Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oats


I have been a Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal consumer for most of my life – starting in grade school, throughout college, in my modest post college years, and most recently, as a crazed parent looking for a quick breakfast fix for my kids.  But, when I purchased my slow cooker two months ago, my whole outlook on breakfast oatmeal changed.  I was determined to finally slow cook steel cut oats.  And so began another very steep learning curve, this time, surrounding the world of oats.

My go-to instant breakfast since my youth

Did you know that oats are part of American History?  Apparently, George Washington was said to have sowed 580 acres of oats in 1786.  Unfortunately, the oats of modern day are much more processed than their ancestors from the 1700’s.  However, Steel Cut Oats are the healthy, unrefined form of oats that aren’t sold with added sugar or artificial coloring and flavoring like its sibling, Rolled Oats.  They’re whole grain groats (inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only 2 or 3 pieces by steel rather than being rolled.  Because of this, Steel Cut Oats take longer to digest and therefor create less of an insulin response (which is good).  They’re an amazing source of complex carbs (this is also good) and soluble fibers (yup, good too). Despite their heightened nutritional benefits, Steel Cut Oats are most commonly known as the “oats that take forever to cook.”  And, for anyone harried with kids, to spend time cooking them seems downright inconvenient.

But, all you need is just a smidgeon of planning.  I promise it’s worth it, nutritionally and from a pure taste perspective.

Spoonful of organic steel cut oats

Steel Cut Oats is oatmeal at its very best.  The nutty flavor is unparalleled, as is its risotto-like texture, especially when slow-cooked overnight.

I know what you’re thinking. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, their Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats are tasty and you can cook them on the stove top or in the microwave in 8 minutes.  And, Trader’s Joe’s also sells a Frozen Steel Cut Oats package where you get two pucks of cooked-then-frozen steel cut oats that you can defrost and cook in under 3 minutes.  But, I promise, the taste just isn’t the same.  There’s something to be said for being invested in your food and actually taking the time to cook it.  Waiting for Steel Cut Oats to cook on the stove top for 20 minutes during the early morning rush when everyone is trying to get dressed and prepared for the day isn’t relaxing to me.  I’d rather know that, when everyone is ready and at the table, all I have to do is lift off the lid to the slow cooker and I’ve got a fresh, voluminous bunch of oats ready to be served.

I say screw the pre-packaged oats and purchase them from bins where you can actually designate the quantity you want so you’re charged by weight.  If you don’t have a gourmet food store near you, they’re also available in health food stores in the bins that look like they contain dog/gerbil food. Yesterday I went around to the local markets determined to create a steel cut oats price chopper comparison. I know, sounds fun, right?  Most of the time, with pre-packaged oats, you’ll be paying for the branding and packaging and can spend upwards of $1.00 more per pound!  The well-known Red Mill brand of Steel Cut Oats is $2.46 per pound versus Fairway’s self-serve Organic Steel Cut Oats which list at $1.49 per pound.  And, while Trader Joe’s Frozen Steel Cut Oats sounds so easy, they’re still $1.59 pound.  So, why not make an economical choice too?

Don’t get caught up in branding/packaging.  This is $1 more per lb than the bins


Steel Cut Oats from the bin – just as tasty and much more economical too!

 And, with your slow cooker, there’s literally nothing involved with cooking the oats.  Most likely you’ll already have the ingredients in your pantry or fridge (milk, water, brown sugar, butter, oats, cinnamon, apples).  Just dump everything in the slow cooker before you go to bed and in the morning, you’ll awake to the aromatic smells of the cinnamon and apples and fully-cooked oats.

Looks like mush but tastes like heaven!  Steel Cut Oats cooking in the slow cooker.

Add any toppings desired (blueberries, bananas, more cinnamon or sugar) and you’ve got a very hearty, high-fiber, nutritious, hassle-free meal for your family.  Any leftovers? Throw it in the fridge and reheat and serve for the next couple days.  I did.

In fact, I served it for breakfast yesterday morning, and for our Wednesday night Breakfast-for-Dinner Night!

Try it.  You won’t be disappointed.



  1. I love those TJ’s frozen pucks, but promise to give this a try!

  2. I was so excited to see your recipe. We are new to steel cut oatmeal & love it. We did get the quicker-cooking version at Trader Joe’s, but I really like the idea of using the slow cooker overnight. By-the-way, have you ever tried the steel cut oats in other recipes, like oatmeal cookies, or would they be too hard? Just wondering. Thanks again for sharing.

  3. I had people coming over for brunch this weekend and made this the night before. Was a huge hit! I’m going to reheat the leftovers for my kids to eat for breakfast this morning. Thanks for the recipe!


  1. […] following the blog, you know I’ve got lots of slow cooker recipes from which to choose.  From slow cooked steel cut oats to apple butter to tortilla soup, I’ve rolled up my sleeves and delved into the slow cooker world […]

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