit has created the perfect oatmeal that hits all the high points. It's gluten-free, plant-based, and made with all-natural ingredients. Each package is full of a whopping thirty grams of protein and is enriched with vitamin D3 and Omega-3 fatty acids. This oatmeal comes in five delicious flavors: vanilla, chocolate, blueberry banana, peanut butter banana, and maple caramel. There's some clever engineering that lets you make it as a smoothie, overnight oats, or instant oats (either in a microwave or with a bit of hot water or milk of your choice). The hundreds of reviews on the Kreatures of Habit website from satisfied customers who rave about the flavor and high protein content speak for themselves, 

A 7-pack of Kreatures of Habit instant oatmeal is available on Amazon for $34.99 as of April 2023.

Best unflavored instant oatmeal

If you poke around the internet looking for oatmeal recipes, you'll find thousands of images of bowls of oatmeal topped with everything from bars of chocolate to what seems like entire fruit baskets. For those that prefer a more pure experience, Bob's Red Mill Organic Classic Oatmeal is a great way to go. The 1.8 oz package comes with oats, chia, flaxseed, and salt. The mix-ins add some extra nutritional punch so you can start the day with a good blend of protein and essential vitamins. Of course, you can always add your own sweeteners and flavorings if you don't want simple plain oatmeal. This oatmeal is also certified non-GMO, organic, Kosher, and gluten-free. There are a few dozen five-star reviews on Amazon, where people rave about everything from the convenience to the taste. 

One package of Bob's Red Mill Organic Classic Oatmeal is available on Amazon for $2.79.

Best instant oatmeal for kids

Instant oatmeal isn't just for busy adults on their way to work in the morning. It can also be a real life-saving product for busy parents trying to fill their kids' stomachs before school in the morning. Eternal and stalwart oatmeal brand Quaker Oats has been making instant oatmeal marketed toward kids for decades now, including its iconic Dinosaur Eggs oatmeal. However, some parents might prefer to buy instant oatmeal for their kids that doesn't have egg-shaped nuggets of sugar mixed into it. 

Luckily, Quaker Oats makes a great-tasting and whole-ingredient instant oatmeal that kids (and parents) love. Take a look at over nineteen thousand positive reviews on Amazon, where consumers praise everything from the "vibrant" taste of the strawberry to the "fun" it can add to your kid's breakfast. 

A pack of 48 servings of Quaker Oats instant oatmeal variety pack is available on Amazon for $18.29 as of April 2023.

Best steel-cut instant oatmeal

The truth is out about steel-cut oats, the coarse nuggets of the oat grain (cut with steel blades). They're less processed than rolled oats and may help keep you fuller for longer and contribute to weight loss. For a long time, most consumers had to either choose between quick, processed oatmeal, or the heartier (but more time-consuming to cook) steel-cut oats. Now, McCann's offers steel-cut oatmeal in a convenient to-go cup that can be made in the microwave in under two minutes. It's a breakthrough in convenient breakfast technology.

Aside from the plain flavor, there are three other flavors available, including apple cinnamon and vanilla honey. These cups are perfect for a complete, filling breakfast and don't need any additional ingredients to be consumed — other than water (or milk, if you prefer that). 

A 12-pack of McCann's instant steel cut oatmeal is available on Amazon for $26.72 as of April 2023.

Best allergy-friendly instant oatmeal

Aside from having the most adorable name and packaging graphics on the list, Oats in Coats also has the best options for sensitive eaters with food allergies. Starting with gluten-free oats, this company sticks with dried fruits and vegetables to add flavor and color, using monk fruit extract as a sweetener and sea salt for seasoning. The combination keeps these cute breakfast cups free of the top nine most common foodborne allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, and dairy. Conscious eaters can enjoy a warm, hearty breakfast knowing their needs have been considered.

Oats in Coats also aims for an organic label, using non-GMO foods and zero glyphosate, a troublesome chemical used as a pesticide. With so much caution taken in creating its product, this company has earned its place on the instant oatmeal best-of list as an allergy-friendly food, bar none.

You can buy a 12-pack of Oats in Coats in a variety of flavors on Amazon for $36 as of April 2023.

Best certified vegan instant oatmeal

It can be challenging to find an instant oat option that doesn't include non-vegan ingredients, usually in the form of milk powder. With Health Warrior, vegan instant oatmeal is a done deal — and as a power food, no less. This company adds chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds to its apple walnut and strawberry almond flavors, creating a fruit-nut-whole-grain combo that brings high flavor to a fantastically healthy breakfast dish. Keeping these packets in your desk drawer or stashing them in a backpack means you can have nutritious, tasty options whenever hunger hits.

Health Warrior uses this blend of wholesome elements as the basis for all of its bars and oatmeal cups. The only ingredient on the list that might get the side-eye is sugar, which is pretty high up in the order. However, given the nutrients included in the other components, the idea of balance is at play with these delicious packets.

You can buy a 20-pack of Health Warrior instant oatmeal on Amazon for $28 as of April 2023.

Best overnight oats

How does oatmeal that prepares itself overnight sound for a convenient breakfast experience? Oats Overnight has perfected trouble-free oatmeal prep with its line of delicious packets, in flavors like strawberries and cream and chocolate peanut butter banana. To keep its offerings lower in sugar, the company uses alternative sweeteners that include sucralose and monk fruit, a boon for a food category that often loads up on the sugar content. Gluten-free oats are used in each packet, making this oatmeal a healthy option for a range of dietary needs.

To make things even easier, Oats Overnight provides customers with a handy shake-and-pour cup that accommodates a full serving. Add a packet of oats to eight ounces of your favorite milk, shake it, and leave the cup in the fridge for at least four hours. You'll be rewarded with delicious oats waiting for you when you wake up. The only way for the company to make it easier is to send a rep to feed it to you!

You can buy a box of eight Overnight Oats packets on Amazon for $34 as of April 2023.

Best probiotic oatmeal

Instant oatmeal may not be the first food you think of when you consider how to include probiotics in your diet. But that didn't stop Bakery on Main from adding probiotics to its instant oatmeal to make healthy eating an easier task. In addition to sumptuous flavors like cranberry apple almond and walnut banana, this company's gluten-free quick oats include a dose of Bacillus coagulans, the scientific name for beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and gut health (via Healthline). 

While you enjoy Bakery on Main's cups of fast-cooking oats for a breakfast or snack that requires little prep, you are simultaneously improving your overall wellness. The company began as a mindful operation dedicated to providing delicious gluten-free foods for sensitive eaters. Its line also includes granola and snack foods in addition to probiotic instant oatmeal.

A 12-pack of Bakery on Main gluten-free probiotic oatmeal in assorted flavors is available on Amazon for $23.88 as of April 2023.