Monday, January 31, 2011

Easy, Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

Whenever I think of oatmeal, I think of my good friend, Dan. We used to work together a number of years ago (which we like to refer to as "the good old days") and he actually loves food as much as I do. It became a sort of tie that binded, if you will. But he was also committed to taking care of his body (me, not as much), so every morning, he would go to the break room, heat up his quick oats (with no need to measure the water - he could eyeball it perfectly), and then eat it with just a big sprinkling of cinnamon on top. Every morning.

When it came time for Dan to move on to a different position, one of his biggest sources of angst was that there was nowhere for him to make his oatmeal breakfast in the morning. If only Dan had this steel cut oats recipe, he could have his breakfast ready for him when he left in the morning. Danny - this one's for you! :)

If you're not familiar with steel cut oats (also known as Irish Oats), you are not alone. I had made quick oats, old fashioned oats, and the packets of instant oats, but the only steel cut oats I've had came in those lovely freezer pouches from Trader Joe's. They were tasty, but not exactly cheap.

If you haven't tried steel cut oats, they are delicious and just about the healthiest breakfast you can have. They are also my new favorite oatmeal variety. Want to learn more about the benefits of oats, check out this site.

If you have tried them, but decided they were too messy to clean up or took to long to cook, I offer you this super easy overnight preparation using your crock pot/slow cooker.

First, find a bowl that:
1. Holds four cups of liquid
2. Fits inside your crock pot with the lid on
3. Is oven-safe

Next, place a couple foil balls in the bottom of your crock pot to allow water under your bowl. Update: My sister-in-law uses the rim of a canning jar lid in place of the foil balls, which is much easier, stable, and a bit more eco-friendly. It's a great idea that I'll be using too. This is supposed to remove any risk of the main crock pot bowl cracking due to lack of water between the two bowls. In all my research on this method, I have yet to read one complaint of a cracked bowl, but I'm not one to risk it, so I add the foil balls.

Stick the bowl on top of the foil balls, then add some water to the crock pot to make sure that everything is stable. I used the water filtered from our fridge to reduce any hard water ring that could be left on the crock pot. I didn't end up with a ring at all, but I'm pretty sure our tap water would have left one I would've had to scrub. After your bowl has been stabilized, add 1 c. steel cut oats to the bowl.

Top it with about 4 c. water. (And a dash of salt, if you are so inclined. I did not and they were just fine.) Using a measuring cup, fill the water in the main crock pot to at or just above the level of water in the oatmeal bowl, creating a double boiler effect. Put the lid on your crock pot, set the timer to low and go to bed.

The oats cooked for about 8 hours and this is what I woke up to in the morning.

I pulled off the lid and was a little concerned that there was water that didn't absorb. Turns out, this wasn't an issue at all.

Gave them a quick stir. Notice that there is nothing stuck to the sides of anything. Success! Clean up is easy.

I like mine with some brown sugar and milk and they were PERFECT. I actually forgot to take a picture until I was almost half done with my bowl. Oops.
Some topping ideas include (but are not limited to):
  • Cinnamon (aka "The Dan")
  • Brown Sugar
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Craisins
  • Raisins
  • Dried Currants
  • Pecans (Candied would be yummy)
  • Walnuts
  • Diced Apples
  • Butter
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Sliced Banana
  • (Fresh or Frozen) Strawberries
  • (Fresh or Frozen) Blueberries
Or if you are looking for something a little more dessert-like for breakfast, check out this recipe for Banana Split Oatmeal.

The recipe serves 4, but as I'm the only one who eats oatmeal in my house, I've just been spooning some out of the bowl every morning and reheating it for a couple of minutes in the microwave with some milk. Now that's my kind of breakfast.

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal
Serves: 4

  • 1 c. steel cut oats (also known as Irish Oats)
  • 4 c. water
  • Dash of salt (optional)
Using the steps listed above, create a double boiler in your crock pot/slow cooker. Add the oats, water, and optional salt to the smaller bowl and give it a stir. Place the lid on the crock pot, set the crock pot to low, and cook for 7 - 9 hours. Add preferred toppings and enjoy!

Source: Ann Kroeker


  1. This was delicious and worked perfectly! Thanks for the recipe Lynn!!

  2. I'm going to try this! I started to make steel cut oats the other morning for the kids, but changed my mind when I saw the "cook for 30 minutes" part. I'd forgotten they take so long!!