Chatelaine Kitchen

Pantry 101: Quick oats vs. large-flake oats

Find out what the difference is, and why they’re great for breakfast.


Oats have been cultivated for thousands of years, becoming a dietary staple in many types of cuisine all over the world. High in soluble fibre, this nutritionally dense grain takes longer for the body to process, making it a hearty and satisfying breakfast favourite. It can be found in many different forms; most commonly rolled into large flakes or quick oats.

Large flake oats
You may find large flake oats labeled as rolled oats or old-fashioned oats in grocery stores. Large flake oats are made by steaming, flattening and cutting oat groats into large flakes. These are thick and take longer to cook than quick oats (about 10 min).

Why we love it: Large flake oats have a nutty flavour and retain their shape and more of their texture when cooked. You’ll often find large flake oats used where they are meant to be the star of the dish, for example, in muesli, granola or a crumble topping.

Try it in:
Apple and blueberry superfood crumble
Maple and candied ginger granola

Quick Oats
Like large flake oats, quick oats are oat groats that are rolled and cut into pieces. The main difference between large flake and quick oats is the size. Quick oats are cut into smaller and thinner pieces and therefore, like the name suggests, cook faster (about 4 min).

Why we love it: With their fast cooking time, quick oats are the ideal breakfast on a cold winter morning. They also work easily into desserts and as such, you’ll often use them in baked goods.

Try it in:
Homemade apple-cinnamon instant oatmeal
Brown sugar chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies
Cranberry coconut bars

Did you know? Both varieties start at as oat groats, which are the hulled kernels of oat. They’re both whole grains and have the same nutritional value.

Extended glossary

Minute oats: Oats that have been rolled and cut down to a smaller size, and steamed for a slightly longer period of time. Between their size and time being pre-cooked, it shortens their final cook time significantly (making them nearly instant).

Steel-cut oats: Instead of being rolled out or flattened, the oat groats are cut into pieces. This less processed, coarser oatmeal has a lower glycemic index than its counterparts (most oatmeal has a low GI rating however), affecting your blood sugar levels much less. Just make sure you have extra time to cook them in the morning (they take 20 to 30 minutes), or plan ahead and make overnight steel-cut oatmeal in the slowcooker.

Originally published July 2015. Updated May 2017.

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