Hearty and filling apple cinnamon oatmeal is a quick, easy delicious breakfast you can make on busy weekday mornings. It’s packed with sweet apples and warm spices, plus, it can be made ahead and refrigerated for meal prep.
This simple recipe is vegan / dairy-free (if you use plant-based milk, of course!), and gluten-free if you use certified gluten-free oats. It can also be customized with any add-ins you like, read on for all the details!
Drop the instant oats packet, there's no need to buy those any longer when you can make homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal with bites of juicy, fresh apples (no dehydrated apples here!) in a small amount of time. Not to mention, this tastes SO MUCH better!
This delicious, filling apple oats recipe is a warm, comforting way to start your day, and to make things even quicker, you can pre-make it, refrigerate it, and reheat it when needed.
Oatmeal for breakfast is always a great idea when you have good recipes to work from, here are a few other easy oatmeal recipes for you to try after this one:
Ingredients You'll Need
You just need a handful of ingredients and you'll find some helpful notes about each of them below so you know what can and can't be substituted.
Ingredient and Substitution Notes
Milk – Use the milk you have on hand, any type will work (but I don't recommend full-fat coconut milk, it's too thick). I always use dairy-free unsweetened almond milk or oat milk. Whatever type of milk you choose, make sure it’s unflavoured and unsweetened so you have control over the flavour and sweetness level.
Water – I use half water and half milk to make this oatmeal but you can use all water or all milk if you prefer.
Salt – This helps to bring out the nutty flavour of the oats, so don't leave it out (your oats will not be salty!). More about this can be found below.
Rolled Oats – You'll need to use old-fashioned rolled oats, no substitutions. Use certified gluten-free rolled oats if you need the recipe to be gluten-free.
You CANNOT use quick-cooking / instant oats / quick oats in this particular recipe (your oatmeal will turn out too mushy) or steel-cut oats (the oats will not cook through).
Yes, those two types of oats can be used to make an oatmeal recipe like this, however, modifications will need to be made to the cooking time since it was developed using rolled oats.
If you need breakfast recipes that call for steel-cut oats, check out my apple spice steel-cut oats, banana steel-cut oats, and pumpkin steel-cut oats.
Apples - Any type of crisp, sweet apple can be used, I usually use Gala because it's what I keep on hand. I would avoid those that are tart, like a Granny Smith apple (unless that type is what you prefer). Make sure the apples are peeled and chopped into small bite-size pieces.
Ground Cinnamon - This contributes to the oatmeal's warm, spiced flavour and it's a classic spice to pair with oatmeal, don't leave it out.
Ground Nutmeg - A touch of nutmeg is optional, but highly recommended if you have it. It adds another layer of flavour to the oatmeal that makes it extra delicious.
Maple Syrup – I always use maple syrup to sweeten oatmeal but feel free to use what you prefer (a little brown sugar or coconut sugar are some options). I give a range in the recipe, adjust as needed based on the level of sweetness you prefer. If you like just a touch of sweetness, the apples, depending on how sweet they are, may be enough.
If you will be adding an extra ingredient, something sweet like raisins or chopped dates, you can cut back on the sweetener slightly (or even omit it) since they will add natural sweetness.
Prefer baked oatmeal? Then you need to try these recipes: banana baked oatmeal, pumpkin baked oatmeal, strawberry baked oatmeal, and apple cinnamon baked oatmeal.
How to Make It
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions in the recipe card at the end of this post.)
1. Start by adding the milk and water to the pot.
2. Add the salt, don't skip this!
3. Place the pot over medium-high heat and once it starts boiling, immediately turn the heat down to low, add the oats, cinnamon (and nutmeg, if using) and stir. Simmer the oatmeal for five minutes
4. In the last 2 minutes of simmering, add the apples and stir. Adding the apples in the last 2 minutes warms the apples and softens them very slightly so they are still firm. If you prefer softer apples, add the apples to the pot at the same time you add the oats and spices.
5. When the time has ended, remove the pot from the heat. Pour the oatmeal into a bowl, add the maple syrup, and any other toppings you like.
Common Oatmeal Preparation Mistakes
Oatmeal may not be at the top of everyone's breakfast list, but it could be because they are making one of these common preparation mistakes:
- Cooking the oatmeal on heat that is way too high. This will cause the oatmeal to cook too quickly, become too mushy, burn, and stick to the bottom of the pot. For the perfect bowl of oatmeal, allow the oats to hydrate and cook over low heat for the amount of time specified in the recipe.
- Waiting to add spices and add-ins AFTER it has finished simmering – For the very best flavour, add any spices the recipe calls for while it is simmering. Also add any hard add-ins such as apples, nuts, etc. to the oatmeal while it is simmering so they can soften up and incorporate with the oatmeal.
- Skipping the salt – Don’t forget to add a pinch of salt to the liquid before you add the oats to the pot. Doing this will enhance the flavour so it isn’t bland and bring out the nuttiness of your oats. And no, it won’t make your oatmeal salty!
Optional Toppings / Add-Ins
Wondering what to add to apple cinnamon oatmeal? Well, in addition to adding an extra splash of milk on top of the oatmeal to help cool it down and for a little added creaminess, you can also top it with an extra drizzle of maple syrup, or stir in some other ingredients, here are a few ideas:
- raisins or chopped dates
- dried cranberries
- fresh fruit like berries or more diced apples
- nuts, such as sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, or pecans
- shredded coconut
- coconut yogurt
- seed or nut butter such as sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, or almond butter
- ground flax seeds or whole chia seeds
- pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds
- a sprinkle of hemp hearts
- vanilla extract
If you prefer baked oatmeal, here are some quick and easy recipes to try: banana baked oatmeal, pumpkin baked oatmeal, strawberry baked oatmeal, and apple cinnamon baked oatmeal.
Although this easy recipe comes together very quickly, some days, you may not have the time to prepare breakfast from scratch. The good news is that you can double or triple the recipe to make a large batch for later.
To make this wholesome oatmeal in advance, follow steps 1- 4 in the recipe below, cool it, and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to have it. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
When making ahead, don’t add the sweetener or any extra add-ins, they will be added when you reheat it.
The oatmeal will thicken when refrigerated, so when reheating on the stovetop or in the microwave, add more milk or a splash of water until it thins out enough for you.
After that, add the sweetener, pour the oatmeal into your bowl, then add any other toppings you'd like (see above for some ideas).
Tips for Success
- Don’t substitute rolled oats for different types of oats. This recipe was developed with rolled old-fashioned oats, using a different type of oatmeal will require modifications to the rest of the recipe.
- Simmer the oats on low heat for the time specified. If you use higher heat, the oats will cook too quickly and not have the correct consistency. It can also burn and stick to the pot. You will run into the same issues if you cook them for too long or too little time.
- Don’t omit the salt! It does make a difference in the final flavour and it’s just a pinch so no need to worry about any saltiness taking over the flavour of your oats.
- Read through the recipe before getting started and read through this post from top to bottom for lots of tips to make it perfect, every single time.
- Follow the recipe as it’s written for the very best apple cinnamon oatmeal possible.
You can use all water or all milk, it's up to you and what you have on hand. Milk will give you creamier oatmeal, but no matter what you use, the taste will still be great. Just keep in mind that the ratio should always be 1 part rolled oats to 2 parts liquid.
Not without making modifications to ingredient amounts and cooking time. If you prefer to use steel cut oats, rather than altering this recipe, make my apple spice steel cut oats instead (it can be made in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop).
If You Make This Recipe...
Let me know how your apple oatmeal turned out! Leave a star rating and comment below, or you can also post a picture on Instagram and tag me (@delightfuladventures) so I can see it.
If You Like This Recipe...
You may like these other vegan gluten-free breakfast recipes:
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
- ½ cup (120ml) milk of choice, see note below
- ½ cup (120ml) water
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional, see note below)
- a pinch of salt
- ½ cup (50g) rolled oats
- Half (55g) of an apple (peeled and diced)
- 2-4 teaspoons pure maple syrup (or another sweetener of choice)
- extra milk for pouring on top (optional)
- apples, nuts, seeds, or cinnamon for garnish (optional)
- Add milk, water, and salt to a small pot. Stir everything together.
- Place the uncovered pot over medium-high heat until it starts to boil (it will take roughly 3 minutes to boil).
- Once the mixture starts to boil, immediately turn the heat down to low, add the oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if using) to the pot, and stir.
- Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. When there are 2 minutes left, add the apples and stir. Continue cooking until the remaining time has passed. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Pour the oatmeal into a bowl, and add the maple syrup and any extra add-ins if using. Extra milk can be added to help cool it and make it creamier. Garnish with toppings of your choice.
- Please read all of the information and FAQ info above, as well as the notes below before making this recipe.
- This recipe makes enough for 1 serving. If you need more, the recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed.
- Any type of milk can be used to make this recipe, I use unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk or oat milk. I recommend using one that is unsweetened and unflavoured to control the sweetness and flavour of the oatmeal.
- Adding the apples in when there are 2 minutes left of cooking time will keep them semi-firm, but if you prefer softer apples, add them in with the oats so they can cook for the full 5 minutes.
- Maple syrup is my recommended sweetener, but use any sweetener you like. Adjust the amount to suit your taste, you may not need a lot, or any, if your apples are very sweet and you prefer oatmeal that has just a touch of sweetness.
- If you don't have cinnamon, you can use apple pie spice in its place and leave the optional nutmeg out.
- The oatmeal will thicken up slightly as it cools off. You can add a little more milk for a looser, creamier texture. Milk can also be used to help cool it down quicker.
- To make a batch for later, make the recipe, let it fully cool, and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 5 days. When you are ready to serve, reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave and add more milk or water until it thins out enough for you. After that, pour the oatmeal into your bowl and add any of the optional toppings or add-ins, if using. The recipe can be doubled or tripled to make more than one serving for later.
- Nutrition info is for 1 serving of the recipe prepared as written using unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk, 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, and no extra garnishes or extra added milk. The data below is only to be used as a rough guide. Click to learn how nutrition info is determined on this website.
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