Best Instant Oatmeal Flavors for a Wholesome (But Not Too Wholesome) Breakfast

There’s nothing wrong with plain oatmeal. The Sporked team has a special appreciation for the hot mush after tasting through many of them in order to find the best plain instant oatmeal. It’s a gentle, bland start to the morning—and that has its place. But so does flavored oatmeal. Sure, the addition of sugar and fruit flavors might detract from the meal’s wholesomeness a bit, but it makes up for it in zip and enjoyment. Some people aren’t ready to encounter oatmeal in its pure, naked form. And for them, there are, luckily, many, many options. 

We wanted these flavored instant oatmeals to surprise and delight us. We wanted to still feel like we were tasting oatmeal—but we also wanted a little pizazz. We wanted a flavored oatmeal that would keep us coming back, spoonful after spoonful. Here are the best oatmeal flavors we tasted.

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Best Cinnamon

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Instant Oatmeal

This was possibly the biggest surprise of all. Another cereal-inspired oatmeal, I expected this one to be extremely sweet. I thought it would be a bowl of sugar with a little bit of oatmeal in it. But, once again, I was wrong. (The taste test for this piece really made me confront my own biases and oatmeal assumptions.) It’s shockingly not that sweet. It’s much more spiced and cinnamon-y than it is sugary. “I think it’s incredible,” said my colleague Jordan Myrick. “This isn’t boring oatmeal, this is fun oatmeal.” And they aren’t even a CTC fan. That’s how good this is. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

Best Apple

Trader Joe’s Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

As an apple cinnamon oatmeal, Trader Joe’s doesn’t hit the mark. The cinnamon factor just isn’t there. But as a purely apple-focused oatmeal, it rocks. There are lots of chunks of sweet apples and seemingly apple puree mixed into the oatmeal itself. I’m honestly not sure how they packed so much apple into a dried packet of oatmeal. It’s a scientific wonder. But I do know this is a warming, cozy breakfast for a brisk fall day. Go ahead and add some cinnamon if you like—throw some nutmeg in there, too, while you’re at it. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Texture

KIND Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Almond

I know KIND as a company that produces granola bars and granola bars alone. For me, they had no place in the oatmeal game. But after one bite I realized how wrong I was to try and keep them in a box. This oatmeal is a textural playground, with sliced almonds and tart chunks of apple. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Chocolaty

Cocoa Puffs Instant Oatmeal

Yep, there’s a Cocoa Puffs oatmeal. There’s also a Lucky Charms oatmeal and a Trix oatmeal. But this one was the biggest cereal-inspired hit. Not only is the oatmeal itself flavored with chocolate, but it also comes with crunchy, mini cocoa nuggets for you to sprinkle on top of the porridge. While it’s not as sweet as you might think, it does taste a lot like someone stirred powdered brownie mix into a bowl of oatmeal. It certainly leans more indulgent than wholesome, but it’s still oats, so it’s at least a decent source of fiber. This is dessert oatmeal. Or oatmeal when it’s only 7:30 a.m. but you’re already having a bad day. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Quaker Protein Instant Oatmeal Banana Nut

Best Banana Oatmeal

Quaker Protein Instant Oatmeal Banana Nut

I went into this expecting the banana flavor to be that harsh, artificial banana you find in hard candy, but was pleasantly surprised to find a nice mellow banana flavor balanced with walnut. This flavored instant oatmeal actually tastes like banana nut bread. The oatmeal provides just enough natural sweetness to make it taste authentic without being overly sweet. I also didn’t expect there to be actual walnuts in the mix, which give it a nice crunch. And the extra protein in the mix (12g per serving!) doesn’t show up in the taste, leaving you with a surprisingly sweet and hearty mix that reminded me of a fresh banana nut muffin, only without the guilt. — Jon Gutierrez

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

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Kodiak Oatmeal Power Cup (Chocolate Chip)

Best Protein Oatmeal

Kodiak Oatmeal Power Cup (Chocolate Chip)

Bowls are annoying. You’ve got to buy them, wash them, rewash them—it’s a never ending hassle. Which is why I find it really handy to have single serve oatmeal cups that I can just throw in the trash when I’m finished like the lazy bum that I am. And this cup of high protein oatmeal is really tasty, with a chocolate flavor that has notes of Cocoa Krispies and hot chocolate packet. Plus, apparently there’s a ton of protein in there or something? (There is; there’s 14g of protein per serving, which is a lot.) I was too busy fantasizing about never washing dishes again. (SIGH) — Jon Gutierrez

Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Apple Cinnamon

Signature Select Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

There are many apple cinnamon oatmeals on the market. And they are all unique. Really. We tried many of them and they all tasted surprisingly distinct. Some were saccharine. Others were far too spiced. This one walked the line perfectly, balancing tart applesauce-esque flavor with a noticeable sprinkling of cinnamon. “This is the perfect breakfast food to me,” said Sporked managing editor Gwynedd Stuart. “The applesauce flavor makes it taste genuine.” It even includes chunks of apple for some pleasing textural variation. There’s something about it that screams “campfire breakfast” to me. But it would be equally satisfying at a desk. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Fruity

Kroger Fruit & Cream Instant Oatmeal

I was extremely nervous about Kroger’s variety pack of fruit and cream oatmeals. Cream, in my mind, should not be something you rehydrate. But I was wrong to be trepidatious. The bright pink Strawberry & Cream is surprisingly tart and not overly sweet—though it could pass for dessert. The Bananas & Cream is the weakest of the bunch, but it’s still packed with dried banana flavor and scratches a certain itch. The Peaches & Cream are my personal favorite. It’s a bright and summery bowlful with plenty of tang. If there is any part of you that likes fruit in their oatmeal, you need to try this variety pack. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best of the Best

Signature Select Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal

It’s not too sweet, it’s not overly mapley, it’s perfectly cozy and warming. There’s a hint of salt that helps elevate the overall flavor. This is comfort oatmeal. If you wake up in need of a hug and there’s no one there to pull you into their breast, try this oatmeal instead. The maple flavors will remind you of childhood pancakes and the creamy texture will sooth your innards. It’s a hug from the inside. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks


About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.