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Hot Cereals: Can They Be Scrumptious?

I regularly eat hot cereals for breakfast, not because I like to but because I feel like I should (gunning for a blast o' fiber, dontchaknow). Oatmeal, I find vaguely offputting what with its pallor and its slimy texture. Wheatina--the Khantessa, God love her, brought some down from Pennsylvania--is a bit unremitting. Almost like something the Cheka would serve to Siberian prisoners in 1933, although I rate it a minor improvement over oatmeal.

So is there any hope? Are there any hot cereals tasty enough that you actually look forward them? Can you doctor them up to actually make them attractive to the palate?

--Signed, Mopin' in the Morn'

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  1. I like the multi grain blend from Trader Joes... Wheat, oats, rye, and and I think something else, it looks like (and cooks like) old fashioned oats, but doesn't have as much "pallor and .. slime". I also add a chopped apple, a couple of dates, some nuts, some cinnamon... quite tasty.

    1. I like all hot cereals, but in particular, I like the 7-grain that Whole Foods sells in its bulk foods department. Their organic old-fashioned oats are excellent. If the slimy texture of oatmeal bugs you, try putting the oats into the water after it comes to a boil, instead of before--it preserves the texture. I always add raisins to any cereral I cook up, sometimes chunks of apple, sometimes a few peanuts--before mixing in sugar substitute and Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein powder.

      1. I tried this the other day and it was quite yummy, although it may be defeating the healthy breakfast aspect of hot cereal: poached an egg in tomato sauce and plopped it on a bowl of farina...tasty!

        4 Replies
        1. re: nancyhudson

          That actually sounds very balanced! And delicious. I would also throw in some chunks of avocado for some extra fat.

          1. re: nancyhudson

            Oh yes, I've eaten polenta for breakfast with a poached egg on top. It's delicious!

            1. re: Savour

              That's how we eat our grits- with an egg stirred in.

              1. re: jmcarthur8

                Grits was going to be my suggestion. They can be eaten either sweet or savory. You can make Shrimp Grits, Cheese Grits, Grits Cakes, or just mix in some sugar and butter. Very versatile.

          2. If you want fiber, how about vegetables, fruit, a smoothie with flax, or bran muffins? If you don't like hot cereal, why eat it? That said, you could try steel-cut oats with heated frozen berries (which get all jammy when you microwave them), or search for "savory oatmeal" on these boards for lots of savory ideas.

            1. Have you tried whole oats? (Sometimes called oat groats). I find the texture more appealing than various forms of steel cut or rolled oats. If you have a rice cooker, put them in the pot the night before and they are ready in the morning (I use porridge setting). Also works well in a slow cooker. They take to seasonings well - either sweet or savory to suit your palate.

              1. You should try toasting the grains first in a skillet, just before the regular cooking. It gives the cereal a big flavor boost. It is an extra step, but it really transforms it. It's been a while since I've done this, but can't remember which cereals I tried it with...multigrain, I think.

                2 Replies
                1. re: comestible

                  I do this, but I just do it in the saucepan that's going to cook the oats. Just be careful not to start burning the oats, THAT is not so tasty

                  1. re: comestible

                    You can toast the oats till they are cooked, without adding water. A savory Scottish version of toasted oats is skirlie



                  2. Properly cooked steel cut oats, toasted prior to cooking, can be delightful. I like them with a little cinnamon and sugar, maybe a few dried cranberries or walnuts too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: iluvcookies

                      Agreed. I can have those *every* day.

                    2. Grits, don't know that they will do anything good for your colon health but they are tasty.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kengk

                        Hey, if grits had heavy-duty fiber, I'd be all over 'em. I don't think they do, though.

                        Somebody suggested bran muffies. May have to check into that.

                      2. While in my local Big Lots the other day, I picked up a bag of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal. It's got lots of good stuff in it and even is pretty good protein-wise. I doctor it up with a big pat of butter, sprinkle of cinnamon, handful of nuts. Tasty.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pinehurst

                          I think I've seen that stuff in my local Big Lots. Mayhap I'll snag it and give it a samplin'.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            It's pretty good, PK. I also put a pinch of salt on top if I'm using sweet butter, and sometimes tiny shot of maple syrup. I'm very big on using the butter, though. Gives it a richness.

                        2. I hear ya on the oats, PK, but I've found that McCann's steel-cut oats has a character and chew to it that knocks the pasty/slimy thing outta the loop. It's wonderful w/ a bruleed topping, which you can achieve w/ broiling. Baked oatmeal, which admittedly is more like coffee cake (but still healthy) and flapjacks come to mind...just oats in another form, but both toasty and delicious. I also enjoy an oatmeal made with coconut cream and cinnamon and a hit of cardamom, topped with sliced bananas. What about pan-sauteed cheese polenta? W. maybe a fried egg?
                          If you're talkin' the classics, though? I still enjoy a bowl of cream of wheat w/ butter and dark brown sugar and a splash of heavy cream, just for a quick trip to infantile bliss. :)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mamachef

                            +1 on the Cream of Wheat. I stir in a shot of maple syrup and hit with a bit of half and half.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              I love cream of wheat...reminds me of boarding school!

                            2. You can have any grain for breakfast. Quinoa, wheat berries, kasha. They may not be quick but you can cook ahead/reheat when you want to eat them.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pdxgastro


                                I've also done bulgur which cooks faster than the intact wheat berries.

                                Alternatively, if you just don't like the mushiness of hot cereal, you can take cold cooked rice or other sticky grain, form it into a pancake, and fry it in a skillet.

                              2. You can take any of the cereals, shape it into a log, refrigerate, slice, then saute in butter. This was mentioned with polenta a few posts up. You can make it sweet or savory along with eggs.

                                1. Add butter, then add sugar.

                                  1. Liking it to begin with helps.

                                    But, Maypo, Cream of Wheat, Irish Oats, Farina, steamed sweet rice, cooked down shredded wheat all get a thumbs up and cold weather makes me crave hot cereal. I adore hot cereal all by its lonesome but fresh fruit, canned peaches, roasted pears elevate the bowl...and I always squirt some dark honey or real maple syrup on top, sprinkle of cinnamon or grate of nutmeg and off I go to read and eat.

                                    1. Because I don't drink milk, and because I eat all my cereals dry, technically when I have cereal with coffee, all of my cereals are "hot" ...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        I'm glad that you specified "dry" and "technically," 'cause I was gaggin' on this one, ipse.

                                      2. I'm with the folks who think a hot cereal can be elevated to something comforting and divine. Add fresh fruit, cream, brown sugar, a bit of each in the dish isn't going to blow a diet. Grits with cheese and garlic, yum. Cream of wheat with cream and fruits, yum. Oatmeal with blueberries, good butter, any favored fresh fruit, what's not to like.

                                        And, oatcakes, kasha, any savory or sweet variation using whole grains, good stuff, by themselves or as a side to a good breakfast of egg, meat or fish or veg, they needn't be limited to a dish of lonely, blah, mush.

                                        Sometimes there's nothing better than a dish of grits with cheese, shrimp, eggs (don't skimp on the Tabasco). Or oatmeal with bananas, or kasha with kippers. Or, or, or... It's all about the combinations of grain/fruit/veg/protein.

                                        1. My two favorites are steel cut oats with raisins and dried cranberries, topped with sugar and almond milk
                                          or just plain ol' oat bran with almond milk and sugar. Oat bran has a texture like Cream of Wheat, but with a heartier flavor.

                                          1. All these suggestions are good, but to address the problem of slimy oatmeal, it helps to have good quality rolled oats in the first place and to cook the oats properly. My preferred brand is Christine and Rob's. Bring the water to a boil in the pan. Add a small amount of salt and the oats. Stir to moisten evenly, but the secret is to then stir as little as possible for the remaining cooking time. Once or twice is more than enough! The texture is much improved if you let the cooked oats stand, covered, for 4 or 5 minutes before serving.

                                            1. I like the Bobs Red Mill Thick Cut Oatmeal or the Wessex Mills Scottish Cut or Irish cut. Since I don't have time to cook it every AM, I put a batch in the slow cooker with milk and let it cook til done and slightly dry. Microwaving to reheat with a little milk seems OK -- I don't notice the slime factor. One thing I like is to add a couple of tablespoons of cooked pumpkin with some pumpkin pie spice -- tastes amazing and is a lovely smell in the AM.

                                              1. You might try googling "Weight Watcher's Quinoa with Apples and Cinnamon". I've been eating it for breakfast for the past two weeks. Since quinoa is a protein, not a carb, my
                                                Dr. recommended it for my high-protein needy body type. She doesn't want me to ingest much "animal protein" thus
                                                the quinoa. I'll admit........took a while to get used to, but now
                                                I can say truthfully that I enjoy it.

                                                1. The Khantessa made muffins out of Kellogg's All Bran this morning. Really delicious. A definite improvement over my daily bowl o' gloop. With any luck, these will become a morning staple.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    PK, is there a link for that? I'm quite interested.

                                                    1. I love the chewy texture and sweet nutty taste of steel cut oats. I top it with ground golden flax seeds, a grind of Himalayan pink salt, and either a sprinkle of sliced almonds or a spoonful of nut butter.

                                                      Another thing you could do is mix some quick cooking or rolled oats with egg whites (I don't know the exact proportions because I just judge by appearance) and add in some vanilla extract and maple syrup if you want to go sweet, or shredded sharp cheddar if you want to go savory. Cook in a preheated skillet into a pancake. Fiber and protein to keep you full, quick, and a way to eat your hot cereal without eating it.

                                                      1. Oatmeal with: nutbutter & unsweetened cocoa-powder
                                                        (works as dessert or power-breakfast)

                                                        1. I've always been a fan of hot cereal, my morning meal right now is a cup of steel cut oats, with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of hot cocoa powder mixed in. sometimes if I'm feeling fancy I slice a banana on top.

                                                          DH is a fan of baked oatmeal - I make his with peaches and raspberries. lots of recipes out there, with nuts, fruit, etc. :)

                                                          1. I've never cared that much for hot cereals and porridges. But in the last couple of years Mr. Rat and I have become big fans of Chinese congee/jook, which is basically a savory porridge. You might find as we did that you prefer your cereal that way. Many threads here on CH.
                                                            Here is one with recipes for oatmeal congee:

                                                            1. I'm with you on no love for oatmeal. Plenty of other ways to get fiber. I really enjoy short grain brown rice with nuts and/or coconut and a little sweetener. Chewy rice, crunchy nuts, no mush. Bobs Red Mill 7 grain cereal is pretty good too, there is a slight slime factor but not much. Otherwise I stick with cold cereal or granola, but it is nice to have something hot and filling.

                                                              1. With enough butter and maple syrup -- and a speck of salt -- any hot cereal can be made palatable.

                                                                1. I actually love oatmeal, but I make it from rolled (not quick or instant) oats, boiling water and plenty of salt - my oatmeal is fluffy, not slimy. It's good with butter, salt and pepper, if you're in the mood for savory, or a splash of cream and some golden syrup or honey, if you're in the mood for sweet. Strawberries or raspberries are a nice addition. Sometimes I stir in peanut butter and jelly, or pumpkin butter and cream cheese.

                                                                  1. Slimy=instant oatmeal. Either stop buying instant or try steel-cut, which take longer but are almost like a different food. I think they're delightful and much better than rolled oats. I cook up a big batch of them in the crock pot and freeze them in small servings.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                      Interesting. I find non-instant oatmeal slimier than instant. Maybe I use too much water.

                                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                                        If you don't like the soluble fiber of oatmeal (the stuff that makes it 'slimy'), try other rolled grains. Bulk bins or BobsRedMill bags have things like rye and triticale flakes. I've also bought pressed barley at Korean groceries, though they don't cook as fast as flakes. Cracked wheat is an old stand by, and there are other cut grains and grits.

                                                                        There are also multigrain mixes. Bobs has 5,6,7,8,10 grain mixes.

                                                                    2. My father prepares breakfast semolina in the Pakistani manner as sooji. The cardamom and saffron is great in the morning and the addition of chopped almonds and pistachios adds much needed texture to the porridge. As far as oatmeal goes, I second the suggestion of pinhead oats. They will not go slimy like instant rolled oats.

                                                                      1. Here's a recipe I use, Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal. You can make it ahead, and re-heat a bowl of it in the microwave. It's simply delicious.

                                                                        While not as healthy, as it doesn't have much fiber, I'm a big fan of cream of wheat. I like it with a little butter and brown sugar and raisins.

                                                                        1. I just discovered Bob's Red Mill medium cornmeal - which I actually cook in the microwave! Not slimy at all and can be made sweet or savory

                                                                          1. Anyone out there still eat Farina? I just rediscovered it and it's delicious with a splash of milk, butter, and sugar.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: MRyerson06

                                                                              For a while as a kid I had it twice a week, once freshly cooked, then as fried leftovers.

                                                                              Now I prefer Maltomeal if eating it straight (with a bit of sugar and cream). My wife likes to make a 'farina pudding' (old Joy of Cooking recipe). Cook the farina (cream of wheat) in milk, add sugar, butter, vanilla and egg yolks. Finally fold in whipped egg whites.

                                                                            2. Here is a variation of oatmeal that I find tastes pretty darn good (I invented it after reading about various additions to oatmeal): [Decadent healthy oatmeal with blueberries, almonds and yogurt http://voices.yahoo.com/decadent-heal...]

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                  It's got ingredients like almonds - makes it seem decadent to me. Your opinion may vary.

                                                                                  1. re: plf515

                                                                                    It's not a word I use to describe food, but when other people do, they're usually talking about high-sugar and high-fat, elaborate cake concoctions or things topped off with two scoops of ice cream.

                                                                                    Your oatmeal idea, by comparison, is the very essence of healthy eating (even though I'd probably substitute honey for molasses).

                                                                              1. I love hot cereals. Oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat . . . and I had some of that Hodgson Mill oat bran stuff this morning. I like stuff that tastes like grain, though, and I actually prefer them relatively un-doctored. Little bit of salt or some chopped apple or something, but not much.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: LittleBlackCar

                                                                                  +1. I too like hot cereal that tastes like grain, and most often prefer just a light grind of salt, or perhaps some milled flax or a dollop of nut butter on the side. There was a food blogger a few years ago that would rave about her 'whipped banana oats,' which was made with an overripe banana cooked in. I tried her method and promptly gagged upon taking the first bite. They were sickly sweet and the banana flavor completely overpowered the delicious nutty whole grain-y quality which is what I so love about hot cereal in the first place!

                                                                                2. For a very fast & easy savory breakfast cereal, lunch or supper dish, put instant whole wheat couscous in a bowl, topped with thin sliced vegetables like green onions, mushrooms, zucchini and so on. Pour boiling water over all & cover with plate for 5 min. Add soy sauce if desired.

                                                                                  1. I cook the old-fashioned oats with milk, no water, and when there's about 2-3 minutes left, slice in a banana. All that creaminess feels lovely in the morning, especially if I add a bit of texture via toasted coconut.

                                                                                    Other times, I regress to childhood: hot goetta with a soft boiled or poached egg.

                                                                                    1. I like brown rice pudding for breakfast sometimes when I'm feeling a little indulgent. Either a quick stove top version or baked in the oven. Sometimes I make extra rice just so I can have rice pudding for breakfast.