17 Ingredients To Help You Get More Exciting Oatmeal

Finding suitable breakfast options that are nutritious, satisfying, and worth waking up for can feel like a tricky feat. Not to mention, unless your schedule allows for plenty of free time in the morning, they need to be quick to whip up. While it's easy to resort to basic boxed cereal, store-bought sliced bread, or frozen waffles, within a couple of hours, your stomach will be grumbling for more sustenance.

Perhaps oatmeal has never inspired much enthusiasm for you, which is understandable if you've been eating pre-flavored packages or plain cooked oats. Thankfully, if you start from scratch and customize your bowl to include your favorite flavors, you're well on your way to the perfect breakfast. If you're ready to expand your morning repertoire, you'll find countless ideas to enhance an ordinary bowl of oatmeal.

Sweet and savory flavors are well-represented with a mix of healthy and fun ingredients — and of course, combining ideas is part of the fun. After all, the thought of certain foods (ahem, chocolate) simply makes it more motivating to climb out of bed. While some recipes require a few additional minutes, many are simply a matter of tossing in an ingredient and mixing. You can even get everything ready before your first cup of coffee.


As far as standard breakfast orders go, eggs are among the most common choice. Hit up any diner or brunch spot and you'll overhear servers asking customers how they want their eggs: over-easy, poached, scrambled, sunny-side up. It's no surprise they're so popular; eggs boast a range of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats (via Keck Medicine of USC).

For an easy and filling at-home breakfast that doesn't require dozens of ingredients, consider elevating your oatmeal with an egg. The two nutritional powerhouses will undoubtedly keep you full until lunchtime, and you can easily customize extras to keep the dish exciting over time.

You can go about this in a few ways, such as cooking oats with water on the stovetop and whisking in the egg when the liquid has been absorbed. Alternatively, slice a hardboiled egg and add it to cooked oatmeal, or layer a fried or poached egg over a steaming bowl of oats. While the duo is sure to satisfy your hunger, feel free to add seasonings to personalize the meal to your taste.

Nut butter

There's far more to the world of nut butter than good old Skippy, and though peanuts are still a popular contender, the market has expanded to include plenty more varieties. The key is to choose the right nut butter for you. Almond, macadamia, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nut are just some of the kinds of nut butter available to consumers. Along with the increased selection comes the realization that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aren't the only menu item that showcases the stuff.

Plain oatmeal has a mildly nutty earthy flavor profile that complements most nut butters. Add a dollop to a hot bowl of oats and mix it in for an amplified taste in each bite. It also paves the way for the addition of other ingredients like seeds, chocolate, and dried fruits, for a twist on a granola bar.

Apart from the advantages to your palate, nut butters offer a number of health benefits. As BBC reports, they tend to provide fiber content, healthy fats, protein, and various vitamins and minerals depending on the nut in question. Look for products with no added sugar or oils for the healthiest selection.

Liquid sweetener

There's nothing wrong with beginning the day on a sweet note, and if your base is oatmeal then you're already off to a good start. Adding brown or white sugar is an obvious way to achieve a sweeter result, but they don't always blend in smoothly. For a quick fix that doesn't require endless stirring, opt for a liquid sweetener.

Maple syrup is an obvious favorite, with its nutty caramel aromas complementing a warm bowl of oatmeal. Meanwhile, for a weightier flavor consider molasses, sticking with light or dark varieties (blackstrap molasses is bitter). Honey or standard pancake syrup are good options too or drizzle on some date syrup or agave syrup for heightened sweetness. Whatever you choose, a quick swirl around the bowl with a spoon will combine everything nicely.

Sautéed vegetables

Adding vegetables to your breakfast routine is a great way to guarantee you get your daily fill of nutrients bright and early. While you could chomp on a raw carrot, try grating it and cooking it with the oats along with a sprinkle of cinnamon to approximate a carrot cake (of course, maple syrup would make a perfect sweetener here).

Or, make a savory oats recipe by sautéing your favorite leafy greens and mixing them into cooked oatmeal. Other vegetables that work well and have a short cooking time are mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower florets, and asparagus. Alternatively, repurpose cooked vegetables from last night's dinner by simply heating them and tossing them into a bowl of hot oatmeal. For example, cooked sweet potato or pumpkin will add a subtle sweetness and extra heartiness to your breakfast. And whether you consider it a fruit or a vegetable (it's technically the former), sliced avocado and oatmeal are a winning combination.

Fresh herbs

Fresh herbs are a versatile option if you're looking for an easy-peasy flavor-packed garnish. You'll pretty much only have to use a few leaves or sprigs and sprinkle them over the top of your dish for an instant boost. This is a popular option if you're always short on time in the morning because herbs require close to zero effort and infuse tons of flavor. Plus, the various aromas have beneficial properties aside from taste. For example, sage, rosemary, and peppermint offer energizing qualities that improve focus (via Healthline).

When it comes to herbs, go beyond the produce section of the supermarket and consider using tea to transform your morning oatmeal. Steeped tea leaves add layers of flavor to an ordinary bowl of oatmeal. Use the tea as a foundation and complement it with other ingredients for a breakfast you'll eagerly wake up to eat.


Tomatoes add rich umami flavors to just about any dish, and they are incredibly versatile. From garden-fresh cherry tomatoes to slices of juicy beefsteaks, along with puree, tomato sauce and paste, and sundried, there are endless options. If you want to add depth with minimal effort, mix a teaspoon of concentrated tomato paste into your bowl of oatmeal. Meanwhile, if you're looking for a saucier dish, tomato puree or sauce will add more liquid content that you can further reduce.

Of course, if tomatoes are in season you're best off using the fresh stuff. Halved cherry tomatoes are delicious with a sprinkling of salt, or roast them for an extra layer of flavor. For a simple yet impactful addition, chop up sundried tomatoes in oil for the perfect savory breakfast. If you're thinking like us, grated Parmesan cheese provides the perfect final touch.


There aren't too many dishes cheese doesn't enhance, and this holds true with oatmeal. Surprisingly, you can take this ingredient in a sweet or savory direction. If you like to start your morning off with a sugary bite, try adding a scoop of cottage cheese to your oatmeal along with some fresh fruit or a drizzle of maple syrup. You'll quickly up your protein intake and the similar textures make for a seamless bite.

Meanwhile, if you want a salty beginning to your day, add chunks of feta or shave cheddar, Parmesan, or your favorite hard cheese into a bowl of piping hot oatmeal and watch it melt. Alternatively, transfer the (heat-safe) dish onto an oven rack and broil the contents for a minute to get a crispy cheese top. If you want to keep things on the sweeter side, the combination of cottage cheese and fruit is the way to go.  

Fresh fruit

Adding fruit to your oatmeal isn't news, but there's a reason why it's such a popular duo. If you want a sweet fix in the morning while still getting a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, fruit is the answer. The sheer variety of options should keep you satisfied morning after morning. Try sliced bananas, peaches, nectarines, mangos, or pears, or add your favorite berries for an antioxidant boost (via WebMD).

Don't limit yourself to fresh fruit either, as depending on where you live the options can become fairly limited in the winter. If the selection is lacking, frozen fruit is a great alternative. Just be sure to add it to the oatmeal as you cook it to give the fruit time to thaw and soften. Alternatively, applesauce and other pureed fruit are easy (and often shelf-stable) ways to enhance your breakfast oats.

Dried fruit

If you're low on the fresh stuff, dried fruit always saves the day. The selection is almost guaranteed to be wider too, with options like figs and pineapple no matter the time of year or where you live. Slice dried dates into your oatmeal for an extra sweet touch, and play with the consistency by adding them in during the cooking process or right before you dig in. Dried apricots offer a sweet and mildly tart flavor that will brighten up any bowl of oats.

For extra crunch, mix dried banana slices into your bowl of oats at service, and don't forget about tiny bite-sized fruits like mulberries, raisins, and cranberries. Diced dried apples are the perfect match for cinnamon, while dried mango will channel tropical vibes regardless of the season. Keep in mind that since dried fruit is highly concentrated, it contains more fiber and nutrients, but also far more sugar than fresh fruit (via Healthline).

Nuts and seeds

Granola highlights the delicious combination of oats, nuts, and seeds, so why not take advantage of the complementary nutty qualities and add it to your oatmeal? Aside from the vast range of flavors (consider the nuances between a raw and roasted hazelnut, for example), these crunchy, bite-sized bits contain several beneficial nutrients such as fiber, protein, healthy fats, and assorted vitamins and minerals (via Everyday Health).

Meanwhile, if you want healthy properties without having too much added bulk to your oatmeal, seeds are the way to go. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, and ground flax are just some of the options to boost your morning oats. If your diet is plant-based, these easy add-ins are a good way to get your fill of important nutrients (via Healthline).


While fresh herbs add some greenery to your bowl of oats, powdered spices are a quick and straightforward way to pack in the flavor. The options are vast, whether you choose a sweet or savory concoction. For example, tailor your oatmeal to the autumn months with an iconic pumpkin spice blend. Make your own by mixing ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice and adding it to your oats as they finish cooking. If your spice cabinet is limited or you're short on time, a simple dash of cinnamon to finish will add a welcome boost to plain oatmeal.  

Meanwhile, a bit of cayenne or chili powder will add some zing to your morning meal, while cumin, coriander, and turmeric powder infuse it with savory flavors. If you are incorporating other ingredients, consider how you would prepare them solo and choose your spices from there.

Miso paste

If you've only tasted miso in soup, it's about time you used it in other recipes. Thanks to the fermentation process, this soybean paste is layered with flavors that can enhance a wide range of dishes. As an added bonus, while you're enjoying your morning meal, you'll be assisting your digestive system with the healthy bacteria and probiotics from the fermented soybeans (via Healthline).

Keep in mind that miso paste is typically quite salty, so be sure to season your oatmeal accordingly. To balance the intense flavor, consider adding miso paste to your oats along with steamed leafy greens or a poached egg. Incorporating other ingredients like chilis, scallions, and sesame will give your breakfast an Asian flair. To bring a creamy element to the dish, cook the oats in coconut milk.

Hot sauce

Once you develop a taste for spicy food, you may find yourself enhancing everything with an element of heat. From chili flakes sprinkled over your pizza to sriracha with your eggs, you'll want it all the time. That also includes adding some fireworks to oatmeal. Take an ordinary bowl up a notch by squeezing your favorite hot sauce over top. This is truly the ultimate lazy breakfast boost. (Go ahead and add a fried egg on too for something more complete.)

Experiment with green chili sauces, cayenne, and habanero, though you may find your morning palate desires more subtlety, so ghost pepper sauce may be off the table. Remember, a little splash goes a long way — the last thing you want to do is provoke morning heartburn. Still, especially in the cooler months, some spice is one way to keep your system running hot. Plus, the capsaicin compounds in chili peppers have been shown to have healthy anti-inflammatory effects, according to Time

Coconut in multiple forms

Coconut is the fruit that keeps giving, whether it's milk, water, or meat. No matter the texture or flavor you are craving, coconut is a versatile ingredient that can swing both sweet and savory. For example, skip tap water and cook your oats using coconut milk for a rich creamy morning treat. For a salty take, mix in some miso paste, or serve it with fresh fruit for a sweet pudding-like creation. If you want to keep it simple, simply using coconut milk will do wonders to elevate your morning oatmeal.

If you want a bit more texture in your oats, shredded coconut is a great option. Add a spoonful to your cooked oats for extra fiber and fats to keep you satiated all day. Keep in mind that some versions contain added sugar which will significantly sweeten your breakfast. Instead, opt for unsweetened versions and add maple syrup or coconut sugar to taste.


It's hard not to get excited about chocolate, and adding it in some form or another to your oatmeal is an easy way to motivate yourself to get up in the morning. Depending on how much motivation you need, there's nothing wrong with starting the day with chocolate chips or chocolate sauce in your oats.

Alternatively, try adding pure unsweetened cocoa powder to get your daily boost of antioxidants (via SF Gate). Then, simply add maple syrup, brown sugar, or even a mashed-up banana to sweeten it to your taste. Or else, use a spoonful of sweetened cocoa powder if you want to keep it simple in the morning. Whichever option you choose, you'll feel like you're having warm chocolate oatmeal cookies for breakfast, which sounds great if you ask us.


The yogurt shelves in the refrigerated section of the grocery store are typically brimming with a wide selection. Whether you like your yogurt rich and creamy with no added flavors or fruity and sweet, there's something available. If you're planning to add it to your oatmeal, you can simply cook the oats in water since you'll be getting plenty of flavor and texture from the yogurt.

Add a dollop of thick Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit, or mix in a fruit-flavored lighter style for an easy breakfast combination. If you're watching your sugar intake, stick with plain yogurt and add the extra ingredients yourself, or simply moderate your portion sizes. Regardless, you'll be infusing your morning meal with beneficial nutrients like calcium, and in some cases, healthy bacteria with probiotic effects.

Protein powder

If you're having a hard time packing enough protein into your morning meal or overall diet, protein powder is a quick fix to boost your numbers. There are plenty of different types made with an assortment of ingredients both animal and plant-based. While supplemental protein is superfluous for some diets, it can help keep you satiated if you're going many hours between meals.

Protein powders tend to come in various flavors so adding a scoop to your oatmeal is a quick way to enhance the taste. For optimal nutrition points, look for products with no added sugars to avoid spikes in glucose. Given its powdery nature, you'll likely need to up the liquid content of your oatmeal for a smooth consistency.