Rolled Oats and Steel Cut Oats – Is There a Difference?

rolled and steel cut oats

With today’s health-conscious athletes, there are many debates over which food is healthier. The arguments even break down as far as, “which oat is healthier?”

What I have seen recently is a trend towards steel cut oats instead of the more common rolled oats. Just look for debates about oats on any blog or forum and you’re bound to find some people harping about how rolled oats suck and steel cut oats are the healthy option.

So today I’m here to dispel the myth that somehow one oat is healthier than the other! Let’s start by looking at these different types of oats…

There are three basic types of oats. There are old-fashioned rolled oats, which are whole oats rolled flat. Then there are quick oats, which are rolled oats that have been ground up a little bit more to make them cook faster. Finally, there are the steel cut oats, where the whole raw oat was cut into smaller chunks.

They all start from the same grains, but they are cut differently. Rolled oats are steamed slightly to make them cook faster, but otherwise, they aren’t any different from steel cut oats.

The extra processing isn’t that big a deal, because you have to remember this process called digestion where you break down food to absorb it. So these oats are all the same once they get past your mouth.

So you see, rolled oats and steel cut oats are the same food, just cut differently. Saying they’re vastly different in nutritional value is like saying a sandwich cut straight down the middle is healthier than a sandwich sliced diagonally into triangles!

But let’s compare the oats to see what all the differences are…

Oats Comparison

While the oats are virtually the same thing, there are a few key differences.

steel cut oats

Look – Rolled oats look like a big flake, like the oat was rolled flat lengthwise. Steel cut oats look like a whole oat cut in half. So the steel cut oats definitely look like a freshly picked oat from the farm.

If you’ve even been in a field with oats growing there, or bought whole oats in a feed store for farm animals, you’ll recognize the steel cut oats.

Steel cut oats look a little like wild rice once cooked.

Taste – Steel cut oats have a sort of “nutty” flavor that rolled oats lack. You’ll know it when you try them. But the big difference is with texture…

Texture – Steel cut oats are definitely chewier – it takes a while to chew each bite. “Chewy” sums up the steel cut oat texture quite well.

Whether the texture of steel cut is “better” is a matter of personal opinion. But I definitely do enjoy the heartier texture of steel cut or rolled oats over instant oats.

Amount of Processing – If there is one area where steel cut oats have a real health edge, it’s the lack of processing. Both types of oats are cut, but the rolled oats are steamed (which cuts down cooking time later.)

So there is a chance steel cut oats contain more vitamins and minerals, but don’t fret – even rolled oats contain a whole oat grain. You’re not losing valuable parts of the grain (bran and germ) like you would with white bread, which is composed of “enriched white flour” where the real nutrients are bleached out and then the bread is “fortified” to make it appear nutritious on paper.

And don’t forget – steel cut oats need cooked for quite a while, while rolled oats are pre-cooked and ready to eat right out of the canister. So whatever advantage steel cut oats have is lost, unless you can somehow eat them uncooked.

Except if you were to eat them uncooked, you probably wouldn’t digest them, meaning you’d get more nutrients from the rolled oats!

(The uncooked oats will maintain their nutrients longer than the steamed oats, though.)

Serving Size – Typically, a serving is 1/4 cup for steel cut oats, which are more dense than rolled oats, which have a 1/2 cup serving size. It’s the same amount of oats in weight, but not volume, since a rolled oat takes up more space.

quick oats

The steel cut oats will also expand more when cooked, since they will absorb more water than the rolled oats. So that 1/4 cup looks pretty big once it’s cooked!

Cooking Time – Quick oats are quick; whole rolled oats take a bit longer; then a lot longer for steel cut oats. For one serving, we’re talking 1 minute, 2-3 minutes, and 4-6 minutes, respectively.

Usually I cook a whole pan of steel cut oats at once, and that takes 15-20 minutes.

Nutrients – Let’s compare the Quaker Steel Cut Oats to Quaker Rolled Oats.

1/4 cup of Quaker steel cut oats:
Calories – 150
Fat – 2.5g
Carbs – 27g
Fiber – 4g
Sugar – 1g
Protein – 5g

1/2 cup of Quaker old fashioned oats and quick oats:
Calories – 150
Fat – 3g
Carbs – 27g
Fiber – 4g
Sugar – 1g

Protein – 5g

The label is virtually identical for all three types; the only difference is half a gram of fat.

Glycemic Index – I have seen steel cut oats rated at 42 and rolled oats rated at 50 on the Glycemic Index. Both would be considered “low” and therefore neither is a huge threat to spiking your blood sugar.

Pricing and Availability – The only real downfall with steel cut oats is the price. Sticking with the Quaker brand: 18oz rolled oats are about $1.89, while 24oz of their steel cut oats are $4.99. I prefer the Arrowhead Mills steel cut oats, which are around $3.59 for 24oz.

Due to the hefty price tag, steel cut oats are harder to find. You’ll need to look at smaller retailers and specialty health stores.

The good news is, you can save money by purchasing steel cut oats in bulk, if that’s an option at your local store. If you have a local Amish store or some sort of farmer’s market, you might find steel cut oats extremely cheap!

The Results

The main differences between the oats are texture and cooking time. The nutrition facts are virtually identical.

While I do like the lack of processing in steel cut oats for health reasons, my advice is to eat whichever oats you like the best!

steel cut oats cooked

Personally, I like both. If I want a chewy bowl of oats with a nutty flavor, I’ll have steel cut oats. But if I’m making a bowl of cinnamon raisin oatmeal, I’ll stick with rolled oats or even quick oats.

In most circumstances, I’ll actually stick with regular rolled oats instead of steel cut oats. I like the taste just as much, and they’re quicker to cook.

The two types are noticeably different in taste, so you’ll have to try both. It’s quite possible you’ll gravitate toward one or the other.

But remember: whether you’re eating steel cut oats, old fashioned rolled oats, or quick oats, they’re all good compared to any other breakfast cereal. Just avoid “instant oatmeal,” which is the kind that comes in the little pouches, already mixed with sugar, salt, and artificial flavors.

 

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111 Comments so far

  1. Bryan on January 7th, 2009

    Great comparison of the two. Thanks.

  2. Keeli on January 13th, 2009

    Thanks for the comparison, very helpful. Is there a difference in price? Where can I find steel cut oats?

  3. Levi on January 13th, 2009

    @Keeli

    I forgot about that, I’ll have to add “price” to the article. Steel cut oats are much, much more expensive!

    I usually get my steel cut oats at Wegman’s, as well as smaller, local health food stores. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s may carry them as well. (Don’t expect to find them at Wal-Mart.)

  4. Rebecca on February 5th, 2009

    Although it may be true that there is not a significant difference between the nutritional content of rolled oats versus steel cut it is important to note that it is not the same as the difference between how you cut your sandwich.

    A sandwich cut across or in triangles is the same but cut differently, however oats lightly steamed and rolled begin to lose nutritional content in this process. The sandwich is an assembled product of various ingredients and it is eaten right away(usually). Steel cut oats also lose nutrients compared to the whole oat but at a slower rate as they are not steamed and also not crushed, exposing more of the nutrients to the air. One of the main benefits of oats is the B vitamins which suffer most at the expense of the steam process.

    Finally, would you rather eat a sandwich you make and cut in half, or one that is made somewhere and packaged and bought by you at some later date. That is the real difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats.

    If that is a big difference in your estimation, the best alternative is to buy whole oats and a grinder or roller to prepare your own. Depending on the quantity of oats you consume that is a cost effective alternative in the long run.

  5. BigMak on February 9th, 2009

    This is not an educated comparison of the 2 types of Oats as every time you process a food further you lose nutrition. Rolling the Oats flat makes some of the Bran come off of the Oats and the Oat Bran is the most nutritious part of the Oat. Also

    Less Processed = More Nutritious

    I don’t see how someone could see this simple Fact differently!!!

  6. Levi on February 10th, 2009

    @BigMak

    You’re forgetting that steel cut oats need cooked eventually. So the fact is, if rolled oats lose nutrients when cooked, so do steel cut oats.

    Also, remember physics: “Matter is neither created nor destroyed.” So unless there is some advanced bran extraction process that sucks out the bran dust from the rest of the ground-up oats, I’m willing to bet the bran is still there.

  7. hema.j on February 16th, 2009

    hi,i love to have quacker old fashioned rolled oats. i bought one box from costco. it was written as old fashoin oats but it is not a rolled oats. i was disappointted .i think it has both steel cut and powder oats. so now how to buy rolled oats made by quacker .

  8. Sue on April 2nd, 2009

    You missed one of the big differences and that would be the glycemic index. The slower your body processes food the longer it takes to run your blood sugar up.
    I buy steel cut oats at Winco (a west coast store) in the bulk section and it is very cost effective.

  9. Levi on April 2nd, 2009

    @Sue

    Good point, I should add that in.

    I have seen steel cut oats rated at 42 and rolled oats rated at 50. Both would be considered “low” on the Glycemic Index.

  10. k80jr on April 6th, 2009

    Steel cut and old fashioned rolled have the exact same nutrional value. The only reason we’ve been leaning toward rolled is less cooking time and cost. Both are excellent!

  11. Levi on April 6th, 2009

    @k80jr

    Yep, I like both, but I eat rolled oats much more often due to that!

  12. AMELIA FU on July 15th, 2009

    GOOD COMPARISION.

    CAN YOU GIVE ME THE REFERENCES WHERE YOU GET THE INFORMATION? THANK YOU

  13. Levi on July 20th, 2009

    @Amelia

    Thanks.

    I referenced the Nutrition Facts labels on Quaker Oats canisters for the comparison data.

  14. Kevin on August 22nd, 2009

    I’m eating oats right now…delicious! Thank you for the info. I’m looking to cut some weight, so next time I buy oats, it will be steel cut. A half gram more fat for the regular? No thank you.

  15. Lanel on August 24th, 2009

    I have found honeyville grain to have the best prices on steel cut oats – $10 for a 70 oz can and the quality is excellent. They also offer a wide variety of other grain items as well as freeze dried fruits.

  16. Levi on August 25th, 2009

    @Lanel

    Great find! Honeyville Grain looks like a great wholesale source where consumers can also order.

    Here’s the link to the 70oz can of oats:
    http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/steelcutoatscan.aspx

    I have also found some local wholesalers (who don’t sell online) that offer great prices on bulk steel cut oats.

  17. Jennifer on September 6th, 2009

    Thanks for summing up this debate. As a recently diagnosed diabetic I wonder if there is a significant difference in the glycemic load of the two as the glycemic index can be deceiving and cooking time impacts the load for most grains.

  18. Chef Bob on September 16th, 2009

    We had a very serious discussion over quick oats and steel cut oats during a manager meeting at our restaurant. We had received several customer comments that our oatmeal sucked and steel cut oats were better….your article proved my point that in a kitchen situation, time is our enemy and the quick oats are better for us because our guests want their food quick in the am, and although we use about 80# of oatmeal a week, it seems we analyze our cooking technique, to avoid the mushiness people disapprove of. What I find striking is that although the nutritional profile are very similar, it is amazing how the cost is nearly six times the price of regular quick oats. Great info, thanks for being here…
    Chef BBB

  19. Levi on September 28th, 2009

    @Chef Bob

    Great comment, thanks.

    The price really is funny, especially considering the processing. If there is less processing involved with steel cut oats, why do you have to spend more money?!

  20. Amy on October 16th, 2009

    My husband tried a “fancy brand” of steel cut oats tonight and proclaimed that he was done with pressed oats. Can I really spend nearly an hour a day making this? Maybe he just has “fancy brand syndrom” and I will purchase another brand of steel cut oats for a blind taste comparison.
    Thank you for your insight.

  21. Levi on October 19th, 2009

    @Amy

    I haven’t found a taste difference between expensive steel cut oats and the cheaper ones you can get in bulk, but many people do give up rolled oats once they try steel cut!

    Tip: Make a big pot of steel cut oats on the weekend and refrigerate the leftovers so you don’t have to cook them every day.

  22. Rebecca on October 19th, 2009

    Costco is now carrying organic steel cut oats at way cheap. I found them last week. this article is correct in naming texture as the most obvious difference.

  23. Shell on October 26th, 2009

    I couldn’t stand oatmeal until I tried the steel cut. The texture is wonderful! A little nutty, a little chewy, and it’s the perfect breakfast for a cold morning. I buy them in bulk at Whole Foods and store them in an airtight canister.

    Amy: It doesn’t take an hour. Rule of thumb is a 4:1 ratio. 4 cups water 1 cup steel-cut oats (plus a pinch of salt if you want) and cook for about twenty minutes. They’re pretty durable so you don’t have to do a low simmer, just a gentle boil.

    I’ve tried Odlums (sp?) but the bulk ones at Whole Foods are just fine.

  24. Carol Yarletts on October 30th, 2009

    Are steel cut oats really more expensive when you use half as much? I make them in a small crockpot overnight with 1 cup steel cut oats,water, skim milk, cinnamon stick, tbsp. brown sugar and raisins. This makes 7 servings and my husband and I just reheat them every morning.
    If I were using rolled oats, 7 servings would take 3 1/2 C. oatmeal.
    In my local Kroger’s store, I buy Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats at a decent price.

  25. Michelle on November 9th, 2009

    I was wondering if there is a difference between steel cut oats and oats cut with a millstone. I have been buying some that are from Scotland cut with a millstone and think I read somewhere that they hold their nutrition better because the steel heats up and that process burns some of it out. Do you have any idea about this?

  26. Steve on November 20th, 2009

    The cost difference would come from economics. Rolled oats are much more common and sold in much larger quantities than steel cut oates. Supply and demand, just like anything else. A lot of people have never even heard of steel cut.

    The same reason why blank cd’s are more expensive than blank DVD’s now.

  27. Raymond on December 9th, 2009

    We purchase the 50lbs bag from Honeyvgrain for a little over $1/lb (includes shipping anywhere in the USA) and store the bag in a freezer. Like others, we precook in batches of 8 cups water/2 cups oats, refrigerate then microwave as needed. Delicious.

  28. Natalie on December 26th, 2009

    We have a local discount food market that sells many items in bulk including whole oat groats as well as steel cut oats. Current price is $0.57/lb. From what I have read,this is a pretty good price.
    Also, if you like rice, lentils, beans, and other grains, I would recommend investing in a good rice cooker. My husband bought a Sanyo for me last Christmas and the porridge setting is great for all kinds of oatmeal. :-)

  29. kevtphoto on December 31st, 2009

    another health benefit for people concerned with insulin levels is the steel cut has a lower glycemic index

  30. Boxset on January 8th, 2010

    I’m going to try steel cut oats. Hopefully i cand them at Shaw’s. Perhaps a rice cooker might help in the cooking process.

  31. NZER on January 28th, 2010

    The only thing I would add to the discussion on oats is that if you are trying to lose body fat, there is a difference in the amount of energy your body will expend in order to digest the different kinds of oats mentioned. This process starts in the mouth with the action of chewing with a coarse oat like the steel cut oats.

  32. Donna on January 28th, 2010

    Yes steel cut take longer to cook but I cook a large batch at night and then store them in the refrigerator. For the next few mornings I take out a portion and microwave it….instant pleasure.

  33. Linda on January 30th, 2010

    Hi,
    We have been eating old fashioned rolled oats for a number of years now, but just recently switched to steel cut oats. We really enjoy the nutty flavor.

    You can soak your steel cut oats the night before and leave it on the stove overnight. Use 4 parts of healthy water and 1 part of oats.

    First bring the water to a boil then add oats, stir until it boils again then cover and set aside. When you do it this way it only takes 10 minutes to cook slowly in the morning.

    Add some soaked chia seeds, a drop or 2 of Stevia, a little Cinamon, a spoon of Extra Virgin Coconut oil or a small amount of real butter (Organic Valley)and you have yourself a powerhouse of nutrition that will keep you satisfied.

  34. Keith on February 5th, 2010

    QUOTE:

    Less Processed = More Nutritious

    I don’t see how someone could see this simple Fact differently!!!

    /ENDQUOTE

    @BigMak-
    This is not necessarily true. Tomatoes, for instance, gain a greater amount of bioavailable lycopene (an antioxidant found in tomatoes). It’s true, processing can chemically change certain vitamins into a useless substance, but sometimes processing can convert nutrients into a form that is easily digestible by humans, effectively increasing its nutrition.

    Certain foods are more healthy when unprocessed, and certain foods are more healthy when processed. Unless you feel like figuring out which is which and develop a diet that abides by this, you’re probably better off appreciating that the difference is negligible and just eating what you like :)

  35. Kevin on February 5th, 2010

    My favorite steel-cut oatmeal is McCann’s Irish Oatmeal in the metal can. (And the empty cans are great for small parts or even other foods.) Hodgson Mill steel cut oats are good too, and more available, at least where I live. I eat rolled oats, (Quaker or store-brand, makes no difference) but when I have the time I prefer steel cut because 1) I like the nutty flavor and texture, and 2) I feel like they keep me feeling full much longer!

  36. Janelle on February 7th, 2010

    I just bought steel cut oats and they do have a nutty flavor. I live in northern Indiana, and there is a large Amish community in this area. There is a Amish store a mile away from me that carries bulk foods, and they have steel cut oats. I paid $2.06 for 2lbs 32oz. I doubt if it is a name brand oat, but they carry high quality food, and they had a great taste.

  37. Amy on February 7th, 2010

    If I’m reading the above correctly, it looks like you get the same nutrition from 1/4 cup of steel cut oats as from 1/2 cup of rolled oats. Doesn’t that mean that 1/4 cup of rolled oats only has half the nutritional value as rolled oats? That would seem to indicate that the steel cut oats are better. Am I missing something?

  38. Amy on February 7th, 2010

    BTW – I should clarify that I’m looking to get more fiber, so I guess that is what I mean when I say the steel cut oats are better – I can get more fiber in the same serving size. :)

  39. Levi on February 8th, 2010

    @Amy

    The reason I use 1/4 cup for steel cut oats and 1/2 cup for rolled oats is that those are the standard serving sizes. Steel cut oats expand a lot when you cook them, while rolled oats do not, so it ends up about the same serving size once cooked.

  40. Sylvia on February 17th, 2010

    Steel Cut are definitely better for you, the more a natural grain grown from the earth is processed the more nutrients it loses. So go natural, go healthy, cook the darn thing a little longer,,,,whats the big deal! I like mine with fresh or frozen mixed berries.

  41. Ken Browne on February 23rd, 2010

    Steel cut oats only cost more if you buy it pre-packaged. McCann’s costs a small fortune but I get them at Whole Foods for $1.19 a pound. For $10 that would be 8.4 pounds or about 132 ounces. Rolled oats are a little less but for me the steel cuts oats win on the basis of taste and texture. I’ve noticed Quaker is now selling a small container of steel cut oats and I even think I saw them in WalMart, but bulk purchasing is still the most economical way to go.

  42. ronna on February 27th, 2010

    If steel-cut is closer to the natural grain, why not just use whole oats then? You could probably cook up a batch in the crock pot over night and I bet the nutritional value would be superior to steel-cut …

    I was always curious about steel-cut but the price kept me from purchasing. Aldi has the steel-cut now so I bought some – I personally didn’t like the final outcome plus it took over 5 minutes to cook them!

    I cook a batch of pearled barley in my crockpot and add about 1/4 cup to my rolled oatmeal and get a wonderful chewy texture with a nutty flavor. I like it better than the steel-cut.

    So, if the final result nutritionally is about the same, I’ll stick with my rolled oats and barley mixture, thank you!

  43. Arla on March 1st, 2010

    Thank you for the information. I have a new Granola recipe that calls for “raw oats” and had no idea what they ment or what the real difference was between oats. Go information-Thank you.

  44. Marty on March 1st, 2010

    I abhor cooking almost anything on the stove in spite of my really health-minded friends who oppose microwave ovens. I also hate any traditional rolled oats – tried to eat them all my life but could never stomach the texture. Voila! The discovery of steel cut oats which I love. I don’t like the idea of “cooking a batch” in advance and warming them up each day. I’m one person…solution:
    1/4 cup steel cut oats in a regular size cereal bowl.
    “Eyeball” the amount of water and experiment until you find the consistency you like
    Microwave covered (I use a paper plate) for 2 minutes & 30 seconds, power level 7.
    And Voila…one bowl to clean, perfectly cooked oats.
    I usually put dried cranberries in the oats that will be cooked.
    I add walnuts or almonds and warm milk to taste.

    Don’t understand all the comments about “cooking time,” the hassle, etc. If you’re not opposed to nuking, nothing could be easier.

  45. Mike on March 5th, 2010

    One other potential difference between the steel cut oats and the rolled ones is the quality of the fat. The additional processing in the rolled damages more cells and gives the fats more opportunity to oxidize (turn rancid). For instance, while not a perfect comparison, the fats in whole wheat flour start turning rancid within a week of grinding but the wheat berries themselves will keep the fats protected for months on end.

  46. Richard on March 5th, 2010

    You have expressed my thoughts exactly.
    I like them both and eat them both.
    I disagree with your cooking time on the steel cut.
    They take a little longer than forever.
    I now cook up a large batch at one time (about a week’s worth)and it keeps in the fridge until they’re gone.
    Big hint here. Let them soak overnight(I actually cook them for about 5 minutes) and finish the next day. Easy.
    We have a store brand for the steel cut so it’s not too expensive. Worth it for the more interesting experience.

  47. Levi on March 16th, 2010

    @Richard

    “I disagree with your cooking time on the steel cut. They take a little longer than forever.”

    LOL :)

  48. urStupid on March 19th, 2010

    I was lead here to your site because I was looking up articles on fixed gear riding. You’re take on fixed gear riding was obnoxious-I know very little about fixie riding, but then i saw your article on oats.

    First of all, not all oats are made equal. Instant oats, steel cut oats, rolled oats…are all the same if you buy them from QUAKER. Quaker processes all their foods to such a disgraceful extent you can’t even call it food. Notice how the fiber found in Quakers products are not natural, but rather fortified through some process?

    If you’re going to buy oats, buy mcCanns steel cut oats. its awesome.

    Lastly, you should stay away from grains if you’re trying to be healthy. Grains are toxic to humans. Period.

    1

  49. Jake on March 20th, 2010

    @Levi
    I just wanted to correct you on what you said about physics. “matter is neither created nor destroyed”.

    This is untrue. Matter is created all the time. It is also destroyed into pure energy, although this usually happens on a very small scale. I think what you meant to say was that the total energy of a closed system remains constant. This isn’t quite true either, but it works in classical physics so we use it constantly.

  50. Levi on March 23rd, 2010

    @Jake

    Yeah, what you said ;)

    The only point I wanted to make is that by grinding up oats, you might end up with oat flour, but the healthy parts of the oat aren’t magically transported to another dimension and replaced by HFCS!

  51. Jenny on March 23rd, 2010

    Thanks for the useful information.

    I’ve been having a hard time finding out what the GI is for eating rolled oats RAW. Any ideas? I have been eating rolled oats, raw (with a few walnuts, a bit of flax and some dried or fresh fruit. Its quick and easy. I’m wondering how the glycemic index for raw oatmeal stacks up against either of the cooked varieties?

  52. Brant on March 23rd, 2010

    I use a Magic Bullet to grind up 1/4 cup of steel cut oats and then combine them with 1/2 cup of rolled oats in a bowl. Then add boiling water (from microwave) and stir into the oats. Add cinnamon and walnuts or raisons. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes and tastes great. Also has nice texture. NOTE: since the steel cuts oats are ground up, the surface area is increased and so contact with the boiling water is increased which significantly reduces the cooking time (physics).

  53. Levi on March 27th, 2010

    @Brant

    Good thinking. By getting the steel cut and chopping them yourself, you get the more natural oats but also a quick cooking time!

  54. Karen Dolan on March 30th, 2010

    Irish style steel cut oatmeal from Trader Joes. 39 oz less than $3.00. Our families favorite after eating old fashioned oat meal for 30 years.After trying this Irish style steel cut 4 years ago— This is all we make. We get 6 generous servings from 1/4 cup cooked gently 20 min. I add cinnamon or flax seed for flavor to change up the flavor.

  55. Lee Ann on April 10th, 2010

    I agree that soaking the grains overnight can reduce stove-top cooking time and have often prepared them this way. After growing up being fed on quick oats, I am sold on steel-cut. I usually add raisins or cranberries, small-diced dates or apricots, or a combination of all of these to the mix and top it with a little real (not artificial) maple syrup. Made in batches and refrigerated, it is a quick morning meal. A slow cooker would be another great prep method. I have to wonder though, what about using a pressure-cooker. I have never used one but my mom always used one for lots of foods and I have read that this is a preferred macrobiotic method of cooking as it doesn’t allow the degree of nutrient loss compared to other methods. It definitely would cut cooking time too. Any nutrient evaluation known by this prep method?

  56. KAREN L. LIGHTFOOT on April 16th, 2010

    THANK YOU SOOO VERY MUCH FOR GIVING ME THE MOST INFORMATIVE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE COMPARISONS OF THIS NATURAL PRODUCT OF OATS. I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION ROLLED OATS WERE AS BAD AS WHITE: BREAD & RICE. I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TWO BAGS OF ROLLED OATS. ALSO, THANKS TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR INPUT. I WAS ABOUT TO GIVE THEM AWAY. I’LL BE EATING THEM NOW!!!

    YOUR SITE IS NOW ON MY ‘FAVORITES’ TO CHECK ON OTHER INFORMATION YOU MAY PROVIDE.

  57. Pam on April 21st, 2010

    Thank you for this. All the health sites specify steel cut oats and not quick oats, but now see oats are good for you no matter.

  58. Rick on April 22nd, 2010

    Rolled oats and steel cut oats are not the same. rolled oats are obviously steamed and rolled, they are then stored for long periods of time. The fact that the oat is rolled and steamed it of course diminishes its nutritional value. In addition the vital enzymes in the oat is killed by the steam process and of course there will be different chemical reactions within the oat that were not supposed to be there. A lot of people mention cooking the oats here, you don’t have to cook the oats, you can actually eat rolled oats raw, they taste grate. Steel cut oats are a little better because they are not steamed and preserve more of their natural form and casing but they are actually not much different from the process of rolling the oats. If what we want to do is eat the best quality and nutritious oats possible then we need to buy the actual oat groats and roll them ourselves. That way you’ll have the best fresh rolled oats. Please let’s wake up, almost everything you see in stores is not sold with the intention to keep you healthy and bring you the best quality and freshness possible, this ended in the mid 1900s. Everything you see in grocery stores now is only intended to get the most money out of it as quick as possible yes including the new health food stores like Whole Foods. t’s only up to you the individual to realize this and actually start buy real food, that means unprocessed, no special canning casing or bubble wrap. just plain natural food from the earth.

  59. Kathy on April 24th, 2010

    I just wanted to say this was a good article, as I just read about steel oats on the “real age” site. I also wanted to point out that a couple people asked questions that you had already stated in your original article;yet when they asked you, you said “oh, I forgot, I should add that.” You already did. I just wanted to point that out, as most people want to discredit everything they read. I thought it was great, and you covered pretty much every aspect one may want to know about the subject. Thanks!

  60. Baloni on May 18th, 2010

    I don’t find this to be an unbiased or educated comparison of the two types of oats. Also steel cut oats can be soaked the evening before to “cut down on cooking time”. I’m disappointed in the time I took to read this.

  61. teresa white on May 20th, 2010

    Thank you for the work done on the comparison. I was wondering whether it would benefit me to switch to steel cut now I know… Thanks again.

  62. Debbie on May 20th, 2010

    Please read Sally Fallon’s book NOURISHING TRADITIONS! Most thorough book on grains! and recipes. She’s a gourmet cook also from Europe! (or go to Weston Price Foundation and you may find her articles in the search field!)

    Mike and Rebecca are on the right track. But once you cut the whole oat, wouldn’t that make it also oxidize??
    But rancidity is an issue. So I’d rather buy the whole grain and roll it myself. She also talks about phytic acid that could prevent one from absorbing minerals. However Dr Paul Yanick says its not that big an issue as it doesn’t seem to affect organic minerals, just inorganic (anything that’s not from food like vitamins) He says the bigger issue is mold.

    Mike and Rebecca are on the right track. But once you cut the whole oat, wouldn’t that make it also oxidize??

  63. Debbie on May 20th, 2010

    Ok I just tried my oat roller today (that’s why I was at this site…trying to remember if you can eat oats raw or not). It doesn’t remove much of the bran at all! I can see what’s stuck on the rollers and there’s not much!! FUN!! I did soak them first and then dried them in my convection oven pretty much below 115 degrees. So I’m getting some of the live enzymes and more added protein from soaking them. We used to eat raw steel cut oats in our smoothies for breakfast and never had any problems?? My question was how long can you keep the soaked oats in the fridge??

    And for even further research you should read about studies on Flaked/puffed cereals using high heat!! Killed MICE!!! Its worse than cardboard!! …to be continued! too long otherwise!! Gotta get her book!!

  64. Debbie on May 20th, 2010

    Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry
    By Sally Fallon

    http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/567-dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry.html

    [Comment edited. See link for further reading.]

  65. Bob Graef on June 12th, 2010

    For the straight and complete skinny on oats, nutrition, health benefits, history, etc. check out the book, KNOW YOUR OATS. The author, an oat nut, actually qualifies his claims when oats hven’t proved to be the magic bullet. A little humor here and there, too.

  66. Levi on June 15th, 2010

    @Bob

    I’m definitely going to read that book!

  67. JenToo on June 22nd, 2010

    You can also mix 1 cup steel-cut oats with mixture of 2 tablespoons of yogurt (or lemon juice or vinegar if allergic to dairy) and 2 cups warm water. Soak overnight. In the morning, bring 2 more cups water to a boil. Add soaked oats, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Better digested this way. (See p. 453 of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for more information.)

  68. Oatman on June 30th, 2010

    Great comparison! Very well written—–thanks!

  69. tom wood on August 23rd, 2010

    Well done. All of the health wackos tell me that steel cut is better for you, they have some lame reason about processing. Sounded stupid to me but I don’t study worthless junk like that. Turns out that it really is stupid. You cleared it up. Health wacko’s are just that.

  70. mary on September 5th, 2010

    Is there a gluten free steel cut oat, or are all steel cut oats gluten free. My daughter has a gluten problem and was told to order gluten free steel cut oats. If they are just steel cut oats, aren’t they all gluten free?
    thanks Mary

  71. Levi on September 21st, 2010

    @Mary

    I’m pretty sure that all oats (rolled and steel cut) are gluten-free.

    However, it seems the gluten-free diet people don’t even like steel cut oats because they are still grains, and all grains contain either gluten or some proteins similar to gluten.

    What I would do is just try some steel cut oats and see how it works out.

  72. Tony G on September 27th, 2010

    My wife and I eat steel cut oats every morning. I buy them bulk at the local health food store, about a dollar a pound, very inexpensive. And they are easy to cook, if you do it right.
    We cook up a batch once a week, store them in a tupperware and microwave a bowl every morning. We start the night before by bringing a pot of water to boil, dump in the oats, put the lid on the pot and shut the gas off. And by morning you will have fully “cooked” oats. They never boil over or get scorched this way. Oh, the ratio is 4 cups water to one cup of oats. Enjoy!

  73. Dupervil on October 4th, 2010

    GRRRRR I am real pissed to read how some people get into heavy math when it comes to the price of good foods,while not hesitating a second to splurge into the arteries blocking types < Get your priority straight folks ,if its good for you its priceless,,,,,,,,,

  74. ken on October 5th, 2010

    I just bought some steel cut oats at Whole Foods market in the bulk section for $1.49 pound. They taste great.

  75. amber on October 7th, 2010

    I love steal cut oats for their texture and nutty flavor. I can eat it plain. Rolled oats I can’t eat plain, it lacks the robust flavor. But I usually eat both with fresh or frozen berries and walnuts and cinnamon!

    I think both can be a hassle to make — getting the consistency just right. I eat the oats on any given day but I mostly look forward to a nice bowl of steals & berries on saturdays and sundays so I don’t miss that pancake breakfast. Just as special as a pancake breakfast.

    About the cost of food, I keep trying to tell my friends if they plan and shop right organic and healthy foods don’t coast much more than all the prepackaged & processed food and not to forget the fast foods.

  76. Mary on October 15th, 2010

    I got a lot from this article (if it was based on fact & research) and all the comments, but mostly you have proven people get brain-lock. If I processed all the info acurately, eating oats / oat meal is much better than NOT eating it & by the time it’s in your bowl there’s not much difference aside from personal prefference to taste & texture. You can buy it partially processed (rolled, etc.) or you can finish processing it @ home (extra grinding, longer cooking, etc.) So, they’re all good for you, eat what you like. Thank you all so much for the artical & the input!

  77. Mary on October 15th, 2010

    I can also see where the .5 gr of fat &/or the 8 GI points could make a difference if you’re watching those factors – cutting a little here, and a little there makes a big difference in the long run – Thanks again

  78. Levi on October 15th, 2010

    @Mary

    I think you summed it up quite nicely! :)

  79. Michael on October 24th, 2010

    I buy both steel cut oats and rolled oats in bulk for $1.29 per pound from a health market called Mother Earth near where I live in Ocala, Florida. That’s a great price and I enjoy both steel cut and rolled oats.

  80. Steve on October 28th, 2010

    I think you are on the dole of Quaker oats!

  81. Steve on October 28th, 2010

    I looked up nutrition info for the two…here’s what I found:

    Bob’s Redmill Steel Cut Oats:
    serving size – 1/4 c dry
    calories – 140
    fat – 2.5g
    carbs – 27g
    fiber – 4g
    sugars – 0g
    protein – 6g
    http://www.bobsredmill.com/steel-cut-oats.html

    Quaker Quick Oats:
    serving size – 1/4c dry (note – I cut this in half so it would match the steel cut oats above)
    calories – 75
    fat – 1.5g
    carbs – 13.5g
    fiber – 2g
    sugars – 0.5g
    protein – 2.5g

    Quaker Old Fashioned Oats had exactly the same data as Quaker Quick Oats.
    http://www.quakeroats.com/products/hot-cereals/quick-oats.aspx

    The conclusion I reach from this is that steel cut oats are more nutrient-dense.

  82. Levi on October 28th, 2010

    @Steve

    I’ve explained this before but I’ll say it again…

    You can’t change the serving sizes to make an argument. 1/2 cup dry rolled oats makes a 1/2 cup serving. 1/4 cup dry steel cut oats makes a 1/2 cup serving.

    Also, the reason I mention Quaker is so I can do a fair comparison between the same brand of oats.

  83. JAMES K on November 1st, 2010

    I eat all My oats (rolled or steel cut) with just cold milk. I like to know if I’m missing any nutrition by eating steel cut oats raw.

  84. hrf1 on November 2nd, 2010

    Steel cut oats can be made in a slow cooker on low overnight and ready for breakfast! I always make them that way! Just be sure to spray the slow cooker with non-stick first.

  85. Betty Sellers on November 6th, 2010

    Great comments.However…there is the difference between whole oat groats and steel cut oat groats. Are your commentors confusing the two? I easily cook a large pan of what is labeled oat groats-steel cut every couple of days – 1 cup to 4 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes I do let them set off the stove for about ten minutes and stir any extra liquid in the pan into the groats. After I looked at your pictures, I realized some of us are confusing the two kinds – the whole and the steel. Obviously a big, big, difference in cooking time as well as the glycemic index. Worse yet, there are what is known as thick rolled oats available that have a better glycemic index than Quaker old fashioned oats or steel cut oat groats. My question to you, as I am not the expert here. Which of these blasted oats are best for the glycemic index.My understanding the more you cook and process the oat the quicker it raises the glucose level making thick rolled oats the best choice over whole groats and steel cut. Let of all know if I am wrong here. Betty

  86. Betty Sellers on November 6th, 2010

    0ops! I made a mistake here. I meant to say,which is best the thick rolled oats or the steel cut oat groats… I would think that the whole oat groats would be best as they would be the least processed of all but a pistol to cook!!!Betty

  87. Levi on November 9th, 2010

    @Betty

    The whole oat groats would be best, i.e. most natural. The only processing on the oat groats is that the hull is removed.

    Steel cut oats are just the whole oat groats cut into chunks, so they’d be similar.

    Even the thick rolled oats I think would still be processed quite a bit more. (But I’m not sure how someone manipulated the Glycemic Index to have their more processed rolled oats be lower GI than steel cut.)

  88. Alma G on November 13th, 2010

    Great information folks!I am on my 4th morning of eating Steel cut oats, after using old fashion for years my sister told me about steel cut. I love the texture. Sometimes if what I make is not enough I’d add in a couple spoonful of old fashion. My sister and her hubby eat their steel cut without cooking it. I think all that chewing is too time consuming and I worry about digesting it in a timely manner.

    Dont know if anyone here visit Canada or have people visiting from Canada. Anyway, steel cut oats is in abundance at “Bulk Barn” and is fairly inexpensive.

  89. abigail on December 12th, 2010

    this was very informative, thank you!!

  90. Jack on January 8th, 2011

    But you failed to discuss texture, consistency and taste. Steel cut is much better, chewier, and has more flavor to me. The quick oats are too mushy, and bland, I don’t even bother. The steel cut is more dense and carries more nutrition. Also, once you start splitting and rolling you open up the grain to oxidation, allowing quicker rancidity, as well as effecting available nutrients. Go with steel cut, folks.

  91. Jeff W on January 8th, 2011

    The cheapest brand of Steel Cut Oats that I have seen consistently is the brand they carry at Trader Joes. It’s $3 for a 30 ounce container. It also claims to be “Organic”, but I’m not sure what that means in this case. I just get them there for the price. It’s really the only product that I normally ever buy at that store. Occasionally Kroger will put the the Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats for less than that, but not usually. However, either one is cheaper than that Arrowhead one. I usually eat Instant oats on weekdays and Steel Cut Oats on the weekend when I have more time.

  92. durr on January 16th, 2011

    This comparison is pretty blah given that the steel cut oats nutrition data that you provided is for a 1/4 of a cup while the rolled outs are for 1/2 a cup. That makes steel cut oats about two times as nutritious as rolled oats.

  93. Levi on January 16th, 2011

    @durr

    Wow, you failed to read the article or the multiple comments that address this issue directly. You should probably think before you comment, unless you want to keep looking stupid.

  94. laura on January 19th, 2011

    Steel cut oats are not as difficult to find as you’re saying. If there are any Canadians here, you can find them in the bulk section for pretty cheap at Save-on Foods. Other common grocery stores may have them in their bulk sections too, you just have to look.
    Also, 1/4 cup of steel cut oats is not enough for a serving. I’m 5’4, 120 lbs, and 1/3 of a cup with nuts, raisins and a chopped banana is just enough for me.
    Good article, but I still stick to steel cut oats being better; they are tastier and more filling!

  95. Levi on January 22nd, 2011

    @laura

    I agree about the serving sizes. 1/4 cup steel cut oats isn’t enough for me either.

    But in the same vein, 1/2 cup rolled oats isn’t enough for me, nor is 1 cup of a typical cold cereal.

    Actually, there are very few foods that have a serving size where I eat just one :)

  96. Bob on January 23rd, 2011

    For Texans:
    HEB Grocery’s Health Food/Bulk section has organic steel cut oats 99cents/lb.
    Each store has different sized Health/Bulk depts, but all have a pretty good assortment of dried fruits to reconstitute and throw into your oats. (organic & un-sulfured, or preserved, or some sweetened- depending on your dietary prefs).
    Central Market (fancy HEB offshoot) has a considerable bulk section w/ far more varied & eclectic options, but is usually more expensive on most things.
    Anyway, that’s the Oat market report for central/south TX ;)

  97. RR on January 25th, 2011

    “Better”. Better?
    I can’t see the ‘actual’ difference, whatever it is, as being -significant- to one’s health. If you eat (non-packetized) oatmeal, you’re ahead of the ‘game’ right there.
    Opinions about what’s ‘better’ and debating it, is just an ego-trip, in my view. Eat natural whole grain oatmeal… that’s ‘better’ than not eating it, unless you’re allergic. Cup size, glycemic index, .5 gram fat… until someone runs a strict study of groups given each, it’s just an argument, and the likely result is that the difference is -negligible-.
    The difference in saturated fat is the only fat difference that likely matters, as some studies show ‘good’ fat consumption helps combat hunger.
    Unfortunately for me, I tried steel-cut once… I don’t know what they did to them, but they weren’t more ‘nutty’, they were -nasty-… with a metallic taste… maybe they’d been sitting too long, or been contaminated. However, I don’t need the extra attention and time to cook, like 3x apparently, just to have a possible scintilla of benefit… maybe.
    The preoccupation with ‘better’ is sad… what matters is getting everyone to eat natural whole grains… and not the corporate boxed/canned salt/sugar-saturated junk that corporations substitute for real ‘food’, filling the grocery shelves, and displacing space, and raising the price of, healthy food.
    Do you feel better because you say ‘I eat steel-cut’? Good for you… try not to lord it over others how better you are. Just sayin’… spread the word on -natural- grain, not how you cut it.
    It’s a waste of time to debate ‘better’ when we desperately need to combat ‘worse’ (salt/sugar)… to remedy growing obesity and diabetes.

  98. Angel on January 29th, 2011

    I love the comparisons!
    I usually don’t like or eat oatmeal as it reminds me of baby mush, but I tried Jamba Juice’s Blueberry/Blackberry steel-cut Oatmeal and it is GREAT! Before reading your article I did not know the different ways in which the grain could be cut so I purchased old-fashioned oat and tried a few times to get it just like Jamba’s….never did get it…so I will now buy some steel-cut and see if it works!

  99. Kitster on January 29th, 2011

    We love a 50/50 mix of Scottish oats steel-cut oats. Boil ‘em hard for 4 minutes, put the pan on low for another 16 minutes (while you take a shower, say), and they’re perfect. We also throw in two Tblspns of Hempseed and two Tblespns of ground flax seed. Plus a dash of mapeline stirred in as you take the pan off the stove.

  100. cindy on February 18th, 2011

    i use steel-cut oats in my granola mix i make. i do half and half with rolled oats. it adds a lot.

  101. Dave on March 2nd, 2011

    Most have missed the point including the author. They only looked at fat/carbs/calories. It is not cooking that destroys the vitamins naturally occuring in oats (and any whole grain), it is oxygen. The minute you crack open the grain, oxygen destroys the nutrients within hours. That is why bread is fortified. Ideally, you would start with a whole grain, break it down, cook it and eat it right away. This would provide the most of the original nutrients in the grain. I would like to see an analysis of rolled/cut/whole oats for nutrients. It does seem possible that the steel cut version might hold some of these nutrients, but I suspect not as the shell of the grain is opened, alowing oxygen in.

  102. Michael on March 3rd, 2011

    There’s a killer living in all of us. Known as a macrophage and produced deep in your bone marrow, it’s a white blood cell that roams the body, picking fights with bacteria, viruses, or any other intruders. But it only works if you help it. These killer cells are activated by beta-glucans, a component of fiber foods. The best source? Oats, says David Grotto, R.D., director of nutrition education at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, Illinois. So eat your oatmeal. The steel-cut oats, like McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, have double the amount found in the rolled, quick-cooking kind.

    got this from:http://health.msn.com/health-topics/allergies/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100269942&page=1

  103. Jeanne Gumbleton on March 16th, 2011

    Great information! Was used by one our bloggers for her steel cut oatmeal recipe

  104. Jan Nadeau on March 23rd, 2011

    Thanks for the information! I have only recently started eating the Irish (steel-cut) style of oatmeal and I am absolutely hooked! I’m buying a lot of them and have been experimenting with cooking. For those who don’t want to spend a half hour cooking oatmeal every morning, I ran across an article that recommended partially cooking them for about 10 minutes the night before and then refrigerating and reheating in the morning. This works great! I cook up a batch while I’m cooking dinner, so it hardly takes any additional time since I am in the kitchen anyway. In the morning I place in a saucepan, add a little water if needed and reheat for about 5-7 minutes and they are ready to eat! A great time saver and the end result doesn’t suffer at all in the reheating.

    After my initial purchase of a can of very expensive Irish oatmeal, I have been able to find them in bulk at several local health food markets at a fraction of the price.. including organic! They are my newest favorite food!

  105. AARON on April 6th, 2011

    I’m looking for a machine that will remove the hulls from oats. A small house hold type, hand crank or electric. My wife wants an oat flaker, so I thought I could use the oats from the seed bin.

    I also was wondering about wild oats…any nutritional info on wild oats. I see it being sold in some of our stores….$5/lb or more.

  106. tim on June 14th, 2011

    Great article. I thought it was very informative and you articulated your points thoughtfully and succinctly. Honestly, eating any type of these oats on a regular basis is probably better than what the majority of people eat for breakfast today.

    Thanks for explaining in detail without falling into the “processing always remove nutritional value” trap. Reading the comments, it seems that people who downplay the nutritional value of rolled and quick oats are really just being elitist. We’re talking about minor differences between steel cut and rolled/quick oats versus orders of magnitude compared to traditional sugary cereals or the pancake/eggs/bacon type breakfasts.

    There’s no reason to choose one or the other. If you’re short on time, make some rolled quick oats. Have more time or time to prepare, eat the steel cut. Enjoy and be sure to exercise as well.

  107. Levi on June 14th, 2011

    @Tim

    Thanks for responding! That’s exactly the point I was trying to make here!

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