How To Cook Steel Cut Oats – 3 Easy Methods

how to cook steel cut oats

Steel cut oats are one of the most popular kinds of oatmeal, but they also take the longest to cook. With a little patience, however, they’re easy to cook right. In the following article, you’ll find guidelines for three different methods for how to cook steel cut oats, plus some extra tips and ideas for toppings.

If you read our article “Is Oatmeal Health?” you already know that oatmeal is a healthy and filling breakfast choice. It can also be super yummy, particularly when you get your hands on the right add-ons.

What Are Steel Cut Oats?

how to cook steel cut oats

Steel cut oats are made by chopping whole oat groats into smaller pieces. Unlike instant or old fashioned (rolled) oats, steel cut oats aren’t rolled into flat pieces. This means that they take longer to cook than the other kinds of oatmeal because they absorb water more slowly.

However, they also have a chewier and nuttier taste, making them a favorite for oatmeal lovers. Because they are digested more slowly, they also have a lower glycemic index, making them the healthiest kind of oatmeal.

Steel Cut Oats on the Stovetop

how to cook steel cut oats

This is the simplest way to cook steel cut oats. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine the ratio of oats to water; the packaging of your oats likely has a guide. In general, the right ratio is between 3 and 4 cups of water to 1 cup of oats.

A little less water will result in chewier oatmeal, while adding more water can make it creamier, so feel free to experiment based on your personal taste. Add the water and a pinch of salt to a pot and bring it to a boil (you can sub in milk, soy milk, or almond milk for some of the water if you want; just keep the ratio of liquids to oats the same).

Then reduce the heat to medium, add the oats, and let them simmer. Don’t stir the oats as they’re cooking, as this can make them mushy. Steel cut oats usually take between 20 and 30 minutes to cook fully.

Give the oats a taste at the 20 minute mark. When they’ve reached the level of tenderness you’re looking for, turn off the heat and let the oatmeal sit for a minute; this will help the mixture to thicken up.

Extra tip: Don’t forget the salt! Oats can be a bit bland on their own, so adding salt to the cooking water helps to make them flavorful. You can also add in other seasoning such as cinnamon, chives, or nutmeg while your oats are cooking. As a bonus, this will make your entire house smell great.

Cooking Steel Oats Overnight

how to cook steel cut oats

If you need to save time in the morning but still want to have steel cut oats, the overnight method is probably for you. All you need to do is bring 3-4 cups of water plus a pinch of salt to a boil, then add in 1 cup of steel cut oats.

If you’re cooking for a bunch of people or want to have leftovers, you can multiply the water and oats. Let the oats cook for just 1 minute, then turn off the heat and cover them. Simply leave the covered oats to sit out overnight. As you sleep, the oats will absorb the water.

When you wake up in the morning, all you need to do is heat the oats up. Turn the heat up to medium and let the oats heat all the way through. There may be a bit of extra water when you wake up, but the oatmeal should thicken as you heat it up. Then all you have left to do is serve the oatmeal with your favorite toppings!

Steel Cut Oats In A Slow Cooker

how to cook steel cut oats in a crockpot

If you love to use your slow cooker, you can use it as an alternate to letting steel cut oats soak overnight. Simply add your water, milk, salt, and oats to your slow cooker. Then cook it on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4.

You can throw everything into your slow cooker at night before going to bed and have hot and ready oatmeal when you wake up in the morning. Another great thing about using the slow cooker is that you can add in any other ingredients you want and enjoy them warm in the morning.

Try adding in brown sugar, syrup, or honey, plus apple pieces or dried fruit for some delicious sweetness.

Extra tip: If your oatmeal tends to stick to the sides of your slow cooker, try coating it in butter before adding all your ingredients.

How To Bake Steel Cut Oats

how to bake steel cut oats

Baked steel cut oatmeal is a really yummy variation that has a delightfully crunchy top and uses eggs to create a rich and creamy texture. There are lots of recipes for baked oatmeal out there, so look around to find tasty inspiration for different combinations of fruit, spices, and more.

My personal favorite is this recipe from Alexandra Cooks, which uses nuts, cinnamon, maple syrup, and blueberries for an oatmeal that’s sweet and crunchy. The basics are to combine your dry ingredients (oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder) in one bowl and to whisk together your wet ingredients (milk, egg, butter, vanilla, maple syrup) in another.

You can then combine the oats with the milk mixture. Then line the bottom of a baking pan with the fruit of your choice to make sure it’s evenly distributed, and pour the oat and milk mixture over it.

Bake this at 375°F for about 50 minutes to an hour. You’ll end up with baked oatmeal that’s slightly brown and crispy on top and smooth and creamy on the bottom.

Extra tip: You can store the oat and milk mixture overnight if you want to prep it ahead of time and then pop it into the oven in the morning.


how to cook steel cut oats

With all of these different methods, it’s easy to find a way to cook steel cut oats that fits your schedule and your preferences. If you like oatmeal, you won’t be sorry you took the time to try out steel cut oats.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with toppings! Oatmeal can be great sweet or savory, so feel free to add in some herbs, veggies, eggs, and meat. Or keep things sweet with fresh fruit, raisins, nuts, honey, peanut butter, and chocolate.

You really can’t go wrong. Let us know what kinds of toppings you try in the comments below. 

About the author

Meghan Woolley

Meghan is a graduate of Hamilton College and has a Masters from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She enjoys trying new foods, exploring tasty recipes, and writing about her experiences.

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