Steel cut oats, or Irish oats as they’re often called, are made when the groats are cut into smaller pieces. That’s it. There is no other process. Unlike the rolled variety, which are further processed, these oats look similar to rice and have a more grainy texture when cooked. They are also more chewy and have a nuttier flavor. Some people, however, prefer the mushy taste of rolled oats instead.
Steel cut oats are definitely the best choice for consumers who are more health conscious. They contain no additives and nothing artificial and are usually sold either in tin cans or boxes. They are 100% whole grain, high in fiber, and very nutritious. A popular brand that is sold in the United States is McCann’s Irish Oatmeal.
One of the advantages of steel cut oats is they have to be cooked longer than the rolled brands. This can make them very inconvenient for those of us who are often in a hurry in the morning and need a quick breakfast. While regular oats can be prepared in just a few extra minutes, steel cuts oats often take thirty minutes or longer to fully cook.
On the other hand, they are more flavorful than the rolled oats. The reason being that the process steaming and rolling oats takes some of the taste out of them. So it is a tradeoff between quality and flavor versus convenience. Depending on how seriously you take breakfast, sticking with the old fashioned Quaker brand may be a better solution. Really, it is a matter of personal choice.
If you look at the back of a box of steel cut oats and compare it to a brand of rolled oats such as Quakers, you’ll find that the nutritional labels on each is virtually identical. So while there are a few health advantages to the Irish oats, the overall difference between the two types is negligible. You should simply choose the one that you like best. If you enjoy a chewy oatmeal, then Irish oats are a great choice. If you’re used to rolled oats and don’t want to change, then that is fine also. You aren’t missing much.