Steel-Cut Oats Faster Than Instant

February 5, 2015   47 Comments

It is winter and I have the desire for a hot breakfast. Actually, I have a desire for trip to the Bahamas but that isn’t going to happen.

Steel Cut Oats

We have mountains of snow in our yard and there are super mountains in parking lots. This year, I convinced my husband to purchase a snow blower so I have been clearing the driveway by making my own personal storm of blowing snow.

School, this time of year, seems optional. A mom friend of mine was telling me how much she likes it when she and her kids are home so she has time to make a hot breakfast.

I am here to tell you that you don’t need a snow day for a hot breakfast of seriously delicious oatmeal. First, start with the best oatmeal that you can buy – steel-cut oats. These can be found next to the other oatmeals and much more nutty and crunchy than regular whole oats.

The main difference between steel cut oats and regular oatmeal is that steel cut oats are less processed. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted. Steel cut oats are just coarsely chopped.

Because steel cut oats aren’t processed, when you cook them it can take 30-40 minutes on the stove before they are done. Does anyone have that kind of time in the morning?

But, if you boil them on the stove the night before you want to serve them – they are creamy and waiting for you as you wipe the sleep from your eyes. You can make them one day and then put the servings you don’t eat in the fridge and heat them as needed.

All you have to do is heat it up (on the stove or in the microwave) and serve it the way you want.

Steel-cut oats taste so much better than instant oats and will stay with you longer because they have a LOWER glycemic index than regular oats. They have 10% of your daily value of iron, five grams of protein, and four grams of fiber per serving.

My favorite toppings for oatmeal:

  • peanut butter, almond butter, sunbutter, etc.
  • raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried figs
  • blueberries, mango pieces, chopped apples
  • walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.
  • brown sugar, maple syrup

Have you tried overnight oats?

Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal

5.0 from 1 review

Makes 4 – 1 cup servings

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1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
pinch of salt


The night before you want to eat oatmeal put oats, water, and salt in a large saucepan (allow room for oatmeal expansion). Boil for one minute.

Cover the pot, remove from heat and leave on stove until morning.

When you wake up, heat the pan and add more water to get a thinner consistency.

Nutrition Facts

One cup cooked oatmeal without toppings = 140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 27.0 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 5.0 g protein, 4.0 g fiber, 4 mg sodium, 3 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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Wow! I never realized that you could leave the pot out overnight - makes it easy, doesn't it?

just making sure I understand. You just bring them to a rolling boil and then take them off the heat and leave out overnight? If that's the case, I'm going to have to try these!

I love to eat steel cut oats for breakfast, but mine are even easier to make. I use the water bath crockpot overnight method. In a 4 cup glass measuring cup, I place 1/4 cup oats and 1 cup water for each serving I want to make. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla, then place the whole thing in your empty crockpot. Fill the crock (around the measuring cup) with water at least halfway up the cup. Cover and cook on low for at least 5 hours but as many as 10. When you wake up, take the cup out with a hot pad, stir and serve. Let the water in the crockpot cool before dumping, or leave it in with the lid on and reuse it for the next night's batch. You can even add fruit at night and (as long as everyone agrees on the flavor) and it will all cook together. I leave my water-filled crockpot on my counter now, so a hot breakfast takes me 5 minutes a night now!

Yes, prepare Steel Cut Oats the night before according to package directions, 4 cups of water to 1 cup Steel Cut Oats...

Portion 1 cup in the morning and add toppings.

My favorites are :

2 Egg Whites

1/2 Chopped Apple

3/4 Tbsp Chia Seeds

2 Tbsp PB2

and drizzle Honey

Top with 1/3 cup Unsweetened Almond Breeze...


Wow-great ideas! I will be trying both methods-on the stove and the crock-pot water bath! Love oatmeal-always too hungry to wait in the mornings! Thanks!

I found the following from the American Diabetes Association about Steel Cut Oats:

Low GI Foods (55 or less) 100% stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli Pasta, converted rice, barley, bulgar Sweet potato, corn, yam, lima/butter beans, peas, legumes and lentils Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots - See more at: And a 1/4 cup of steel cut oats provides 4 g. fiber.

I love your site but I wanted to point out that the steel cut oats are a lower glycemic index food which prevents blood sugar spikes.

Any way you fix them steel cut oats are great!I like crystallized ginger, pecans, and apples.

Does anyone know if these could be thrown into a slow cooker on low all night and be ready for breakfast?

Mmmmm I love oatmeal too! We call them "groats" around here, we love that word, it sounds like horsefeed, :) I keep 2 lbs. organic thick-cut rolled oats as backup to my oatmeal cannister all year-round. Then I keep Bob's Red Mill "groats" for another cannister. My fav toppings:chopped apple, nuts, cinnamon, 1 Tbs flax-meal, splash almond milk. Also chopped dates, apricots, raisins, prunes, and any other fresh fruit like bananas, pears, peaches in summer, etc. I must try peanut butter someday, keep forgetting that idea. This might be interesting to some, the story behind Bob's Red Mill groats contest in Scotland :)

A couple things I should have mentioned in my post. I have tried this in a crockpot and found that it burned before I got to it. Also, I used 3 cups of water (instead of 4 as package directions say) because then your oatmeal is thicker and you can add milk or more water to get it to the right texture.

Thanks for all your wonderful comments!

Steel cut oats have a low glycemic index. They "stay with you longer" because they contain more fiber and fat than more processed oats. Also, probably not a good idea to leave them out on the stove overnight. You should cook them, cool them quickly, and refrigerate. Then reheat in the morning. Or, use the crockpot method.

I'm a huge steel cut oats fan! I make a big batch in advance and freeze in individual servings. Whenever I want a yummy, hot and healthy breakfast, all I have to do is defrost it and it's ready. I cook my steel cut oats with chopped apples, protein powder, cinnamon and coconut sugar. My favorite topping is maple syrup and walnuts.

I boil 2 cups of water add 1 cup steel oat,s turn off stove for 30-45 min, done when cool just put in fridge, take out what I need for the am, been doing this way for years,

Love all these ideas. I use my rice cooker on the porridge setting and timer. Great to wake up to smooth delicious oatmeal.

Snack Girl, I think what I appreciate most about you is your sincerity. Sometimes I shake my head at your blunders (steel-cut oats do not have a high glycemic index, and if you want a grilled sandwich at Chick-fil-A, then ask for a grilled sandwich), but I appreciate how committed you are to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Love this! Can't wait to try it. I've done the crock pot method and I'm never happy with the consistency. They always over cook. I love the idea of using less liquid so I can add some almond or coconut milk in the morning! Yum! Thanks.

I was at the super market yesterday and saw they had quick serve steel cut oatmeal. Wonder if it is good as the long version. Since I need gluten free, don't know if steel cut oatmeal is for me.

McCann's are the best.I make them in the microwave 1/4 cup oats to 1 cup water in a big glass bowl. They will cook in about 5 to 7 minutes with a stir or two in between.I mix in chopped nectarines or peaches and dried cranberries. I also toss in some toasted pecans and cinnamon.Makes it more like dessert than breakfast......

I use a 1 1/2 quart crockpot to prepare my oatmeal and it doesn't burn or dry out. You also don't have to worry about possibly burning yourself lifting a measuring cup out of hot water. I put 4 cups of water or a few drops more along with 1 cup steel cut oats into the crock pot. Turn it on about 10 PM and it's perfect when I wake up at 5:30 or 6 AM. Snack Girl is correct that it's too dry in the larger crock pots. So, if that's what you have, double the recipe and then freeze the extra cooked oatmeal. It's easy to microwave in the morning. I love the topping ideas.

I purchased my small Proctor Silex crock slow cooker from Amazon for less than $20 just for my oatmeal. If you order it with Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats (those were the cheapest) you get free shipping.

In Scotland they soak the oats overnight in milk. They are the BEST I have ever eaten. You could soak during the day, cook at night.

Ditto on the steel-cut oats made in the crockpot/slowcooker overnight. I have been making them this way for a couple years now. Found the recipe online. 1 cup steel-cut oats and 4 cups water. It said on warm for 8 hours or overnight. If you only have low, four hours is plenty. I don't have warm so do mine whenever for the four hours and then put in fridge for reheating in the microwave whenever and top with whatever you like. They are awesome and the cheapest oatmeal you could ever make. Much better than instant or quick oats.

Love to add fresh blueberries and any kind of nuts I have on hand. Will be trying some of the other ideas here too.

I just posted my recipe for steel cut oats done overnight in the crock pot, so yummy!…

I make several days worth in my rice cooker in the morning. I put in steel cut oats, water, cut up apple, cinnamon, craisins, dried mango bits... whatever I'm in the mood for... and turn it on the white rice setting. Then I walk my dogs. When I get back, it's hot and waiting for me. I serve up the extras into glass bowls and refrigerate for other days... a quick zap in the microwave works great!

Snack Girl, please forgive me for barging in on your comments 2 days in a row. I love your site dearly and pass it along to anyone who will listen, but from a food safety standpoint, I would not advise leaving anything out overnight, at temps which are either below those recommended for serving, or above those for refrigerated. I think steel cut oats are far superior as well, but they absorb the water just as easily in the fridge overnight...and the 10 second reheating difference is not big enough to warrant a potential food safety issue. From the fridge I have eaten these oats even a week later with no ill effects ... And, in case of any confusion, please please please nobody ever be tempted to do this with rice, which will grow a (deadly) toxin within hours of non-refrigeration. Thanks for listening!

@Hungrygirl -my thinking here was that it is a closed system. You boil it - killing all bacteria, cover it, and it isn't open to the air to get any new pathogen. Also, you heat it up to hot again - killing anything that may have grown.

Here is a great discussion on the subject:

BUT, I suppose something could happen (which I think would be extremely unlikely) - in which case it would be better to refrigerate it. I need to try that to see if it effects the consistency.

Since I'm trying to lower the grocery bill, I wonder if it ok to purchase Aldi's brand of steel-cut oatmeal. I normally get their rolled oatmeal.

Trader Joe's sells quick cook steel cut oats. It cooks in 6 minutes like quaker old fashioned rolled oats. I love it. No remembering the night before.

mmm… toasted pecans, toasted coconut, and a tad of maple syrup. That's my favorite way to top them! Also, I've found that if you want to make this for an extra couple of days, you can make Bob's Red Mill oats exactly according to the directions by cooking for 10 minutes, then allocate to 1 c. fridge containers. The extra liquid will soak up and help to soften the oats for days 2 and 3, and you don't really need to add any water to reheat. This is also awesome with unsweetened Silk coconut milk.

I'm not an expert, just a housewife of many years. I live in VT and it's winter. The temp in my kitchen is about 60 degrees. I don't think the oatmeal will be toxin by morning.

I always cook oats in milk, because I prefer the creamier texture and flavor (and it gives me a little extra protein and calcium). I cook the oats in the microwave the night before, just cooking them *mostly*, so they're still a bit soupy (in my microwave it typically takes about 10 minutes). Then I put them in the fridge, where they firm up overnight. The next morning I add a little water to thin it out and microwave it. Sooo good, and even easier than cooking on the stove.

oh my goodness, I just made mushroom rice pilaf for my dinner later and its been on the stove cooling; well not anymore, I got it in the fridge by 2 hr. mark. Very interesting NYT article confirms food safety guidelines.…

I like alot of foods room-temp, I think flavor is better but I'll be more careful and remind my FB friends. Thanks Hungrygirl.

Please check with your local health department. I believe grains are potentially hazardous foods and should, therefore, not be left on the stove overnight after cooking.

I used to cook them overnight in a 6 quart crockpot without the water bath, but I always got a hard inedible crust around the edge. In addition to having a bunch of wasted oatmeal, the soaking and scrubbing were not fun!

Wonder if you could put cooked steel oats in muffin tins to freeze and bag up to use when needed!

At Bittytux, that's why I use the 1 1/2 quart slow cooker and I never get that dried out crunchy oatmeal. If you have a larger pot why don't you try making a double recipe? I bet that would turn out. @ Pat, I'm sure you could freeze them in muffin tins. I freeze mine in plastic containers and they taste perfect even after a month.

Cooked steel cut oats, with a layer of Greek yogurt (coconut for me), a few raspberries or banana slices, a sprinkle of raw coconut and some walnuts. Served cold for lunch or breakfast. Take it to work. Wonderful.

So I grew up on hot cereal. Lots of oatmeal, Malt-O-Meal and Cream of Wheat. I will never forget being at a friend's house and having their oatmeal. It was not what I was used to as they cooked it in water, not milk like my mom did! What a difference. 50 years later I'm still doing the oatmeal thing, but now it's with 2 parts almond milk and 1 part water. Love this site and all the comments!

Love steel cut oats, and the idea of simplifying the cooking, but do worry about this method from a food safety standpoint. My method (possibly simpler?) involves pouring boiling water over the oats (in large microvave-safe bowl/measuring cup), and refrigerating. Just microwave in the morning to heat.

I buy Trader Joe's Quick Cook Steal Cut Oatmeal. Ready in 8 minutes. I also make it the night before. Four servings and put them in individual containers for my husband to take to work and microwave. I add cinnamon, white raisins from Trader Joes and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend.

We love steel cut oats! We make them on the weekend in a crockpot, but do 2 hours on high (I just can't trust overnight). I make 1 cup oats to 3.5 to 4 cups water(either works, just depend on how thick you like them). Add salt at end. The we refrigerate what we don't eat to use the rest of the week. My DH likes to use a crockpot liner to make clean up easy!

I've been making my steel cut oats in a small size crock pot for a long time. I start with 1 3/4 cups of water and 1/3 c oats. The I only put it on warm for the night. I think it's perfect in the morning. I add bananas and a little pure maple syrup. Yumarooney!

How about making it in the microwave? I know doing it in the pot is better, but I'm just wondering.

I slice an apple, cover it with 1/4 cup oatmeal and a heavy dose of cinnamon,toss a little to distribute cinnamon. Pour in 3/4 cup water and microwave for 4 min. Pour a little vanilla almond milk and enjoy, sometimes I sprinkle some chopped toasted pecans.

I add butter, brown sugar, dash of cinnamon & nutmeg, chopped walnuts/pecans and white raisins - it's just like a delicious oatmeal cookie!

Stacy needs to reread what Snack girl said cause Stacy was the one who was wrong. Snack girl said they had a lower glycemic index not higher!


4 to 41/2 cups of water, then stir in

1 cup steel cut oats.

Bring back to a boil and once boiling, lower temp to just a soft boil for at least 30 min till water almost all absorbed by the oats.

At this point I add my oats in a square container. In the morning I portion oatmeal into 4 quarters, add 1/4 in bowl, add a bit of milk, and stir, then I add a wee bit of brown sugar, pop in microwave for about 3 min or till warm.. Enjoy. Hope this helped..

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