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The Best Hot Cereal

Last updated on May 14, 2020

We looked at the top 11 Hot Cereals and dug through the reviews from 31 of the most popular review sites including HempNews Reviews, No Place Called Home, Cooking Light, Fooducate, NEAROF!, Doug Cook, RDN and more. The result is a ranking of the best Hot Cereals.

Best Hot Cereal

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Our Picks For The Top Hot Cereals

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Ralston 100% Whole Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

Ralston

100% Whole Wheat Hot Cereal

Overall Take

High in FiberNot only is this hot cereal high in fiber, but it's also low in cholesterol.

Experts Included
DWYM Food Experts plus Fooducate, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Orlando Sentinel. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Less than 1.5 tsp of sugar. Nice"
Cons
"All of the cereals I sampled were free of preservatives, except for Ralston, which had BHA added. Ralston seems totally bland, tasting more of the box in which it was packed than of anything else."
  The Best Value

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack Hot Cereal

Quaker

Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack Hot Cereal

Overall Take

35% Less SugarThis pack provides you with 48 delicious breakfasts in mouth-watering flavors like cinnamon and spice.

Experts Included
DWYM Food Experts plus Eat This, Not That!, The Daily Meal, Fooducate, Root Simple. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" This "Lower Sugar" option ranked more favorably on our list because it still contains some sugar, which means there's less artificial sweetener added to trick your taste buds."
Cons
"Additionally, the serving size was still significantly reduced — without reducing the price. Essentially, consumers are paying for portion control, artificial sweetener, and a label that makes them feel better about their sugary breakfast."

Malt-O-Meal Original Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

Malt-O-Meal

Original Wheat Hot Cereal

Overall Take

Contains Folic AcidGreat when you're craving a quick breakfast that is also hot.

Experts Included
DWYM Food Experts plus Fooducate, Kitchen Sanity, Healthline. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Less than 1.5 tsp of sugar. Nice."
Cons
"Farina is wheat, so if you’re gluten intolerant or grain sensitive, this probably won’t be good for you."

Wheatena Toasted Wheat Hot Cereal

Wheatena

Toasted Wheat Hot Cereal

Overall Take

Great Source of ProteinThis option can be used in a wide variety of recipes, as well as being a tasty breakfast option.

Experts Included
DWYM Food Experts plus Fooducate, The New York Times, The Healthy, The Nibble. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Less than 1.5 tsp of sugar. Nice! This product is minimally processed. A good natural source of iron. A top product in its category."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
18

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the hot cereals available to purchase.
11

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

31

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: HempNews Reviews, No Place Called Home, Cooking Light, Fooducate, NEAROF!.

5,659

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart.

Our experts reviewed the top 11 Hot Cereals and also dug through the reviews from 31 of the most popular review sites including HempNews Reviews, No Place Called Home, Cooking Light, Fooducate, NEAROF!, Doug Cook, RDN and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Hot Cereals.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Ralston 100% Whole Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

Our Expert Score
8.8
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
290 user reviews
Our Take

You won't find any sugar, sodium or saturated fats in a bowl of this hot cereal. In fact, the only ingredient is 100% milled wheat, which means you won't find any preservatives or artificial ingredients either. With the help of a microwave, you can have a hot bowl of cereal ready in just two minutes!

What other experts liked
Less than 1.5 tsp of sugar. Nice
- Fooducate
Ralston came close primarily for its toasty, nutty smell, if we were having “brown” cereal.
- The New York Times
Still, these cereals did warm us on cold mornings and, we must admit, made us feel loved. Day after day, the steaming bowls served as a buffer against the cold and the cold realities of grade school.
- Christian Science Monitor
Ralston Hot Cereal offers insoluble fiber, with no added salt, sugar, vitamins or minerals.
- Orlando Sentinel
What other experts didn't like
Farina - not a whole grain
- Fooducate
All of the cereals I sampled were free of preservatives, except for Ralston, which had BHA added. Ralston seems totally bland, tasting more of the box in which it was packed than of anything else.
- The New York Times
Doggedly, spoonful by spoonful, you got through it, feeling all the time that you were brushing your teeth with cereal. We doubted that Tom Mix actually ate the stuff, believing instead that it was really intended for his horse, Tony.
- Christian Science Monitor

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack Hot Cereal

Our Expert Score
9.4
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
1,292 user reviews
Our Take

If you need to reduce your daily sugar intake, but don't want to give up flavor, go with this hot cereal. Each bowl contains 35% less sugar, while still providing plenty of fiber. This variety comes with the following flavors: apples and cinnamon, maple and brown sugar, original and cinnamon and spice.

What other experts liked
This "Lower Sugar" option ranked more favorably on our list because it still contains some sugar, which means there's less artificial sweetener added to trick your taste buds.
- Eat This, Not That!
The “Lower Sugar” variety also, not surprisingly, has fewer calories than the original version — though the packaging does specify that the oatmeal is “not a low-calorie food.”
- The Daily Meal
Less than 1.5 tsp of sugar. 100% whole grain! More than 12% daily fiber!
- Fooducate
I was reaching for the usual box of oatmeal when I saw one next to it marked “lower sugar.” In my extreme naivete, I said to myself, “That’s fantastic! They finally cut down the sugar! They could easily reduce the sugar by half and lose none of the flavor.”
- Root Simple
What other experts didn't like
Additionally, the serving size was still significantly reduced — without reducing the price. Essentially, consumers are paying for portion control, artificial sweetener, and a label that makes them feel better about their sugary breakfast.
- The Daily Meal
1 tsp of added sugars per serving. Highly Processed!
- Fooducate
I discovered that our oatmeal tasted dreadfully synthetic and sweet. Quaker did reduce the sugar significantly (from 12 g. per serving to 4 g.), but they did so by adding sucralose, the artificial sweetener known as Splenda (and kicking up the sodium significantly).
- Root Simple

Overall Product Rankings

Ralston 100% Whole Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

1. Ralston 100% Whole Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 5

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack Hot Cereal

2. Quaker Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 5

Malt-O-Meal Original Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

3. Malt-O-Meal Original Wheat Hot Cereal, 3-Pack

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 5

Wheatena Toasted Wheat Hot Cereal

4. Wheatena Toasted Wheat Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 5

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Hot Cereal

5. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Rice Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 4

Quaker Quick Steel Cut Variety Hot Cereal

6. Quaker Quick Steel Cut Variety Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 4

Krusteaz Whole Wheat Zoom Quick Hot Cereal

7. Krusteaz Whole Wheat Zoom Quick Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 3

Red River Hot Cereal

8. Red River Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 5

Quaker Instant Variety Oatmeal Express Cups Hot Cereal

9. Quaker Instant Variety Oatmeal Express Cups Hot Cereal

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 4

Cream of Rice Gluten-Free Hot Cereal, 2-Pack

10. Cream of Rice Gluten-Free Hot Cereal, 2-Pack

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 4

HMR Multigrain Hot Cereal, 18-Pack

11. HMR Multigrain Hot Cereal, 18-Pack

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 3

Our Hot Cereal Buying Guide

Breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day. WebMD reports that a nutritious breakfast not only gives you energy, but it also boosts your metabolism so that you can properly burn calories throughout the rest of the day. If you don’t have time to prepare a plate of bacon and eggs, but don’t want to resort to cold sugary cereals, you can make a bowl of hot cereal in just a few minutes.

When shopping for the best hot cereal, you need to consider your diet. For example, if you’re sensitive to gluten, you’re going to want a cereal made using gluten-free brown rice. There are also cereals made using 100% all-natural toasted whole wheat that is free of GMOs.

Next, you’ll want to check the nutrition label. There are hot cereals that contain 25% more fiber, as well as some that have added iron. Many are high in calcium and folic acid as well. You also want to make sure they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

It’s important to note that instant hot cereal packets often have sugar in them. Look for a lower-sugar version if you have to limit your daily sugar intake. It’s also a good idea to go with a hot cereal that is free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.

DWYM Fun Fact

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists porridge as grains cooked in either water or milk until they become soft and thick. This is essentially what we refer to today as hot cereal. The dish has been around close to the beginning of time, although not all cultures used the same grains to make it. For example, Asian countries make their porridge out of rice grains, while the Scottish people use oats. Here in the United States, we have a choice of hot cereals. We can buy porridge made from rice, wheat or oats.

The Hot Cereal Tips and Advice

  • Always follow the cooking instructions listed on the hot cereal’s product packaging. Typically, you’ll need to pour the recommended amount of cereal and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. The addition of salt is always optional. Once the mixture is boiling, you’ll want to lower the heat and stir constantly to avoid the formation of clumps. After the recommended amount of cooking time, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit until the cereal has thickened. If you prefer to prepare the hot cereal in the microwave, combine the cereal and water in a microwave-safe dish and cook for the designated amount of time listed on the hot cereal box. Again, you’ll need to wait a few minutes for the cereal to thicken.
  • When it comes to flavoring your hot cereal, there are an endless amount of possibilities. You can mix in a little brown sugar, vanilla extract or maple syrup. Perhaps you’d like to top your hot cereal with banana slices, a handful of blueberries or some coconut flakes?
  • It’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t regulate any health claims made by the companies that produce hot cereal.
  • To compare hot cereal prices, you must first determine how much the company is charging per ounce. The Quaker Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack Hot Cereal and the Malt-O-Meal Original Wheat Hot Cereal are among the most affordable. Moderately priced is the Wheatena Toasted Wheat Hot Cereal with the Ralston 100% Whole Wheat Hot Cereal coming in at the highest price per ounce.

About The Author

Alicia Bodine
Alicia Bodine 

Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance. With more than 15 years of experience, her work has appeared on leading financial publications. She's also a certified Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach.