Make the perfect bowl of creamy steel cut oats using an easy overnight method. This recipe makes a large batch of steel cut oatmeal that can be reheated for a quick breakfast throughout the week!

Oh my goodness! How did I forget how dense, chewy, creamy and filling steel cut oatmeal is? I’ve had a container of steel cut oats in the pantry for months. I always eye it and think, nah… those take too long to cook. But there’s actually a secret method that makes cooking steel cut oats a breeze — you just have to get them started the night before!

A blue bowl with creamy steel cut oats, topped with banana slices and walnuts.

Overall, I really like the texture of these steel cut oats (they’re chewier than rolled oats) and I adore the fact that they are so creamy, without any added milk! Before I share the recipe, let’s address the elephant in the room — how are steel cut oats different than regular rolled oats?

3 measuring cups with rolled oats, steel cut oats and quick oats.

Steel cut oats vs rolled oats vs quick/instant oats

If you’ve ever walked into a grocery store and wondered why there were a million different oatmeal choices and wondered which to choose, you’re not alone. Let’s breakdown the differences. Overall, steel cut oats are the least processed oats. The oat groat (the full oat “grain”) is cut into two or three parts to get to steel cut oats. Old fashioned and rolled oats are groats that have been steamed and then rolled which speeds up the cooking process for all of us at home. Quick or instant oats are the most processed of all the oat varieties. They are pre-cooked, dried, and rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats. They cook faster than than steel cut or rolled oats, but they also lose a bit of texture in the cooking process so they tend to be mushy. While steel cut oats are less processed than regular rolled oats, there are only minor differences nutritionally. Steel cut, old fashioned/rolled, and quick oats all have approximately the same amount of fiber, protein, calories, and other nutrients. I personally don’t view one type of oatmeal better than the other, but I tend to prefer steel cut oats and rolled oats for breakfast recipes but use quick oats for baking sometimes. Quick oats work great for my healthy no bake cookies!

Up close shot of steel cut oats in a measuring cup.

How do you cook steel cut oats?

There are a few ways to prepare steel cut oats! The overnight method cuts down on the cooking time in the morning. If you remember to soak your oats the night before, this is by-far the easiest method.

Overnight method:

  1. Place 1 cup of oats, 4 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cool, cover and place in the fridge overnight.*
  2. The next morning, uncover the saucepan, heat over medium-high heat until hot. Serve warm.

*I have used this same method and let the oats sit out overnight without any issues, but due to food safety concerns I have updated the recipe and recommend storing the oats in the fridge instead..

Stovetop method:

  1. Bring 3 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt to a boil. Add in 1 cup steel cut oats.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Slow cooker method:

  1. Coat slow cooker with cooking spray, butter or coconut oil. For 4 servings: Place 1 cup of steel cut oats, 4 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Place in a bowl to serve. For a large 8 serving batch: Use 2 cups of steel cut oats and 8 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

Instant pot method:

  1. Place 1 cup of steel cut oats, 3 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt into your Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Cover with the lid and turn the vent to “sealing.” Press the manual button and set time to 4 minutes on high pressure. The Instant Pot will automatically start. Once done cooking, allow the pressure to naturally release. Once all the pressure has released carefully remove the lid and stir the oatmeal and serve.

Check out two of my favorite slow cooker steel cut oatmeal recipes: apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal + pumpkin pie steel cut oatmeal

Up close shot of creamy steel cut oats topped with banana slices and walnuts in a blue bowl.

How Long do Steel Cut Oats Last?

The shelf life of uncooked steel cut oats is a long time! If stored properly they should last 1-2 years in your pantry.

Once cooked, steel cut oatmeal should last 4-6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a sealed container. To reheat, I typically add in a splash of liquid (water or non-dairy milk) before heating in the microwave or on the stovetop. Larger batches are so easy to make and you’ll have oats for the whole week!

Overhead shot of creamy steel cut oats topped with banana slices and walnuts in a blue bowl.

Are you feeling ready to tackle steel cut oats? I promise they’re not that complicated and have the best creamy, chewy texture ever!

The recipe I’m sharing here makes four servings of oats. You can let the leftover oats cool and place them the refrigerator for up to one week. Simply reheat the oatmeal on the stove top or in the microwave throughout the week for a quick and easy breakfast. Just add a little water or milk if it gets too thick.

If you try this trick for making creamy steel cut oats be sure to leave a comment and a star rating below. Your feedback is so helpful for me and other readers who are thinking about making the recipe. 

Print

Creamy Steel Cut Oats


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

The perfect bowl of creamy steel cut oats. This recipe makes a large batch that can be reheated for a quick breakfast throughout the week! 


Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 4 cups water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • toppings of choice – cinnamon, banana, berries, hemp seeds, chia seeds, maple syrup, etc.

Instructions

  1. Place oats, water and salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil, watching carefully so the water doesn’t boil over. Turn down heat quickly and allow the oats to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Cover with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next morning, portion out the amount you want to eat and heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat until hot.
  3. Portion the oatmeal into bowl(s).
  4. Dress with toppings of choice. I love banana slices, berries and nut butter.

Notes

  • I have used this same method and let the oats sit out overnight without any issues, but due to food safety concerns I have updated the recipe and recommend storing the oats in the fridge instead of at room temperature.
  • For storing: let the leftover cooked oats cool and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can reheat the oatmeal on the stove top or in the microwave throughout the week for a quick breakfast (just add a little water or milk if it gets too thick).
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: steel cut oatmeal, how to cook steel cut oatmeal

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    22 comments
  1. I’m with Kendra L.’s boyfriend. As yummy as the photos look, from a food safety stand point this method is dubious. Leaving a cooked, hot, high carbohydrate item at room temperature overnight can promote unwanted bacterial growth. I’ve seen overnight no cook recipes that are left in the refrigerator. Be safe everyone’s immune system is not young and strong.

    • Hi Jane! I can see your food safety concern with this method. I’ve read that it’s perfectly fine, especially if you’re reheating the oats the next morning before eating, but if you’re concerned you can certainly prep the oats the same way and store them in the fridge overnight after they’ve cooled. I will add this to the instructions. 🙂

  2. In the instructions for slow cooker oats, you say to increase the servings from 4 to 8 to use 2 cups of oats and 4 cups of water. Wouldn’t you also need to double the amount of water to 8?

  3. Author said steel cut oats last only 4-6 days, even if kept refrigerated in an airtight containe??? She must be out of touch with reality.

    • I see how this could be confusing. I was referring to cooked steel cut oats. Cook oats will typically last 4-6 days in an airtight sealed container in the refrigerator. Of course, dry uncooked steel cut oats stay good for much longer, 1-2 years even! Added a note about this in the article.

  4. Hi, I was just wondering about this part here:
    “Coat slow cooker with cooking spray, butter or coconut oil.”

    Firstly, I’ve never (ever!) used a drop of oil or fat in a slow cooker (presumedly this is an electric crock-pot type of thing?). Nor do I really want to… So, why do you suggest this? Why is it needed?

    Secondly, if some kind oil is needed, may I ask why you specifically list those three?

    Thanks. I just found your blog/thingy and look forward to looking around. I like your well-rounded approach. 🙂

    • Steel cut oats have a tendency to stick when you prepare them in a slow cooker/crock-pot. If you want to try it without, you’re more than welcome to. These three oil/fat options are the ones I use in my kitchen. I usually use avocado or coconut oil cooking spray too. Hope this helps!

  5. These are great! This is my 3rd time making them. For those of you who said you are hungry after eating them, you could try to add a tbsp. of almond or organic peanut butter to add some protein. Still would be great mixed with berries. Thank you for all of the great recipes. My friends and I run in the mornings and share recipes we find on your site. Love it!!

    • That’s so awesome, Kelley. I’m glad that you enjoy this recipe. It’s one of my favorites as well. I actually just made a batch tonight to have for the rest of the week. 🙂

      Love that you and your running buddies chat about recipes while running. So fun! Let me know if you have any other favorites.

  6. I’ve made this for myself and enjoyed it much more than other oatmeal. I tried to make some for my husband but he was floored that I would eat something warm and wet that had sat out overnight!! He was like what do you think health codes are for?! Any idea on how I can prove to him that it’s safe to eat?

  7. I actually prefer steel cut over regular rolled oats. They do get much creamier and have a little more filling power in my opinion. Glad you had fun in DC. It’s such a beautiful city!

  8. Looks delicious! I’ve been cooking my rolled oats with almond or coconut milk for the last few months and it’s amazing what it does for the flavor. I tried this recipe (http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-baked-pu-159872) for baked pumpkin steel cut oats – you cook a batch (beware, it’s a ton, so you might want to halve it) in a dutch oven, store it in your refrigerator, and reheat when you want to eat. I loved it with cocoa nibs and maple syrup!

  9. That’s so cool you got to meetup with Gena! I’m in DC and LOVE her blog! Love both of your blogs! You make steel-cut oats sound so easy! Will have to give them a try!!!!

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