How to Cook Oatmeal So It Doesn't Stick to the Bottom of the Pan

by Zora Hughes

A hot bowl of oatmeal is a filling and nutritious way to start any day, but cleaning up that saucepan, with a thick layer of oats stuck to the bottom, is a pain. However, the situation is totally avoidable. Whether you are making old-fashioned oats or heartier, steel-cut oats, you can cook them to perfection without it sticking to the pan by taking a little care and vigilance as it cooks.

Use a nonstick saucepan for your oatmeal. A good quality nonstick pot is one of the best ways to prevent oatmeal from sticking to the bottom. If you don't have nonstick saucepan, spray a regular pot with cooking spray on the bottom and sides.

Combine 2 parts water and 1 part old-fashioned rolled cooking oats in the saucepan. For steel-cut oats, use 3 parts water to 1 part oats. Bring the oatmeal and water to a boil over high heat. A dash of salt is an optional addition for either type of oatmeal.

Turn the heat down to low as soon as it starts to boil and let the oats cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent the oatmeal from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keeping the heat low lessens the chance of the oatmeal burning and sticking as well. You can add sweetener, such as sugar, at this point if you prefer.

Continue cooking old-fashioned oatmeal for about five minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, making sure to scrape the bottom to remove any oatmeal attempting to stick to the pan. Steel-cut oatmeal will need much longer, about 20 to 30 minutes, to fully cook. Let the oatmeal sit for two or three minutes off the heat before serving.

Items you will need

  • Nonstick saucepan
  • Cooking spray
  • Water
  • Wooden spoon


  • You can substitute milk instead of half the water for a creamier oatmeal.


  • Avoid replacing all the water with milk, because milk burns easily, which can cause the oats to stick to the bottom of the pan.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

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