Breakfast doesn’t have to be elaborate. Plenty of cooking show hosts and celebrity chefs are fans of eating oatmeal for breakfast. But how do they get it just right? See how Food Network stars Ina Garten, Ree Drummond, and Tyler Florence make the perfect bowl of oatmeal. Spoiler: It doesn’t involve tearing open a packet of instant oatmeal and adding water. 

The key ingredient in Ina Garten’s oatmeal is salt

The Barefoot Contessa loves oatmeal. Like, really loves it. She knows what she likes and she sticks to it. Garten eats oatmeal for breakfast every day. She prepares it the same way, with a hefty pinch of salt, except on her birthday — February 2 — when she adds some sweetness with maple syrup.

“I have the same thing for breakfast every single day, 365 days a year: McCann’s Irish oatmeal. It’s actually quick-cooking, and I do it in the microwave with milk and salt,” she told Bon Appetit in 2014. 

Thinking about skipping the salt? Don’t. 

“Most people don’t do their oatmeal with salt, and I think that without it, it just tastes like wallpaper paste,” Garten said. “With salt, I think it’s delicious.”

Ree Drummond’s overnight oatmeal recipe includes a crème brûlée-inspired topping

Drummond elevates overnight oatmeal with a topping straight from a crème brûlée recipe. In a Pioneer Woman clip, she demonstrated how she caramelizes sugar on top of a bowl of oatmeal. 

For those who might be intimidated by the creme brulee topping. Drummond assured viewers overnight oatmeal (and her special touch at the end) is simple to make. 

“Overnight oatmeal could not be any easier,” she said. “All you have to do is just throw everything in a bowl, stir it together, and then let it sit overnight in the fridge. You can change up the fruit you add. You can even add some nuts if you want, different flavorings. It is really one of my favorite breakfasts.”

The cookbook author also included a hefty dose of brown sugar in the oatmeal mixture. 

“Now I’m one of those people that has to have sweetness in her oatmeal so I’ll add a couple of heaping tablespoons of brown sugar,” she said while preparing overnight oatmeal on her family’s ranch in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. “And when I say heaping I mean heaping, heaping,” she added with a laugh.

If that’s not enough Drummond also put in a splash of half-and-half. She grew up with her grandfather putting half-in-half in his cereal so that’s what she does with her oatmeal. The final result? “The perfect combination of satisfying, healthy, and a little bit decadent,” according to Drummond. 

Tyler Florence’s oatmeal includes applesauce for a ‘creamy effect’ 

During an episode of Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen Florence made oatmeal for a mother and her three daughters. The secret to his Perfect Oatmeal? Applesauce, according to 

“We made a really delicious oatmeal cooked in apple juice, and then we topped it off with toasted coconut, fresh blueberries, and then we put a little spoon of applesauce right on top so you get that creamy effect,” Florence said. “The girls were licking the bowl clean.”

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