This genius trick will change how you make oatmeal

The secret to perfect, thick oatmeal may already be on your countertop

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published January 29, 2023 2:31PM (EST)

Creamy oatmeal bowl with banana, blueberries, mulberries and sesame seeds (Getty Images/OatmealStories)
Creamy oatmeal bowl with banana, blueberries, mulberries and sesame seeds (Getty Images/OatmealStories)

I'm not a big countertop appliance guy. I'd rather use a stove, oven or grill to cook versus the slow cooker, microwave or air fryer. However, I do love a rice cooker.

Rice can be such a finicky food to make, but a rice cooker eliminates the guesswork. And it yields really delicious rice, every single time.

Do you know what else it can do? It makes ridiculously good oatmeal.

My dad adored those Quaker Instant Oatmeal single-serving packets, especially the maple brown sugar flavor, which was a staple in our house for as long as I can remember. (I also recall some college pals living entirely on an "oatmeal diet" for a week or more, but that's a conversation for another day.)

When it comes to actual oats, I'd sometimes throw them into chocolate chip cookie dough, but I'd rarely ever make oatmeal from scratch on the stove. It felt like a bit more of an undertaking, especially on a frenzied morning.

Everything changed when I started to use the rice cooker, which is almost entirely hands-off.

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To make oatmeal using a rice cooker, you definitely want to reach for old-fashioned, rolled or steel-cut oats. Instant or quick-cooking oats aren't ideal in this case, as they'd probably become very overcooked and gummy in a rice cooker.

Also be mindful that the liquid (milkcreamoat milk, water, etc.) amounts will range considerably based on the oats you choose, your specific rice cooker and your individual oatmeal preferences i.e. loose and runny, thick and rich or somewhere in between. You can also opt to make them vegan, vegetarian or entirely carnivorous — the journey is entirely up to you.

Rice Cooker Oatmeal
2 servings
Prep Time
2 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes


  • 1 cup oats (preferably old-fashioned, rolled or steel-cut)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups liquid of choice (milk, cream, oat milk, water, etc.)
  • Kosher salt
  • Vanilla and/or maple extract, optional
  • Toppings of choice



  1. Plug rice cooker cord into outlet.
  2. Add oats, liquid, salt and extract(s), if using. Turn rice cooker on, or turn to "porridge" setting if your rice cooker has that option.
  3. You should have perfect, thick oatmeal within 15 minutes. Some rice cookers will automatically turn off after detecting that the food has been cooked or the liquid has been absorbed; if you'd like it cooked a bit more, the "warm" setting should do the job.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and finish with your ideal toppings.

Cook's Notes

- Oatmeal toppings are such a varied wonderland of textures, flavors, temperatures and consistencies. Go with the standard and top with ground cinnamon and a glug of maple syrup. Conversely, add raisins or currants, honey, banana, granola, strawberries, toasted nuts, berries, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, jam, applesauce, chocolate chips and nut butter. The combinations are endless.

- I also like warm spices in oatmeal; think cinnamon, but take it up a notch with cardamom, cloves, ground ginger, mace and similar flavors.

- Go in the savory oatmeal direction, which is a vastly under-appreciated oeuvre. Top with crispy bacon, other breakfast meats, eggs, avocadofresh herbs, vegetables, roasted tomatoes or anything you wish.

- If you like, feel free to spritz some cooking spray to ensure that the oatmeal doesn't stick.

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By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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Breakfast Cereal Food How-to Kitchen Tools Oatmeal Oats Recipe Rice Cooker