Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats vs. Quick Oats – What’s the Difference?

February is Heart Health Month and oats have a stellar reputation for their heart health benefit. Do you know the difference between each variety of oats?

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Fiber’s role in heart health

Dietary fiber can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and even type 2 diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of the grains you eat be whole grains. Eating whole grains (like oats) are consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease. Whole grain oats and oat bran can help lower blood cholesterol thanks to the power of beta-glucan – a soluble fiber, largely unique to oats, that basically tells your liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood. Then, it binds to some of the cholesterol in your gut, keeping it from ever reaching your bloodstream.

You head to the grocery store to pick up oats, and there are so many options. Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, old-fashioned oats – what’s the difference?

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Steel Cut Oats

steel cut oats in a metal measuring cup

Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scottish oats, are oats that are processed by chopping the whole oat groat into several pieces. This type of oatmeal takes the longest to cook. Why? Because the outside layer of the whole grain, the bran, is fully intact. A longer cook time penetrates through the bran creating tender, yet a chewy texture that retains much of its shape even after cooking.

Don’t have time in the morning to cook steel-cut oats? I don’t blame you! Prepare them in advance by cooking them over the stovetop, in a crockpot, or Instant Pot. Or try my frozen muffin tin method.

Get the recipe: Frozen (Single Serving) Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Rolled Oats

rolled oats in a metal measursing cup

Rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats, are created when oat groats are steamed and then rolled into flakes. This process stabilizes the healthy oils in the oats, so they stay fresh longer, and helps the oats cook faster, by creating a greater surface area.

Rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats. They absorb more liquid and hold their shape well during cooking. With their faster cook time, enjoy a bowl of warm oatmeal in the morning or use in recipes like muffins, granola, pancakes, or other baked good recipes.

Get the recipe: Quinoa Oatmeal with Berries

Quick Oats

quick oats in a metal measuring cup

Quick oats, also known as minute oats or instant oats are rolled oats and that are steamed for even longer. As the most processed type of oat, instant oatmeal cooks in seconds and has a smooth, creamy, and soft consistency and mild flavor.

Quick cook more quickly than steel-cut or rolled oats, but retain less of their texture, and often cook up mushy. Plus, be mindful of the multiple varieties of quick oats in the shelf. Tip: Opt for the quick oats in the canister vs. the individual packets. Not only will you save money, but often the packets contain disodium phosphate (aka. salt), to help them swell even faster in the microwave, whereas the canister contains just the oats. Additionally, the packets contain added sugar, if choosing the flavored varieties.

Get the recipe: Apple Pie Overnight Oats

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New Research

Consuming uncooked oats, like overnight oats that are soaked in milk or yogurt to soften, contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As the fibers ferment they act as a prebiotic and feed the good bacteria in the gut.

The John Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes notes that “When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. Because resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, it doesn’t raise glucose. Gut health is improved as fermentation in the large intestine makes more good bacteria and less bad bacteria in the gut. Healthy gut bacteria can improve glycemic control. Other benefits of resistant starch include increased feeling of fullness, treatment and prevention of constipation, decrease in cholesterol, and lower risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly so it causes less gas than other fibers.”

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Recipes you may enjoy

Black Forest Chia Pudding

For breakfast, snack, or dessert, this Black Forest Chia Pudding will fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. I first tried kombucha, I didn’t understand how anyone could drink it, but now I LOVE it. Same goes for chia pudding. The first time I tried it, I hated the texture, but now it is something I really enjoy.

It’s funny how your taste buds change and adapt over time. This is why I when I teach kids classes, I encourage them to try a new food at least 5 times in 5 different ways. According to Ellyn Satter Institute, unfamiliar foods may have to be presented 15 or 20+ times. This goes for picky eater adults too! time and trying chia pudding a few different ways the texture actually grew on me and now I really enjoy it. Plus, it’s been fun creating new versions to the same chia base.
Tip: If you don’t enjoy the texture of chia pudding, whip it in a food processor or blender and it becomes a fluffy mousse consistency.’s a better way to enjoy chia pudding, no other than a tasty black forest cake dessert! The delicious chocolate chia base, with a creamy layer, topped with sweet black cherries, and cocoa nibs, it doesn’t get much better than this!
With wholesome ingredients, this can be served as breakfast, snack, or dessert!


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black forest chia pudding in a glass

Black Forest Chia Pudding

  • Author: Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen
  • Yield: 2


  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup frozen dark cherries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together chia seeds, cacao powder, almond milk, and maple syrup. Divide into two containers. Store in the refrigerator overnight for the mixture to thicken.
  2. Top chia pudding with 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup cherries, and half tablespoon cocoa nibs in each container.

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen
Black Forest Chia Pudding via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen

Baked Apples

The average American should try and aim for 5 serving of fruits and vegetables per day. I say the more the better! This recipe tastes more like an indulgent dessert, but it’s actually a guilt free treat, plus a full serving of fruit.

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A guilt free sweet treat that can satisfy your sweet tooth and help you stay on track with healthy eating.


Baked Apples

Makes 3 servings



3 apples
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp walnuts, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Start preparing the apples by slicing the top off. Use a melon baller to scoop out the core.

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2. In a small size bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts. Fill the cavities of the apples with the mixture.

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3. Bake for 20 minutes, until fork tender.

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(nutrition facts based on calorie count)





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Whole Wheat Waffles

What to do on a snowy day? .. Make waffles of course! Had to experiment with my new waffle maker! I am so happy how these came out. These waffles can easily be frozen and toasted up again for an everyday breakfast. The nutrition breakdown of these waffles is great that they can become part of your daily breakfast options.

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These heart healthy whole wheat waffles are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Providing 6 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein, these waffles will power you through the whole morning.

Whole Wheat Waffles

Makes 5 waffles



2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
2 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup liquid egg whites (or 4 egg whites)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk


1. Preheat waffle iron.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, ground flax seed, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. In a sperate bowl, combine the banana, egg whites, and almond milk. Slowly pour the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until combined.

4. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron directions, until waffles are golden brown.


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(nutrition facts based on calorie count – 1 full waffle, no toppings)




Apple Chicken Sausage over Greens

Have you ever tried chicken sausage? They now have a wide variety of different flavors and seasonings. Today I was working with apple chicken sausage. It’s has a savory and sweet taste to it. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to make with it, so I got creative from what I had on hand.


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Apple Chicken Sausage over Greens
Makes 3 servings


4 apple chicken sausage links (or any type of sausage)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion
1 small apple
3 cups any type of dark leafy green (spinach, kale, escarole, etc)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cashews (or any other kind of nut)
salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a small skillet sear off the sausage links until cooked through. Let rest.
2. Thinly slice the onion. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and let cook slowly, until caramelized.
3. Peel the apple and slice thinly. Add to the pan with the greens. Let the greens wilt. Add the apple cider vinegar and toss together.
4. Slice the sausage and toss in the greens with the cashews. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

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(nutrition facts based on MyFitnessPal)



Tomato, Eggplant, and Spinach with Mini Raviolis

So I went to Trader Joe’s today and picked up a few things. My friend Kim told me about these mini raviolis they had there. I just had to get them. They are just so little and cute! I also picked up 2 small eggplants that I wanted to use for dinner tonight. The rest of the ingredients were inspired from just rummaging through my kitchen and used what I had on hand.

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Tomato, Eggplant, and Spinach with Mini Raviolis
Makes 6 servings


1 (16 ounce) package of mini raviolis (can be substituted with any type of pasta)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small (or 1 large) eggplant, peeled and diced
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (make sure it’s in it’s own juices – no salt added)
3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Cook mini raviolis (or other pasta) according to package directions
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the onion. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the eggplant to the skillet with 1 tsp of the salt. Eggplant is very porous and adding a little salt will help release the moisture and allow it to absorb the flavors in the dish.
4. Add the diced tomatoes, spinach, and oregano. Season with the remaining salt and pepper, to taste.
5. If you want the mixture to have a little more liquid, add a ladle of water from your pasta pot.
6. Drain the pasta, and top with the tomato, eggplant, spinach mixture. Top with parmesan cheese (optional).

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(nutrition facts based on MyFitnessPal)