8 Whole Grains for Your Breakfast Table | Yummly
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When I was a kid, I had a bowl of cereal with milk before school every day. Let’s not talk about how much sugar was in that bowl (I’m looking at you, Golden Grahams). Somehow, it gave me enough energy to make it to lunch — but as an adult, I find that many breakfast cereals leave me hungry within a few hours. The solution is simple: I swapped all those processed carbohydrates for hearty, filling whole grains. Less processing means more of the key nutrients, like fiber and protein, make it onto your plate. That helps you digest more slowly, so you stay satisfied for longer.
Whatever kind of whole grains you’ve got in your pantry, there’s a delicious way to use them for a healthy breakfast.
Jump ahead to:
What is the best whole grain breakfast? >>
Simple to spectacular oats recipes >>
Wholly amazing whole-wheat breakfasts >>
Get keen on these quinoa breakfast recipes >>
Even more whole-grain breakfast recipes >>
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What is the best whole grain breakfast?
Let me make one thing clear: There’s no single “best” whole grain to use for breakfast. All offer health benefits, like a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But some do lend themselves more easily than others:
Oats are a no-brainer. In a rush? Go with quick-cooking or instant. They’re the most processed, but even they count as a whole grain. If you’re not rushing out the door, rolled oats cook up in about 10 minutes, and more of the grain’s fiber stays in the bowl. And if you’ve got some time (or an Instant Pot, as you’ll see below), steel-cut oats are large pieces of oat kernels, which are known as groats. They take a while to cook and have a flavor and texture all their own.
Whole wheat flour boosts the nutrient content of all kinds of baked goods. It comes in several varieties, from regular whole wheat to delicate whole wheat pastry to fool-the-kids white whole wheat.
Quinoa, buckwheat, and millet are what’s known as pseudo-grains. Botanically they’re all seeds, but nutritionally they’re more like grains. These are all naturally gluten-free.
Brown rice, cornmeal, and bulgur are quite different in flavor, texture, and cooking methods. Each one, though, provides the fiber that helps your body digest more slowly.
Simple to spectacular oats recipes
A bowl of oatmeal is probably the most common whole-grain breakfast, but there are plenty of other ways to use this heart-healthy option.
Easy Overnight Oats
It takes my husband an hour to get to his office, so every minute he has to spend getting breakfast ready means a little less sleep. That’s where these sweet jars come in — up to five days ahead of time, you stir together rolled oats, milk, a little honey, and a handful of mix-ins like pecans, blueberries, and chopped apple. Refrigerate, and they’re ready when you are.
Gluten-Free Honey-Cinnamon Breakfast Cookies
Cookies for breakfast is the best idea since sliced bread. Here, bananas, almond butter, and quick-cooking oats form the base of a supremely portable, kid-friendly way to start the day. The almond butter adds a faintly sweet, nutty flavor I really like.
Simple Savory Oats
Who said oatmeal has to be topped with maple syrup or brown sugar? Especially steel-cut oats, which have a hearty, chewy texture that works well with less-traditional flavors. This recipe tops the oatmeal with a runny fried egg, sliced avocado, and a sprinkle of cheese. Easy-peasy, and mighty tasty.
Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
Because they’re the least-processed, steel-cut oats take a while to cook. Most days I don’t have time for that. And yet, I eat a bowl almost every day in winter. This, right here, is how I do it. On Monday I make a big batch in my Instant Pot and keep it in the fridge all week. A quick reheat with some milk to thin each portion, and I’m good to go. Pro tip: Add shredded apple to the IP or slow cooker for a hit of natural sweetness.
Wholly amazing whole-wheat breakfasts
No matter which type of whole wheat flour you’ve got, you can make a mighty fine breakfast.
Healthy Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
In my family, pancakes are the king of all breakfasts, but they don’t have much going for them in the nutrition department. Make them with white whole wheat flour, ripe bananas, ground flaxseed, and chopped walnuts, on the other hand, and you’ve got flapjacks that fill you up and make you happy.
These scrumptious, savory pastries go well beyond basic biscuits. Made with 100% whole wheat flour, they’re studded with cheddar, crumbled bacon, scrambled eggs, and spinach. Grab one on your way out the door, knowing that you have a complete breakfast in your hand.
Healthy Cranberry-Orange Sweet Potato Muffins
Most muffins are essentially cake — filled with white flour, sugar, and butter. It’s easier than you think to turn them into a nutrient-dense, portable breakfast. Here, you’ve got white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, maple syrup instead of sugar, and a powerhouse combo of coconut oil, Greek yogurt, and grated sweet potato instead of butter. Don’t forget the dried cranberries for sweet-tart contrast.
Butternut Squash Waffles
These are not your average, everyday waffles. They get natural sweetness from butternut squash puree, almond milk, and a little maple syrup. In addition to whole wheat flour, they also use nutty buckwheat flour, another whole grain. And they’ve got pumpkin-pie spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Serve them at brunch with the yummy maple yogurt topping and plenty of fresh fruit.
Get keen on these quinoa breakfast recipes
Quinoa is technically a seed, but nutritionally it acts like a whole grain — one with a generous 8 grams of protein in a one-cup serving.
Skillet Baked Eggs in Quinoa with Za’atar
Here’s a savory breakfast dish that’s fancy enough for brunch or dinner guests, and it only takes 20 minutes to make (a little more if you don’t have leftover cooked quinoa). It’s kind of like shakshuka, but instead of tomato sauce for the base, it uses quinoa seasoned with the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar.
Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Bacon Vinaigrette
To put it simply: This breakfast bowl is a grain bowl with breakfast-y toppings. I could absolutely see eating it for lunch or dinner, too. In addition to the quinoa, you’ve got poached eggs, crisp bacon, chopped veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers, chopped apple, and a killer lemon dressing made with bacon drippings.
Lemon Raspberry Quinoa Breakfast Bars
With tart raspberries, tangy lemon, mashed bananas, almond butter, quinoa, and a few more ingredients, you’ve got enough protein, fiber, and other nutrients to fuel your body for hours — and the batter only takes a few minutes to put together. Did I mention it’s vegan, thanks to “eggs” made from ground flaxseed and water?
Crunchy Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
Once you make this easy recipe, you might never opt for store-bought breakfast cereals again. It’s like granola, only with cooked quinoa instead of rolled oats. Toss the grain with hemp hearts, nuts, cinnamon, and a drizzle of maple syrup, then spread the mixture on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven until everything gets golden brown and crunchy.
Even more whole-grain breakfast recipes
Why stop at oats, whole wheat flour, and quinoa? There’s an entire world of whole grains to play with.
Breakfast Rice Pudding
Heck yeah, rice pudding makes a fine breakfast! The key to making it less dessert, more meal: brown rice, which give you fiber, protein, and other nutrients. It’s naturally sweetened with a little honey and mashed banana, and if you use low-fat milk you can lower the saturated fat content. I like to top it with some toasted nuts for healthy fat and crunchy contrast.
Adding raw millet to a basic, rolled-oats granola recipe ups the crunch factor exponentially. You get this fabulous little pop with every bite. The recipe calls for cinnamon, dried cranberries, coconut, and almonds, but you can use whatever combo of spices, dried fruit, and nuts you like.
Simple Fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes for Breakfast or Dinner
These multi-grain pancakes use whole-grain cornmeal and whole wheat pastry flour. They cook up fluffy as can be, but the cornmeal adds a hint of grit, an extra texture that I really like. Leave out the tablespoon of sugar, and these can go savory, too — add some diced green chiles and maybe a little cheddar cheese, and serve with salsa.
There’s something so refreshing about starting your day with salad. Tabbouleh is one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes, a combination of cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, lots of parsley, lemon juice and olive oil, and bulgur. Not familiar with it? Bulgur is a quick-cooking whole grain made from dried, cracked wheat. The salad is a terrific breakfast on its own, but if you top it with a poached egg and serve it with pita, it’s a healthy morning feast.
More healthy breakfast articles
From baked oatmeal to breakfast bars and more, learn to make healthy breakfasts at home.