Food52 in 5

20 Instant Ways to Make Any Oatmeal 20 Times Better

Olive oil? Yeah, seriously.

February  6, 2019

I eat oatmeal for breakfast at least once a week. It’s nourishing and filling—and riffable and cost-effective and time-efficient. Whether I’m starting with instant oats or old-fashioned, microwaving a bowl never takes more than five minutes from start to finish.

So, which toppings can we assemble in that amount of time?

Actually, a lot. Not only do toppings make an otherwise sleepy breakfast bright-eyed (and bushy-tailed!), but the just-about-endless possibilities avoid any oatmeal fatigue. Here are 20 ideas that you can pull together while your oatmeal is cooking.


  • Any milk + flaky salt
  • Butter + flaky salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil + flaky salt


  • Butter + maple syrup
  • Tahini + chopped dates
  • Greek yogurt + honey
  • Heavy cream + strawberry jam
  • Crème fraîche + grated chocolate
  • Canned pumpkin + maple syrup
  • Golden raisins + brown sugar
  • Grated apple + cinnamon
  • Coconut milk + toasted almonds
  • Cocoa powder + peanut butter


  • Leftover roast veg + olive oil
  • Soy sauce + chili crisp
  • Avocado + salsa
  • Fried egg + hot sauce
  • Grated cheddar + fried egg
  • Grated pecorino + black pepper
  • Pesto + toasted walnuts

How do you mix up your morning oatmeal? Share your favorite toppings in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jim Lincoln
    Jim Lincoln
  • Elizabeth Williams
    Elizabeth Williams
  • Eva
  • tupperbear
  • Gibson2011
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Jim L. March 2, 2019
dont know if anyone commented,but oatmeal ,a special kind, has a one of a kind benefit--for those with fiber deficiency--WHICH IS MOST! Look carefully on the supemarket shelf for oatmeal with HIGH FIBER. In two small packets,you get 20 grams--nothing else you can eat will give you that much--which is the bare minimum you should get every day---Check it out!
Elizabeth W. February 17, 2019
We've been throwing steel cut oats, chopped apples, cinnamon and coconut butter into the instant pot to cook overnight. Just wake up in the morning and top with toasted almonds and Maple syrup.
Eva February 8, 2019
My very favorite topping is to stir cottage cheese into very warm oatmeal. The cc melts and makes the oatmeal very creamy.
A good way to add protein, a dairy serving, and calcium.
You choose the fat percentage of the cc, even fat free is awesome!
tupperbear February 8, 2019
Chopped hazelnuts & Oregon marionberry jam. NW yum in a bowl.
Gibson2011 February 7, 2019
I'm told my great-grandma used to put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on her oatmeal and I agree that it's fantastic.
For a more virtuous bowl, I like pear butter and candied pecans on mine.
Emma L. February 8, 2019
Need to try this oatmeal sundae *immediately.*
Steve T. February 7, 2019
In the winter when I eat instant oatmeal at work in the morning. I mix a couple off spoonfuls of dry coffee creamer with the oatmeal before adding hot water and microwaving for two minutes. I then add some salt and honey. Makes the oatmeal very creamy..
Carole February 7, 2019
I make pina colada oatmeal with banana, dried pineapple and flaked coconut. Yummy!
foofaraw February 6, 2019
Current favorite: In a deep bowl, add 1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal and enough water to cover the oats, microwave for 2-3 minutes until it is bubbly. After it is out of microwave, stir in an egg until it looks cooked like egg in congee. Stir in Japanese seaweed salad, kimchi, 1/4 tsp sesame oil; and then top with kewpie mayo, sprinkle of toasted sesame and a slice of smoked salmon.

Sometimes instead of Asian fish flavor like above, I added pulled pork (and collard green - but that is rare because we almost always finish collard greens faster than the pork) and sprinkle with BBQ seasoning if it is not salty enough.
John February 6, 2019
Mixed nuts & seeds, a little milk, nuke it, top with fruit yogurt & berries.
Michael February 6, 2019
Top with frozen blackberries or raspberries whole milk Greek yougurt and a drizzle of honey
Emma L. February 6, 2019
Hear, hear for whole-milk yogurt!
Michael February 6, 2019
Chiobani squeeze tube yougurt!
Susan February 6, 2019
My favorite is hot pepper jelly. It make my taste buds wake up!
Emma L. February 6, 2019
Whoa, that sounds so good! Do you add any yogurt or cheese—or just the pepper jelly?
Jane February 6, 2019
My favorite oatmeal topping is fresh raspberries and brown sugar.
Emma L. February 6, 2019