The 10 Best Instant Oatmeals for Breakfast on The Move

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If you do not have time to spare to make ‘old fashioned’ oatmeal in the morning, then instant oatmeal is a quick and easy solution. Made with whole grain oats, instant oatmeal is also high in the soluble fiber beta glucan, known to help reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as helping us feel fuller for longer.

Although instant oatmeal is a source of whole grain, those which are flavored can be higher in sugar and salt than ‘plain’ instant oatmeals and some may also contain artificial additives. In this article we offer the lowdown on instant oatmeal and consider what you should look for when choosing instant oatmeals. To help you in your choice of breakfast oatmeal, we also review ten of the best instant oatmeals, both flavored and plain.

​Best Pick

Nature’s Path Original Instant Oats

The Nature’s Path original instant oats are our best pick as an unflavored instant oatmeal which is certified organic and free from any GMO ingredients.

​Budget Pick

Quaker Instant Oatmeal

The Quaker instant oatmeal flavor variety is our budget pick which is ready to eat in 90 seconds and comes in variety of flavors sweetened with a plant-based sweetener.

Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Instant Oatmeal for Breakfast

1. ​Nature’s Path Original Instant Oats  

Highlighted Features

  • Instant oats that take five minutes to cook
  • Can be served hot or used as an overnight oatmeal
  • Made with pure rolled oats and sea salt
  • Suitable for vegetarians, these oats are also Non-GMO Project Verified

The certified USDA organic Nature’s Path original instant oats are suitable for serving as hot oatmeal or as an overnight oatmeal. Taking just five minutes to cook with water, this oatmeal comes as a six boxes of eight 1.7 oz pouches and each pouch contains just pure rolled oats and a little sea salt. Sugar free, trans fat free and vegetarian, these oats are also non-GMO Project Verified.

As this is a salted oatmeal, you may not be as keen on its flavor and you may need to experiment a little with hot water to get the consistency that you prefer.


  • Organic
  • Salted oatmeal
  • GMO-free
  • No additives


  • Needs five minutes to cook
  • As a salted oatmeal, it may not be to all tastes
  • May need to experiment with the preparation to find the right consistency for you

2. Quaker Instant Oatmeal 

Highlighted Features

  • Variety box of instant oatmeal which is ready to eat in 90 seconds
  • Made with pure whole grain oats
  • This variety pack includes maple and brown sugar, apples & cinnamon, cinnamon & spice and peaches & cream
  • Sweetened with Monk Fruit extract rather than sucralose

The Quaker instant oatmeal flavor variety is a box of 48 pouches including maple and brown sugar, apples & cinnamon, cinnamon & spice and peaches & cream. Made from pure whole grains, you just need to add water, stir and leave to stand for 90 seconds before eating. This oatmeal is now sweetened with a plant-based sweetener (Monk Fruit extract) rather than sucralose.

You may want to check that you have received the correct flavors when ordered, and you may find some of these flavors on the sweeter side for instant oatmeal.


  • Variety pack
  • Pure oats
  • Ready to eat in 90 seconds
  • Sucralose free


  • As flavored oatmeal these are sweeter than unflavored oatmeal
  • There can be a risk of receiving the wrong flavors

3. Bakery on Main Ancient Grains Gluten Free Instant Oatmeal

Highlighted Features

  • An instant oatmeal made with rolled oats, amaranth, quinoa, flax and chia
  • Certified gluten free and kosher
  • Also Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Sweetened with natural cane sugar
  • Available as Blueberry Scone and other flavors

The blueberry scone flavored Bakery on Main ancient grains gluten free instant oatmeal contains rolled oats alongside quinoa, amaranth, flax and chia and is flavored with sweet blueberries. This oatmeal is certified gluten free, kosher and is Non-GMO Project Verified. It does contain natural cane sugar as sweetener which makes it slightly sweeter than other oatmeals and the odd buyer has not been as keen on the flavor of this compared to other blueberry oatmeals.


  • Ancient grain instant oatmeal
  • Gluten free
  • Non-GMO
  • Kosher


  • ​Is sweetened with natural cane sugar
  • ​Not all buyers have enjoyed this as much as other blueberry oatmeals

4. Better Oats 100 Calories Instant Oatmeal by Post 

Highlighted Features

  • Instant oatmeal which contains just 100 calories and is kosher
  • Made with thick cut premium oats and flax seeds
  • Available in a maple brown sugar and other flavors
  • The pouch can be used to measure out the water

The Better Oats 100 Calories instant oatmeal comes in a variety of flavors, including maple brown sugar. This oatmeal is made with thick cut premium oats and also contains flax seeds. The oatmeal pouches can also be used to measure out the water, and it is ready to eat in 90 seconds. This is also Kosher Pareve. The odd buyer has not been keen on the taste of this instant oatmeal, and it can be on the saltier side.


  • 100 calories per serving
  • Thick cut oats
  • Includes flax seed
  • Kosher
  • ​90 seconds to prepare


  • You may not be as impressed with the flavor of this oatmeal
  • This can also be on the salty side

5. think! Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal 

Highlighted Features

  • Instant oatmeal made with rolled oats, steel cut oats and quinoa
  • Available in a range of flavors including Farmer’s Market Berry Crumble with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  • Does not contain any artificial colors or flavors
  • One serving provides 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber
  • Kosher and Non-GMO Project Verified

Made with whole rolled oats, steel cut oats and quinoa, the thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal comes in a variety of flavors, including Farmer’s Market Berry Crumble which contains blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. A serving of this contains 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and is free from artificial flavors and colors as well as being Non-GMO Project Verified and kosher. This does contain dried cane syrup as sweetener and the texture can be different to other types of instant oatmeal. You may also need to adjust the preparation time to find the right consistency for you.


  • Oats and quinoa
  • Range of flavors
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Non-GMO
  • Kosher


  • This oatmeal has a different texture than other oatmeals
  • The preparation time may need some adjustment
  • Is sweetened with cane sugar syrup

6. Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods Gluten Free Oatmeal 

Highlighted Features

  • Certified gluten free maple oats in single serve cups
  • Made with rolled oats, organic maple sugar and sea salt
  • Each serving offers 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Suitable for kosher and vegan diets

The Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods gluten free maple oats contain 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving. This comes as single serve cups ready to add water and is made with certified gluten free rolled oats, organic maple sugar and sea salt. It is also Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher and vegan. You may not be as keen on the consistency of this and some buyers consider that this is on the higher calorie side of instant oatmeals.


  • Instant maple oats
  • Certified gluten free
  • GMO-free
  • Kosher
  • Vegan


  • Comes as cups rather than pouches which can take up more room on the move
  • This is higher in calories than other instant oatmeal
  • Not all buyers are as keen on the consistency

7. Love Grown Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Highlighted Features

  • 2.22 oz cups of instant oatmeal that can also be used to make instant muffins
  • These are certified gluten free and are also Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Ready to eat in three minutes
  • Available in a range of flavors such as Apple Cinnamon

Coming as an eight pack of 2.22 oz cups, the Love Grown gluten free hot oats are available in a variety of flavors including Apple Cinnamon. Certified gluten free and Non-GMO Project Verified, a cup of these oats is ready to eat in three minutes and will provide 7 grams of protein and five grams of fiber.

These are sweetened with brown sugar and as well as oatmeal, these hot oats can also be used to make a microwave muffin with the addition of an egg and some water. Not all buyers are keen that this oatmeal does contain sugar.


  • Instant oatmeal cups
  • Gluten free
  • Variety of flavors
  • 5 grams of fiber per serving
  • Non-GMO


  • This does contain brown sugar for sweetening as well as cinnamon
  • As cups these take up more room compared to pouched instant oatmeal

8. Kodiak Cakes Instant Protein Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal 

Highlighted Features

  • Higher protein non-GMO instant oatmeal in 2.12 oz cups
  • Made with pure whole grain rolled oats this oatmeal is ready to eat in under one minute
  • One serving offers 14 grams of protein from oat, pea, milk and other proteins
  • Available in a selection of flavors

The Kodiak Cakes Oatmeal Unleashed is available in a selection of flavors includes maple and brown sugar. This instant oatmeal comes in 2.12 oz cups and is made with pure whole grain rolled oats. Ready in less than a minute, one serving of this non-GMO oatmeal contains 14 grams of protein as it also includes pea, milk and other proteins.

Some buyers have been disappointed in the texture of this oatmeal and you may need to adjust the cooking time to find a consistency that you prefer.


  • Instant oatmeal cups
  • Higher protein
  • Non-GMO
  • Ready to serve in under a minute
  • Range of flavors


  • Although GMO ingredient free, these are not Non-GMO Project Verified
  • You may not get the best consistency when following the instructions
  • This higher protein oatmeal does have a different texture to other oatmeals

9. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Rolled Oats 

Highlighted Features

  • 16 oz resealable packs of whole grain rolled oats with 7 grams of protein per serving
  • Can be cooked on the stovetop or in the microwave
  • Ready to eat in four minutes
  • Kosher Pareve and certified USDA organic

Ready to eat in four minutes, the Bob’s Red Mill organic rolled oats are pure whole grain and a serving of will provide 7 grams of protein. You can make these oats either in the microwave or on the stovetop. These 16 oz packs are certified USDA Organic are Kosher Pareve and come in resealable packs. As rolled oats these are smaller than other types of oats and the odd buyer has been disappointed with the blandness of these.


  • Whole grain rolled oats
  • 4 minute cook
  • Microwave or stovetop
  • USDA organic
  • Kosher
  • Resealable pack


  • Come in a 16 oz bag so oats need measuring out before cooking
  • Some buyers consider these oats to be bland tasting

​10. McCann’s Regular Instant Irish Oatmeal 

Highlighted Features

  • An Instant Irish oatmeal made with pure whole grain oats with other added ingredients
  • Source of protein and eight vitamins
  • The oats are locally grown by Irish farmers
  • Non-GMO and kosher certified

Made with pure whole grain oats that are non-GMO and have been locally grown by Irish farmers, the McCann’s regular instant Irish oatmeal is also certified kosher. As well as oats, this oatmeal contains oat flour, guar gum, salt and added vitamins to make it a source of eight vitamins as well as protein.

Some buyers have been disappointed with this as an instant oatmeal which does not have the same texture as regular Irish oatmeal and a number of buyers do add extra flavorings and/or sweetener to this to improve its flavor.


  • Instant Irish oatmeal
  • Whole grain oats
  • Non-GMO
  • Kosher


  • Contains a variety of other additives including salt
  • You may also have to add extra flavors or sweetener to this

Things to Consider Before Buying Instant Oatmeal

Any type of oatmeal started life as oat groats. These are the whole grain oats that have only had the outer hard husk removed. Oats that are steel-cut are oat groats that are chopped into two or three pieces which means they need longer to cook. Rolled oats are oat groats which are steamed then rolled thin and flaked. These require less cooking time than steel-cut oats.

Instant oatmeal is made with rolled oats which are then cut into small pieces and pre-cooked through steaming. This means that instant oatmeal needs little in the way of cooking time, although it does lack the texture of other types of oatmeal and its natural flavor can be blander.

Oats are an annual grass and were thought to have been first cultivated around 2,000 years ago, before that, they grew wild or as weeds. Oats became popular in the fifteenth century in Scotland, probably due to its short and wet growing seasons. Scottish oats would be prepared by soaking overnight in salted water and then cooked over low heat in the morning. Samuel Johnson’s dictionary of 1755 defined oats as being ‘a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people’. There was a response to that along the lines of fine men and fine horses; I’m sure you can guess the rest!

A number of cultures used oats as animal feed and some of these actually considered that oats were actually diseased wheat, however, consumption of oats also became popular in Ireland, Scandinavian countries and Germany. They were introduced to America by Scottish settlers in the early 1600s and eventually became a major US crop until the 1920s when marketable crops such as soy beans took over.

Disadvantages of Instant Oatmeal

Many of the flavored varieties of instant oatmeal can be high in added sugar, salt and even artificial ingredients. Ideally, an instant oatmeal should include six grams or less of sugar, but this can be harder to find in flavored oatmeal.

Some instant oatmeals may also contain extra fiber from isolated fiber sources such as inulin. Although fibers, the nutritional value of these are not as valuable as soluble fiber directly obtained from the oats or other whole grains.

Although instant oatmeal does offer advantages for strict portion/calorie control, as food on the go and also as a time saving solution, it can also cost much more in the long run when compared to making old fashioned oatmeal at home.

When choosing an instant oatmeal it is also worth looking for oatmeal that comes in pouches or cups that are easy to recycle after use, rather than those which contain plastics.

Choosing Healthier Instant Oatmeal

Always look for an instant oatmeal which has been made with whole grain oats, and this should always be the first ingredient on the ingredients list. An instant oatmeal which provides at least 3 grams of fiber per serving is healthier. Not only because of the benefits that oats offer, but also more fiber helps you to stay fuller for longer. This is especially important with instant oatmeal as our bodies digest it faster than other types of oatmeal because instant oatmeal is processed more to allow it to cook faster.

An oatmeal made in the ‘old fashioned’ way has a GI (glycemic index) value of 55, while instant oatmeal has a GI of around 83, which also means instant oatmeal is more able to raise blood sugar levels quickly. Adding some protein or healthy fats such as some almonds or seeds on top of instant oatmeal can help slow down quicker digestion and prevent some of the blood sugar surges.

The healthiest option is always to consider a natural or unsweetened oatmeal that does not contain any added ingredients. You could always sweeten it with a pinch of cinnamon, which acts as a natural sweetener as well as adding some warming and spicy flavor to the oatmeal. A pinch of nutmeg can also be used to add some spice to it. Adding a tablespoon of syrup to oatmeal will add 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar!

A little fresh fruit such as berries, bananas, apple or raisins or even dried fruits will not only improve the nutritional content of instant oatmeal, but it will also provide some natural sweetness and flavor. Other toppings you may want to consider are Greek yogurt, some avocado or even a fried egg if you prefer savory rather than sweet oatmeal.

If an instant oatmeal contains salt, then consider one that gives less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Many of the instant oatmeals are designed to be made with water, but if you do prefer milk, then opting for a skim milk or a low fat plant milk can also help keep the fat and sugar content of your instant oatmeal down.

Oats and Gluten Free Diets

Although oats are naturally gluten free, they can sometimes be grown near to wheat crops and oats are often processed in the same facilities that process wheat and other grains that contain gluten. If you are gluten intolerant then you should look for instant oatmeal which is certified as being gluten free. This means that the product will contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.

Why Oats Are Important in Our Diets

Oats have been used as a dietary grain for millennia and even centuries ago, their health benefits were recognized. We now know that oats are a source of beta glucan. A soluble fiber (partially dissolves in water), beta glucan decreases the absorption of cholesterol in our intestinal tract as well as lowering the amount of bile acid that is re-absorbed. Bile acid is what the body makes from cholesterol, so when the body cannot re-absorb as much bile acid, it is forced to make new bile acids from the cholesterol circulating in the body.

This means that not only does beta glucan reduce the absorption of cholesterol, it also reduces the amount of cholesterol we have circulating in our blood streams. As beta glucan passes through our bodies, it also takes cholesterol out with it. At least 3 grams of beta glucan a day within a healthy diet can reduce levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol by 5% to 7%. Lower levels of LDL cholesterol can help to lower the risk of heart disease.

Because we cannot digest beta glucan, it also promotes gut bacteria health. Because it is a fiber, it also helps us feel fuller for longer and may also help increase the levels of specific hormones that are linked with appetite control.

Beta glucan intake can also help improve blood sugar and insulin management after eating, probably because it acts to reduce interactions between food and digestive enzymes in the stomach. This reduces glucose reabsorption and the glucose or blood sugar ‘spikes’ that occur after eating.

Beta glucan may also help support immunity and oats in general have also been linked with lower rates of asthma in children. Some researchers found that children who were given oats in their diet earlier in life had a lower risk of developing asthma.

It was back in 1997 that the FDA authorized the health claim that beta glucan from oats was able to reduce the risk of heart disease. This claim was also authorized in other countries, including Canada.

As well as insoluble fiber, oats also contain soluble fiber. It is recommended that we should consume 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories (kcal). This works out as around 25 grams of fiber for women and 28 grams for men every day. Unfortunately, many of us do not eat this amount of fiber which gives what is now called the ‘fiber gap’ in our diets. The easiest way to close the fiber gap is by consuming more foods such as oats and other whole grains that are rich in fiber.

Oats are also a source of various other nutrients, including B vitamins.


Although instant oatmeal is a source of beta glucan, we have found in this article that we may need to take extra care when choosing instant oatmeals. Some varieties are higher in sugars and salts than plain oatmeal and may also contain artificial ingredients. Although flavored oatmeals do make a tasty breakfast, for some of us, they are probably better consumed occasionally rather than daily, instead, a more natural instant oatmeal that is sweetened naturally makes a healthier choice as part of a healthy lifestyle.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our article on instant oatmeal and that you now know what to look for when selecting the best instant oatmeal. We also trust that our reviews of instant oatmeal will also help you in your future choice of instant oatmeal.
5/5 - (10 votes)

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Hannah Horowitz

As well as writing for us, Hannah works in a small whole food store and as a committed vegan, Hannah...

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