How we tested
We prefer rolled oats for baked goods, since their thin, flat shape gives cookies, bars, and toppings just the right amount of chew. In addition, they make good oatmeal relatively quickly. To find the best rolled oats, we rounded up five contenders and sampled each product as oatmeal (prepared according to package instructions) and in our recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (where we weighed the oats to ensure consistency).
In the oatmeal test, three products were nutty and hearty, but two were borderline unpalatable: one was too clumpy and dry, and the other was a gluey mass of goop. Worse, some tasters noticed a metallic, chemical taste in the gluey oats. Products that were mushy or parched in oatmeal made cookies that were a tad dense or dry. We were perplexed, too, by the appearance of cookies made with one “extra-thick” product; they spread into flat disks with crispy edges.
To find out why, we took a closer look at the oats. There wasn’t a noticeable difference when we examined the raw extra-thick oats next to standard rolled oats, but when we painstakingly counted out 100 oats from each product and weighed them on a lab-grade scale, it turned out that the extra-thick oats had about 1,114 oats per ounce, while our preferred products had an average of about 1,200 oats per ounce. That may not seem like a huge difference, but when you consider that there are 9 ounces of oats in our standard cookie recipe, that adds up to more than 700 fewer oats to soak up liquid and provide structure—it’s no wonder that cookies made with the extra-thick oats spread so thin.
Our new winner, Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, makes perfectly formed cookies and hearty, creamy oatmeal in about 10 minutes.
Twenty-one America’s Test Kitchen staffers tasted five samples of rolled oats in two blind tastings—as oatmeal (cooked according to each package’s directions) and in our recipe for Classic Chewy Oatmeal Cookies. A team of editors also evaluated our top three products in Cowboy Cookies. We weighed 100 oats from each product and used the weight to calculate number of oats per ounce. Results from the tastings were averaged, and products appear in order of preference.