Oatmeal is a traditional breakfast that people all around the world can appreciate. It is a breakfast that is quick and easy to make on mornings when you need to be out the door as soon as possible and it can be customized in a number of different ways.
However, with as many different variations of oatmeal as there are, there is surely going to come a time when you realize that your oatmeal is not the desired texture that you want it to be.
While this doesn’t happen as often with oatmeal that you make from scratch, as you have complete control over the thickness and consistency of the oatmeal, this is incredibly common in situations where you are making an instant oatmeal or a variant of that.
Because of its prevalence, there are many people out there who may want to try and thicken their oatmeal themselves.
Thankfully, because oatmeal is such an easy meal to work with, there are quite a few different ways that you can thicken your oatmeal. Some people may want to opt for a creamier type of thickness to their oatmeal, while other people may want to take out the watery aspect of some instant oatmeal.
No matter what the problem with your oatmeal is, you can rest assured knowing that there are going to be ways that you can bring it back to your desired texture.
1 – Using Thickening Agents
These thickening agents are called thickening agents for good reason, as their one purpose in food is to increase the thickness and volume of the food. It is generally safe to add thickening agents to your food, no matter what kind of food it is, as these agents typically only affect the texture of the food and not the flavor.
This means that if everything about your oatmeal is perfect aside from the consistency, then you may simply want to add one of the many natural thickening agents there are.
One of the most common thickening agents out there is all-purpose flour, and while you can certainly use it in your oatmeal, you are going to want to stray a bit further away from all-purpose flour when you are working with oatmeal. Instead, you will want to opt toward coconut flour instead.
Coconut flour is known for having far stronger thickening properties. This means that you can get a thicker oatmeal for less flour, which is important to consider when you think about how tough it might be to find coconut flour in some supermarkets.
Typically, you can get away with adding one or two tablespoons of coconut flour to the cooked oatmeal, stirring it all together, and then letting it sit for a minute. Before you know it, you will have considerably thicker oatmeal at the benefit of coconut flour being quite nutritious.
Another thickening agent that you can consider is going to be xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is commonly used in pastries, sauces, smoothies, and just about any other food that needs to be thickened. It is also one of the few gluten-free thickening agents that you can consider.
More often than not, the xanthan gum package will have the information needed on how much gum you will need to add to your oatmeal. If you don’t have any on hand, consider these xanthan gum alternatives instead.
2 – Using Liquids and Liquid Adjacent
If you do not have a suitable thickening agent with you, you can also consider using just about any type of liquid that you can find in your kitchen.
Of course, the type of liquid you use is going to play a role in the flavor of the oatmeal, so keep that in mind when you are searching your fridge for the perfect addition to your oatmeal. There are also quite a few additions you can make that are not quite liquids but they are close enough.
The most common liquid that you can add will be milk, although coconut cream, juice, and water will all work. The trick to this is to perform a reduction.
The way reductions work is that you will simmer the liquid (and oatmeal) in question on the stove until it begins to thicken. The oats should begin to absorb whatever liquid you have elected to add to the oatmeal, helping to increase the volume and thicken the oatmeal.
Some of the most common liquid-adjacent things that you can add include yogurt and egg whites. You can use just about any type of yogurt for this, although you should keep in mind that the flavor of the yogurt will translate into the oatmeal.
When you use yogurt, you will want to cook the oats as you normally would for oatmeal, only stirring in the yogurt at the end to reap the full benefits of this addition.
You can also use egg whites for this and it is fairly common for people in some parts of the world who eat oatmeal more often than others. Egg whites will absorb any flavor that you have added to the oats, so you may need to add a little bit of extra flavoring to make sure that you can keep your oatmeal as delicious as you want it to be.
While it is possible to use a whole egg for this, rather than just the egg whites, it is not recommended because of the way egg yolks tend to overpower other foods in taste.
Just as you can use yogurt and milk to thicken your oatmeal, if you are in the mood for a fruity oatmeal, you can also consider adding a smoothie to the mix. A smoothie might make a good side drink to go with the oatmeal, but if you want to thicken the oatmeal up, smoothies can work well.
Remember to only pour the smoothie in afterward, as you do not want to affect the oats too much while they are cooking.
3 – Using Fruits and Vegetables
You may not realize it, but if you want to make a healthy addition to your oatmeal, you can actually blend up vegetables and fruits and add those to your oatmeal.
Not only will this give you quite the taste in the oatmeal, but it will also help you get the nutrients that you need for the day. There are some vegetables and fruits that work better than others though.
A good example of a fruit that works well is going to be bananas. Bananas are naturally smooth and creamy and they blend up quite nicely, making it easier to add them to your oatmeal when you are ready to thicken it up.
If you do not have or like bananas, similar substitutions include applesauce, pumpkin, most pureed fruit, and mashed berries.
While your oatmeal is going to look a strange color if you do this, you can also add leafy greens to the oatmeal through the same process. When doing this, you will want to make sure that you have blended the leafy greens up as much as possible, preferably in either milk or water.
This will not only make the oatmeal a little bit more filling but it will also help it to be even more of a nutritious start to your day.
Chia seeds do not necessarily fall into a category of fruit or vegetable, but they are another addition that you can safely and easily make to your oatmeal. Chia seeds, flax, and sesame seeds all work well in this context.
To add these seeds to your food, you are going to want to grind them down as much as you can so that they do not add a gritty or grainy texture to your oatmeal.
4 – Using Other Foods in Your Oatmeal
There are some foods on this list that can add some volume and thickness to your oatmeal, but may not neatly fall into a category of fruit, vegetable, liquid, or thickening agent.
These foods are not going to be orthodox for thickening oatmeal, but depending on what is in your pantry, they may be one of the easiest solutions to consider. You may even find that some of these additions can drastically improve the taste as well as the nutrients that are found in oatmeal.
For example, consider how many people add egg whites to make their oatmeal thicker. If you are vegan or if you cannot eat eggs, you may find this to be problematic.
A very close solution that you may not expect is silken tofu. Silken tofu is known for being a stand-in for egg whites, and what makes it better is that it is almost completely tasteless.
Once the tofu has been added to the oatmeal, you won’t even notice that you added tofu to your breakfast dish. Typically, you will want to whip a quarter-cup of silken tofu and then add it to the oatmeal after the oats have finished cooking. The best utensils to use for this are going to be a hand whisk or a stick blender.
Nut butters are also a clever and flavorful way to make your oatmeal the proper thickness. Naturally, nut butters are often heavy, creamy, and good on bread. As oats have a similar taste to bread, you will find that adding these to your oatmeal can drastically improve the taste of it.
Usually, you will only want to add one or two tablespoons of the nut butter to the cooked oats to get the right amount of thickness.
Some people prefer cashew butter as the best one to use for oatmeal, as it is creamier and lighter than almond butter. It will add enough thickness to make a difference in your oatmeal, but it won’t be so much that the oatmeal becomes inedible.
If you find that the nut butter is being troublesome, you can consider mixing some milk or water with it, as this can help the oats not stick together as much, leaving you with the perfect oatmeal recipe.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.