Published July 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
We prefer rolled oats for baking. Here are our recommendations for what brand to use.
Oatmeal was originally made by simmering hulled whole oats. By the late 19th century, oats were steamed and pressed flat with rollers, creating old-fashioned, or rolled, oats that could be on the table in five minutes. While we prefer steel-cut oats for breakfast, we found that rolled oats were best for baking. However, oat style is a matter of individual preference, so we chose a favorite rolled oat. Tasters liked a substantial, chewy texture best and gave top marks to a brand that had “nice and plump” flakes with a “decent chew.” And while the winner took time to cook—about 10 minutes for chewy oatmeal, 20 minutes for softer cereal—our second-ranked brand took just five minutes to prepare. This second-place finisher also aced our baking tests, so if you want to buy only one brand of oats for both breakfast and baking, this is your best choice.