Oats vs. Rice: Key Differences, Nutritional Info, and More

Oatmeal vs Rice

Oats vs. Rice: Key Differences, Nutritional Info, and More

Are you trying to eat healthier and unsure whether oatmeal or rice should be on the menu? Let's take a look at these two common cereal grains that are popular across the globe. Oats are often connected to breakfast, while rice is associated with lunch and dinner. But it isn't as simple as that because these complex carbohydrates can be used in many ways. Oats aren't just for breakfast. They are used in desserts, granola, and savory dishes too. While rice isn't just for stir-fries, it can be used to make drinks, desserts, and other dishes. When it comes to oats vs. rice, the two have a few things in common, but not enough that you could use them interchangeably in dishes; rice raisin cookies or oatmeal pilaf just don't quite seem right. 

Oats vs. Rice:  Nutritional Differences

Nutritionally speaking, oats and rice are both part of a healthy diet. But depending on your nutritional goals, for example, to lose or gain weight, one may be better than the other. Let’s start with serving size; a serving size of oats is half a cup, which is 150 calories. A serving size of rice is a half cup if it's a side dish and one cup if it's the main dish. One cup of rice has 205 calories. Both oats and rice will keep you full, and it depends on the add-ins for a true look at calories. A bowl of cooked oats with fruit, nuts, and raisins will quickly raise the calorie count. And most people don't just eat just a bowl of rice by itself. It is served with veggies, protein, and sauce, which changes the calorie count.

There is a reason that oats are a popular breakfast food: they are a good source of fiber and protein and have vitamins and minerals. Plus, they make you feel full, which is associated with eating less overall. So, adding oats to your diet can help manage weight. In contrast, white rice doesn't have the same hefty nutritional profile.

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Other Considerations

When we look at rice, it is a little more complicated because white rice, probably the most commonly consumed rice, is high in carbs and high on the glycemic index, meaning it should be eaten in moderation and even avoided by anyone with a high risk of diabetes according to WebMD. But rice varies, and there are many types of rice. Wild rice and brown rice are better options to avoid blood sugar spikes. These types of rice have more nutritional value than white rice and are overall a better choice.

It is challenging to compare oats and rice because there are different types of oats and rice, and they range significantly in nutritional value. As a general rule, the darker the rice color, the more nutritious it is, and in the case of oats, the less processed it is, the healthier it is. 

If gluten is a concern, you will be pleased to know that oats and rice are naturally gluten-free. However, they are often manufactured in places that manufacture wheat-based products, so always look for certified gluten-free oats and rice. Some packaged rice comes preseasoned, and these seasonings often have gluten, so avoid preseasoned rice blends.

What Are Oats?

Rolled oats or oat flakes in wooden bowl and golden wheat ears on stone background. Top view, horizontal. Healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, vegan food concept

©Vladislav Noseek/Shutterstock.com

Oats are a whole grain that has been around for a long time. The Romans cultivated oats for animal feed, and it wasn't until the Medieval period that people started eating oats. They were prized grain that was easy to grow in harsh climates and became a part of the culinary tradition of Northern Europe. These days, oats are a widely popular pantry staple that you can find in many homes.

Types of Oatmeal

There are several types of oats, some more nutritious than others.

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  • Rolled/ Old Fashioned are flat and round with irregular shapes. These oats are made from stemmed groats and then rolled, creating the shape. It takes around 25-30 minutes to cook rolled oats, and the ratio is two parts liquid to one part oats. You can use water, milk, or milk alternatives.
  • Steel-cut oats are the darling of the health food scene right now. They are considered the healthiest oats and don't even look like oats. They look like grains because the oat groat is cut instead of rolled out, giving them a chewy texture. Because the grain is denser than rolled oats, steel-cut oats need a ratio of three parts liquid to one part oats and cook for around twenty minutes.
  • Instant oats look similar to rolled but are thinner, making them cook faster. They need a two-to-one ratio and cook in just a few minutes. Instant oats are sold plain or in packages with flavorings.
  • Scottish oats are used to make porridge, which is uncommon in the U.S. The oats cook down into a creamy porridge at a three-to-one ratio for ten minutes. The resulting porridge looks more similar to Cream of Wheat rather than oats.
  • Whole Oat Groats are raw oats minus the hull or shell. They look like grains of long brown rice. They take close to an entire hour to cook at a ratio of three to one.

What Is Rice?

Natural white and brown long rice in wood spoons.

©Iasmina Calinciuc/Shutterstock.com

Rice is a staple grain eaten all over the world. It is the key ingredient in Italian risotto, Asian stir fry, Spanish paella, Indian biryani, Japanese sushi, Chinese fried rice, and Cajun red beans and rice. This inexpensive grain works with all flavors and spices, making it popular. It's hard to know exactly when people started eating rice, but archaeologists, according to The Rice Association, think it was around 4500 BC. No wonder there are so many amazing rice dishes.

Types of Rice

There are many different kinds of rice, and here are some of the most common.

  • Long Grain White is one of the most popular types of rice. It has a multitude of uses.
  • Arborio is a medium-grain rice common in soups and risotto.
  • Basmati is a long-grain rice common in pilafs and curries.
  • Bomba is a short-grain Spanish rice common in paella.
  • Jasmine is the most fragrant of rice with a floral scent. It is popular in Southeast Asian cuisine.
  • Wild rice is actually a mix of seeds from four different grasses. It takes longer to cook than other rice and has a chewy texture. It's good in stuffings and casseroles.
  • Brown is healthier than white rice but takes longer to cook. It has a chewy texture and nutty taste.
  • Sticky is a long grain rice that is low in starch and gets a sticky texture when cooked. It is popular in rice balls and desserts.
  • Sushi is a short-grain rice common in sushi and poke bowls.
  • Black rice can be long, medium, or short, and it has the same antioxidants that blueberries contain, making it one of the healthier types of rice. It's common in Chinese black rice cakes and puddings. 
  • Parboiled rice is a busy home cook's friend. It comes partially boiled for faster cooking time and can be any size grain. Everyone who loves rice but doesn't have much time should keep it in their kitchen cupboard.

How to Use Oatmeal

Chances are you have made oatmeal at least once in your life, probably for breakfast. Oatmeal makes a great hot breakfast. You can dress it up with dried fruit, maple syrup, brown sugar, and nuts or keep it simple with a handful of fresh berries. Overnight oats are another popular way to make oats for breakfast. Just put your oats in a jar with yogurt or milk and let sit overnight to soften them up, and in the morning, grab a spoon and your favorite toppings for a fast, easy breakfast. If you prefer a smoothie in the morning, try throwing in a handful of oats to give it some texture. Oats are perfect in desserts, too. From oatmeal cookies to fruit, crisp and crumble oats are a good choice.

Oats do not have to be sweet; they can be savory, too. You can use oats to make a creamy, savory dish with your favorite proteins, veggies, and sauces. In the U.S., savory oats are fairly new, but in other parts of the world, they have been mixing oats with savory foods for much longer.

Oatmeal in DIY Beauty Treatments

Oats are also great in some DIY beauty treatments, from face masks to foot scrubs. Oats can help your skin as an exfoliator. Try mixing it with honey and powdered milk for a luxurious bath without the expensive spa treatments.

How to Use Rice

Rice is an inexpensive staple food that is perfect in sweet or savory dishes. It is the King of staple foods, from risotto to pilaf to paella to sweet horchata and rice pudding. Unfortunately, some home cooks find rice challenging to make; it either turns out too mushy or too crunchy and once you burn the bottom of a pan with rice, you have to start over completely. One way to make rice easier is to invest in a rice cooker. They come in different sizes and price ranges, so you can find one that fits your family.

Delicious Rice Recipe

Both rice and oats are such versatile foods that you will likely never lack a tasty recipe. But what's one more? Try this tasty rice recipe!

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Veg Schezwan Fried Rice in black bowl at dark slate background. Vegetarian Szechuan Rice is indo-chinese cuisine dish with bell peppers, green beans, carrot. Top view

Healthy Fried Rice

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 1/3 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Bring water and stock to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add rice and stir. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Reserve.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet.
  5. Sauté onion and celery over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, including reserved cooked rice.
  6. Fluff with a fork before serving.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 139
  • Sodium: 86 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
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