Fact Checked

What Is Oat Cereal?

Emily Pate
Emily Pate

Oat cereals are breakfast foods made from the grain of the same name. Oats, or Avena sativa, are a cereal grain that can thrive in adverse growing conditions. A variety of these cereals are manufactured and made at home, including oatmeal, bran, and muesli, as well as granola. Hulled oats typically still have the bran and germ intact, making these cereals major sources of fiber and nutrients.

Oatmeal is one common type of oat cereal, containing dry, crushed, or rolled oats cooked with water or milk. Oats are initially smashed to remove the husk, exposing the seed, or groat, then heated in some way before processing to give the oat a full, nutty flavor. Steel-cut oats are tiny, broken groats sometimes steamed and flattened and sold as "rolled." Quick oats are cut into small pieces before steaming and rolling, and instant oatmeal has already been cooked then dried again. It comes in a variety of flavors including fruit and cream, or maple and sugar.


When high-protein oats are milled, the bran is sometimes reserved and made into a hot cereal mix. Oat cereal made from bran is cooked with water or milk. Oat bran is also sold as cold cereal in the form of flakes, where the bran has been bound together and baked for a crispy texture.

Muesli is an additional dry oat cereal. Oats are soaked in liquid, typically water or fruit juice, then mixed with a variety of additional ingredients. Common ingredients include dried or fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, and honey or natural sweeteners. Muesli can be made at home with raw rolled oats or purchased ready-to-eat.

Muesli is a type of oat cereal.
Muesli is a type of oat cereal.

Granola oat cereal was created by Dr. James Jackson in 1894, this early form being made from graham flour. Oat granola came into known existence during the mid-1960s, when additional ingredients, including dried fruit and nuts, were added. Oats are mixed with honey, nuts, and often dried fruit in this cereal and then the ingredients bake, with the cook stirring several times to keep them broken into small pieces.

Granola is a type of oat cereal.
Granola is a type of oat cereal.

Whole oat cereal provides a significant source of micro-nutrients like manganese, selenium, and phosphorus, among other nutrients. Healthy oat cereals containing the whole kernel oats help to lower cholesterol, and the daily intake of fiber in one bowl of oatmeal can decrease cholesterol between 8 and 23 percent. Other health benefits include improved cardiovascular functioning, stabilizing blood sugar, and boosting immunity. Oatmeal also works well as a first food, and infants 4 months of age or older with no digestive issues may eat it.

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Discussion Comments


Once I started making my own granola, I have never bought it at the store again. I found a great recipe in a natural cookbook and the recipe is very versatile.

It only takes a few minutes to mix together and then I cook it for about an hour on a very low temperature in the oven. I add the type of nuts I like or have in the cupboard.

This includes pecans, walnuts and almonds. I have also used sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I also like to add dried cranberries and carob chips to my granola.

This is great alone as a cereal with some milk, or I can take the granola, add some peanut butter and honey and make bars out of it.

Either way, I know exactly what is in the granola I am making. Oat cereal is the main ingredient in the granola, but all the other ingredients really make it special.


@bagley79 - That is an interesting question and I have noticed the same thing. I think it must have something to do with the way the oats are processed.

Either way, eating oats would be much better for your kids than the boxed cereals which are loaded with sugar. I find that I eat oat cereal a lot more when it is cold outside.

During the summer this never sounds very good in the morning. As soon as the weather starts turning cooler, I find myself buying oatmeal again.

I also use oats when I am baking cookies and bread. I think the oats adds some nutrition and bulk to a lot of baked goods.


Is there much of a difference between the instant oats and the traditional oats?

My kids love the instant oatmeal that comes in prepared packages. There are a lot of flavors to choose from and each of them has a favorite. This is also quick and easy to prepare in the microwave in just a few minutes.

I know I feel better if they get out the door with some oatmeal in them than something like a pop tart.

I have just noticed that the instant oats don't seem to keep me full as long. I don't know if it is the sugar that is added to the packages or the type of oats. When I eat a bowl of oatmeal made with the regular oats, I stay satisfied longer.

There is nothing that keeps me full in the morning as long as a bowl of steel cut oats. I used to use the regular oats, but love the nuttier taste and the texture of the steel cut oats.

They take a little bit of time to cook, so you need to allow yourself extra time for this. I will start the water boiling while I am getting other things ready. Once I pour the oats in, they will be done in less than 10 minutes.

To really make this a nutritious breakfast, I like to add some walnuts and blueberries. I will also use some honey and cinnamon to sweeten it up a bit. I usually will stir in some flax seed too. You can't taste it and it adds extra fiber and nutrition.

I stay full all morning when I have this for breakfast. If I eat cereal out of a box, I am hungry in a couple of hours.


@shell4life – I use maple syrup in my granola oat cereal, as well as honey. The syrup is extremely sweet, so it doesn't take much of it to sweeten a batch of granola.

Also, you could try using a nut that is sweeter than a walnut. I use pecans, because they have that natural hint of sweetness.

I also use oats, but I include half a cup of rice cereal in the mix instead of sesame seeds. If the seeds you used had already been roasted, then they were likely salted as well.

This granola tastes great in a parfait. I put some of it on the bottom of a bowl and put vanilla yogurt on top of that, along with sliced strawberries and blueberries.


I recently made some granola oat cereal at home, using a recipe I found in a magazine. I didn't notice until after I had made it that the recipe was for savory granola, and I was astonished when I bit into it and it wasn't sweet.

I used whole oats, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts, flaxseed, honey, cinnamon, and thyme. I baked it all on parchment paper.

I would have thought that the honey would have made the granola taste sweet, but I guess there just wasn't enough of it in proportion to the other ingredients. I ate the granola anyway, but it sure would have been better if it had been sweeter. Does anyone know what I could add to make it sweeter?


@burcidi – I have never tried making oatmeal with milk before. That sounds good!

I do use instant oats, but I boil water on the stove and add them to it. They only have to remain in the boiling water for one minute, and then, they are done.

I used to sweeten oatmeal with sugar, but I've started using honey instead. I just feel better about the nutritional value this way. Also, I like to use fresh blueberries on top of mine instead of dried ones.

It does seem like it takes a long time for the oatmeal to cool down enough to be eaten when I make it this way. Maybe if I used the microwave, it would cool off faster.


I buy pre-made muesli cereal. I love the variety of flavors and textures in it, and having to make it at home would require me to buy a lot of ingredients, and that could get costly.

I like the hard flakes that have been glazed with honey. They are sweet, but not the kind of sweet that makes you gag because of its intensity.

I love dried cranberries and tiny pieces of pecans. Both of these are in the cereal that I buy, and I can't get enough of it. I have to be careful, though, because even though it is good for me, it still has calories and sugars, and consuming too much of it would not be good.


@burcidi, @fify-- I also agree that oat cereal is great for adults, but be careful giving it to babies. When I gave my daughter oat cereal for the first time, it made her sick. She threw up several times after having it, something which she had never done with rice baby cereals. She has oat cereals regularly now that she's older, but didn't react to them so well when she was young.

I think oat cereal is very different from rice cereal. It tends to expand and cause bloating during digestion. So it can be a little too much for infants. Making it with milk instead of water causes even more bloating.

It's probably better to start babies off with rice cereal after they're five or six months old. And start giving them oat cereal in small amounts when you think they can handle it.


@burcidi-- Oat cereal is very good because it's high in fiber. When a food is high in fiber, it means that it raises blood sugar slowly over a longer period of time. In other words, it has a low glycemic index and won't cause spikes or dramatic falls in blood sugar.

As a diabetic, I try to stick to natural oat cereals, especially muesli. Muesli doesn't taste the best, but it really keeps me full for a long time and helps me keep my weight down. I try to increase its protein level by adding almonds and other nuts in it, and soaking it in milk.


Oatmeal is said to be the best, most complete breakfast. I agree, but not the kind that comes with sugar, flavorings and other additives inside.

The best oatmeal in my opinion is the plain instant ones, preferably organic, or the steel-cut ones. I eat instant oatmeal everyday for breakfast. I mix plain oatmeal with dried blueberries, milk and honey and microwave it. It's so good! Way better than any other flavored oatmeal I've had.

I really like granola too, but I try to limit my consumption of it since it has sugar. I usually have this as a snack or in place of dessert with some plain yogurt and fresh fruits.

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