If you're like us, instant oatmeal is a morning 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 brands of oatmeal, both new and old, to find the best ones on the market. Here are a few favorites — from apple-cinnamon to chocolate (yes, chocolate!).
1. Best Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal
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.
2. Best Maple Oatmeal
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.
3. Best Plain Oatmeal
Trader Joe’s Oatmeal Complete - Only available in stores
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!
4. Best Protein-Packed Oatmeal
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.
5. Best Steel-Cut Oats
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.
6. Best Wild Card Oatmeal
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.
7. Best Sweet Treat Oatmeal
Three Sisters Cereal Dark Chocolate - Only available in stores
Chocolate oatmeal? Yep, it’s a thing. Three Sisters Cereal combines dark chocolate with whole grain rolled oats and other natural ingredients to create a creamy, hot chocolate-like bowl of oats. It’s good made with water, but even better with milk.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.