By Gabrielle. Images by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.
It’s time for another recipe in my Slow Cooker Series — and this time it’s a breakfast option. Did you know how easy it is to make steel cut oats in a slow cooker? So easy!
Put them in before bed and when you wake, they’re warm and ready to dish up. Normally steel cut oats take nearly an hour to cook, which can be tough on a school morning. Using a slow cooker bypasses that hour on the stove, so there’s no active cooking time and it’s ready to go when everyone is getting up and going. It feels good to send the kids off to school with a wholesome warm breakfast in their tummies, and anything that frees up time on busy mornings is a plus!
This recipe makes quite a bit — 8 servings or so depending on how big the servings (or the appetites) are. And one of the best parts is that you can add your choice of toppings, so you can vary the options endlessly. You could even host a family oatmeal buffet!
Have you ever tried steel cut oats? If you’ve been meaning to, try this recipe first.
Slow Cooker Overnight Steel Cut Oats
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
8 cups water
2 cups whole milk
2 cups steel-cut oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (see note on the sugar below)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Optional toppings – fresh sliced fruit, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, ground cinnamon, honey, fresh cream. See suggested variations at bottom.
Grease the slow cooker insert with the butter. Place the water, milk, steel cut oats, brown sugar, and salt into the slow cooker. Stir.
Turn slow cooker on to LOW and cook for 7 hours. After the 7 hours, remove lid and stir.
– If possible, don’t cook the steel cut oats for longer than 7 hours, 8 hours maximum. If they cook for longer than 8 hours on low, they will turn mushy. If you have a programmable slow cooker, this is a good time to use it.
– The edges and top might come out a little crispy. Totally fine, and it’s delicious (yet not photo-worthy). :)
– If you don’t have a slow cooker, or don’t want to go that route, you can soak the steel cut oats overnight with the water in a pan, add the milk and remaining ingredients in the morning, and it will cook for a much shorter time — like 10-15 minutes vs. 40-45 minutes.
– Buttering the slow cooker insert seems to help prevent it from sticking so much, though it will still stick a little bit.
– The sugar isn’t mandatory. It or another sweetener can be added to individual servings later.
– The normal ratio for steel cut oats is 1 part oats to 4 parts liquid. This recipe uses a 1:5 ratio to prevent the oats from drying out and/or burning. They will have a slightly softer, more cooked texture than stovetop steel cut oats.
– Vanilla – add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
– Apple Cinnamon – add 1 or 2 diced apples and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the slow cooker and cook as directed above. You can also use 2 cups of apple juice for part of the water and omit the brown sugar.
– Banana Nut – add 1-2 mashed bananas, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. You can also substitute almond milk for the whole milk. Serve with toasted sliced almonds, walnuts, or pecans on top.
– Maple Pecan – substitute maple syrup for the brown sugar and serve with toasted pecans on top.
P.S. — More slow cooker recipes that my family loves.
19 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats”
I have never successfully made steel cut oats in the slow cooker. My husband decided to try them in the rice cooker last fall, and they turn out PERFECTLY! We eat them most mornings now. Just add the normal amount of water and rice as if you were cooking on the stove, set the timer, and in the morning they are perfectly cooked and held without overcooking. My liberally add berries to mine and a little almond milk.
Using a rice cooker sounds genius!
I second the rice cooker method – so easy! We use the porridge setting on ours and just set the timer so it is ready whenever you want.
That looks yummy. I’m not too sure whether I understand what steel cut oats are and whether we have them in Germany, but I’ll try recreating this anyway:-)
Love from sunny Germany and a beautiful day,
Musste auch lange googeln… Hafergrütze…
Thanks so much for posting this! We LOVE oatmeal and I did try a recipe in the slow cooker but we ended up so disappointed. It was supposed to cook overnight on low. I put it on late at night, and luckily had trouble sleeping that night. I checked on it two hours later and it was total mush already! I’m definitely going to try this!
Crossing my fingers this recipe works for you!
The porridge looks so delicious in your photo that you have me salivating. I cook steel cut oats in the evening and then put them in the fridge and just reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes with milk in the morning. Also my steel cut oats only say to cook for 20-25 minutes which is what I do and they seem fine. Interesting that yours say to cook for almost double the length of time.
Definitely interesting! We are always cooking ours for the longer time on a really low simmer. Maybe we should boost the heat and it wouldn’t take so long. It’s a definite favorite breakfast at our house, so I love the idea of cooking big batches to pull out the for a few day’s worth of breakfasts. Cooking at night is a great tip!
I love this series. I got rid of my slow cooker years ago because I could never figure out recipes I liked and felt like everything ended up super mushy and over cooked. With the great ideas you’re posting I’m thinking maybe I should give it another try.
If you don’t have a slow cooker I HIGHLY recommend the 5 minute steel cut Irish oats from McCanns. They make regular steel cut oats, the 5 minute version and a 1 minute version. The one minute is not as good but the 5 minute is delicious, and really does just take 5 minutes to cook.
I add a few tablespoons of ground flax seeds to boost the nutrition. It doesn’t really change the flavor. My 4 year old picky eater son doesn’t notice or mind the flax being in there; I think he might even prefer it. We usually cook the oats in a rice cooker too; ours has a timer so it is set to be done right before we get up in the morning. I don’t add milk until after it’s cooked, though. If you set the table the night before, you can make mornings a little easier to deal with and feel like your meal is pretty healthy.
I love steel cut oats in the slow cooker. They don’t turn to mush like regular oats. And much more digestible because of the long slow cook.
Our family eats oats almost every morning. I use this method, which makes a batch that can be kept in the fridge for days and reheated in the microwave. It’s the easiest one I’ve seen yet, and doesn’t require much clean up. An oat pot can be difficult! See here:
After a couple of burned crockpots of oatmeal, I decided to try a water bath like cheesecake and it worked! No more burned, stuck on messes to clean up. Put a glass bowl inside of crockpot and put ingredients in that. Fill up crockpot with water to go up 2/3 of the glass bowl. Easy and perfect everytime. We don’t do dairy and this recipe works well for us: 1 c steel cut oats, 2 1/2 c water and 1 c almond milk. Plain but we doctor it up in the morning to our individual tastes. I’m sure you could do a bigger batch but this works great for us.
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Try it with a can of coconut milk replacing 2 cups of the water…makes it creamy rich and just a touch of sweet.
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If I cut this recipe in half, do I still cook for 8 hours?