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Steel Cut Oats vs Rolled Oats

Oatmeal is a classic breakfast food for a reason: it’s a hot, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that is infinitely customizable. Plus, eating oatmeal is good for your health. Recent research has shown that children who eat cooked oatmeal in the morning have a lower risk of obesity and better overall intake of critical nutrients (O’Neil, 2015).

When it comes to choosing your favorite oatmeal, however, things get more complicated. Some people enjoy the convenience of flavored oatmeal packets, but these can contain a large amount of sugar. Others make their oats from scratch. One of the biggest choices is the type of oats, as the manufacturing process differs between steel cut oats and rolled oats. Understanding the differences between these two forms of oatmeal can help you make the choice that is healthiest for you.

The Manufacturing Process for Steel Cut Oats versus Rolled Oats

Before delving into the manufacturing process for steel cut oats versus rolled oats, it is helpful to understand the anatomy of an oat grain. Like all cereal grains, a single oat grain is a seed that can grow into a new plant (Hammermeister, 2008). The inner portion of the seed is known as the embryo or seed germ, which contains the vital ingredients to grow a new plant. The bulk of an oat grain is made up of the endosperm, which contains starch and protein. Finally, the grain is surrounded by an outer coating known as the bran. Oat bran largely consists of fiber, although it also contains several vitamins (Hammermeister, 2008).

The difference between steel cut oats and rolled oats lies in the manufacturing process. Steel cut oats, sometimes called Scottish or Irish oats, are the least processed form of oat grains. As their name implies, these oats are created when a full oat groat (the large grain) is sliced into pieces with steel. This leaves much of the bran intact.

In contrast, rolled oats are flattened using large disks. This causes the oat to become flaky and soft, allowing them to absorb more liquid. Some rolled oats (often called “old-fashioned” oats) still retain some bran. Others, such as instant oats, are precooked and dried. This removal of the outer bran affects the nutritional properties of oats.

Understanding the Differences between Steel Cut Oats and Rolled Oats

So aside from the manufacturing process, how do steel cut oats and rolled oats differ from one another? There are several key factors to consider:

  • Nutrition. Despite coming from the same grain, steel cut oats and rolled oats differ slightly in their nutritional properties. Steel cut oats tend to have slightly fewer calories by unit volume and may have more fiber (Oaklander, n.d.). However, they are equivalent to rolled oats in protein, carbohydrate, and fat content.
  • Glycemic index. Steel cuts oats have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. Glycemic index refers to how much a food raises your blood sugar (American Diabetes Association, 2014). Eating lower glycemic index foods could help you manage your blood sugar, decrease risk of diabetes, and stave off hunger pangs.
  • Taste and texture. Steel cut and rolled oats are worlds apart in taste and texture. Rolled oats readily absorb liquid, holding their shape while becoming pliable and slightly mushy. In contrast, steel cut oats absorb less liquid during their cooking time. This leaves them with a firmer texture and a slightly nutty taste.
  • Cooking time. Steel cut oats take considerably longer than rolled oats to make. While instant oats can be cooked in the microwave in a few minutes, “old-fashioned” rolled oats are often cooked on the stovetop. Even so, they are typically ready in five minutes. In contrast, steel cut oats may take 30 minutes or longer depending on your cooking method. Using low, slow heat application for steel cut oats gives them time to absorb enough liquid to fully develop their best texture.
  • Culinary uses. Both steel cut and rolled oats are perhaps best known as breakfast cereals. They are certainly tasty and healthy additions to your morning meal, providing your body with the complex carbohydrates and protein you need to get started in the morning (Oaklander, n.d.). However, oats have other uses as well. The nutty texture of steel cut oats goes well when mixed into meatloaf or as part of a grain pilaf. Meanwhile, the absorbency of rolled oats makes them well adapted for a variety of baked goods, including cookies, cakes, or fruit crisps.

Recipes with Rolled Oats

The following recipes make use of rolled oats to offer a wide variety of delectable dishes that you’re sure to enjoy.

Moringa Oatmeal

Moringa Oatmeal Recipe

Starting the day with oatmeal is always a great idea, but packing your bowl with even more nutrients? That’s just genius. Discover the benefits of moringa powder with this delectable recipe for a hot cereal that is sure to help you through breeze through the day.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, almond milk, agave or maple syrup, vanilla extract, moringa powder, pistachios, dried mulberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 324-gram servings

Strawberry and Banana Overnight Oats

Strawberry and Banana Overnight Oats Recipe

We don’t always have time to prepare a hearty bowl of hot cereal before the arduous day ahead of us; but, some days, we need that kickstart to keep us going. Overcome this dilemma with proper preparation and fashion yourself a cup of delectable overnights with this handy recipe today!
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, walnuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, fresh or frozen strawberries, ripe bananas, agave or maple syrup, almond milk.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 10 - 12 244-gram servings

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins Recipe
{gluten-free}

Somedays, we need a small snack to grab on our way out the door; and, there’s no better way to accommodate your sweet tooth in the morning than with a warm, moist muffin. This simple recipe offers a scrumptious way to start the day or a delightful night cap to enjoy before bed. Try it today!
Ingredients: Coconut flour, brown rice flour, gluten-free rolled oats, egg, olive oil, vanilla extract, almond milk, coconut chips, dried blueberries, unrefined sugar, baking powder, baking soda.
Total Time: 45 minutes | Yield: 10 muffins

Banana Bread {gluten-free}

Banana Bread Recipe {gluten-free}

Another delectable source of the carbohydrates that fuel your morning with a healthy helping of fruit to tickle your tastebuds and offer much-needed nutrients, this banana bread recipe bakes to perfection. Create this mouthwatering confection today- you’ll be glad you did!
Ingredients: Overripe bananas, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, brown rice flour, coconut flour, walnuts, gluten-free rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 12 80-gram servings

Pumpkin Granola Bars {gluten-free}

Pumpkin Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free}

Fancy the flavor of pumpkin even outside of the fall? These scrumptious bars are packed with the piquancy of the gourd and offer a soft but chewy consistency that is only made possible by the inclusion of a hearty helping of oatmeal. Enjoy this snack anytime!
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, pumpkin puree, cashew butter, honey, maple syrup, dark chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin spice.
Total Time: 45 minutes | Yield: 8 bars

Homemade Granola Bars {gluten-free}

Homemade Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free}

Searching for a nutritious snack you can bring with you anywhere? These granola bars are the ultimate collation to bring with you for any occasion, offering an abundance of health benefits through a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Ingredients: Dried mulberries, dried strawberries, raw cashews, organic peanut butter, ripe bananas, raw sunflower seeds, hemp protein powder, gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, flaxseed meal.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 12 76-gram bars

No-Bake Granola Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

No-Bake Granola Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

For those pursuing a sweeter savor in their snack, these granola bars are soft and succulent to please your palate with a chocolate drizzle that is simply divine. Keep these bars in the fridge and grab one as you head to your next appointment, or enjoy one in the comfort of your own home!
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, peanut butter, dried tart cherries, pistachios, flaxseed meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, agave syrup. unsweetened applesauce, melted cacao nibs or dark chocolate.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 8 - 10 servings

Quinoa Fritters

Quinoa Fritters Recipe

If you’re looking for a delicious dinner then don’t be surprised when oats still show up on the menu. These flavorful fritters are a great alternative to traditional burgers for cookouts and barbecues. The patties can be made vegetarian or vegan for your convenience!
Ingredients: Quinoa, black beans, gluten-free rolled oats, egg, cumin powder, salt, cilantro.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 12 medium-sized fritters

Blueberry Chia Jam Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

Blueberry Chia Jam Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

This recipe melds flavors and textures in a brilliant bar that is ideal for a snack or an after-dinner treat. A crumbly base with a savory flavor perfectly complements the sweet and soft jam topping to create a party of rich savors with every bite. Try this simple recipe today!
Ingredients: Raw almonds, gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, maple syrup, water, vanilla or almond extract, blueberries, cacao powder, coconut oil.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 16 mini bars

No-Bake Pistachio Cookies

No-Bake Pistachio Cookies Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

For a healthier sandwich cookie that still offers the same sensations as your favorite cream-filled collation, these pistachio cookies contain a coconut cream filling that is sure to delight. The outer surface of pistachio not only perfectly complements the sweet filling- it also makes for a more healthsome treat!
Ingredients: Pistachios, unsweetened shredded coconut, gluten-free rolled oats, maple syrup, moringa powder, water, vanilla extract, cashews, almond butter, vanilla, coconut oil.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 16 cookies

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Bites {gluten-free, vegan}

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Bites Recipe {luten-free, vegan}

If you enjoy lemon cheesecake then this recipe will forever change the way you indulge your sweet tooth. The tart taste in each bite-sized piece is derived from wholesome options to offer a dessert that won’t have you packing on the pounds. Forget the oven- create these lemon confections today!
Ingredients: Raw almonds, unsweetened shredded coconut, gluten-free rolled oats, flaxseed meal, maple syrup, lemons, coconut cream, macadamia nuts, slivered almonds.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 15 servings

Cranberry Almond Flour Cookies {gluten-free}

Cranberry Almond Flour Cookies Recipe {gluten-free}

For bakers that enjoy oatmeal cookies, substitute the traditional raisins for the bittersweet savors of cranberry. Not only does the texture closely match its traditional counterpart, but the selection of almond flour makes for a more wholesome treat with a taste that perfectly fits the cranberries.
Ingredients: Brown rice flour, almond flour, rolled-oats, dried cranberries, egg, coconut oil, sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 20-22 cookies

Gluten-free Apple Crisp

Gluten-free Apple Crisp Recipe

This ingenious recipe creates an apple crisp with all of the traditional sensations in spite of a more wholesome consistency. Enjoy the tastes of cinnamon, apple, blueberries and more with each flaky bite, and try out this incredible apple crisp recipe today!
Ingredients: Apples, arrowroot powder or cornstarch, lemon juice, gluten-free rolled oats, almond flour, dried blueberries, macadamia nut pieces, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon powder, vanilla extract, salt.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 10 servings

Oats and Oat Products

You can find a full list of our oats and oatmeal products here. Check out a small sample, as well as treats and goods that use oats in fun and creative ways below!

References

American Diabetes Association. (2014) Glycemic index. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Hammermeister, A. (2008). The anatomy of cereal grains. Organic Agricultural Centre of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.oacc.info/NewspaperArticles/na_anatomy_seed_ah.asp

Oaklander, M. (n.d.). What's healthier: steel cut or rolled oats? Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/content/whats-healthier-steel-cut-oats-or-rolled-oats

O'Neil, C.E., Nicklas, T.A., Fulgoni, V.L., & DiRienzo, M.A. (2015). Cooked oatmeal consumption is associated with better diet quality, better nutrient intakes, and reduced risk for central adiposity and obesity in children 2-18 years: NHANES 2001-2010. Food and Nutrition Research, 59.

The Kitchn. (2011). What's the difference between steel-cut, rolled, and instant oats? Retrieved from http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-steel-cut-rolled-and-instant-oats-138355