What Is the Difference Between Oat Bran vs Oatmeal?

By: Bob's Red Mill | December 4 2021

Oatmeal is the epitome of the perfect breakfast. It's excellent for you, loaded with nutrients and simple to make. But it's not the only oat-based food out there. When it comes to oats, there are several products that you may see on grocery store shelves. Rolled oats, oat flour, steel cut oats, instant oats and old fashioned oats are just a few of the many oat varieties you might see. However, oat bran is a different ingredient entirely. 

When you eat rolled oats, you consume the entire oat groat in flattened form. Oat bran, however, is made up of only the outer shell of the oat groat seed. So, although oat bran comes from the same process as oats, they're two entirely different ingredients. If you're looking to expand your oat knowledge and learn more about oat bran vs oatmeal, then this is just the article for you. Continue scrolling as we review the differences of these ingredients and when you should use each in your cooking recipes.

Let's Talk About Whole Grains

While we know that oatmeal is considered a whole grain, what category does oat bran fall under? A whole grain comprises three edible parts: The bran, the germ and the endosperm. In an oats case, the endosperm is protected by an inedible husk that is removed during processing.

Because oat bran is just the bran of the seed, it's not considered a whole grain. Conversely, oatmeal contains the entire oat groat and is valued as one of the most popular whole grains. But if you’re wondering, “is oat bran gluten free?” The answer is yes–with a catch. While oatmeal and oat bran are naturally gluten free, if you have celiac, you’ll need to ensure that your oats have been processed and packaged in a gluten free facility to ensure there is no cross contamination.

Nutritional Benefits

Healthy breakfast ingredients in man hand

When comparing the nutritional value of oat bran vs. oatmeal, you'll find that these two breakfast cereals are pretty similar. Both cereals are excellent options when searching for a healthy addition to your diet. However, the oat bran nutrition profile is slightly better than oatmeal. Let's take a closer look at these differences and discover what you can expect from a bowl of oat bran.


Both oat bran and oatmeal contain protein. But when comparing the two, oat bran does have slightly higher amounts of protein than oatmeal. 

The Difference in Texture

Aside from the nutritional differences, oat bran and oatmeal also differ in texture. Oat bran has a smoother texture than oatmeal which makes it easier to eat. When compared, oatmeal has a chewier texture. If you prefer creamy textures, we suggest opting for a big bowl of oat bran. Individuals who prefer a chewy texture tend to choose oat grains.

The Difference in Taste

While they may be different in texture, these two oat-based ingredients taste incredibly similar. Nutty and slightly earthy, the flavor of oats and oat bran is so mild that they can be used in just about any cuisine. So depending on what you're craving, you can create a sweet bowl of oats like these Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats, or add the bran to a smoothie like this Green Machine Smoothie.

The Cook Time: Oatmeal vs. Oat Bran

Lastly, because oat bran contains less of the oat groat, it cooks quicker than oatmeal does. Thus, making it ideal if you're searching for a quick and healthy meal. That being said, oatmeal doesn't typically take long to make either. In fact, there are several varieties of oats, like quick oats, that will cook almost as fast as oat bran does.

Ways to Use Oats

Though a large bowl of oatmeal is the most popular way to enjoy oats, it's not the only way. Many different recipes use oats to create sweet and savory treats. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Mix It Into Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes

Everyone knows that oatmeal is a tasty breakfast. But, If you enjoy a bowl of oatmeal regularly, you may be looking for a way to spice things up in the morning. Instead of turning your bag of oats into oatmeal, use it to create pancakes instead. One of the most loved breakfast recipes around, pancakes are the perfect breakfast to make for both children and adults. Simple to create, most pancake recipes bake within minutes, meaning you don't have to spend your entire morning making them.

For a pancake recipe that features all of your favorite ingredients, including oat grains, try making these Oatmeal Pancakes. The perfect way to start your day, these pancakes are made with a base of our Gluten Free Oat Flour and Gluten Free Quick Cooking Rolled Oats and then combined with milk, sea salt, egg whites, sugar, egg yolks, baking powder and vegetable oil. Pair these deliciously sweet pancakes with a mug of hot coffee or a refreshing glass of milk, either way. They're sure to be delicious!

Sneak Oatmeal Into A Bar

Eager to take oats with you wherever you go? Oats' dietary fiber and great nutritional value make them an excellent snack on the go, especially when they're packed into an energy bar. The great thing about making oat bars at home is that you get to customize the ingredients. From sweet to savory, your bars can feature all of the foods you genuinely love.

Not sure where to start? Use this Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Bar recipe as inspiration. These delicious bars capture the tart flavor of cranberry and the citrus flavor of oranges to create the perfect alternative to breakfast cereal. Chalked full of rolled oats, the crust, crumble and cranberry filling of these bars can all be made in one food processor, making clean-up easy. Plus, these bars are freezer friendly which means that you can make them in large batches and freeze them until you are ready to enjoy them.

Ways to Use Oat Bran

Like oatmeal, oat bran also has many uses. From baked goods to savory dinner sides, we love adding oat bran to our dishes. So begin your oat bran baking journey and try out one of our delicious oat bran recipes or learn tips on how to cook oat bran below.

Bake Oat Bran Into Muffins

zucchini oat muffins

Looking for some delicious oat bran breakfast recipes? We recommend meal prepping a batch of muffins for a breakfast that you can grab out the door. By making muffins ahead of time, you'll ensure that you always have something healthy to reach for when you require a snack. And, because their muffins are made in single-serving sizes, they're easy to take anywhere. We suggest working oat bran into the recipe for a muffin that you can feel good about biting into.

Muffins like these Flax Oat Bran Zucchini Muffins are the perfect way to wrap all of your nutrients up in a fluffy, delicious-tasting package. Moist, nutritious and low carb, they're the ideal way to start your day. Enjoy one on your way to work and pack another in your kid's lunch box. 

Turn Oat Bran Into Cookies

As healthy as oat bran is, it can be used to make some pretty delicious desserts—including cookies. Not only will adding oat bran to your cookies boost their nutritional content, but it will also help create a wonderful chewy texture. In fact, we love oat bran cookies so much they're one of our favorite go-to recipes when we're baking for a crowd.

For a cookie recipe that's sure to impress everyone who tries it, make these White Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies. Chewy, delicious and packed with sweet add-ins like dried cherries and white chocolate chips, they are the perfect dessert recipe.

Now that you better understand the difference between oat bran vs. oatmeal and how to use each, it's up to you to decide which ingredient to keep your pantry stocked with. Or, embrace the delicious health benefits of both, and switch off using these two superfood ingredients. Whatever you decide to cook up, we're confident it will taste great. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, have a healthy and happy day!


  1. Luke
    Why are the nutrition facts (fiber, protein, fat) on your oat bran hot cereal identical to those on rolled oats, if it is made of just the oat bran?
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Luke- Our Customer Service team would be happy to help you with this. Reach them at [email protected]
    2. Nivien
      Luke’s question is a good one. The nutritional differences between oatmeal and oat bran really should have been covered in this article.
  2. Sue
    Can I use Oatbran instead of Oatmeal for Yorkshire Parkin.
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      Oat bran is only the outer hull of the oat groat while oatmeal is the whole grain (and also a very different texture), so we wouldn't recommend that.
  3. sam
    I'm sitting here eating my first ever bowl of oat bran while reading your article.
    This stuff is delish! Microwave directions called for 1/3rd of a cup of bran and one cup of water. I reduced water to 2/3 cup, added 8 ounces of blueberries, and one teaspoon of honey. I eat a lot of oatmeal. I think I like the bran better.
  4. NMB
    Could you suggest a nutritious recipe soft bread, crept and muffin using Oat Bran and Oatmeal? Thank you.
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      Try our Honey Oatmeal Bread!
  5. Jason Miller
    Good info! There is one typo on this page. In the “The Difference in Texture” section it says ‘oat brown’ rather than ‘oat bran’. Thanks
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      Ha, thank you! We'll fix that. :)
  6. Jane
    Hi! Can I substitute oat bran when baking and the recipe calls for rolled oats?
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Elisabeth Allie
      Hi Jane! It would definitely result in a different outcome, and it would depend on what type of recipe/what quantity, etc. Please email [email protected] for assistance!
  7. Flavia Gemignani
    Flavia Gemignani
    Do you have a oatbran product that can be eaten raw with fruits, yogurt, etc. ?
  8. Vince Schiro
    This Oat Bran vs Oatmeal page is great. However, clicking on the recipes takes it from about 5 stars to maybe only 2 or 3. When clicking on the links for any of the recipes, the opened link shows absolutely no recipe at all.
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Hi Vince! The links are working for me--can you please email [email protected] for troubleshooting?
  9. konnie
    I want to start eating whole foods and have been doing some research.
    I read that ready to cook and eat packaged oats are processed (cleaned, rolled, heated and dried) causing them to loose the vitamins and minerals. So, they are actually a refined food.
    There is info saying rolling your own grains at home is the only way to get the full benefits of oats.
    Where do you stand on this?
    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Raw oats require the hulls to be removed in order to be edible. They also contain an enzyme that makes them go rancid very quickly so for many, rolling their own oats may not be practical because of a short shelf life and equipment needed to do so. All of our oatmeal products have been stabilized with heat, so they are not considered raw and can be eaten uncooked. Below is further information below about the drying and milling process and how the different oatmeal products are made.

      The oat groat (de-hulled oat) is placed in a dry kiln and brought up to 200°F for 4 to 5 hours to stabilize the enzyme action. The oats are then cooled and stored. This is the only process for Whole Oat Groats used to make the Steel Cut Oat, Scottish Oats, Oat Bran and Oat Flour.
      For Rolled Oats: The stabilized groat is put through a large free-flowing stainless bin where steam is injected to bring up the temperature to 212°F and the moisture to 14°. The groat flows into a roller mill, where it is flattened to various thicknesses. It is then air-dried and cooled for bagging and shipping.

      Below are some links to our website about the different oatmeal versions we carry:


  10. Joe Tellat
    Can I use oatbran to soak up oil spills after a traffic accident?

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