Steel-cut oats are coarser, smaller and tougher than rolled oats, but both varieties are complete whole grains with the bran and germ intact. Although rolled oats are more heavily processed than steel-cut oats and the two have differences in taste and texture, both types have the same nutritional properties, which mirror those of quick-cooking oats and even instant oats.
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Steel-cut oats have a greater volume than rolled oats, so 1/4 dry cup of each variety yields different nutritional facts when the oats are cooked. However, when measured by weight, the two types have the same nutritional values. A quarter-cup of dry rolled oats will yield just under a cup of cooked oats and has about 80 calories, 2.5 g protein, 1.5 g fat, 14 g carbohydrates and 2 g fiber, according to the USDA. A quarter-cup of steel-cut oats will yield about 1 cup when cooked and has approximately 150 calories, 2.5 g fat, 27 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber and 1 g sugar.
Taste and Texture
The differences in taste and texture between steel-cut oats and rolled oats are largely due to processing variations. Rolled outs are flattened, steamed and toasted, so they’re lighter and fluffier. As they cook, rolled oats soften further and develop a thick, gummy texture. Steel-cut oats are whole grain oat kernels that have been split into two or three pieces but are not further processed. They’re thicker, nuttier tasting and more resistant to chewing.
Rolled oats are easier to prepare than steel-cut oats and have a reduced cooking time. To make them, combine one part oats and two parts water in a cooking pot, set the pot over medium heat and simmer the oats for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and thick. For steel-cut oats, combine one part oats and three parts water in a pot and cook the mixture over medium heat for about 35 minutes or until the oats have softened.
Steel-cut oats and rolled oats are both very plain-tasting when prepared with water, but you can sweeten them and add flavor variation with a number of add-ons. Try maple syrup, brown sugar, agave nectar or honey to add sugary notes. For a creamy texture, stir in milk or cream. To boost nutritional value and vary the oats’ texture, serve with fresh or dried fruit and nuts.