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Difference Between Steel cut Oats and Rolled Oats

Oat is a simple grain, but even with its simplicity, it has some varieties out there. Among the most common varieties are steel cut and rolled oats, both starting as groats, that is, whole and unbroken grains. They contain the same amounts of proteins and fibers but different amounts of carbohydrates. The key point is that even though the two belong to the same family of oats, they have unique characteristics that make them different from each other.

The key difference is the extent to which each has been processed which causes the variations in the texture, tastes, and cooking times. Getting their specific traits will be helpful whenever you are determining what to make for your overnight oats, or which one to use to sneak nutrition into your cookies.

Of course, there are other characteristics of each oat type that sets its difference from the other. If you are interested in getting the variances and make a choice that is the healthiest for your family, read through.


What are Rolled Oats?

Traditionally, rolled oats are oat groats, but they have been dehusked and steamed before they are rolled into flat flakes. The oats are rolled under heavy rollers and then stabilized through light toasting. As for the rolled oats usually sold as porridge oats, they have had their tough bran removed.

Rolled oats are similar to instant oats. Their only difference is that they are slightly less processed. They are also called old-fashioned oats and are steamed and pressed without the need for precooking them. With the light processing, the oats take slightly longer to cook compared to other oats. They also have a thicker texture.


What are Steel Cut Oats?

Still-cut oats are also called coarse oatmeal, pinhead oats, or Irish oatmeal. They are groats of whole oats that have been chopped into two or three pieces the size of a pinhead. The pieces can then be processed further to make smaller size rolled oat flakes or to be sold.

Health Benefits of Oats

For most kids and even some grownups, eating oats is not their thing. They would rather have pancakes, waffles, delicious eggs, and other junk food. However, the benefits of oats are too many to be ignored. Oats:

  • Are high in fiber.
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Are great for preventing and treating of diabetes.
  • Help in managing weight loss.
  • Help in immune boosting.
  • Are protein-rich
  • Prevent cancer
  • Are energy boosters.


Differences Between Steel cut and Rolled Oats

Even though both the steel cut and rolled oats have the same health benefits, they have varied characteristics that make them slightly different. Their differences include:

  1. Nutritional Value in Steel cut Vs. Rolled Oats

Even though the two oat types come from the same grain, they differ slightly in terms of their nutritional properties. Steel cut oat, on the one hand, offers slightly fewer calories by unit volume. It may also have more fiber. Rolled oats, on the other hand, have more calorie content.

  1. Cooking Time for Steel cut and Rolled Oats

Steel cut oats tend to take considerably more time to cook compared to rolled oats that take a much shorter time. Steel cut oats can take up to 30 minutes while rolled oats can take as few as five minutes, all depending on the method of cooking.

  1. Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index, commonly referred to as GI, is a relative ranking of the carbohydrates content in foods. It is the index used to establish how much certain foods raise your blood sugar. Steel cut oats have a lower glycemic index compared to their rolled counterparts that have much higher contents. 

  1. Taste and Texture

The two oats are worlds apart when it comes to their tastes and textures. Steel cut oats, on the one hand, absorb less liquid during cooking. This gives the oats a firmer texture plus a slightly nutty taste. Rolled oats, on the other hand, have a tendency of absorbing more liquid and then holding their shape. They also become pliable and slightly mushy.

  1. Culinary Uses

Even though the two oat types are highly adopted as breakfast cereals for their taste and health benefits, each of them has additional and specific uses. The nutty texture of steel cut oats fits well when it’s mixed into meatloaf or even as a part of a grain pilaf. On the other hand, the absorbency trait of rolled oats makes them easily adaptable for a variety of baked options including cakes, cookies, and fruit crisps.

  1. Production of Steel cut and Rolled Oats

Steel cut oats are the least processed forms of oat grains. They are produced through slicing of the large grain (full oat groats) into small pieces using steel. Rolled oats on their side are produced through flattening using large disks.

Steel cut Vs. Rolled Oats: Comparison Table


Summary of Steel cut Vs. Rolled Oats

Both of these oats start off as oat groats, that is, the whole, unbroken grains. Before they are processed into their different subgroups of oat, whole groats are usually roasted at very low temperatures. By roasting them, it not only gives the oats their nice toasty flavors, but the heat also deactivates the enzymes that are responsible for making the oats to go rancid. This makes them more shelf-stable. All in all, regardless of the two oats coming from the same source, their key characteristics set them apart as two separate grains.


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  1. a clear description of steel cut and rolled oats. the differences are enlightening if one needs to make a c.hoice

  2. Great blog with the use of all the stats. It makes things so clear. I have been using True Elements Rolled Oats and this have been the best way to run through the morning schedule. Also these are gluten free, rich in plant protein and the best part is they have 0% added sugar.

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References :

[0]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rolled_oats_2.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bowl_of_dry_steel-cut_oats_with_full_spoon.jpeg

[2]Steel Cut Oats Vs. Rolled Oats. 2018, https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/national/steel cut-vs-rolled-oats-difference. Accessed 28 Nov 2018.

[3]"What's The Difference Between Steel-Cut, Rolled, And Instant Oats?". Kitchn, 2018, https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-steel cut-rolled-and-instant-oats-138355. Accessed 28 Nov 2018.

[4]Steel Cut Oats Vs. Rolled Oats. 2018, https://nuts.com/healthy-eating/steel cut-vs-rolled-oats. Accessed 28 Nov 2018.

[5]"What's The Healthiest: Steel-Cut, Rolled Or Quick Oats". Huffpost Australia, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/04/06/the-difference-between-steel cut-rolled-and-quick-oats_a_22026323/. Accessed 28 Nov 2018.

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