Pumpkin season is one of my favorite times of year to spend in the kitchen because I absolutely adore developing recipes with pumpkin. It is such a versatile and healthy ingredient. It can be sweet or savory, baked or raw. It can be used for dinner or, in this case, for an easy grab-and-go breakfast—baked pumpkin oatmeal cups!
These pumpkin oatmeal breakfast cups are soft, tender, and hearty—just like your favorite bowl of morning oatmeal! It’s just a whole lot more portable. (Have you ever tried to eat a bowl of oatmeal while driving? I have. It wasn’t pretty.)
What’s the difference between baked oats and oatmeal?
Before we dive into the delicious details of baked pumpkin oatmeal, let’s clarify the distinction between baked oats and oatmeal. While both are made from the same star ingredient – oats – there are some key differences that set them apart.
- Texture: Traditional oatmeal, made by cooking oats on the stovetop or in the microwave, has a creamy and somewhat mushy texture. On the other hand, baked oats have a heartier and slightly chewier texture, more akin to a soft breakfast bar or granola bar.
- Cooking Method: Oatmeal is prepared by simmering oats in liquid until they absorb most of the moisture. Baked oats are made by mixing oats with various ingredients, including eggs, milk, sweeteners, and flavorings, then baking them in the oven until they set and become firm.
- Timing: Baked oats can be made ahead, so you don’t need to spend any time at the stove on a busy morning. Baked oatmeal cups take it even a step further—they are already broken down into individual portions, so you can just grab-and-go come morning. Conversely, oatmeal is often cooked at the stove on the same day you eat it.
Why are baked oats so great?
We love a good bowl of regular oatmeal or a jar of overnight oats, but something about a baked oatmeal cup sets them apart.
- Morning Time Saver: If you’re someone who hits the snooze button a few too many times, baked oats are your breakfast superhero. Whip up a batch in advance, store it in the fridge, and simply reheat for a quick, satisfying morning meal. No more rushing to cook oatmeal before work or school!
- Texture Temptation: Craving a change in your breakfast routine? Baked oats provide a delightful contrast in texture compared to traditional oatmeal. The crispy edges and soft interior create a harmonious, comforting, and satisfying mouthfeel.
- Endless Creativity: Baked oats are like a blank canvas, ready to be adorned with your favorite flavors, fruits, nuts, and spices. Whether it’s pumpkin spice for fall or tropical coconut for a summer treat, you can customize baked oats to your heart’s content.
- Nutritional Benefits: Don’t worry, baked oats don’t skimp on the health front. They retain all the nutritional benefits of traditional oatmeal, such as fiber, which helps keep you full and fueled throughout the morning. Plus, the addition of pumpkin, in our case, adds vitamins and antioxidants to the mix.
What do I need to make baked pumpkin oatmeal cups?
Grab a standard muffin tin and these ingredients:
- Rolled oats. You might see these labeled as “old fashioned oats” at the grocery store. Use gluten-free oats if needed.
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Baking powder
- Pumpkin puree
- Maple syrup
- Avocado oil
- Vanilla extract
How do I make this pumpkin baked oatmeal recipe?
- Preheat the oven and prep a muffin tin for baking.
- Stir the dry ingredients together.
- Add the wet ingredients, and mix until combined. Fold in any mix-ins you are using.
- Spoon the oat mixture into the muffin tin, patting down the tops with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Why is baked pumpkin oatmeal good for prepping ahead?
Sometimes baking with oats can render a dry, cardboard-like texture, but not here! Thanks to the moistness of the pumpkin, these grab-and-go breakfast cups are tender and cakey.
Make sure to bake up a batch of these oatmeal cups during your weekly meal prep. They last in the fridge for up to five days, and will last in the freezer for much longer—up to three months. Eat them cold, at room temperature, or warmed in the microwave or toaster oven with a little bit of nut butter on top. Yum! They are great for breakfast or easy snacks. We really like pairing a baked oatmeal cup with a piece of fruit for an after-school snack.
How do I make pumpkin baked oats gluten-free?
Grab yourself a bag of certified gluten-free rolled oats, and make up these baked oatmeal cups for you and all your gluten-avoiding friends. They are naturally gluten-free! These oatmeal cups are also naturally sweetened using maple syrup. They are just lightly sweet—so feel free to up the amount of maple syrup by a tablespoon or two if you like a sweeter oat cup.
Customize your oatmeal cups with mix-ins
I like these oatmeal cups just as they are, but if you’re looking to fancy it up a bit, feel free to fold your favorite oatmeal mix-ins into the batter. Chopped walnuts, raisins, and mini chocolate chips are all amazing!
Happy Pumpkin Season, friends. Enjoy!