Savory Oatmeal

Maybe you’ve already heard (especially if you follow me on Twitter), but I’m officially addicted to savory oatmeal. I’ve been eating it constantly for breakfast and have even been tempted to eat it for dinner too, especially with all this research/thesis-writing staring me in the face.

It’s a bit blurry but I think this is what happened. One day, I stumbled upon Penny De Los Santos’ gorgeous post about savory oatmeal and I unconsciously filed the idea away. Then one morning a few months later, I was rummaging for breakfast ideas, spotted some leftover oatmeal, randomly remembered the idea, and voila! An obsession was born.

Honestly, I may never go back to the sweet stuff again, now that I’ve started playing around with the endless possibilities of the savory path. Leftover sauteed greens, a poached egg, and a pinch of red chili flakes (top photo)? Oh it works.

And of course, I had to try Penny’s original idea of olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and a hard cheese (I used Parmigiano). Oh dear. It may not look like much but hey, didn’t your parents teach you to not judge an oatmeal by its color??

Another morning, I had a craving for soy sauce and found some chives in the fridge. After I took this photo, I even went and sprinkled some furikake on top. I’m never one to turn down seaweed and MSG after all.

Since Nathan has taken to making some sort of salsa every week, I sometimes just throw some on my oatmeal the next morning. With a fried egg, naturally.

I proclaim 2011 to be the Year of the Oatmeal. But only of the savory kind. The brown sugar/maple syrup stuff is sooo 2010, man.

What about you? Are you a fan of savory oatmeal? What are your favorite combinations?

My favorite kind of oatmeal are the steel-cut kind. Steel-cut oats take longer (~30 min) to cook and require more stirring than the regular stuff, but the result is this incredible combination of creaminess and chewiness. Really, you won’t be sorry.

If you have the foresight to think about breakfast the night before, you can also use a lazier method that I learned from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. Boil the water in a pot. Once the water boils, add in the oats and give it a good stir. Cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you can either reheat the pot on the stove or take out the portion you want and microwave it. To be honest, when made this way, the oatmeal isn’t as creamy as the stir-like-crazy kind, but if it enables me to have savory oatmeal for breakfast during the week, then I will take it.


  1. Fátima said:
    12 November 2011 at 6:41 am

    I love oatmeal soup! Creamy and fantastic. Just make your favorite brothy kind of soup and thicken it with oatmeal.

    • angi said:
      18 November 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Oh how interesting… I never thought of using oatmeal as a thickener! Neat!

  2. Jef said:
    14 November 2011 at 5:12 pm

    a little late to the party… but savory oats is all I eat… I’ve tried many of the variations mentioned previously and then some… I prefer the steel cut oats also and have tried so many things with them… do try them for dinner as they are delicious and so healthy for us… I often use them as a base for stews, meats & sauces etc… most recently as a base for chicken cacciatore… I don’t hardly eat noodles or rice anymore

    • angi said:
      18 November 2011 at 4:50 pm

      I just love the crunchy/chewy texture of steel cut oats! :)

  3. Carl said:
    19 November 2011 at 8:24 am

    I just ate my first ever bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, and though I flavored it with honey, I have often thought about the possibility of Savory oatmeal. I prefer my Hominy Grits with butter, salt, pepper … sometimes cumin and chili powder.
    I have been known to use a good dollop of Greek yogurt, and the idea of savory oats has been sitting with me until I had the steel cut oats. I Googled and found you. I cannot wait to try some of the ideas here!

    • angi said:
      5 December 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Carl, I think if you like savory grits, you’ll definitely like savory oatmeal. Thanks for reading! :)

  4. chris said:
    21 November 2011 at 12:12 am

    just got through cooking up my own makeshift concoction of oatmeal cheese “grits” with chili powder. then decided to google savory oatmeal to see what others had made :)

    • angi said:
      5 December 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Hmm, it IS a lot like cheese grits, huh? That must be why I love it so much. :)

  5. Eater said:
    30 December 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I love savory oatmeal. I bought a nice zojirushi rice cooker just to make steel cut oatmeal. You put the oatmeal and water in at night, set the timer and wake up to perfect oatmeal.

    • angi said:
      24 January 2012 at 11:03 am

      Ooo I’ve been wanting to upgrade my rice cooker (I have this old, single-button one from the 70s that I got from my mom) and now that I know so many people use it to make oatmeal, I have yet another reason! :)

  6. candide001 said:
    1 January 2012 at 11:18 am

    I’ve been using savory oatmeal as my primary source of nutrition for about 3 years. My favorite (and mainstay) is stirring into the cooked oatmeal highly-seasoned, garlicky beans (pinto, black, or lentils) sometimes with tahini. You can’t get much more fiber rich than that! And I never get tired of the taste and texture.

    • angi said:
      24 January 2012 at 11:03 am

      What a great idea! I like the thought of beans and tahini with oatmeal – I will have to give it a try. Thanks!

  7. Richard said:
    6 January 2012 at 11:14 am

    Found your site after “discovering” savory oatmeal today at lunch. I’d boiled some frozen mixed vegetables, and on a whim added oatmeal and Cavender’s Greek seasoning, a little olive oil, and WOW! Loved it! Came back to the office and Googled “savory oatmeal” and found I’m not the first after all. Thanks for the great ideas — keep ’em coming! I’m certain I’m hooked on a deliciously healthy hot lunch.

    • angi said:
      24 January 2012 at 11:05 am

      Thanks Richard! Also, I’ve been getting lots of new ideas from reading the comments here, so I feel like there are endless variations for me to try now.

  8. Lauren said:
    24 January 2012 at 6:16 am

    I found this on pintrest last night and just tried oatmeal with fried egg and salsa. You mam are brilliant!

    • angi said:
      24 January 2012 at 11:06 am

      Thanks Lauren! To be honest, I can’t really claim credit for it because I read of the idea on a few other blogs before I decide to try it myself. But I thought I need to do my part in spreading the joys of savory oatmeal to all who will listen. ;)

  9. Berenda Cason Brown said:
    4 March 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Farmers have used all types of savory grains for ages. My Mother often made grits, cornmeal(boiled), oatmeal etc for breakfast and for supper as she called it, she would slice the leftover which had been stored in a square or oblong dish, into slabs and would sauté them in butter and serve them instead of some other starch. She also made a simple cottage cheese by straining clabbers through cheesecloth. She always served it with freshly cracked black pepper instead of potatoes or rice.

    • angi said:
      13 March 2012 at 1:02 am

      Mmm, I do love savory grains of all kinds! Thanks for reading Berenda!

  10. brandon said:
    11 April 2012 at 12:05 am

    South Indian style steel cut oatmeal is amazing! I was inspired by this website:

    But… you can make it simply but frying finely minced ginger, curry leaves and chilies in olive oil. To add a freshness you can squeeze some lime or lemon on it, of course add salt.

  11. Sarah said:
    16 April 2012 at 10:21 am

    I just figured this out for myself, this very morning, and then decided to hop on google to see who else has had this BRILLIANT IDEA!

    I make a big batch of oatmeal for the week, and had been eating it cold, with peach yogurt, ginger, flax seed, cloves, whatever sweetish spice I wished. But today I’m out of yogurt, and I just don’t want to do plain milk.

    And then the AHA – who says oatmeal has to be sweet? I hate sweet things, sugar turns my stomach, so I like oatmeal because I can make it myself and avoid that crap. But yeah, wait, as I contemplate maybe ice cream in my cold oatmeal (and my stomach turns and my teeth ache) my thought turns to the aged sharp cheddar in my fridge.

    Yeah, today it hot oatmeal with ground sage, ground rosemary, melted extra sharp cheddar, and some cold kefir on top as the sour cream of it all.

    But the egg idea —- GENIUS! I shalt be buying another dozen today, just for me breakfast!

    Great post!!!

    Also, as I was making mine this morning, I was wondering how we did get to the sweet part of oatmeal (cereal companies maybe?). When Thoreau was living on Walden Pond he’d often make himself a dinner of ‘hasty pudding’ (oatmeal!!!) and I know that man didn’t have sugar and cinnamon, as they weren’t on his list of supplies he had in the woods.

  12. stacy said:
    19 August 2012 at 6:08 am

    hi, angi!!

    the sweet stuff never really appealed to me so i’m definitely going to try savory oatmeal this week. it seems from what i’ve read that you just cook the oatmeal according to the instructions and then add in the savory element. i understand that the oatmeal reheats well so making a big batch also makes sense. do i have this right?

  13. Kim said:
    25 November 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Finally made this today after getting sick of sweet cereal and oatmeal for a few days straight. Fiancee, grossed out at the idea, went to Starbucks instead. I threw in some sauteed bok choy that was wilting in the fridge, some avocado, and our last egg (duck). Tossed in some sea salt, olive oil, and parmesan on top… even a dab of sriracha at the end. Fiancee came back after a crappy cup of coffee and fatty muffin and was extremely jealous. It was amazing… GREAT idea!

  14. Susan said:
    1 March 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this idea. I love steel cut oats and prefer savory to sweet flavors. For me this is a higher-fiber alternative to a savory congee.
    I am going to make a kale saute tonight just so I can have it with egg and oats tomorrow!

  15. Katie said:
    2 March 2013 at 1:19 pm

    For years, I’ve been eating my oatmeal with a variety of non-traditional things – glad to see I’m not alone.

    I like mine with peanut butter, soy sauce, mustard and sesame oil if I have it. I might also add curry powder.

    No one I have discussed it with thought it sounded very good but I like it.

  16. Elissa M. said:
    23 January 2014 at 7:44 am

    I’ve been wanting to try these since I pinned a few months ago – just tried a slight variation with red quinoa mixed in with the oatmeal – topped with a fried egg, kale & in the same pan as the kale & egg I sauteed some chopped up pieces of a mini turkey meatloaf/cupfake I made a few days ago. I’m typically not big on oatmeal because I tend to favor savory breakfasts – but this was probably the most fulfilling breakfast I’ve had in a very long time. BRILLIANT!

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