The 6 best instant oatmeals

Kellie Hemmerly of The Suburban Soapbox / TODAY Food Club

If you're like us, instant oatmeal is a winter staple. Two minutes for a hot, healthy breakfast? You can't beat it. But it can be hard to find the one brand that's just right. So we played Golidlocks ("Too sweet!" "Too bland!") and tested dozens of oatmeals, both new and old, to find the best ones on the market. Here are a few favorites, from apples and cinnamon to chocolate. Yes, chocolate!

Marc Hamel

Best Apples and Cinnamon

Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Organic Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal ranked highly among our tasters for its creamy consistency, tart apples and perfect amount of cinnamon.

Get it now: Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Organic Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal, $3.89, available at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide


Best Maple

Maple is a tricky flavor to nail. It usually tastes cloyingly sweet or totally fake. But McCann’s Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Irish Oatmeal had the most real maple flavor without being a sugar bomb. We also liked McCann’s heartier texture.

Get it now: McCann’s Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Irish Oatmeal, $28.93 for 10 boxes at

Best Plain

Plain oatmeal can be so…plain. We like Trader Joe’s Oatmeal Complete because it isn’t flavored with anything, but has more than just oats. Each serving contains vitamins B6, B12, A, D and E, flax and folic acid, soy protein (each packet has 7 grams of protein total) and 35 percent of your recommended daily calcium. Nothing plain-Jane about that!

Get it now: Trader Joe’s Oatmeal Complete, $2.99 at Trader Joe’s stores nationwide

Best Protein

Looking for an oatmeal that will keep you feeling full ‘til lunch? Kashi GoLean Hot Cereals have a bit more protein (8-9 grams) than other instant oatmeals on the market, plus 5 grams of fiber. Added bonus: a little crunch from Kashi’s “7 whole grains and sesame” blend to break up the otherwise smooth texture. We like the Honey & Cinnamon flavor because it’s not too sweet and has just the right hint of spice.

Get it now: Kashi GoLean Honey & Cinnamon Hot Cereal, $3.99 for 8 1.4 ounce packets at the Kashi Store

Bob's Red Mill

Best Steel Cut

Steel cut oats are much heartier than regular oats, but they also require stovetop cooking. Bob’s Red Mill’s organic Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats cut the cooking time down to five to seven minutes—not much more than microwaveable oatmeal, but you still get that thick and chewy texture.

Get it now: Bob’s Red Mill’s organic Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats, $4.59 for 22-ounce bag at Bob's Red Mill

Best Wild Card

Bored with your usual oatmeal routine? Try Earnest Eats Hot and Fit cereal, a mix of superfood grains (whole oats, quinoa, amaranth) plus a few unexpected add-ins. The Asian Blend includes dried mangoes, green tea, raw almonds and sesame seeds; the American Blend (our favorite) has dried cranberries, almonds, cinnamon and pepitas; and the Mayan Blend has cocoa, cinnamon, sunflower seeds and raw nuts. The cereal, which comes in 14-ounce containers so you can control your own portions, cooks up in about five minutes on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Get it now: Earnest Eats Hot and Fit cereal, $33 for 12-cup pack at Earnest Eats

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.