Oats are a staple I always have in the larder. As a child porridge was a favourite breakfast in the winter. Oats are easy to use for making sweet treats and to add to puddings like crumble. They’re also really cheap to buy, so are brilliant if you’re trying to cut costs but still have filling meals. I’m sharing some of the best options for oats recipes, and hopefully you’ll find some different ways you’ve not tried before, or I’ll remind you of dishes of old.

Unfortunately I’m not eating them at the moment as they’re too carb heavy for my diet, but I always buy a big bag, so we have them when we want to use them to bake with. N also likes to make some on occasion for breakfast when he’s got a lot of sport later in the day.

18 ways with oats

What are the benefits of eating oats?

Oats are a good source of fibre, and they’re slow release wholegrains which means you won’t get an energy spike, it’ll release much slower keeping you going for longer and keeping energy levels stable. They’ve also been found to lower bad cholesterol and lower high blood pressure.

Which oats to use?

When I’m talking oats, I’m talking rolled oats (or even jumbo oats for some, depending on the texture you want). Just the bulk bags of oats rather than the more ground up version used in processed cereals like Ready Brek. Yes, buy Quaker or Mornflake Oats, but they’re just oats, so I buy whatever is the best value for money – usually the own label bags.

Per meal we’re talking pence for the oats. And usually you only need fairly cheap ingredients to combine with the oats to make your finished dish. Here’s my 15 ways with oats.

Different ways to use and make oats recipes

Flapjacks – I make a luxury version of flapjacks with condensed milk, but there’s so many different flapjack variations. From more healthy versions with alternative sugar and syrup, and added seeds. To fruit and chocolate additions or topping. Great for large batches, and easy enough for children to make, they’re great to have at home ready for playdates and if friends come over for coffee.

fruit flapjacks on board with green mugs behind

Porridge – a great warming breakfast to start the day. I make mine fast in the microwave to make washing up easier – 1 cup or mug of the relevant size), 1 cup milk, 1 cup water. A bit of something to sweeten if needed (I prefer agave nectar rather than sugar, but you can use honey or an alternative), and a ‘moat’ of cold milk (harking back to my childhood breakfasts). I prefer mine plain although lots of people add chopped up berries, bananas or fruit compotes. The alternative is to use a slow cooker and do it overnight (my father in law does his porridge in the aga overnight, but I’ve never risked doing that and forgetting about it then wrecking yet another pan!)

Overnight oats – I’m not a big fan myself although lots of people are. If you still want a filling breakfast, but not something hot, or want to take breakfast to work, overnight oats are great to make in a jar the night before, then you can grab them and a spoon and head straight out. You just need traditional or rolled oats, soaked in your preferred milk, then add yoghurt (for a creamier texture), plus whatever add ins you want – try fruit, nuts, seeds, or more luxurious treats like chocolate chips, or sauces. Then cover and leave in the fridge overnight – if you’re not keen on it cold, you can heat in the microwave to warm through.

Anzac biscuits – these coconut and oat based biscuits are delicious and easy to make. An Australian colleague always used to bring some into work on Anzac day, and they would be demolished fast. I love making them – again, great to make in large batches. And only a few store cupboard ingredients needed.

Crumble topping – make your fruit crumble topping in the usual way (plain flour, with butter rubbed in to make a breadcrumb texture, add sugar, then some oats before topping your fruit and baking.

Jam filled oat bakes – I call them flapjacks with a difference, as these oat bakes are more cakey than flapjacks. The recipe includes flour, so that’s what makes them a bit more substantial. Once you’ve made the mix, you add half to the baking tray or glass dish, top with a layer of jam, then add the ‘crumble’ mix over the top and bake. The jam goes a bit sticky in the middle, and these have always gone down well when I’ve taken them into work on my birthday.

Muesli – combine oats with dried fruit and seeds, then add milk.

Granola – basic granola is a combination of oats with halved nuts of your choice, seeds, melted butter and a bit of cinnamon or other gentle spices. Spread onto a baking sheet in clumps, and bake. Once cool, break up and store in an airtight container. You can use granola to top yoghurt or as a cereal.

Oat pancakes – blitz the oats until you get a coarse flour. Then combine with eggs, milk and baking powder to make a batter to be cooked as small pancakes in a frying pan.

Bread – sprinkle over the top of bread dough before baking, or add within the dough.

Muffins – you can replace up to a third of flour with oats, and taste delicious with fruit or veg based muffins like carrot or banana.

Oat shortbread – use the oats as a proportion of the flour to make shortbread biscuits.

Hilton Doubletree’s chocolate chip cookies – get the delicious cookies made at home (eat slightly warm!)

Chocolate hobnob biscuits – just about my favourite biscuits with their oaty texture. Dip one side in melted chocolate for a real treat.

Oat smoothies – pulse oats in a blender before adding your fruit and liquid of choice to make your smoothie.

Oat milk – if you’re dairy free you can make your own oat milk. Simply soak the oats until tender in water, blitz in a blender, then strain through muslin to leave the creamy oaty liquid.

oats in a scoop

And non food uses for oats

Add oats to a sensory play bowl or tuff spot / tuff tray for young children to explore.

Make an oat based exfoliating scrub for your face. To make an oatmeal and honey face scrub combine 2 tbps of oats with 1 tbsp honey. Add 1tbsp of warm water then mix to make it into a paste. Then put onto your face and leave for a minute before rinsing off with a wet flannel.

Make reindeer food for Christmas Eve.

What other oats recipes and uses for oats do you make?

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