Do you shudder when you think about how sugary "instant" oatmeal flavors are? Do you love the speed and ease of oatmeal breakfasts and how there's a variety of flavors? Try making savory oatmeal with a long list of toppings you can add for a creative and umami twist every morning.
As two working adults, Alex and I rush through breakfast weekday mornings. Our goal is to get sustenance in an efficient manner to power our workday until lunchtime. With Alex's low-carb diet (it works), traditional breakfast options are off the table. No bread, bagels, muffins, instant oatmeal, or cereal. How have we replaced these carb-heavy options considering they are ready to eat, no fuss, and delicious?
One of our favorite breakfast options
Luckily, we've adapted a few breakfast recipes to get the quick, easy-to-prepare benefits of toast and cereal, while making them healthier and more varied. One of these quick-to-serve breakfast options is savory oatmeal.
Oatmeal is easy to batch cook and lasts for 5 days (how convenient). The ingredients are pretty healthy (not low carb, per se, but it's higher in fiber and keeps you full longer than sugary pastries). Plus, oatmeal is a frugal option and easy to spruce up.
Why make savory oatmeal
We started years ago with traditional oatmeal flavors like butter and brown sugar or cinnamon with apple slices. There's nothing wrong with them. I love these flavors but they get boring after eating the same breakfast day in and day out. We switched to various frozen fruit for variety.
Then I remember the infinitely long recipes for rice porridge I enjoyed growing up. Genius. I applied the same approach to savory oatmeal that is packed with umami tastes that make your look forward to breakfast every morning.
Let's learn more about my savory oatmeal "recipe templates" and how you can build on the foundation.
RELATED: For another "recipe template", check out how to make Thai coconut curry that's as tasty as your favorite Thai restaurant using a similar approach to customize the dish.
How to make savory oatmeal
I start with oatmeal as the foundation. I used to cook rolled oats but I switched to steel-cut oats for their chewier texture (variety!). I replace milk with broth (vegetarian, chicken, or beef broth), bump up the salt, and serve the oatmeal with savory rather than sweet toppings.
And sometimes I add in beaten eggs for extra protein, because why not?
Then the magic happens with the toppings. The beauty of oatmeal is the variations you can add by topping it with different breakfast foods. Here's a list of my favorite savory oatmeal variations.
Vegetarian savory oatmeal toppings
These vegetarian options focus on making the most of veggie options by including umami-rich ingredients, such as tomatoes. You can also use vegetarian and plant-based substitutes for sausages other meat foods.
- Fried egg and sliced green onion
- Feta cheese and chopped tomatoes
- Goat cheese, beets, and walnuts
- Sliced mushrooms pan fried in garlic butter
- Salted duck eggs
- Soy sauce
- Chili sauce
- Pickled mustard greens
- Pickled and sliced olives
Meat savory oatmeal toppings
You may notice some of my favorite oatmeal toppings are leftovers from the night before (e.g. chopped steak and pan-fried chicken). You too can get creative with your leftovers to use as toppings for savory oatmeal.
- Bacon and eggs
- Sliced bacon with green onions
- Sliced Chinese sausage lightly pan fried
- Pan-fried chicken breast or thighs with thinly sliced ginger
- Spam and cucumbers (contrast of textures)
- Ham and grated cheese
- Smoked salmon
- Chopped steak, sliced shiitake mushrooms (for umami), and wilted spinach
- Meat floss
- Kari's shiitake mushroom meat sauce
- Pan-fried, sliced sausage and frozen tricolor vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, beans)
RELATED: Check out how to eat less meat without going vegetarian
When to cook savory oatmeal
If you're following the similar workaday timetable, I typically batch cook oatmeal on Sunday evening. Breakfast is ready for Monday morning after a quick assembly of toppings over the oatmeal and a zap in the microwave.
How to store savory oatmeal
After cooking the oatmeal, I allow it to cool on the stovetop. Then I place the whole saucepan with the cooked oatmeal in the fridge and consume it throughout the week. It typically lasts for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. Refrigerating the oatmeal is extra important if you add in the eggs and non-vegetarian broth for food safety.
In case you haven't tried it, oatmeal freezes well. If I know I won't be able to finish the bulk quantity I cooked, I portion the oatmeal into smaller containers to freeze. To defrost, I leave it in the fridge for a day or in the sink overnight.
- 2 cups oatmeal (rolled oats or steel-cut oats)
- 1 carton broth (vegetarian broth for vegetarians or chicken broth)
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 3 Eggs (optional)
- Gather the ingredients.
- Cook the oatmeal and broth in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
- while dd the salt to the oatmeal and broth. You may need to add more salt before serving to season it to your tastes.
- Stir the oatmeal periodically to avoid burning the oatmeal at the bottom. Cook the oatmeal and broth for 3 to 5 minutes if using rolled oats. Steel-cut oats may need 5-10 minutes. Follow the instructions on the package of oatmeal to determine how long to cook the oatmeal for.
- If adding eggs, beat the eggs until the egg whites and yolks are combined.
- Check that the oatmeal is fully cooked before adding the eggs to avoid overcooking the eggs.
- Once the oatmeal is fully cooked, stir the beaten eggs into the oatmeal and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to cook in the residual heat.
- If the eggs are not fully cooked from the residual heat, turn the heat back on medium and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the eggs are just done. Usually, this step is unnecessary because the residual heat from the hot saucepan and oatmeal is enough to cook the eggs. But make sure the eggs are cooked to avoid risks of food-borne illness.
- Serve the savory oatmeal with your favorite savory breakfast toppings.