Can You Eat Oats Raw?

A pile of rolled oats

The short answer is, yes. The long answer is, maybe, depending on what type of rolled oats you have, and how you want to enjoy them. Read on for a glimpse into how rolled oats are processed and how you can best enjoy them at home.


Oat grains are de-husked before they reach your kitchen table in order to simply be digestible for our stomachs. From there, the grain is heated and cooled to make an oat groat—considered the most “raw” form of an oat you can buy. Groats are then either rolled by machine (giving us rolled oats) or cut and broken into smaller pieces (giving us steel-cut and Scottish oats). Rolled oats can be pressed into flatter, thinner grains, such as those from Quaker Oats (labeled “traditional”) or slightly thicker grains (labeled “thick-cut” rolled oats).


When it comes to rolled oats, they are usually all okay to eat “raw.” I use raw in quotations because they have already been steamed, so although minimally-processed, they aren’t technically raw. The light steaming process, as well as the flattening of the surface, is a form of pre-digestion that makes the grains easy enough for our stomachs to handle. Thinner rolled oats are easier to chew on and might have a milder flavor than the “thick-cut” rolled oats, but they are comparable in digestibility.


That being said, rolled oats eaten without you cooking them at home will still taste a bit “green” and have a gritty chew to them. Many people simply find this undesirable. And some complain that eating them uncooked for longer periods at a time gives them constipation. If this is the case, you can soak the rolled oats in liquid until softened to your preferences. Soak them in cold juice, water or milk for a traditional muesli-style preparation, or soak them in hot or boiling water to get them creamy and sweeter.


Basically, eating rolled oats straight from the bulk bin won’t hurt you, if you’re looking to go less-cooked with your foods. Feel free to experiment with your own preferences; unboiled, soaked in juice or boiled to creamy oblivion, and souped up with any sorts of fruits, spices and yogurts.

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