13 Quaker Oats Flavors, Ranked Worst To Best

When it comes to breakfast comfort foods, you probably think of syrup-smothered pancakes, freshly ironed waffles, or warm cinnamon rolls. We, however, also think of oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of those funny dishes that manages to be nutrient-dense, convenient, and comforting all at once. And when you think about it, it's really hard to achieve that trifecta.

The wellness sphere has latched onto oatmeal and for good reason. You get whole grains, which provide a steady stream of energy to keep you going until your next meal; fiber, which keeps you full for longer; and a hearty dose of vitamins and minerals. The convenience factor is achieved by packaging it up into a perfect portion, whether in an on-the-go cup or pouch, then pouring out the contents into a bowl, adding your liquid of choice, and popping it in the microwave. In only around two minutes, you have your bowl of healthy comfort food. It's seamless, and might just be your secret to success in this hectic modern world. 

Oatmeal is a classic, and there's no more recognizable brand of oatmeal than Quaker. That smiling man greets you in just about every single grocery store, inviting you to sample his wide range of oatmeal products. We accepted his invitation and taste-tested them all, ranking them from worst to best, just to make this whole oatmeal-eating process even more convenient for you. We're just that nice.

13. Honey & Almonds

This little to-go cup of oatmeal is highly convenient. Honey & Almond isn't a far cry from Maple & Brown Sugar or Cinnamon & Spice, so if you're looking to only branch out ever so slightly, you'll appreciate this product. 

That said, if you're looking for a fun new flavor, this addition doesn't really get you there. Honey rounds out the sweetness of the basic oatmeal in an almost equally warming, toasty sense as brown sugar, and the almonds bring a slight chew for the textural factor — but we found out that they didn't give us much of a real almond flavor. There's not much that could make us choose it instead of the Cinnamon or Maple & Brown Sugar because we could always just add our own almonds if need be. If you want to make your simpler oatmeals like this one a little more exciting, we know plenty of tasty tricks you've never heard of, from miso paste to hot sauce.

12. Apples & Cranberries

When it comes to apples in our oatmeal, we have preferences of course, but let's first make it clear that it's almost always a good thing. Super sweet and covered in brown sugar, warmed with the oats until jammy? Great. Raw in big chunks on top for some crisp texture? Also great. We found apples featured in Quaker oats five times (one regular, two with protein, and one with less sugar) and all tasted delicious.

 This one goes lighter on the spice and instead adds cranberries. It's fine, but of all the oatmeals we tried, the Apples & Cranberries ironically tasted a lot like "health food" rather than "fun food," even with no additional protein or lessened sugar. The lack of spice made it somewhat dull, and there was nothing to get us excited about eating it. We'd rather get one of the cinnamon-y apple oatmeals and throw in some craisins if we feel like it.

11. Organic Maple & Brown Sugar

Oatmeal, maple, and brown sugar go together almost as synonymously as peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, or watermelon and tajin. (Just us?) The basic Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal is everybody's go-to, which a team member's parents would always describe as "stick to your ribs." Sure, it's not exactly a cinnamon roll, but add your favorite milk, some more brown sugar, and some cinnamon, et voila, it's at least reminiscent of one. 

But let's be real, without those extra trappings, it's still pretty plain, and an organic tag doesn't change that fact. It still tasted good but it definitely needed something more. Unfortunately, if we were going to eat the contents of the Instant Organic Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal packet exactly how we prepared it — meaning, just oatmeal and water — we would consider it a fairly sad meal. Anything you might dislike about oatmeal is accentuated. The potential monotony of bite after bite of a homogeneously textured food? It's at its worst when there are no add-ins to break it up. There's also no additional nutrient boost (even though oatmeal is perfectly nutritious all on its own) or even the placebo effect of a strawberry flavor fooling you into thinking you're eating your fruits and vegetables. But hey, it's organic at least, which is why the price tag is higher, and that's got to count for something, right? Well, maybe, but we leave that choice up to you.

10. Raisins & Spice

Do we spy here an instant oatmeal that's a bit of a phony? Is this just the Cinnamon & Spice flavor that we try later in the variety pack, now with raisins added? We tasted it just to be sure, and though there might be some other subtle differences that even our discerning palates missed, we're pretty darn sure that the only real distinction is raisins. 

Now, we love raisins. We really do. In fact, might be in the minority in that we would actually rather have oatmeal raisin cookies instead of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Come to think of it, we wish this bowl of Raisins & Spice oatmeal was a bowl of the best oatmeal raisin cookies, but alas, it is what it is. It's always delightful to taste how the raisins, often so dry and chewy from a box, nearly double in size and become juicy when immersed in a warm, creamy environment. If you like raisins or are enticed by the sneaky nutrition and slight extra sweetness they provide, go with this oatmeal over the Cinnamon & Spice. If you don't, don't. We can't convince to you enjoy raisins with us, and neither can Quaker.

9. Flavor Variety

This variety pack includes Maple & Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Spice, and Apples & Cinnamon. Now before you click away from this article at the sheer tomfoolery we are exhibiting by ranking something so classic so low, okay, we get it. Apples & Cinnamon: What fruit is a better fit with warm, soothing oatmeal that's nearly always paired with cinnamon anyway? Actually, we agree, and that's why we rank it so high — when it has a protein boost. What is a better basic instant oatmeal than Maple & Brown Sugar or Cinnamon & Spice? We agree — when it has a little less sugar. This is the version without protein and with all the sugar, and since there are more nutrient-dense but equally tasty alternatives, we're fine going with those. 

The other advantage here is that this one's a whole lot cheaper, so if you only need your oatmeal to be oatmeal and not also a source of protein, feel free to save your hard-earned dollars. Or, add your own protein source, like a big dollop of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese on top.

8. Protein Cranberry Almond

One of the three protein-boosted instant oatmeals that we tried from Quaker, the Protein Cranberry Almond has all the same benefits as the others. Just one less gram of fiber than the Apples & Cinnamon. But don't worry, we're not that persnickety, and that's certainly not the reason it ranks the lowest of the three. It's simply not quite as delicious. 

We like dried cranberries, but when it comes down to it, they don't have quite as much flavor as bananas or apples. Dried cranberries get nestled into the oats as crimson nuggets of fruit, while the other two's flavors steep into the whole bowl. We realized that the components — oats, dried cranberries, and almonds — are the basic ingredients of granola. It's the same food, just one is creamy and one is dry. This bowl kind of tastes like deconstructed, moist granola ... and after so many bowls of oatmeal, at this point, we honestly would have preferred to snack on some granola — particularly our own unique riffs on this delicious homemade one.

7. Original

When we saw the Original instant oatmeal on store shelves, we felt some cognitive dissonance. Original oatmeal is a staple in our homes, but in a giant canister of loose oats that are used for the occasional from-scratch bowl of oatmeal, batch of cookies, or noble effort at homemade granola. But we would never have thought to purchase it as instant oatmeal. Those pouches are reserved for fall or fruit flavors. It's supposed to be a one-and-done meal, not something you then have to take any effort to dress up. Doesn't it defeat the whole purpose? 

For this reason, and this alone, we ranked the Original oatmeal so low. Just buy the canister of instant oats, and if you need to bring a perfectly bowl-sized portion, slip some into a ziplock baggie and you're good to go. There's really no need for this slightly redundant product. The oats are great, though, because of course they are. Plain oats are the building block of one of our favorite secret struggle dinners that still tastes heavenly to this day: savory oatmeal.

6. Lower Sugar Variety: Fruit & Cream

In this next great option for the indecisive or easily bored oatmeal consumer, you get two flavors from the Fruit & Cream variety pack — Strawberries & Cream and Peaches & Cream — with 50 percent less sugar. The resulting oatmeal tastes almost identical to the more sugary ones. We identified a slight aftertaste, but nothing too concerning. The most concerning part was our disappointment in the lack of Blueberry and Banana packets to choose from. If you're paying for a variety, only getting two kinds of oatmeal is a bit of a letdown. We had hoped for lower-sugar versions of all four! Oh well. 

Fortunately, that disappointment left a far worse taste in our mouths than the actual food did. Fifty percent less sugar is no joke for individuals who need to watch their intake, and thanks to sneaky sugar substitute monk fruit, it's not completely devoid of deliciousness. We still consider it a great option for a feel-good and always easy meal. But seriously, it's not much more difficult to make your own oatmeal while adding exactly the amount of sweetener you feel is best for your body, and if you want some fruit, it doesn't have to make the process any more laborious.

5. Protein Banana Nut

There's a lot to like about this flavor variety. In a way, it has some of everything going for it. The Banana Nut Protein Instant Oatmeal leaves out the "Cream" from its title and is not to be confused with the Bananas & Cream flavor found in the Fruit & Cream variety pack, but before you get disappointed at a lack of cream, think of it this way: Bananas are a naturally creamy fruit. They can even be blended with zero other ingredients to create faux ice cream, or "Nice" cream. So with or without the added "cream" innovation, this or any banana-infused oatmeal is just going to be lusher than if the fruit were, say, blackberries. Then there's the protein of it all, which turns a bowl full of nutrient-dense carbs into a full meal with plenty of staying power. 

The nuts are the cherry on top, adding the crunch and texture that, by now you know very well, gives instant oatmeal a leg up in our rankings. Overall, it reminds us of a banana nut bread in oatmeal form, and that's a good thing. The only reason it didn't rank higher was that we can't exactly seek out nice chunks of fruit, since that inherent creaminess makes the banana bleed into the rest of the oatmeal.

4. Fruit & Cream Variety

In the Fruit & Cream variety pack, you will find Peaches & Cream, Strawberries & Cream, Bananas & Cream, and Blueberries & Cream. There's a verified rainbow of colors and flavors to try, and we had lots of fun while genuinely enjoying the taste of every single option. If we had to rank each of the four flavors, we would go with Blueberries & Cream at number one, then Peaches and Strawberries tied for second, with Banana coming in at number four (we're just spoiled by the snazzy and protein-rich Banana Nut that we purchased all on its own). The sweet little blueberries folded so well into the oats, almost like an edible blueberry muffin batter. 

If you're extra hungry, combine a packet each of Strawberry and Banana for an all-new secret fifth addition! While the regular flavor variety bundle only has three options that all taste fairly similar, this fruitier cousin has four that all taste quite distinct. If the primary reason you avoid oatmeal is that you find it boring day after day, this box of instant oatmeal is the one for you. You're giving yourself the best possible chance of actually enjoying and choosing to regularly enjoy a bowl of oats when you opt for the Fruit & Cream Variety pack.

3. Lower Sugar Variety Pack

As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. It holds up. We all love our routines, but without a little variety here and there, life is bland. Lots of routines — like a bowl of oatmeal — can be in place for practicality but also for our own personal benefit. It's healthy! If you hold these routines close, don't worry — we're not going to tell you to start making breakfast pizzas or eggs benedict instead. But might we suggest having three flavors of low-sugar instant oatmeal to choose from instead of just one?

We were hard-pressed to find much of a difference between the low-sugar and full-sugar versions of Apple & Cinnamon, Cinnamon & Spice, and Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal from Quaker. The most pronounced difference was probably in the apple one, just because it tasted slightly less like a dessert. Otherwise, the sweetness that's already intrinsic to ingredients like maple, brown sugar, and cinnamon all come through just as well. If you want or need to monitor your sugar intake, you might decide that even small changes can go a long way — and thus choose to make a small switch in your oatmeal habit. You would be barely sacrificing any pleasure in the process.

2. Protein Apples & Cinnamon

This is the classic sweet, chunky oatmeal you know and love. The one you actually look forward to eating because, if you have a good enough imagination, it's basically apple pie. This is Apples & Cinnamon, and it has our hearts, and that's before we even factor in the fact that it has extra protein. Each little packet contains a highly satisfactory 10 grams of protein, 37 grams of whole grain, and 5 grams of fiber. 

We're honestly impressed that such an accessible food product can be both this convenient and this nutrient-dense. You don't have to go to a health food store, just your average Walmart or Target, and you have a powerful breakfast anytime, anywhere. All you need is water and a microwave. And a spoon, actually, unless you use far too much water. We could taste how the sweet-tart creaminess of apples and cinnamon would taste even better — and become even more nutrient-dense — when made with milk. One of our team members suggested oat milk, and you can bet that's our next instant oatmeal adventure.

1. Raisin, Date & Walnut

We're going to get a lot of flack for putting Quaker's Raisin, Date, & Walnut instant oatmeal in the top spot. It doesn't make logical sense. Maybe Cinnamon & Spice is basic and Original is boring, but isn't this flavor even worse because it's something your grandma would eat? Quite the contrary. We've covered oatmeals that feature innovations like added protein or reduced sugar, but sometimes you just want a bowl of sweet, creamy oatmeal that will taste delicious and provide a bowl of pure comfort. This instant oatmeal option might have sugar, but raisins and dates are chock-full of it naturally. They also add a (healthy) gut punch of fiber. Walnuts? Natural protein, plus more fiber, and tons of antioxidants. All nutrients aside, each element imparts a warm flavor that accentuates and elevates the toasty notes of plain oatmeal. 

Walnuts, raisins, and dates are all popular ingredients in festive holiday desserts, and that's because they have that generous, friendly taste. It's almost like a bowl full of figgy pudding! And yes, we're aware that this might be a turn-off, but here's one more sticking point: Perhaps most importantly, there's a diversity of textures and flavors that's hard to find in any of Quaker's other oatmeals. It's the only one with three ingredients listed in the title, and all of them have at least a slightly notable texture. Maybe you're still not sold, but we're some happy grandmas over here and we're not ashamed of it.