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 spending an hour tasting through about 15 of them in order to find the best ones. 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. 

The Sporked team and Mythical director of e-commerce, Loc Le, gathered together to taste over 20 (!!) different flavored oatmeals in search of the coziest, tastiest bowlfuls. We wanted these 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 ones we tasted.

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Signature Select Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal

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. “It’s just good oatmeal—if I can put the words ‘good’ and ‘oatmeal’ in the same sentence,” said Loc. There’s a hint of salt that, to quote Sporked staff writer Danny Palumbo, “completes the flavor profile.” 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.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

9.5/10

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Kroger Fruit & Cream Instant Oatmeal

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 were my personal favorite. It was a bright and summery bowlful with plenty of tang. And the Blueberries & Cream, Sporked staff writer Jordan Myrick noted, “taste like a blueberry muffin.” If there is any part of you that likes fruit in their oatmeal, you need to try this variety pack.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Signature Select Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

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.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

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Cocoa Puffs Instant Oatmeal

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.  

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

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KIND Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Almond

Best Texture

KIND Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Almond

Once again, I came into this with a bias. 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. “Being a texture guy, I really enjoy this,” said Loc. “There’s the softness of the apple and the almonds have a nice crunch.” Jordan agreed, saying, “All oatmeal should have sliced almonds.” She even hates cinnamon and she liked this bowlful.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

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Trader Joe's Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

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. “It’s like applesauce with oatmeal in it,” said Loc. 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.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

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Cinnamon Toast Crunch Instant Oatmeal

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 Jordan. “This isn’t boring oatmeal, this is fun oatmeal.” And she isn’t even a CTC fan. That’s how good this is. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

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About the Author

Justine Sterling

Justine Sterling is the editor-in-chief of Sporked. She has been writing about food and beverages for well over a decade and is an avid at-home cook and snacker. Don’t worry, she’s not a food snob. Sure, she loves a fresh-shucked oyster. But she also will leap at whatever new product Reese’s releases and loves a Tostitos Hint of Lime, even if there is no actual lime in the ingredients.

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  • You have to try “happy belly” label cinnamon oat meal from Amazon. I literally can’t live without it!

    Reply
  • Sad to see the magic dinosaur eggs weren’t on here:(

    Reply
  • You should have the good mythical kitchen create the ultimate apple cinnamon oatmeal. By taking the best of each category in apple, cinnamon and texture

    Reply