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Replace White Rice and Bread with Oats? Absolutely.

Published January 23, 2024

A familiar, beloved grain gets a dinnertime makeover

Pasta with Cauliflower and Oat Crumble. Photo: Kerri Conan

Because we’re committed to transparency, we wanted to let you know that we’re getting compensated to promote Bob’s Red Mill. We try to be thoughtful about how we make money, and so we only partner with brands and organizations that we know well and believe in. Bob’s is one of those, and we’re glad to have reasons to promote them.


Though oats are best known in their creamy and thick incarnation as the ubiquitous breakfast porridge, lately we’ve been pushing them far beyond that. Their starchiness is easy to unleash and never gets gritty, plus no matter how you use them, the grains themselves—whether rolled or steel cut—remain pleasantly chewy.

All of this makes whole-grain oats perfect for lunch or dinnertime pilafs, grain bowls, and stuffings. Once we opened up those possibilities, we began using oats in place of white rice and bread all over the place, with delicious (and yes, better for you) results. The results are as far away from breakfast as you can imagine.

Pasta with Cauliflower and Oat Crumble

Think of how much better life would be with savory granola to sprinkle here and there. Now you’ve got it—couched in an easy, veg-forward recipe. After walking you through a ​more-sauce-less-pasta​ dish that riffs on the familiar family of noodles finished with breadcrumbs, you’ll be ready to explore all the oat crumble possibilities.

Here we’re using ​Bob’s Red Mill high protein​ or ​thick-cut rolled oats​, but for finer and easier crumbs, try starting with ​quick cooking oats​. (Not “instant;” they’re a little different.) Soon you’ll be sizzling them with dried chiles or nuts and tossing them into salads or scattering a handful onto a bowl of soup or beans. They’ll even add instant crunch to roasted vegetables or fish. The crumble will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week—even longer if you don’t add cheese.

Oat-y Meatloaf (or Meatballs)

Photo: Kerri Conan

Say goodbye to crumbly and dry. Oats soaked in warm milk hold everything together and deliver incredible richness.

There are as many ways to make meatloaf and meatballs as there are cooks. Milk-soaked or dry, breadcrumbs are the most common addition for binding, but oats have a following, too, particularly in the Midwest. Since ​quick cooking oats​ require no further grinding, this recipe is a breeze. For ​regular​, ​protein, or ​thick-cut oats​, just use a food processor or blender to pulse them into bits before starting. Whether you go meatloaf or balls, they freeze great; so we suggest making the whole batch. The ingredients are easy enough to halve, though, and if you go that route, keep the quantities for the sauce at full volume. You’ll definitely find ways to make the most out of any extras.

Chicken and Oats

Photo: Kerri Conan

​Steel cut oats​ are an easy swap for white rice in one of the world’s greatest one-pot dinners—and they cook in the same amount of time. Plus there’s the whole nutrition, whole-grain, fiber thing. Let’s focus on how risotto-like the oats cook up in this recipe, leaving behind creaminess and a slightly nutty bite—without the incremental addition of liquid, nearly constant stirring, and butter and cheese. This recipe loads up the oats with chopped snap peas and carrots, but you could use broccoli, asparagus, fennel, or even hearty greens. And instead of the chicken, try pork chops or tofu cubes.

The recipes above use new techniques with three different forms of oats and lots of details for tweaking and customizing—including some plant-based options built right in. We hope they’ll inspire you to invite oats to dinner more often.

Because we’re committed to transparency, we wanted to let you know that we’re getting compensated to promote Bob’s Red Mill. We try to be thoughtful about how we make money, and so we only partner with brands and organizations that we know well and believe in. Bob’s is one of those, and we’re glad to have reasons to promote them.