Craving Cake for Breakfast? Try Baked Oats—Here's How to Make This Healthy and Satisfying Morning Meal

This breakfast trend is endlessly adaptable.

Baked Oatmeal for a Crowd with Berries and Seeds
Photo: Chris Simpson

For a hearty, filling, and healthy breakfast that leans on both sweet and savory flavors, try baked oats. The dish has become popular on TikTok, but it's actually nothing new. Fans of baked oats, sometimes called baked oatmeal, have been making variations for years—and you should, too. Make them for your family, for yourself (it's an easy breakfast to make ahead for a busy work week), or for your brunch guests. The way we see it, they're a healthy take on cake—and who doesn't love that first thing in the morning?

What Are Baked Oats?

Baked oats are made by mixing oats with liquid (usually milk or water), a sweetener (such as maple syrup, agave, honey, or brown sugar), eggs to set them, and any additional ingredients for variety and flavor (think: berries, apples, dried fruit, and more).

This breakfast dish is quite cake-like—which explains its popularity. "The trend of baked oats started because people marketed it as 'cake for breakfast,'" says recipe developer Justine Doiron, who runs the popular TikTok channel @Justine_Snacks. "So to me, that's always been the main benefit. We all love oats, but who doesn't love cake for breakfast?"

Baked Oats vs. Overnight Oats

Overnight oats, which are not cooked, rest in the fridge overnight, while baked oats usually go straight from the mixing bowl to a baking dish to the oven. Like overnight oats, baked oats are hands-off and great for feeding a crowd—but are ready faster. "Also, baked oats are less creamy and more set. You'll scoop them from the pan, which makes them great for drizzling with cold milk or cream," says Lukas Volger, cookbook author, recipe developer, and food stylist.  

The Best Type of Oats to Use

Before you begin cooking oats in the oven or otherwise, it's helpful to have an understanding of the main varieties one might find in the grocery store—but note that rolled oats are best for baked oats.

Steel-Cut Oats: Also referred to as Irish or Scottish oats, steel-cut oats are made from chopping rather than rolling the oats, resulting in pieces more similar to rice than the flat oats you might be familiar with. They have a chewy, toothsome texture, and take the longest to cook. 

Rolled Oats: Often called old-fashioned oats, these flat, oval shaped oats are first steamed to become pliable, then pressed to flatten. They cook quicker than steel-cut oats—and they make great baked oats. 

Instant Oats: This variety is partially cooked, dried, then rolled to be even flatter than standard rolled oats. Because of this heavy processing, instant oats cook quickly, but often leave much to be desired, texturally. We'd skip instant oats for making baked oats; the result would be too mushy.

Tips for Making Baked Oats

As you might have guessed, you need a baking dish for baked oats; its size should depend on how much you plan to make. You also need to butter the dish and preheat the oven—just as you would for a cake.

Balancing the Oats and Liquid

To achieve rich, moist baked oats, the proportions of the ingredients—namely, oats to liquid—are key. Unlike cooking oats on the stovetop and just like making a cake, there's no way to tweak the recipe once it's in the oven, so measure carefully when you're preparing. "I think it's important to follow a recipe the first time, as the oats-to-liquid proportions are different from stovetop oats," says Volger.

Also, the ratios depend on what type of oats you're using. "Steel-cut oats need more liquid than rolled oats," says Volger. "If you include egg to help the oats set better (or maple syrup, oil, or melted butter), those will all effectively contribute to the total liquid amount."

Adding Egg

Not all baked oats recipes use egg—but Doiron is a fan. "I always vouch for using egg in your baked oats to get a nice rise and a really delicious, cake-y texture," she says.

Mixing and Mix-Ins

Baked oats recipes often call for mixing dry ingredients (oats, sugar salt, spices, and baking powder) in one bowl and combining wet ingredients (milk or other liquid, maple syrup or agave if using in place of sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract) in another. Then, you combine the wet ingredients into the dry ones and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Fruit can be mixed directly into the batter—or reserved for topping just before baking, so it doesn't all sink. 

Doiron recommends adding mix-ins to the baked oats right before baking. The reason? Oats absorb moisture as they sit—so if you let your batter sit before you bake, you'll run the risk of making a dense, thick, gummy baked oatmeal (when you really want a light, fluffy one), she explains.

Baking Time

Don't be quick to pull baked oats out of the oven too soon. "Unlike a quick stovetop oatmeal, [baked oatmeal] takes time," says Doiron. "I recommend baking for at least 25 to 30 minutes to make sure the oats are cooked through."

So, how do you know when baked oats are done? Look for oats that are just set: "If the oats seem too soupy, you can always continue cooking them—but I find that by [taking them out of the oven] and just waiting five minutes or so, they set to the thicker consistency I love," Volger says.


Like a cake or casserole, baked oats need time to cool before they are ready to eat, so allow about 20 minutes after they come out of the oven. Cut or scoop a portion of baked oats and enjoy as is—or serve with yogurt, cream, or maple syrup. Baked oats are delicious warm or at room temperature.


If you have any leftovers, they can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Baked Oats Variations

Once you have the basic formula for baked oats down, you can change it up—there are endless ways to flavor baked oats. Anything you like in stovetop oats will work for this dish, so feel free to load in bananas, berries, dried fruits, nut butters, seeds and more. "I love using a whole baked apple in mine, and I also love making baked oats with zucchini bread vibes," says Doiron. 

Volger takes his love for oats to the next level, committing an entire month each year to the beloved breakfast staple. “For the past five Februarys, I've challenged myself to make a new bowl of oats every day (almost) for the month. I share them on Instagram with the tag #28daysofoatmeal," he says. 

He's learned that baked oats don't have to be sweet: Volger sees his oats, both baked and stovetop, as a vessel for leftovers from the night before—which is why he regularly adds cooked greens, sautéed vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, and squash. "Then it's fun to play up the flavor pairings with savory condiments," he says, noting to utilize hot sauce, soy sauce, and even tahini for a boost of flavor. Last but not least, he always considers texture; he sprinkles his oats with toasted nuts, frizzled shallots, fried garlic, dukkah, zaatar, or everything bagel seasoning. 

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