Instant Oatmeal in a Cup

Instant Oatmeal in a Cup - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo by Julie Andrews

This homemade instant oatmeal in a cup is just like the store-bought cups but made with customizable ingredients. Use quick oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and your choice of mix-ins like dried fruit and nuts.Instant Oatmeal in a Cup - They’re budget-friendly and lower in sugar than most store-bought versions and you can make as many cups as you’d like. They keep in the pantry up to 2 months in air-tight jars and are ready to go in less than 2 minutes!


Quick oats. I use quick oats because they cook faster than old-fashioned rolled or steel cuts. My goal with this recipe was to make it as fast and convenient as possible, and quick oats are just as nutritious.

Brown sugar. I like to use dark brown sugar because it has more molasses and is richer in flavor. That means you don’t need as much to make your oatmeal taste delicious.

Cinnamon. To me, oatmeal requires cinnamon. Use as much or as little as you’d like!

Kosher or sea salt. Just a pinch will do. As in all other recipes, salt brings out the flavor of all the other ingredients and just makes everything taste better.

Mix-ins. My favorite mix-ins are dried fruit and nuts, and you can go crazy with whatever kind you love!

Water or milk. Water works well, but milk makes oatmeal a bit creamier. It’s your choice!

Fresh fruit. This is optional, but I love adding fresh fruit like berries just before serving!

Mix-In Options

Dried fruit. Try raisins, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, bananas, mango and coconut. If they’re in large chunks like dried apple slices, chop them up first.

Chopped nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios are all great options.

Dark chocolate. The regular-sized or mini chips work well here. Or you could use cacao nibs.

Powders. Dark cocoa powder, ground flax seed or peanut butter powder can be mixed in with the oats before microwaving. You may need to add a bit more liquid to accommodate. You can also try adding protein powder if you’d like – I haven’t tested this so I can’t vouch for it, though.

Serving Options

Chopped nuts. Why not add more nuts? A few sprinkled-on top before serving will add the crunch factor to your oats.

Nut butter. Once you’ve microwaved your oatmeal cup, go ahead and stir in a dab of your favorite nut butter.

Fresh fruit. I love adding fresh fruit like berries, cherries and peaches to my oatmeal just before it’s time to eat.

Substitution Options

Oats. You can try this recipe using old-fashioned rolled or steel cut oats, but you may need to adjust the amount of liquid and cooking time.

Brown sugar. Any sweetener will work here. Light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, brown sugar substitutes, granulated sugar or another natural sugar substitute like stevia. Another option is to omit the brown sugar and add honey, molasses or maple syrup to the oats once they’re cooked. Remember you can always alter the amount of sugar/sweetener you use to accommodate your taste and dietary preferences.

Spices. I use cinnamon, but you can swap with or add in other spices as well, such as ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves, if you like.

Milk. If you’re using milk instead of water, you can use any kind you like, whether it’s cow’s, almond, soy, coconut, rice, cashew or oat milk.

To make it gluten free: Use gluten free oats. Oats are naturally gluten free, but are often processed in the same facility as wheat products, so it’s important to purchase oats that are labeled gluten free if you follow a gluten free diet.

To make it dairy free and vegan. Use a dairy alternative, such as almond, soy or coconut milk.

Instant Oatmeal in a Cup

Serves 1


  • ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • ½ tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons mix-ins
  • ¾ cup water or milk


Pour the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt into a pint-size jar. Stir to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of desired mix-ins to the jar. Seal the jar and store at room temperature up to 2 months.

When ready to cook, add the water or milk to the jar, stir and microwave on high 1 minute 30 seconds. Place the lid on top and let sit 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving Tips:

  • Stir in a tablespoon of nut butter just before serving.
  • Add fresh fruit and more chopped nuts on top before serving.
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Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD is a food and nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, chef, food photographer, culinary media expert and food writer. She is the creator and owner of The Healthy Epicurean where she create recipes, food photos and food videos for clients and brands. She also leads workshops for culinary skills, food styling and photography and leads cooking classes. Julie is regularly featured on television and in the media, where she showcases simple, wholesome and delicious recipes from her blog.