Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal

We haven’t done a whole lot of breakfasts on our site, and I need to fix this because breakfast is a pretty important part of the day.

I also know it’s one of the toughest to truly cook something for. You’re bleary-eyed, fumbling for coffee, and making sure your socks match is about all your brain can handle in the morning (at least that’s how I operate).

That’s why it’s best if breakfast is already pre-made and just needs a quick warming up.

Making a big batch of steel cut oatmeal in a slow cooker is one of my favorite simple and easy pre-made breakfast solutions.

I love the fiber in oatmeal (c’mon admit it, your digestive system could use a little fibrous “push” too, right?), but I’ve never enjoyed oatmeal made out of rolled oats. The texture was just not for me, but I absolutely love oatmeal made of steel cut oats.

The only downside of steel cut oats are they take a lot longer to cook, which is why it’s a perfect candidate for slow cooking. On a Sunday night, I’ll dump everything in the pot, turn it on low, and let it go overnight for a fresh breakfast in the morning. The rest gets packaged away for the week.

I like to keep the base simple and then mix it up throughout the week.

Some days I’ll add nuts and cinnamon. I also love stirring in yogurt for some extra morning protein. And of course, you can never go wrong with any fresh fruit – bananas, apples, and berries all make great toppings. I’ll even add preserves or shaved coconut to make it a sweeter treat. Drizzle with maple syrup and this breakfast almost seems like a healthy dessert.

need more ideas?

Here are more ways to customize your oatmeal, so that you’ll always have a variety for breakfast:

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Prepping Smarts

  • Steel cut oats use a 4:1 liquid to oats ratio. You can use any combination for the liquid – water, soy milk, almond milk, normal milk all work well.

Equipment Smarts

  • Slow cooker – the perfect kitchen equipment that does all the work for you. You don’t have to keep a watchful eye on the pot and worry about stirring constantly!

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal

Most of us are too busy to make breakfast in the morning, so a big pot of steel cut oatmeal made in a slow cooker is the perfect solution to make sure you always have a healthy meal to start the day.

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 8 hr

Total time: 8 hr 5 min

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients

  • Steel cut oats – 2 cups
  • Water – 6 cups
  • Milk (any type) – 2 cups
  • Butter – 2 Tbsp
  • Apples, peeled & chopped (optional) – 2 to 3
  • Brown sugar – ¼ cup
  • Kosher salt – 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 Tbsp
  • Star anise (optional) – 2 to 3

Instructions

Prep

  1. Apples (if using) – Prep as directed.

Make

  1. Optional: Give the slow cooker a quick spray of cooking oil or brush with cooking oil to prevent sticking of ingredients.
  2. Put all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high.
  3. Top with nuts, yogurt, fruit, jams, coconut shavings!
  4. If you don’t have a slow cooker, bring the ingredients to boil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring here and there to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

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  • Taylor Ahlgren

    I love this oats-for-the-week concept – I’ve recently experimented by adding protein powder and almond butter to mine. Jess – what are the differences you notice between cooking in slow cooker for 8 hours vs over the stove in 45min?

  • scrivener

    I love steel-cut oats in my slow-cooker, and after several attempts here’s what I’ve learned.

    1. Smaller batches, if you live by yourself, work best. Make a cup at a time.

    2. For these smaller batches, use a smaller slow-cooker. You can get a one-quart slow-cooker for less than $20, usually. And if you’re buying a new one anyway, you might as well buy one with a “warm” setting, because

    3. My best oatmeal is made like this: put a cup of steel-cut oats in a slow-cooker. Boil a quart of water. Pour the boiling water over the oats. Cover the slow-cooker, and leave it on WARM overnight.

    4. Yum.

  • Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to posts about breakfast dishes. I do hope you link this in. This is the link . Please do check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Cheers

  • Courtney

    This looks amazing! You say you ‘package’ it away for the week – how long do you find it lasts, and how best to store it?

  • @Courtney, thx for the question! So, for us, it lasts almost the entire work week M-F. You can always freeze too if you don’t think you’ll get through it within 5 days. Just store it properly – whether fridge or freezer – in airtight containers and use the reheat setting in a microwave. This will get it to safe heating temps but not re-cook your oatmeal.

  • @scrivener When you say 1 cup at a time, do you mean 1 cup dried or finished? I’m sure your oatmeal is delicious! And I agree with you on the smaller slow cooker if you’re mostly cooking for 1. I’ve definitely made smaller batches of oatmeal in our large 6 quart and it’s not as great

  • @Taylor Yes, almond butter and protein powder would be good additions. I haven’t noticed really any difference between the two cooking methods. Slow cooker is just a lot more low maintenance for me. I’m sure we’ve all burned oatmeal before on the stovetop, which doesn’t really happen in a slow cooker

  • Made this today – my second attempt at crock pot oatmeal. First time was a horrible, disgusting disaster! LOL This time I cooked it during the day so that I could keep an eye on it. After 5 hours it was perfect. So, no overnight for me but I can easily double the recipe in my 6 quart cooker and make plenty to freeze for later on a weekend.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    PS – Don’t forget to spray the pot with non-stick cooking spray. It saves tons of time during clean up.

  • Vinnie

    Made this overnight and it came out as described. My wife LOOOOVED them. I personally did not. I don’t think this is due to the recipe though. I’m used to the instant packets with all that yummy sugar!

    Would you suggest adding some fruit to add some sweetness to them?

  • Hi Vinnie, so sorry you didn’t love this but glad your wife enjoyed it. Did you put the apples in? Next time, try adding a few tablespoons of jam or preserves to add sweetness and then fresh fruit at the end. I personally love adding strawberries, shaved coconut, and some sliced almonds

  • I followed these instructions for my first try with steel cut oats in the crock. I used 3 cups water & 1 cup milk, but will use all water next time. 1 Cup up Steel Cut Oats was enough for me to share with my baby and my teenager. It was SO nice to wake up to warm breakfast whenever I was ready!

    Oh, and I used a regular sized Crock. AND I saw this size at the store today for $20!

  • Momma Jorje, Thanks so much for stopping by and so glad this steel cut oats recipe worked for you. You can make it different every single time with different fruits and nuts.

  • Lori

    If you are making a single serving, you can eliminate the mess completely by mixing the oatmeal in a heat-proof dish and then putting the dish in your slow cooker and then filling your slow cooker with a few inches of water. In the morning, just use an oven mitt to take the bowl out of the slow cooker and let it cool a bit before eating.

  • Lori, Thanks so much for this tip. I love it and will have to try it out next time.

  • Alyssa

    I made this last night, for our breakfast this week…and I have to say- I am impressed. This is my first experience with steel cut oats, so I was not sure what to expect. I did 2 cups of oats and 8 cups of water (instead of milk- I read on another site it keeps better with no milk?), plus 2 T butter, 1 t salt, and 2 apples. My husband is not a fan of cinnamon, so I didn’t want to take the chance of “ruining” a whole pot of oatmeal for him. I wish that you had posted some pictures of what it looked like in the crock pot- I found that mine never “thickened” as much as rolled oats seem to- although I can see on your picture, under the nuts and stuff, that it does look about the same in the bowl. I will make this again 🙂 Thank you for posting!

  • Roshni

    hi,

    Thank you for all the post.

    I have a question, about the ratio of liquid. In the Quaker box, of Steel Cut Oats, it seems to recommend 1 cup of dry oats for 2 cups liquid to yield 4 servings.

    If I am using the Quaker brand , what do I do?, What about other brands ?

    Thanks

  • Hi Roshni, typically it’s a 1:4 ratio, and I’ve never used the Quaker brand. However, if that’s what the box says, I’d follow those directions.

  • Tammy

    Thank you! Thank you! We made this for Christmas morning and it was perfect!

  • Tracy

    Made this recipe last night. Just threw everything into my crockpot and turned it on at 11pm. The oatmeal was absolutely perfect at 7am. I will probably never make stovetop oatmeal again. Absolutely delicious! Thank you!

  • Tracy, that’s awesome! I’ve also been doing a fair amount of oatmeal in my rice cooker which is smaller, and it’s been great!

  • Sam

    non-stick cooking spray. I can testify that something like that would have been smart. I just made my first batch and I’m afraid I’ve lost a significant amount of the valuable steel cut oats to them sticking to the walls of the pot.

  • Sam, thanks for that suggestion! We’ll definitely update our recipe too to make this a step.

  • cora

    I cut up 1 apple, and 3 small peaches. For my liquid I used 6 cups apple juice and 2 cups vanilla soy milk. I used 1/8 cup of brown sugar because of the juice. I also added to the spice mix, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 6 whole cloves, a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger and 1 teaspoon of orange extract as well as 2 tablespoon coconut oil since I don’t eat butter. It came out AMAZING!!! Thank you so much. 🙂

  • Caitlin

    This was AMAZING!!! I have tried crock pot steel cut oats before with little success. Even my daughter, who INSISTED that she hates oatmeal, polished off her bowl! Thank you for a recipe that is delicious, easy, and pleases the whole family!

  • Celia

    Slow cooker liners are the best invention since sliced bread! Cleanup is a snap!

  • Great to know! Thanks for sharing.

  • onebadscrivener

    I love that this post is still getting comments, and just noticed that I never answered your question. I meant one cup of dry oats, which does nicely in the smaller crock. I hope someone tries it my way; it really has given me the best results. 🙂

  • Lynda

    I made Quaker Steel Oats in my crockptot for breakfast using the package directions as a guide; 2 cup water and 1/2 cups oats. I found oatmeal soup waiting for me and had to put it in a saucepan on the stove to boill away the excesss water. finally, it was just right. What did I do wrong?

  • Donna

    This is a slightly different version. I use Trader Joes Quick Cook Steel-Cut Oats.

    1 cup Steel-Cut Oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
    4 cups unsweetened Almond Milk (certified gluten-free if necessary)
    2 medium Apples, chopped
    1 teaspoon Coconut Oil
    1 teaspoon Cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
    2 tablespoon Maple Syrup
    Splash of Lemon Juice
    Optional Toppings
    Peanut Butter
    Freshly chopped apple

    Add all ingredients to your slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
    (If using Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats, cook 2 hrs on low & 8 hrs on Keep Warm)

    Give it a good stir. Top with your favorite toppings. I like peanut butter and fresh chopped apples.

    Store leftovers in fridge for up to 1 week. To reheat add a splash of almond milk and heat up in microwave.

    Nutrition Information

    Serves: 5 | Serving Size: 1 cup

    Per serving: Calories: 180; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 135mg; Carbohydrate: 31g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 11g; Protein 5g

    Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 109mg; Iron: 8%; Vitamin A: 9%; Vitamin C: 6%; Calcium: 40%

  • I use honey for sweetness instead of any sugars…my boys never notice the difference!

  • Lyn

    I make this and put in I cup of skim milk powder. And raisons – lots of raisons! Cinnamon. I also added fruit salad that I got from the food bank. Mostly apples but has pears, oranges & whatever else they have. No need for added sweeteners. I find I need more water than called for but I like my oats pretty mushy. Note that the bit C is cooked out of any citrus after cooking.

  • Thanks for giving this a try – I like all the fruit you added to it!

  • That’s great! We think that sweeteners are such a personal thing that you can just substitute what you feel best about using.

  • Thanks for sharing!

  • Great info, thank you. I did this Every night while I was working. Now that I am retired I will practice again.

  • Julia

    I made this last night as directed. The oats were soft but it was but to soupy for my taste. I could scale back the liquid next time. Did the overnight on low for 8 hours.

  • Mindy

    What is the calorie count and serving size for this recipe?

  • Sandra

    Oh, I’ve been looking everywhere to find a recipe/instructions on how to use the rice cooker for oatmeal. Could you please describe what you do with that? Is it the same ratio?

  • Christine

    I think I know why some people are getting soup. QUICK COOKING steel cut oats require a 2:1 ratio. Make sure you know which you are using

  • Frances

    My first time with pinhead oats and swiftly realised that the enormous jug for 1/4 cup of oatmeal in the microwave was ineffective (still exploded everywhere) and inefficient (15 minutes every morning?)
    So figured batch cooking was the way forward, and this is awesome! Second time making it – the first time I found it dried out a bit much and I lost a lot (as a previous poster) to sticking on the sides of the crock. Thought this might also be because my fairly basic slow cooker runs quite hot even on low, and it invariably ends up being more like 8 1/2 – 9 hours.
    I forgot again to spray oil last night oops, but increased the liquid to ten cups (5:1 ratio), and it came out perfectly with only a bit sticking to the sides. Looked much too runny when I first started spooning it into jars but had thickened nicely by the time I got to work, and just the right temperature to eat at my desk.
    Have given up refined sugar so none of that, but still pretty tasty – my Scottish background says I should only really be making with water and salt so milk and cinnamon are already pretty decadent. I’ll remember to buy apples (or pick them from the neighbour’s overhanging tree) for next time as I think that would up the sweetness plus add some breakfast excitement. Perhaps raisins or chopped dates too?
    I made the full batch just for me, I’ve taken half to work to keep in fridge and will freeze the rest until I run out – it’s easier to transport on bicycle in frozen form 🙂
    Thanks again for a great and simple recipe.

  • Arlene

    I really love steel cut oats that are made over the stove. I love the texture particularly. However, I dislike the long wait for it to be ready for breakfast. So I tried this recipe. I was very disappointed with it. It was on from midnight to 5:30 am. It was mushy and despite spraying the crock pot it was stuck in places. The treasured texture was lost all together. Not sure how I got these results when others rave about this method and are so pleased!
    The crock pot I use has only low and high. Used low of course. My husband found it hard to choke down given the mushy consistency.
    Back to the stove pot method for me.

  • Tanya

    Just wondering about using milk in this recipe – does it not curdle if you cook it for that long? I’ve read on other sites that you should only add milk to slow cooker recipes in the last hour. Has anyone tried adding the milk at the start? How did it go?

  • Denise Colleen Clemons

    okay this first time I made this I used the huge crock pot and ended up adding more juice and water throughout the cooking process. Tonight I’m trying it because even though the last time was delicious and everyone loved it, it made way too much. So I did the 1 cup steel oats and 2 cups apple juice, 2 cups water, cinnamon (ran out and added pumpkin pie spice too). I did 3 apples peeled and diced and a little bit of brown sugar. I’m thinking about adding a few raisins. I think I’m going to let it get hot and then turn it to warm for the rest of the night. I’m so excited about trying this again. If I have some leftover, I will be having it for breakfast. If needed, I will add almond milk in the morning and finish heating for 30 min. If my grandson hadn’t said to me how wonderful the first batch was, I would have given up. I think I am going to let the crockpot nice and hot and before going to bed turn it to warm from low.

  • Saranna Greveling

    I have made lots of different recipes (cream soups, rice pudding, oatmeal, etc) where the milk goes in at beginning. No problem at all. And this recipe freezes really well.

  • Saranna Greveling

    For anyone reading this now (OP comment was a while ago), leaving on the warm setting is dangerous as it won’t be in a food safe temperature range, and given that the recipe calls for milk to be used, the likelihood of bacteria growth is HIGH. Warm setting should be used after cooking and for no more than 2 hours.

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