The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Oatmeal (It Costs Zero Dollars)

Never have another boring bowl of oatmeal again.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

Oats are one of my pantry must-haves. Satisfying and super quick to make, it's a dependable breakfast, and sometimes even a lunch or dinner. I love a savory bowl of oatmeal with sautéed greens, a soft-boiled egg, and lots of hot sauce, but my absolute favorite way to eat them hasn’t changed since I was a kid: with a generous sprinkle of brown sugar and a splash of milk. I'd eat that any time, any day.

You’d think something so simple as making oatmeal couldn’t be improved upon, but there’s one step I never skip that gives it a boost of flavor without any additional ingredients: toast the oats.

How to Toast Oats for Oatmeal

Much like English muffins or Pop-Tarts, oats are just better toasted, which gives them an incredibly rich, nutty flavor. This technique is no different than toasting rice for arroz con pollo, which brings out the natural nuttiness of the grains.

This tip works best with steel-cut or rolled oats. To toast your oats, add them to a pan over medium-high heat. Stir them frequently until they are golden in places and smell nutty. You don't need to add anything else, like butter or oil, to the pan.

Stay near the stove to avoid burning them—a half cup of oats should take only about five minutes. As soon as that toasty aroma starts wafting up from the pan, you can continue preparing the oatmeal as you normally would.

Compared to plain oatmeal, toasted oatmeal tastes and smells nuttier, and its delicious earthiness contrasts beautifully with sweeteners you add, like brown sugar or maple syrup. Toasting also has a subtle savoriness that makes it a prime candidate for savory oatmeal.

This little step adds a whole new dimension to a simple bowl of oatmeal, and it's great for more than just oatmeal. You can use toasted rolled oats in smoothies, parfaits, and even baked goods like oatmeal raisin cookies.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

2 More Tips for Boosting the Flavor of Your Oatmeal

Toasting your oats is an easy way to give your oatmeal more flavor. Here are two more tricks that I use:

  1. Add a pinch of salt. There’s a good chance you’re already seasoning your oats with salt, but if not, I highly recommend it. Salt helps emphasize that toasted grain flavor, and can also balance out any sweet mix-ins.

  2. Toast your oats with butter. I learned this tip from my friend Lauren Miyashiro and it’s a keeper. Adding a pat of butter—about one tablespoon per cup of oats—to your pan makes for an even richer, silkier bowl of oatmeal with a touch of creamy sweetness. Give it a try and you will never go back.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.