Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Oatmeal is a fantastic choice when trying to maintain a healthy diet. But sometimes, you make your instant oatmeal and get an important call.
The next thing you know, it’s cold, and you’re wondering if it’s safe to eat. How long can oatmeal sit out?
There are different rules for oats when it comes to leaving oatmeal out. We’ve broken it down in bullet points below.
- United States Department of Agriculture recommends to throw out cooked oatmeal left out for 2 hours or longer because they move into the Danger Zone, which sources say is 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140˚F.
- Commercially processed oats can be kept on the shelf at room temperature for 12 months and should have an expiration date on the package.
- Unstabilized dry oats will last in your pantry for 3 to 4 months.
- Store oatmeal that contains other ingredients like dried fruit or dry milk for four months to 1 year. The variation depends on the added ingredients and storage method.
- Always check the sell-by date on the package.
- How Long Can Cooked Oatmeal Sit Out?
- How Long Can Baby Oatmeal Sit Out?
- How Long Can Oatmeal With Milk Sit Out?
- Can Oatmeal Sit Out All Day?
- Can I Eat The Oatmeal That’s Been Sitting Out?
- Can Oatmeal Sit Out Overnight?
- Can You Eat Oatmeal That Sat Out All Day?
- Does Oatmeal Go Bad Easily?
- How Can You Tell If Oatmeal Has Gone Bad?
- Do You Have To Leave Oats Overnight?
- Will Oatmeal Go Bad If You Leave It Out To Soak On The Counter?
- What Goes Best With Oatmeal?
How Long Can Cooked Oatmeal Sit Out?
Cooked oatmeal is the kind that will move into the Danger Zone if left out at room temp for longer than 2 hours.
If you put it in the fridge before that 2-hour deadline, then it will prolong the shelf-life. You can also put cooked oatmeal in the freezer if you don’t have the time to make it fresh every day.
Frozen oatmeal will not be the same after being defrosted as freshly cooked. But it will retain nutritional value.
How Long Can Baby Oatmeal Sit Out?
When you walk through the baby food aisle at the supermarket, there are many selections of instant oatmeal specifically for the baby.
We suggest paying particular attention to the sell-by date on these packages and only keep them as long as the manufacturer recommends, as long as they remain dry and uncooked.
Once you cook the baby oatmeal, you cannot leave it out past the 2-hour recommendation by the USDA.
Foodborne illnesses are tough on adults, but they can be detrimental to babies. It’s always a good idea to play it safe for the little ones since their immune system is still developing.
How Long Can Oatmeal With Milk Sit Out?
Oatmeal with milk is one of our faves, but the addition of dairy makes it more imperative that you don’t leave it out past that 2-hour window recommended by the USDA.
Some affiliate links may suggest differently, but you don’t want to risk moving it into the Danger Zone, which endangers your health.
You should eat milk and oatmeal right away. This combination becomes less tasty as it gets cold, which could happen in half an hour if left out at room temperature.
Try not to work while eating your breakfast and be present with your food. That way, you eat your oatmeal when it’s hot.
Can Oatmeal Sit Out All Day?
If it is unopened and dry, oatmeal can sit out all day and should be safe on the shelf in your pantry for the length of time indicated on the package.
Dry foods have a longer shelf life because they are mostly free of moisture, which causes decay over time.
Tip: The best way to store dry oats, including steel-cut, instant, raw, and others, is in a dark area that is dry and free from moisture.
Can I Eat The Oatmeal That’s Been Sitting Out?
Dry oatmeal sitting out for a long time may be safe, but it’s best to check the date on the package.
Every type of meal, including raw oats, has an individual shelf life. So check that date and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safest results.
Some of them have a long shelf-life, so don’t assume and check that date.
If the oatmeal has been cooked and then sat out all night, no, you cannot eat that without the risk of food poisoning.
Can Oatmeal Sit Out Overnight?
Dry oatmeal can sit out overnight. Check the date for freshness. Things can be eaten past the date on the package because that’s a sell-by date.
Bacteria have a difficult time multiplying in dry foods because it lacks moisture. Once you add the water it needs, bacteria can grow, which is why you have to avoid it if it’s been out past the 2-hour window.
Bacteria may still be present in dry food, but it needs the water and the opportunity to move into the Danger Zone we’ve been warning you about.
Can You Eat Oatmeal That Sat Out All Day?
You can eat dry oatmeal that has sat out all day if you cook it before eating it. Cooked oatmeal that sits out all day will move into the Danger Zone in 2 hours. It moves at a faster speed if kept out at high temperatures.
Cooked oatmeal that has sat out all day is not safe to eat and should be thrown away.
Does Oatmeal Go Bad Easily?
Dry oatmeal doesn’t go rancid quickly, because dry food lacks the moisture needed to accelerate bacterial growth.
Cooked oatmeal will begin to move into the Danger Zone at that 2-hour mark we’ve been talking about.
It will move into the Danger Zone even faster if kept out at warmer temperatures. This Danger Zone is why making just enough to eat is an excellent idea if you have the time.
You can freeze larger portions for ease, but the consistency may seem different.
How Can You Tell If Oatmeal Has Gone Bad?
Dry food can go bad, and there are ways to tell. Surprisingly enough, dry and cooked oatmeal that has gone bad on the counter or in the fridge will all exhibit the same signs of spoilage.
- Do the oats smell off or emit bad odors?
- Are there dark areas on the oats?
- Do you have winged pests flying around the package? (Dry only)
All of these indicate that your oatmeal has turned. Storing your dry oats in a dark, dry area of your kitchen or pantry is a good choice when you want the best quality.
Tip: Store your dry oats in airtight containers to keep them fresher.
Do You Have To Leave Oats Overnight?
Overnight oats are all the rage because they’re simple to make, and you can create individual servings from a larger portion.
But these are kept in the refrigerator overnight and eaten cold. When you do an overnight soak, it’s best to keep the oats in the fridge to avoid contamination from harmful bacteria.
Overnight oatmeal, which soaks in the fridge, is one of the best ways to get the benefits of soaked oats without risking foodborne illness.
We recommend using small glass containers for individual servings.
Will Oatmeal Go Bad If You Leave It Out To Soak On The Counter?
According to the USDA, yes. You run the risk of contamination at a warmer temperature than in the fridge.
The same signs of spoilage apply. If your overnight oatmeal smells strange or has dark spots, throw it away.
Don’t risk illness and being laid up for days just to save some money on oats.
What Goes Best With Oatmeal?
Now that we’ve covered all the safety aspects let’s talk about the foods in your kitchen that will change your meal from a plate of dry oats to something delicious.
While so many varieties and combinations make oatmeal delicious, we broke them down as follows.
Fruit is not only a natural sweetener, but they also add some much-needed vitamins and minerals to your breakfast, and the addition will keep you more full throughout the day.
Some of the tastiest dried fruits for oatmeal include cranberries, raisins, cherries, and coconut. There are also dried strawberries, mangos, and blueberries.
Prunes are dried plums and delicious in oatmeal so get creative. These will also add fantastic colors to the beige landscape of oatmeal.
Dried fruits have a longer shelf life, but fresh fruits are hard to beat, especially when it comes to peaches, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Bananas freshly peeled and cut up add a delicious flavor to oatmeal.
Sugar is delicious, but it’s empty when it comes to nutrition, and there are so many alternatives available.
Brown sugar is a favorite for oatmeal, and that’s understandable because it links with oatmeal perfectly.
You can also use honey, demerara sugar, agave, maple syrup, or one of the artificial sweeteners available.
Chocolate or caramel chips or sauce are more ways you can kick that boring breakfast up a notch.
Vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon are popular spice additives. You can also go the savory route and add salt and pepper or everything bagel spice.
Diary, soy, almond, and oat milk all pair well with oatmeal. You can also use whipped cream and heavy whipping cream if you like.
When it comes to dressing up your oatmeal, the options are endless, and you can mix and match one from each category or more to create a delightful new breakfast every day.
Tip: Don’t overdo it. Sometimes more isn’t better. Good combinations would be almond milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Another is vanilla extract, blueberries, and sliced almonds. Try a few and keep it simple, so none of the other flavors are overpowered by another.
Oatmeal is a good choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s easy to make and offers you various flavor options so you can avoid ever eating the same bowl twice.
But, if you find a fantastic flavor combination, make sure to write it down because you’ll want to have it again.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.