The Best Wintery Oatmeal Toppings

December  5, 2015

We’ve got so much love for a steaming bowl of oatmeal. Cook up a batch and in no time you’ve got the ultimate blank canvas for a filling, healthy breakfast (or lunch...or dinner...) for the entire week ahead. The best part is that you can choose your own cast of characters—there are no limits! Craving a little sweetness? Just throw in some dried fruit and honey, and you’re good to go. Need a change of pace and a kick in the pants? Add some salt, olive oil, and a poached egg with a dab of hot sauce.


Barbara asked the community on the Hotline for their favorite ways to gussy up a bowl of oatmeal using inexpensive, seasonal, and healthy ingredients. As always, you came through with the best toppings and techniques for a better, more personalized bowl of oatmeal. Here's what you came up with:

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The Sweet Route

  • Nate Davis likes to garnish oatmeal with chopped apples, nuts, and cinnamon.
  • Cookinginvictoria sautés apples or pears in butter and spices and then adds our personal favorite: Genius granola. And to finish? “A dollop of crème fraîche or Greek yogurt is unexpected and very tasty.”
  • Nancy gets her inspiration from cookies and scones, suggesting toppings like butter, cream, nut butter, and chocolate chips.
  • Maedl's perfect bowl includes cranberry sauce and some plain yogurt.
  • AntoniaJames has a unique variation on the sweet route. Her mix-ins include: "almond butter, ground flaxseed, black rice, cooked quinoa, chopped dried apricots, toasted nuts, or Nekisia Davis' granola (just a fat pinch)".
  • Trampledbygeese suggests adding dried fruit or trying an "oat-only oatmeal," made special by toasting the oats first before cooking them.
  • Boulangere tosses in chia seeds at the end of the cooking time for some subtle crunch, and adds: “The zest of any citrus fruit is a heavenly addition as well.”

Overnight Oats

The Savory Route

  • Nate Davis likes bacon and poached eggs on his oatmeal. (We think "healthy" means everything in moderation—sounds like Nate's with us.)
  • Aargersi loves the poached egg approach, but adds a dash of hot sauce; she also recommends a kimchi and poached egg version.
  • Klrcon dices and cooks up some butternut squash, spinach, and leeks for the oatmeal, and then tops it all with sage and nuts. 
  • Barbara reminds us that oatmeal is lovely in its simplicity with her suggestion of butter, salt, and a bit of grated cheddar cheese.

What are your favorite oatmeal fixin's? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Irene Peery
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Danube K. December 5, 2016
Dried currants. The tart sweetness is a great contrast to the oats.
Mar P. December 5, 2016
Excuse my weirdness but I love eating my oatmeal dry with just a tiny bit of sugar.
Yes, I'm weird like that. Of course I need coffee, juice or milk to wash it down.
Fi December 5, 2016
flax seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon everyday! occasionally also some smashed (canned) pumpkin, homemade applesauce, or homemade granola
LisaMarie A. December 4, 2016
Fage plain Greek yogurt, honey, walnuts, cinnamon.
LisaMarie A. December 4, 2016
Chorizo, cheddar cheese cubes, fried egg.
Irene P. December 4, 2016
I have updated my oatmeal lately - I add diced candied ginger (about 1 tbsp.) per serving to my dried cherries and cinnamon. Very nice in winter.
ACM December 4, 2016
Black beans, spinach, cheese, and a runny egg. YUM!
Jr0717 December 4, 2016
Everything sounds so good!

I'm a little obsessive - I cook whatever fruit is in the house (these days, cranberries and winter citrus, or apples, pomegranate seeds, pears) in a little bit of tea to make an off-the-cuff hot compote to mix into my oatmeal. Lately I'm loving cranberries, raspberries, and pomegranate arils, cooked in ginger tea, with turmeric and Chinese 5-spice. If I really need a kick, I'll add instant espresso powder to the oatmeal itself!
Add some toasted pistachios and cashews, pepitas and sunflower seeds, and I'm good to go!
Kari A. December 4, 2016
I like picante sauce and pickled jalapenos in my oatmeal. I don't eat sweet food.
raejean January 4, 2016
I like to add bananas, pecans, or walnuts, turbinado sugar, sometimes vanilla flavoring, it really good if the oatmeal is hot right after you cooked.
Carlin December 9, 2015
frozen peas (sorry!), Parmesan cheese, shallot, fried egg and s&p!
hcammarata December 7, 2015
My latest combinations...
Peanut Butter, Banana, Cinnamon, Brown Sugar
Peanut Butter and Strawberry Preserves
Raisins, Coconut Oil, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon
Pumpkin Butter and Coconut Oil
Miso Paste, Brown Sugar, Walnuts, Dried Cherries, Cinnamon
JLT December 6, 2015
Two words: Pork Floss. I grew up with the stuff in congee, but it's even better in oatmeal.
Jennifer December 6, 2015
The Fast Metabolism Diet has some great ideas for oatmeal. My favorites are ginger (I use the paste) and a fresh peach (or lately, a pear), blueberries with shredded coconut, or cherries and almond butter. I never thought I'd eat oatmeal without sugar, but I love it now!
Annada R. December 5, 2015
I add ghee, almond butter, raisins, pumpkin seeds, pecans, unsweetened, grated, dry coconut while cooking my oatmeal in part water, part 2% milk.
Pamela December 5, 2015
When my kids were little , I used to cook the oatmeal using apple cider instead of water , then added some cinnamon & Brown sugar or maple syrup
Jeanie P. December 5, 2015
My latest favorite oatmeal topping is vanilla date paste: soak dates in boiling water for 5 minutes, strain most of the water off, and puree with some vanilla extract. Keeps in a jar in the fridge and sweetens oatmeal and yogurt deliciously!
Andreea December 5, 2015
that sounds amazing!
Emily L. February 2, 2015
I might be crazy but I usually make my oatmeal in the microwave. I put my oatmeal in a bowl and then add salted butter a few teaspoons of brown sugar, a few tablespoons of fresh honey, lots of cinnamon (I usually decide if there's enough by how brown it is!) and a few dashes of chinese 5-spice and finish with milk and then microwave the whole thing starting at a minute and then short bursts with stirring in between until I like the consistency. I also usually top it with a small sliced banana and it fills you for hours! :)
Lauren February 1, 2015
Hand-picked frozen blueberries, Splenda brown sugar blend, cinnamon, milk or light cream. Simple, good, warm!!
Irene P. January 27, 2015
I love dried cherries and cinnamon mixed into the oatmeal cooking. Then top with light cream for a treat.

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