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How To: Make Banana Sweetened Oatmeal (+ tons of flavor variations)

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Oatmeal is a wonderful breakfast. It’s hearty, filling, healthy, and can take on so many flavors!


If you’ve read any of my “What I Ate Last Week” posts, you’ve probably noticed I eat a lot of oatmeal. I shared our favorite baked oatmeal recipe recently, but I often make oatmeal on the stove top, too. I’m always coming up with a new flavor variation or topping to try, but the basic ingredients and cooking method are always the same.

The three basic ingredients are oats, liquid, and banana. When you choose your oats make sure you find gluten free oats! Oats, in and of themselves, are naturally gluten free. However, most oats go through so much of the manufacturing process with wheat that they may contain up to 200ppm of wheat! The difference with gluten free oats is that they are manufactured using dedicated gluten free equipment throughout the whole process, from field to packaging. There are several varieties of gluten free oats out there to choose from. So far, every brand I have tried has been great. For this recipe, you’ll want to use regular, old fashioned oats. You can use the quick cooking variety, but you’ll end up with a mushier bowl of oatmeal.

The liquid you choose to cook the oatmeal in is entirely up to you. My standard is half water/half almond milk. Water is great for a more savory oatmeal, but milk adds a creaminess that fits a sweet oatmeal well. There are lots of types of milk available at grocery stores, and every variety I have tried in oatmeal has worked. Personally, I always use almond milk because dairy doesn’t sit well with my husband. Now, if you want to get crazy with the liquid there are a few more options: A bit of coffee, tea, chocolate milk, etc. Just keep the total ratio of liquid to oats 2:1.

The last major ingredient is the banana. The more ripe the banana, the better. Riper bananas taste sweeter and are easier to mash. Those ripe bananas that are on clearance at the grocery store are perfect for mashing and putting in oatmeal! Just make sure whatever bananas you use are getting brown.


These directions give you the option to make a plain oatmeal or a chocolate oatmeal. Either is good, and fit with different toppings and other flavors. If you make chocolate oatmeal you’ll need a tablespoon of cocoa powder. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re not used to sugar free baking this may taste strange to you. Add a sweetener (there are a few listed below) if you want one stronger than just banana.

Left: Chocolate Oatmeal Right: Regular Oatmeal with peanut butter

Left: Chocolate Oatmeal
Right: Regular Oatmeal with peanut butter

Now, onto the cooking method. First, mash the banana. I slice it into a bowl first.


Then, using a fork, I mash it. If the banana is fairly ripe it will mash easily. A trick for using less-ripe bananas is to slice them and microwave for about 30 seconds. The microwaved banana will be softer and easier to mash, but not quite as sweet as a riper banana.


In a small sauce pan combine the oats and liquid.


Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. If you want to make chocolate oatmeal, watch the pot closely. I’ve found the best time to add cocoa powder is when the liquid in the pot just begins to simmer. It looks like this – see those bubbles along the edge on the pan? That’s what you’re looking for.

If you're making chocolate oatmeal, stir in the cocoa powder when you see these tiny bubbles forming along the edges of the pan.

If you’re making chocolate oatmeal, stir in the cocoa powder when you see these tiny bubbles forming along the edges of the pan.

Stir in about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder per 1/2 cup of oatmeal. Stir it in quickly, trying to get any lumps of cocoa powder out. It should dissolve fairly quickly.

Once the cocoa powder is stirred in the pot probably will be boiling!

Once the cocoa powder is stirred in the pot probably will be boiling!

When the oatmeal is at a boil turn the heat down to medium. If the milk gets frothy and foamy and starts to boil over just stir, and it should go down. Keep stirring every couple of minutes just to keep the cooking oats from sticking. How often you need to stir will depend on the type of pan you are using. Nonstick pans will likely require less stirring. You’ll notice the liquid slowly absorb into the oats. I like to stir in the mashed banana when the liquid is about half absorbed.


Keep cooking and stirring until the oatmeal is the consistency you’re looking for. Some people like less liquid, some people like more! Once it’s done, just transfer the oatmeal to a bowl to eat.

Finished oatmeal - the consistency I like.

Finished oatmeal – the consistency I like.

Now, the best part, flavoring oatmeal. Here’s a long list of suggestions for flavorings, toppings, and oatmeal add-ins.

  • Extracts: Add 1/2 tsp of any extract flavor you’d like, mint, vanilla, coconut, etc. This is a really easy way to add some flavor to a bowl of oats. Just stir it in towards the end of the cooking.
  • Nuts & Nut Butters: Nuts are great for flavor and add some crunch to a normally soft bowl of oatmeal. Nut butters add some creaminess and flavor to oatmeal, and some sweetness, depending on the type you choose. Nuts are a great way to add some protein to your breakfast, too! Stir into the oatmeal right when it’s done cooking or just use as a topping!
  • Gound Flax: If you are trying to eat more fiber add about a tablespoon of flax to your oatmeal while it is cooking.
  • Spices: Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc are another easy way to transform a boring bowl of oatmeal into something bursting with flavor. Start with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp per serving of oats and add more as needed.
  • Chips: Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, mint chips, etc. Add them on top of your bowl of oats or stir them into your finished bowl of oatmeal to melt.
  • Shredded Coconut: Sweetened or unsweetened, either way it adds taste and texture.
  • Fruits: Berries, apple, pineapple, sliced banana, the list goes on and on!
  • Flavored Liquids: Use steeped tea or coffee for some of the liquid you cook the oats in for flavor infused oatmeal (just be sure to keep a 2:1 liquid to oats ratio).
  • Sweets: I tend to avoid sugar, but some crushed candies, graham crackers, marshmallows, candy bar bits would all make a yummy, sweet oatmeal for a treat.
  • Other sweeteners: Sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup all add sweetness to the oatmeal, each with a bit of a different flavor.
  • Other mashed fruit/vegetable: I’ve subbed mashed banana for applesauce, mashed sweet potato, or pumpkin successfully.
Chocolate Oatmeal with Coconut and Almond Butter

Chocolate Oatmeal with Coconut and Almond Butter

Some of the fun of oatmeal is making unique flavors each morning! Here are some recipes to different flavored oatmeals I’ve made. Try one of these or use the ideas above to make up your own!

Almond Joy Oatmeal

Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal

Cinnamon Vanilla Oatmeal

Pumpkin Oatmeal


How To: Make Banana Sweetened Oatmeal

This makes 1 serving of oatmeal, but is an easy recipe to make a double, triple, quadruple, batch.
  • 1/2 c gluten free oats
  • 1 c liquid (I use 1/2 c milk and 1/2 c water)
  • 1 banana, mashed.
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder (optional, for chocolate oatmeal)
  • any add-ins listed above
  1. Combine the oats and liquid in a small sauce pan.
  2. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. If you are making chocolate oatmeal, stir in the cocoa powder just before the oatmeal comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir to avoid any boiling over.
  4. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the oats reach your desired consistency.
  5. Serve with any of the adds in listed above.
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