Sometimes—most times, maybe?—oatmeal gets a bad rap for being boring or bland. But it can be turned into something fabulous in just 10 minutes. This easy recipe is one of those dishes that sets you up for success, and it means you can eat something delicious and healthy even on a busy day. — Carrien Cheney

A bowl of cinnamon roll oatmeal with brown sugar swirl and yogurt drizzled over the top.

Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal

5 / 3 votes
Cinnamon roll oatmeal is perfect for mornings when you need something filling, satisfying, and maybe a little indulgent feeling. Made with good-for-you ingredients like oats, Greek yogurt, and your choice of dairy, it sets you and yours up for a good day. The sweet cinnamon swirl makes sure everyone cleans their bowls, too.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories388 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes


For the oats

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats*
  • 4 cups milk, low-fat, whole, or non-dairy all work
  • Pinch salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the brown sugar swirl

  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Few drops vanilla extract (optional)


Make the oats

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the oats, milk, salt, if using, and cinnamon, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and most of the liquid is gone, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

Make the brown sugar swirl

  • In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter on high power, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Make the glaze

  • In a separate small bowl, stir together the yogurt and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. If desired, stir in the vanilla.
  • Divvy the oatmeal between 4 bowls. Drizzle the butter-sugar mixture over top of the oatmeal, followed by a dollop of the yogurt-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.


*Are old-fashioned oats healthier than quick oats? 

Old-fashioned oats, also called rolled oats, are flat and flaky. They absorb water quickly and can be ready in about 5 minutes. Old-fashioned oats are less processed and, because of that, they’ve retained more of their fiber. This means that they’ll keep you feeling fuller longer and have a lower glycemic index. Quick oats, on the other hand, cook on the stove-top in only 1 minute (and can also be microwaved) because they’ve been processed into smaller, thinner flakes. The biggest difference between them is the amount of fiber. Quick oats have significantly less, so while they do cook faster, they don’t give you that all-morning satisfaction that old-fashioned oats will. 

Adapted From

Raised in the Kitchen

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 388 kcalCarbohydrates: 60 gProtein: 14 gFat: 11 gSaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 28 mgSodium: 113 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 32 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Carrien Cheney. Photo © 2021 Carrien Cheney. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This cinnamon roll oatmeal is yummy. Plus, it’s simple and uses pantry ingredients. What more could you ask from a humble bowl of oatmeal?

Hands-on time is approximately 10 minutes, total time around 15 minutes. I used rather thick rolled oats and whole milk (it’s what I had). In a non-stick saucepan, I combined the milk, oats, and cinnamon. Following the directions, except for stirring rather frequently, the mixture took about 4 minutes to come to a boil (watching closely so it didn’t boil over), then about 5 minutes to reach the thickened stage when most of the liquid had been absorbed. I covered the small bowl I melted the butter in to prevent splatters, it took about 30 seconds as my butter was refrigerator cold. Light brown sugar and cinnamon were added. The butter didn’t completely combine with the sugar and cinnamon. Plain Greek yogurt was combined with the powdered sugar and I did use a splash of vanilla extract.

My drizzle of the cinnamon swirl wasn’t quite as attractive as the photo, it was sort of drippy due to the butter separating, but it didn’t make it any less delicious. A dollop of the glaze was the icing on the cake – pun intended. My husband, to whom oatmeal is a hard sell, ate all of his and agreed when I said I could eat this every day. Pretty high praise if you ask me.

This is a super easy treatment that took us out of our normal oatmeal routine. While I won’t completely give up my steel-cut oats with just a sprinkle of brown sugar dissolving into pools on the hot oats, this cinnamon roll oatmeal has a different appeal—slightly richer, sweeter, and yes, way speedier than our habit.

The rolled oats cook quicker, really in the time you would boil water for instant oatmeal, you’re nearly done with this cooked batch that is far more satisfying. I was curious about the butter—but not only did it make a lovely drizzle, I initially hadn’t considered this as an alternative to a cinnamon pastry. The glaze can be as restrained as you like.

I used a combination of whole and non-fat organic milk and a drop of vanilla was a nice touch to make this feel more like a weekend breakfast even though it was dead easy. With the depth of brown sugar and the glaze, I added a pinch of flaky sea salt (Maldon) at the table. OK—ready for my cappuccino now!

I love a bowl of thick hot oatmeal about once a week or so and this cinnamon roll oatmeal is so yummy I might just have to have it more often than that. My normal oatmeal routine is with steel-cut oats (which I think could easily be used in this recipe as well) but normally I just toss on some brown sugar and maybe some walnuts or craisins. This topping combo is amazing and I’m now thinking about how I could possibly make just the topping in larger amounts to keep in the fridge and add to my oatmeal routine!

The recipe says it serves 4 and that held true for my family of 4. For the yogurt topping, I used vanilla Greek yogurt and did include a couple of drops of vanilla. The timing I found to be slightly off as it took about 15 minutes for the oatmeal to come to a boil before cooking for 3-5 minutes. In all, the recipe took 30 minutes, start to finish, with some of that time just stirring the pot. The recipe does not specify, but you definitely need to stir the pot as it is cooking or you will have a horrible burnt milk/oatmeal layer on the bottom of the pot.

It also mentions to “set aside” the oatmeal when it’s finished but doesn’t specify how long. As I had already made the topping and was in a hurry, I didn’t let it sit, although I think if I had it would have continued to thicken a bit as it set. So, if you prefer very thick oats, do let it sit a few minutes before eating.

For the topping, my butter took 25 seconds to melt and because our home is relatively cool it set up after I incorporated the brown sugar and cinnamon (and before the oats were finished). I just broke it up with a fork and “sprinkled” it on top, sort of like a crumble topping. Whenever I make oatmeal, I always add 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt (depending on the amount I’m cooking) and find it really enhances the oats. Other than that, we all enjoyed it and will definitely make it again soon.

I love oatmeal. I could seriously eat just plain oatmeal every day…. but this cinnamon roll oatmeal is what dreams are made of.

I used almond milk instead of low-fat milk, as that’s what I had on hand. Greek yogurt was a nice touch in the recipe as it adds some good protein, making an already filling dish even more satiating! (Pro tip: add a dash of salt to the milk when you’re cooking the oats for a little extra flavor.)

This cinnamon roll oatmeal really does taste like a giant, creamy cinnamon roll. The oatmeal is creamy, with a subtle hit of cinnamon, a swirl of caramel, and a tart “frosting” for balance. I could eat this every morning.

Cinnamon rolls are my favorite breakfast/brunch/dessert. They are so hard to resist, both in smell and in the gooey consistency and sweetness that’s so mesmerizing. I was hoping this recipe for cinnamon roll oatmeal would present a healthier alternative to reaching for a can of refrigerated ones in a pinch—and I wasn’t disappointed.

Oatmeal is definitely not my favorite, but it’s warm and filling on a very cold day, like the cold and dark days we’ve been having in Texas lately. It came together so quickly and easily, and the components are as simple as can be. A good quality cinnamon makes this even more satisfying. The confectioners’ sugar does a nice job of transforming the Greek yogurt from super tart to pleasantly sweet.

While I wish the swirl and glaze had drizzled better (so I would’ve had more attractive cinnamon roll-like bowls instead of bowls that resembled Jackson Pollack paintings) the taste was wonderful. This recipe is definitely going into my rotation. Some crispy bacon plus a bowl of this are something I’d definitely look forward to having on cold mornings.

We try to eat hot cereal frequently, so this seemed like the perfect breakfast to try. The name of this oatmeal is spot on…it was gooey and hot and cinnamony sweet and looked very dressed in the bowl with a white drizzle of icing on it. The smell made the whole house homey and sweet as it cooked.

It was about 30 minutes from start to bowl, and after 5 minutes of simmer, there was considerable milk left in the pan but I took it off the heat and covered it while I made up the add-ons.

It made a very generous 4 servings, closer to 6 (unless they like really hearty bowls of oatmeal). If you served fruit or toast, juice, and coffee it would be at least 6 servings. This cinnamon roll oatmeal would be a great way to sell hot oatmeal to children who need a little nudging.

I eat oatmeal A LOT. I make it traditionally, then add nuts or fruits. I also make overnight oats often, which is one of my favorites. But this…..HOLY MOLY!  It’s so delicious. I made this cinnamon roll oatmeal twice, once using milk and once using 1/2 water and 1/2 almond milk. Either way it is delicious, but I personally prefer the latter choice. While the oatmeal is cooking, I made the brown sugar swirl and the glaze (using vanilla Greek yogurt). Once the oatmeal was done, adding the swirl and glaze looked beautiful, not to mention it tasted delicious.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is delicious, I love that people can control the sweetness of their own bowl using the toppings. I made it with Mooala unsweetened coconut oat milk. This is a keeper.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is what I have been making for 25 years. I don’t add sugars or salt or anything like yogurt in my breakfast. The cinnamon I use with my neighbors honey that she gets from her hives. Thank you for posting this recipe!

    PS: on occasion, I toast walnuts, chop them up, and add to my oatmeal. The combination tastes like baklava!

    1. Thanks, Christine! Love the suggestion about the added walnuts. We’ll definitely have to give that a try.