What’s the Difference: Steel Cut vs Rolled vs Instant Oats?

Ever been following a recipe, only to stumble across ‘rolled oats’ or ‘steel cut oats’ and have no idea how they’re any different from the instant oats in your pantry? Why not just use those instead? Well it turns out there’s quite a big difference between rolled oats, steel cut oats and instant oats – take a look below to find out which you should be using in your baking!

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What’s the Difference: Steel Cut vs Rolled vs Instant Oats?

Steel Cut Oats

What’s the Difference: in form?

Steel Cut Oats are groats, which are the inner part of the oat without the hull, which have then been chopped up into smaller pieces. Although they are smaller they take longer to cook than instant or rolled oats.

What’s the Difference: in taste?

Steel Cut Oats are nuttier and chewier than rolled or instant oats and are known to provide the best overall flavour profile. They’re used to make premium porridges & oatcakes.

What’s the Difference: in nutritional value?

With a lower glycemic index (possibly due to the less dense composition of the oats), Steel Cut Oats are considered healthier than rolled or instant oats.

Related posts: The Digestive Benefits of Oats

Rolled Oats

What’s the Difference: in form?

Rolled Oats are groats, which have been steamed and rolled into flat flakes under rollers.

What’s the Difference: in taste?

During processing, they’re toasted and lightly baked, giving them a fuller flavour than untoasted varieties. Rolled oats are the main oat used in muesli & granola products.

What’s the Difference: in nutritional value?

Rolled oats traditionally use whole oats, which are a great source of iron and fibre, as well as being the one source of antioxidant compounds ‘avenanthramides’ which help maintain a healthy heart.

It’s also worth discussing Jumbo Oats at this point. Yes, rolled oats are all well and good, but if you want the highest amount of fibre per oat, then jumbo is the one for you. As the name suggests, bigger flakes means they take longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer. Plus, they taste more flavourful and give more of a well-rounded mouthful than their milled variants. My favourites!

Instant Oats

What’s the Difference: in form?

These are similar to rolled oats in that they are rolled into flakes, but are then precooked and dried, making them easier and quicker to cook.

What’s the Difference: in taste?

Instant oats tend to be sweetened during the drying process with sugar and flavourings as the drying of the oats loses some of the inherent nutty flavour.

What’s the Difference: in nutritional value?

Added sugars and flavourings reduce the nutritional profile of the oats, whilst reducing the natural low glycemic index of old fashioned oats.

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