Steel Cut Oat vs Rolled: How to Make the Right Choice

A warm and creamy bowl of oats in the morning may be one of the coziest ways to start your day. These grains are often rolled or crushed, and they make the perfect ingredient for oatmeal, oat milk, or some baking flour. They are rich in fiber and carbs, but low in fat and high in protein, and some vitamins and minerals. So, it’s great that there are several types you can choose from. You’ve probably heard of steel-cut oat, rolled, and quick oats.

So, today’s topic is going to cover the main differences between steel-cut oat vs rolled oat. That way you can see what works best for your lifestyle and daily meals.

What are oats exactly?

Oats are actually oat seeds with removed hulls. The hulls are the outer shell that protects the kernel, and oat grains are often exposed to heat and moisture, that way they become more shelf-stable. So, various ways of oat groat processing give different types of oats, such as rolled, steel-cut, or quick ones. Therefore, those oats come with some distinct features.

Steel-cut oat

When it comes to steel-cut oats they most resemble the original, unprocessed oat groat. They are also known as Irish oatmeal. Steel-cut oats got their name from the type of processing as they are chopped into tiny pieces with some large steel blades. 

So, these types of oats have a coarser and chewy texture, and the flavor is a bit nuttier than the rolled oats flavor. Steel-cut oats need more cooking time, from 15-30 minutes. But, you can soak them prior to cooking, and that way spend less time in front of the stove. 

Rolled oat

Rolled oats are considered old-fashioned, they went through a steaming and flattening process. Their flavor is milder and the texture is softer, and they also need less preparation time, unlike steel-cut oats. So, it’ll take you just 2-5 minutes to prepare rolled oats, and they are also a great addition to cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread.

Steel-cut oat vs Rolled nutrition 

Oats generally have many health benefits and are very nutritious, and they are rich in fiber and present a good source of protein and antioxidants. These grains are also gluten-free, so they can be a good choice for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Even though oats are naturally gluten-free, people with celiac disease should opt only for certified gluten-free oats, that way they avoid oats that may have been contaminated with gluten during processing.

Many people want to compare nutrition facts between various oat types. So, check out the chart below.

It shows nutritional differences between 2 ounces (56 grams) of steel-cut and rolled oats:

Steel-cut OatsRolled Oats
Calories208212
Carbs37g39g
Protein9g7g
Fat4g4g
Fiber6g5g
Sugar0g1g

As you can see nutritional differences between these two oat versions are minor. But, more studies with some statistical tests are needed to confirm these differences. However, some available data suggests that there may be distinctions between steel-cut and rolled oats.

Steel-cut oats: potentially higher in fiber and with lower glycemic index

Steel-cut oats need the least process time and contain more fiber than rolled oats. But the difference between steel-cut and rolled oats is really slight. However, the fiber in steel-cut oats is very healthy for the digestive system. But, you should bear in mind that all oats present an excellent source of fiber. 

One thing that is also characteristic of steel-cut oats is that they may have a lower glycemic index than rolled ones. So, that means the body can digest and absorb them more slowly, therefore the blood sugar rise is slower. 

Food that has a high glycemic index can cause more rapid blood sugar spikes. Because of this, steel-cut oats may be a great option for people who need to control their blood sugar levels.

Steel-cut vs Rolled: Which one should you choose?

Even though steel-cut oats contain just a bit more fiber and a lower glycemic index, don’t forget about rolled oats. Both of these are very nutritious and can provide you with some fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So, it’s best to choose the ones that fit into your lifestyle, health, and of course taste. 

Consider texture and preparation time 

So, if you love the chewy texture with a nutty flavor, the steel-cut oats may be a good choice. But, if you enjoy milder tastes and a more smooth consistency, you can try rolled oats. But, another important thing for some people is preparation time. 

Remember, steel-cut oats need up to 30 minutes to prepare, while rolled ones just a couple of minutes. But, if you like steel-cut oats more you can prepare them ahead in a slow cooker.

Also, have in mind that you can use rolled oats directly when preparing baked goods or smoothies. So they can increase fiber and add some nice texture to food.

Skip sugar-high oatmeals

This may be the most important part. Whichever oat type you choose always opt for plain and unsweetened oats. Because many ready-to-eat packaged versions have tons of added sugar in them. 

So, they become a really unhealthy breakfast option. Have in mind that too much sugar can lead to various health conditions, such as heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Because of this it is best to make your own oatmeal with unsweetened oats. 

Therefore, you can experiment with some fresh berries and healthy fats. Also, sugar-free coconut and chopped walnuts can be a great option.

How to easily add oats to daily meals

Although oats are considered breakfast food, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate them into other meals. Because they are very easy to combine with other food. So, check out some oat food combinations and try adding them to your diet even today.

  • Add some raw oats to your breakfast smoothie.
  • Combine them with some Greek or even oat yogurt.
  • Use them in place of breadcrumbs to coat some chicken or for zucchini fries.
  • Add oats to your favorite pancakes.
  • Try combining oats with some grilled veggies, chicken, or add them to your favorite tahini recipe.
  • Add oats to cream soups. They’ll be creamier but with less fat.
  • Stuff some peppers, tomatoes, or zucchinis with an oat mix and bake in the oven for an amazing snack.

Steel-cut oat vs Rolled: The bottom line

Oats are really healthy grains. Unfortunately, people often eat them just for breakfast. So, if you want to add some diversity to your daily meals, try adding oats. Although steel-cut oats are a bit different from rolled ones, they have very similar nutrition compounds.

But, whichever oats you choose, opt for some unsweetened versions. And remember, you can use oats for any lunch or dinner recipe to surprise your taste buds.

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