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How to Sweeten Oatmeal without Sugar (Easy!)

Plain oatmeal isn’t very exciting, but this comprehensive how-to-sweeten oatmeal without sugar guide is here to help – listing every healthy ingredient imaginable to sweeten and add flavor to an otherwise bland bowl of oats.

NO refined sugars or artificial sweeteners are necessary!

Overhead shot of oatmeal in a bowl standing on marble background.

Oatmeal is a nourishing breakfast, whether instant, rolled, steel-cut, or quick-cooking, but sugary oatmeal doesn’t always leave you feeling your best.

On the other hand, oatmeal doesn’t have much flavor if it isn’t sweetened.

So what’s the solution?

Fortunately, there are much better ways to sweeten oatmeal with ingredients that are a good energy source and won’t cause a mid-morning sugar crash.

In this post, we’ll discuss all the possibilities so that you can enjoy delightfully sweet oatmeal without sugar for the most important meal of the day every morning!

Benefits of Oatmeal

Here are four reasons to include oats in your diet:

  • Cheap, healthy, and quick – Much less expensive and better for you than sugar-packed cereal and toaster pastries.
  • Fiber and protein – Oatmeal is packed with filling fiber and has more plant protein than most grains.
  • Vitamins and minerals – Oats are high in magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin E.
  • Low on the glycemic index scale – Low glycemic grains may help you stay full longer.

Oatmeal topped with blueberries in a bowl.

How to Sweeten Oatmeal Without Sugar

Here is an overview of healthy oatmeal toppings you can use to make your oatmeal taste much better without adding refined sugar. 

Fruits and Berries

Adding in-season fresh fruit and berries to a bowl of oatmeal is always a good idea.

Frozen fruit works too, and it’s always in season. You can thaw just enough in the fridge overnight to add to your oatmeal in the morning.

Try adding:

  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches

Dried fruits like dates, prunes, raisins, apricots, and figs are also tasty in oatmeal, but watch out for added sugars in the ingredients.

Mixing fruit jams, jellies, sauces, and purees in any fruit or berry flavor is also an option.

Try unsweetened applesauce, blueberry sauce, raspberry sauce, and mango puree in your morning oatmeal.

Nut and Seed Butters

I highly recommend adding your favorite creamy nut butters and seed butters to oatmeal!

Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and have a ton of flavor. Try almond, cashew, walnut, or sunflower butter.

But beware of added sugars. Always check the ingredients when buying nut butter.

The ingredients list should only have one ingredient, such as the nut or seed the nut butter is made of. It shouldn’t have any additives such as sweeteners or other flavorings.

Spices and Extracts

Ground spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger cloves, allspice, mace, cardamom, and star anise all have a warmth that enhances oatmeal’s natural nuttiness.

For flavor, you can also use dessert seasoning blends like pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice.

Finally, add a small pinch of salt to intensify the sweetness.

You can add a dash of pure flavor extracts like vanilla, almond, coconut, banana, maple, or orange.

Chocolate oatmeal in a bowl. A silver spoon scooping some oatmeal out of the bowl.

Syrups and Fruit Nectars

These natural syrups and nectars are a less processed, more nutrient-dense swap for sugar in oatmeal:

  • Raw honey has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it brightens up oatmeal with a sweet, floral, and fruity flavor.
  • Pure maple syrup is derived from the sap of maple trees and is rich in antioxidants. It has a distinguishably sweet, rich, and caramel-like flavor that tastes great in oatmeal.
  • Date syrup is intensely sweet with a vanilla-like flavor.
  • Agave nectar comes from the blue agave plant. It’s similar to honey with a thinner consistency.
  • Coconut nectar comes from the sap of coconut palm flowers. It’s very sweet and caramel-like.

Milk and Non-Dairy Milk Products

Milk – Cooking oats in milk instead of water makes them thicker and more creamy-tasting. You can use cow’s milk or unsweetened almond, cashew, soy, coconut, or even oat milk!

Yogurt – For the thickest and creamiest oatmeal, soak your overnight oats in unsweetened, plain yogurt. Or, if you’re making hot oatmeal, add a spoonful of yogurt at the end.

Ghee – Ghee or browned butter is butter that has been simmered and strained to remove the lactose. The longer it’s cooked, the nuttier and buttery-tasting it becomes. Adding a spoonful to oats as they cook adds rich flavor and a boost of good-for-you fats.

Vegetable Purees

Sneak in a serving of veggies and add sweetness by adding ¼ – ½ cup of steamed pureed veggies to your rolled oats or steel-cut oats as they simmer.

You can also add a spoonful to overnight oats.

Stick with veggies associated with sweetness like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and sweet winter squash like butternut, buttercup, delicata, or acorn squash.

Protein Powder

Try adding a scoop of good-quality vanilla or chocolate-flavored protein powder to your bowl of oatmeal. It will add some flavor and extra protein to your meal.

Avoid protein powder sweetened with refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Dark Chocolate

Last but certainly not least, dark chocolate.

To make a sweetened bowl of oatmeal without added sugar, stick with 100% cocoa powder, cacao powder, or a melted unsweetened baking bar for a deep, dark chocolatey flavor.

Overhead shot of oatmeal in a bowl garnished with apples and walnuts. There is a silver spoon in the oats.

Flavor Combinations

Create your own flavor combination by mixing and matching healthy oatmeal toppings.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Oats with almond butter, yogurt, and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Oats with chopped apple, walnuts, a dash of cinnamon and allspice.
  • Oats with chopped banana, raspberry, cashew butter, and maple syrup.
  • Oats with chopped dates, cinnamon, cashew butter, and vanilla extract.
  • Oats with chopped apples, almond butter, raisins, and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Oats with sweet potato puree, pecans, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract.
  • Oats with blueberries, yogurt, and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Oats with pumpkin puree, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract.

Oatmeal Recipes without Sugar You Might Like

These recipes feature just a few of the many sweet oatmeal flavors you can create with real food ingredients and no sugar, but the sky is the limit:

Creamy oatmeal in a bowl standing on marble background.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few related questions about oats:

Are oats gluten-free?

Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with gluten during processing. If needed, always check the packaging to make sure the oats you are about to use are guaranteed to be gluten-free.

What type of oats should I use?

For a bowl of creamy oatmeal, use Scottish oats. If you want chewier oatmeal, opt for steel cut oats. If you want something in-between, use old-fashioned rolled oats.

Should I add salt to my oatmeal?

Salt enhances the natural flavor of oatmeal and makes it taste better. So, I always recommend adding a small pinch of salt to oatmeal, even if you are making a sweet dish.

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