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Healthy Oatmeal (Easy + Vegan)

Healthy Oatmeal with oats, vanilla, and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup and toppings of choice is an easy recipe made in 1 pot on the stovetop, Instant Pot, or slow cooker!

top down view of 6 bowls of healthy oatmeal with various toppings.

Why We Love This Recipe!

Today I am sharing my favorite go-to healthy oatmeal that’s both quick and super easy to customize with various toppings! Plus, it’s 100% vegan using whole food plant-based ingredients!

Although oatmeal is healthy on its own, it’s nothing to get excited about, and this is where the toppings come in. Adding spices, fruits, nuts, seeds, and a drizzle of maple syrup and non-dairy milk takes it from plain to delicious!

Oatmeal is great all year long, but we love it, especially during the fall and winter. It’s warm, filling, and supplies good carbohydrates to keep me going for a good part of the day.

And oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast either and is perfectly acceptable for lunch or dinner. In fact, it’s good for you any time of day!

If you love oats, be sure to take a look at these vegan Healthy Overnight Oats, Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal, Cinnamon Oatmeal, Pumpkin Oatmeal, or Apple Baked Oatmeal. Or see all the Oatmeal recipes on TSV!

Vegan Oatmeal Ingredients

In this recipe, heart-healthy oats are cooked, then topped with various healthy toppings for an easy and customizable oatmeal you will never get tired of.

Here is a overview of the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Oats – Use old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats. Steel-cut oats take longer to cook, so that this recipe won’t work with them.
  • Water – I prefer to cook my oats with water, stirring in a little plant milk after cooking if needed or topping my assembled oatmeal with a drizzle.

Flavor enhancers:

  • Vanilla – A perfect flavor enhancer and will go well with every combination of toppings I lay out in the recipe. Of course, it can also be optional.
  • Spices – Flavorful cinnamon and cardamom are warming spices, and both hold health benefits. They are delicious together and will add flavor to plain oatmeal. Use one or the other, or don’t use any at all. Spices can be added with the oats before cooking or sprinkled over the top of your assembled bowl of oatmeal.

Healthy Oatmeal Toppings

How to make healthy oatmeal taste amazing? Here you’ll find a variety of toppings to mix and match as you like:

  • Sweetener: Pure maple syrup is my sweetener of choice, containing healthy manganese and zinc. Feel free to use coconut sugar, organic pure cane brown sugar, date sugar, or coconut nectar.
  • Milk + Cream: This oatmeal is made vegan by using unsweetened almond milk, but any non-dairy milk will do. For decadence, coconut cream or homemade vegan cream is amazing!
  • Fruit: I usually always add some sort of fruit, whether fresh or dry. Fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are low in sugar, making them a healthy option. Sliced banana, diced apple, or applesauce is great too. If using dried fruit, stick with unsweetened such as raisins, currants, barberries, blueberries, or cranberries. Chopped dates, apricots, and cherries are also great.
  • Nuts + Seeds: The addition of nuts, seeds, or nut butter will add protein. Many nuts and seeds contain essential omegas that are heart-healthy, making them another good reason to add a small handful. You can use any combo of pecans, walnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), almonds, hemp hearts, and chia seeds.
side by side photos showing the process of making healthy oatmeal in an instant pot.

How to Make Healthy Oatmeal

With just a few adjustments, this oatmeal recipe can be made in an Instant Pot, microwave, slow-cooker, or on the stovetop.

This is a simplified overview of making oatmeal. You can find the full printable recipe at the bottom of this post.

  • Instant Pot: Combine 2 cups of oats and 3 1/2 cups of water (or double the amounts) in the bowl insert, then cook for 1 minute on HIGH pressure and let the pressure natural release for 5 minutes. Total time, including coming to pressure, is about 17 – 20 minutes.
  • Stovetop: Bring water and oats to a boil in a saucepan, reduce heat and cook over a gentle boil for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Slow Cooker: Combine 2 cups of oats and 3 1/2 cups of water in a slow cooker. A small slow cooker is best for this oatmeal. Cook on low without stirring. Cook on low for eight hours. Finish with cream and sugar. Once the oats are cooked, add a bit of cream and brown sugar and stir to combine.
  • Microwave: Add water and oats to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on HIGH for 5 – 7 minutes (maybe a little longer if the water is cold), stopping to stir every 45 – 60 seconds. To prevent the oatmeal from boiling over, be sure to use a larger, wider bowl.
top down view of freshly cooked healthy oatmeal.

Oatmeal FAQs

How much oatmeal to liquids should I use?

The standard ratio is 1:2. The typical serving size is 1/2 cup oats to 1 cup of water, milk, or a combination of the two. For thicker oatmeal, use a ratio of 1:1.5 or 1:1.75. I prefer making thicker oatmeal with water, stirring milk in at the end thinning to desired consistency.

Should I cook oatmeal with water or milk?

It will depend on how you cook your oatmeal. I recommend using water only when cooking oatmeal in an Instant Pot or slow cooker. When cooking on the stovetop or microwave, you can use half milk and half water. But really, I think oatmeal is best when cooked with water, then stir in a bit of milk at the end or drizzle a little over the top when serving.

top down view of bowl of healthy oatmeal with strawberries and cream.

Favorite Flavor Variations

Here are a few of my favorite oatmeal flavor combinations at the moment:

  • Strawberries and Cream: Top oatmeal with fresh sliced strawberries, coconut cream or Vegan Cream, pure maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cardamom. It’s so simple, yet utterly decadent!
  • Blueberry, Pecan & Applesauce: Top with fresh blueberries, pecans, Unsweetened Applesauce, a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and coconut cream or almond milk.
  • Peanut Butter, Banana + Chocolate Chips: For healthy, protein-rich oatmeal, serve with 2 – 3 tablespoons of Almond Butter over the top with sliced banana, a sprinkle of chocolate chips (or cacao nibs), a drizzle of maple syrup, and coconut cream (or almond milk).
  • Berries and Cream: Top oatmeal with raspberries, blackberries, blueberries. Sprinkle with cardamom or cinnamon, drizzle with coconut cream (or plant milk), and maple syrup.
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly: This another protein-rich oatmeal using 2 – 3 tablespoons of your favorite Almond Butter and Berry Chia Jam or Blueberry Compote with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and coconut cream or plant milk.
  • Cherry, Chocolate & Coconut: Serve with dried cherries, mini chocolate chips (or cacao nibs), toasted or shredded coconut, and a drizzle of maple syrup and coconut cream.

If you have a favorite combo, I’d love to hear what your favorite oatmeal toppings are. Have fun coming up with your own personal oatmeal combinations!

top down view of healthy oatmeal in a bowl topped with blueberries, pecans and applesauce.

Adjusting For Dietary Restrictions

  • Gluten-Free Oatmeal: Make sure the oats are labeled as certified gluten-free, meaning they are processed in a facility that does not process foods containing gluten.
  • Low-Fat Oatmeal: Skip the nuts and seeds, or limit them to 1 tablespoon. Skip shredded coconut, and use plant milk instead of any cream.
  • Low-Sugar Oatmeal: Use low sugar fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Stick with unsweetened dried fruit. Limit maple syrup to 1 tablespoon. You can add vanilla extract and spices for added flavor.
  • Nut-Free Oatmeal: Use seeds only, such as pepitas, chia seed, or hemp seeds.

How To Store + Reheat

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days. For easy grab-and-go meals, mason jars are perfect.
  • Freezer: Cooked oatmeal is freezer friendly and can be stored for up to 2 – 3 months in the freezer. To freeze, let cool completely and transfer to multi-use freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags. Let thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheat: Reheat oatmeal on the stovetop over low heat, adding a splash of non-dairy milk or water until warmed through. Alternatively, warm in the microwave using 30 – 60 second intervals, stirring after each, until warmed through.
top down view of the best healthy oatmeal with berries and coconut cream.

More Healthy Breakfast Recipes

If you try this healthy oats recipe or have a question, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

Healthy Oatmeal Recipe (Vegan)

This is my favorite go-to oatmeal recipe that is 100% vegan and easily customizable with healthy toppings! It’s hearty and simple to make using the stovetop, Instant Pot, slow cooker, or microwave.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 2 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 – 4 1x
  • Category: Breakfast, Oatmeal
  • Method: Instant Pot, slow cooker, stovetop, microwave
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups oats (old fashioned or quick)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
  • pinch of salt

To serve

  • 24 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or vegan cream
  • 12 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, optional
  • small handful mixed nuts
  • small handful dried or fresh fruit

Healthy variations:

  • Strawberries and Cream: Top with fresh sliced strawberries, coconut cream or Vegan Cream, pure maple syrup, and sprinkle of cardamom. It’s so simple, yet utterly decadent!
  • Blueberry, Pecan & Applesauce: Top with fresh blueberries, pecans, Unsweetened Applesauce, drizzle of pure maple syrup and coconut cream or almond milk.
  • Peanut Butter, Banana + Chocolate Chips: For a healthy, protein rich oatmeal, serve with 2 – 3 tablespoons of Almond Butter over top with sliced banana, sprinkle of chocolate chips (or cacao nibs), drizzle of maple syrup and coconut cream (or almond milk).
  • Berries and Cream: Top oatmeal with raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries with a sprinkle of cardamom or cinnamon, and drizzle with coconut cream (or plant milk) and maple syrup.
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly: Another protein rich oatmeal with 2 – 3 tablespoons of your favorite Almond Butter and Berry Chia Jam with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and coconut cream or plant milk.
  • Cherry, Chocolate & Coconut: Serve with dried cherries, mini chocolate chips (or cacao nibs), toasted or shredded coconut, and drizzle of maple syrup and coconut cream.

Instructions

Instant Pot: Combine 2 cups of oats with 3 1/2 cups of water (or double the amounts) in the Instant Pot insert. Attach lid, turn to lock, and set valve to SEALING. Manually set to cook for 1 minute on HIGH pressure, and let the pressure natural release for 5 minutes. Total time, including coming to pressure, is about 17 – 20 minutes. Let cool a few minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of unsweetened plant milk, if needed to thin.

Stovetop: Bring 3 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, add 2 cups oats, stir well, reduce heat and cook over a gentle boil for 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of unsweetened plant milk, if needed to thin.

Slow Cooker: Combine 2 cups of oats and 3 1/2 cups of water in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 hours, without stirring. Let cool a few minutes, stir in 1/2 cup of plant milk as needed to thin.

Microwave: Add water and oats to a microwave safe bowl, and microwave on HIGH for 5 – 7 minutes (maybe a little longer if the water is cold), stopping to stir every 45 – 60 seconds. To prevent the oatmeal from boiling over, be sure to use a larger, wider bowl. Let cool a few minutes, stir in 1/2 cup of plant milk as needed to thin.

Serve: Place oatmeal in your serving bowl, top with any one of the combinations above or make your creation, and enjoy!

Serves 3 – 4

Store: Leftover oatmeal can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 – 6 days and make for great grab-n-go meals. For longer storage, freeze for up to 2 – 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Notes

You can easily cut the recipe half if making on the stovetop or microwave. Cooking time with be cut in half as well.

If you don’t like the flavor of maple, use coconut sugar, date sugar or pure cane brown sugar.

Dried fruits you might like to use (preferably unsweetened)…cranberries, blueberries, goji berries, raisins, currants, barberries, chopped dates, apricots and cherries. Fresh fruits can be blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples and bananas.

Nuts, seeds and nut butter you might like to use are almonds, walnuts, pecans, pepitas, hemp hearts and chia seeds.

Updated: This recipe was originally published in November 2014. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in October 2020. This recipe has been changed, see the original here: Everyday Oatmeal

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12 Comments

  1. Just recovered from some belly virus and got up really hungry this morning. This is so good and comforting!

  2. Lizabetta says:

    I love your website and I love the versatility of porridge. When the weather is warmer, I tend towards make ahead porridge oats and now that it’s cooler I’m right back to cooked, piping hot and comforting. My daughter had asked me why my cooked porridge was so much creamier than hers, we love the same add ins but hers is dryer. I just followed the package directions on the organic rolled oats that I buy and it says 1 cup oats to 3 cups water. I’ve never made it with the lower ratio which I assume will give it a nice chewy texture unlike the creamier version which is more like a pudding texture. I’m definitely looking forward to adding cardamom and making it thicker.

  3. Mary M. Martinez says:

    This is something I want to start my day with. Looks delicious

  4. Maggie @ Veg Fiend says:

    I have never heard of barberries before. Thanks for the introduction! Your bowl looks super cozy- what a simple and yummy breakfast.

  5. Teffy Perk says:

    I've been craving oats recently, no idea why!!
    I love cardamom in morning porridge and granola, it adds such a warming note to it! Now I know I definitely need to go out and buy me some oats!

  6. Ana's Rocket Ship says:

    I've never used cardamom, but if it's so good in oatmeal I might have to buy some, cause I LOVE oatmeal.

  7. I'm starting to really like cardamom .. a spice that I never really thought about or used, but it's so warming and smells heavenly.

    1. Same here! I just started using cardamom about 8 months ago. It's such a nice flavor that works well in sweet and savory dishes. It's now a pantry staple! :)

  8. Use Your Grains says:

    Hooray for oatmeal! I'm the same in that I eat it every day. In the winter months you can't beat it can you? Cinnamon and cardamom are wonderful additions too. My bag of dried cranberries has just run out so I might replace the store-cupboard with something new like barberries after reading this!

    1. Definitely pick up some barberries. They are very tart on their own and do well with the addition of a sweeter dried or fresh fruit. Enjoy!

  9. The Yogi Vegetarian says:

    We make something similar, but minus the spices. I love the idea of them though :)

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