Steel Cut Oats

April 18, 2013

The most delicious oatmeal recipes

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Oatmeal from Serious Eats.

I’m a newcomer to the whole breakfast thing. Even in childhood, I resisted it like the plague. Your nutella toast held no charm for me. That painfully bad for you but still delicious-looking pop tart? Eww. Some leftover pizza? What about a brownie with some ice cream? Anything? Nothing. I wanted nothing to do with breakfast.

All of this ended the day I got married and my husband included in our foodies’ pre-nup* that I would, in fact, eat a morning meal. I would not call “drinking orange juice and coffee” a meal. I would not pretend to have eaten a meal. I would not take a bite of his meal and call it done. I would actually eat a meal.

Our agreement worked mostly successfully until we moved someplace where there weren’t a dozen bagel shops between my home and office and he, head breakfast maker, deployed to Afghanistan. And while there’s not much of a silver lining there, there is one when it comes to breakfast: I finally discovered what you’ve known all along:

Breakfast is delicious.

In the last few months, I have fallen hard for steel cut oats. Blame pregnancy or the advocacy of friends, but oatmeal has officially changed my view of not just breakfast but of life, on the whole. The world is a beautiful place. It includes oatmeal.

And while we can all recognize that I’m prone to slight exaggeration when discussing foods I love, anyone else who has been bitten by the oatmeal bug can agree with me on this one. Oatmeal is amazing.

I like to make a big batch of steel cut oats and freeze it in individual-sized portions so that, on a less-than-friendly weekday morning, all I have to do is pop my daily dose in the microwave and choose some toppings.

These days, I’m partial to nutella, dried cranberries, and banana, but I’m sure that’s only delicious because I’m pregnant. I frequently toss in blackberries, crushed graham cracker, and brown sugar — sort of like a berry crumble, oatmeal style. Other days, I’ll saute a little chopped apple and cinnamon in butter and have an all-American, oaty apple pie breakfast.

But beyond the obvious, there are so many things you can do with oatmeal. Real Simple hypes a mango and coconut oatmeal that is absolutely delicious (and if you add some nutella to it, it could be the breakfast version of Trader Joe’s obsession-worthy chocolate covered coconut mango bites). Oprah recommends a pumpkin and ricotta cheese variation that is fantastic and could easily be made with sweet potato instead. Serious Eats takes it a step further: “caffeinated oatmeal” made with instant coffee, bacon and cheddar oatmeal (only made better with hot sauce), and even mexican oatmeal, which is basically taco happiness in oatmeal form.

Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast blank-slate. The options are limitless, and no matter what you do, it’s always going to be delicious.

Tell me: Do you have some tricks to jazz up oatmeal or other breakfast foods? What’s your favorite thing to serve for breakfast?


*In which he vowed to not cook fish in the house (I am allergic and don’t want to die) and I swore to eat breakfast every day, so help me God.

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Steel Cut Oats « Five For Families Blog
April 22, 2013 at 8:10 am

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandy April 18, 2013 at 8:08 am

Welcome to the breakfast club! I too am a huge fan of morning oats. Recently I started adding a spoon of almond butter to one of my favorite combinations of cinnamon-raisin-maple. Mind blowing!


2 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 8:19 am

Almond butter… why didn’t I think of that! That sounds amazing. I may have to eat that for lunch. Or second breakfast. Or just right now.


3 Nutmegg April 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

Almond butter would be awesome…definitely better than Nutella, which, nutritionally speaking, is worse than frosting. Although much tastier than frosting.


4 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 9:56 am

shhhhh i love my nutella. it’s one of the only things that doesn’t give me heartburn in pregnancy. right now, it’s nutella and a spoon. (well not really. nutella and a banana. and a spoon.)


5 Brandy April 18, 2013 at 9:59 am

Raleigh-Elizabeth, I have a confession. . .I did just eat that for lunch :)
Oh, and Nutmegg, I’ve also tried the combo of Almond Butter, maple, cinnamon, and unsweetened chocolate! It seriously feels like it should be a guilty pleasure, but there is no reason for guilt!!


6 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

there is no guilt at breakfast!!! none!
even if you put frosting on something. because i can’t be the ONLY one who has called cake breakfast before.

7 Jillian in Italy April 18, 2013 at 8:20 am

I have never been a lover of eating in the morning. I’ve always adored breakfast foods but preferably in the late morning or even afternoon and evening. I just need time to get my bearings before nourishing myself in the morning. I know it’s not healthy and I’ve been working hard for years to change it.

And oatmeal is indeed one of my favorites as well. Especially with a light drizzling of Canadian Maple syrup, fresh blueberries and chopped pecans. I think I’ll actually serve it for dinner this evening…


8 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

oatmeal is always a good idea.


9 stacia April 18, 2013 at 8:36 am

I make a big vat of steel-cut (about 6 servings) and keep it in the fridge. Then it’s nearly instant to re-heat and enjoy, even for a snack. usually gone in 3 days between all my family members. If you don’t know about the quick soak, it’s the best. The night before, put oats and H2O in the pot with lid, bring to boil, turn off, then let sit over night. In the morning, it only needs to be cooked about 5 min, instead of the 45 from scratch.

my favorite topping combos are: pear, crystalized ginger (chopped very small) and slivered almonds….peach, blueberry, sliver almonds and maple syrup…..and to get really fancy, you can smooth out the top of the oatmeal, sprinkle top with brown sugar and brule it under the broiler or with a torch. YUM !


10 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 10:04 am

crystalized ginger: be still my heart.


11 Alicia W. April 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

Foodie pre-nup…I love it! My husband and I didn’t become foodies until long after our wedding day, but I wonder how things would have worked if one of us had been a foodie and the other not…

I might have to give some of these oatmeal options a try. I usually throw in some apples and a boatload of brown sugar. I top it with whipped cream if I have any. All healthiness has gone out the window by then, I’m afraid.


12 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

My immediate instinct is you’re on the right path. And besides, isn’t breakfast the meal where we’re allowed to go all-out on things?


13 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity April 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

I adore breakfast – always have. – and I have definitely jumped on the steel cut oats bandwagon. I make a big pot on Saturday and then keep it in the fridge and reheat a bowlful every morning in the microwave (add milk and microwave on high for 2 minutes). When I ‘m cooking the steel cut oats I add a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup of raisins. I love the added protein from the walnuts and there is enough sugar in the raisins that I don’t need to add any extra. Super healthy and super delicious. Mmmm, I’m getting an oatmeal craving right now!

p.s. I love all the different combinations of toppings you mentioned in your post and I see in the comments. I’m going to have to give them all a try.


14 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

this is my favorite place to crowd-source good food suggestions : ) everyone has such good taste! walnuts and raisins sound deLISH. purple raisins or golden? does it matter?


15 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity April 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

I like purple raisins, but I have also used craisins (dried cranberries) and they were good too.


16 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 10:05 am

i add cranberries to mine all the time – it’s a nice counterpoint to (the profoundly unhealthy amount of) brown sugar i “gently season” my oatmeal with…


17 Susana April 18, 2013 at 10:00 am

In Portugal, oatmeal is not common at all.
Breakfast is a MUST at our home. Nobody leaves the house in an empty stomach.
We usually have bread (just coming out of the bread machine I programmed before going to bed) with our homemade jams, butter and honey. The girls must have a jam tour: small pieces of bread for each flavour…
Nothing’s compares to the smell of hot baked bread in the house, while getting up in the morning!
We drink and LOVE milk (the real one, cow milk, ).
Nevertheless, oat is an ingredient in one of my bread recipes :)
When I have the time to cook, I make pancakes, but that’s the result of globalization, because it’s not a portuguese habit.


18 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

how delicious!!! i love homemade bread. i think if i’d grown up in your house, i might have been swayed into eating when i was little : )


19 beckydy April 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

I love making oats to breakup the eggs and protein routine. While I’m waiting for the oats to cook, I’ll start cutting up all my over-ripe fruits, find nuts, seeds and dried fruit to add to the bowl, only to discover I have left too little room for the oats! It turns into a bit of a parfait – and if it’s going to be a parfait, might as well add a dollop of yogurt!
Some favorite combinations: broken banana chips and sliced banana, spiced with cinnamon allspice and nutmeg.
raisins and cinnamon with a bit of brown sugar and almonds.
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pears and nectarines.
Apples and raisins with maple syrup.


20 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 18, 2013 at 10:05 am

the seeds + nectarines + pears sounds DELICIOUS. nectarines are maybe my favorite fruit when we’re not in the deep south (where peaches really do look and taste differently than they do elsewhere in the country. i’m looking at you, new york.)


21 Heidi April 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Cardamom, dates, pecans, maple syrup, dash of coconut milk – sooo yummy!!


22 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 19, 2013 at 9:17 am

Cardamom! You’re coming at me with the fancy spices, Heidi! That sounds so ridiculously good it should be on a brunch menu. (Where I usually steal my breakfast ideas, anyway.)


23 amy April 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

This post made me HAPPY! I LOVE steel cut oats but hate the mess they make in my cooking pot. However, I recently discovered that the crock pot makes DELICIOUS- easy clean up- no work- when I roll out of bed ready- breakfast! Imagine my joy! I like to add a bit of real maple syrup, dried apples and cinnamon. YUM!


24 Cathy April 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm

There’s only 2 of us at our house, and we enjoy ready-to-eat hot steel cut oatmeal 3 mornings a week using a 1 1/2 quart slow cooker (bought from We measure the ingredients the night before, set it on LOW, and plug it into a digital timer pre-set 3 hours cooking before whatever time we want to eat in the morning. Ratio is 4 water to 1 oats (we do 2 C water, 1/2 C oats). Adding a drop of oil also helps with cleaning. We began this January 1st this year, and are still going strong with it.


25 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

I have heard of this magical crock pot concoction…I’m going to have to give it a try! (I still have yet to get rid of my crock pot… it’s like the kitchen boyfriend I just can’t give up on. Even though I NEVER use it.)


26 Mary April 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm

1. Fresh raspberries and blueberries with small walnut pieces. 2. Raw almonds and cranberries and/or raisins.


27 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

Both are a win.


28 Cheri April 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I am one of those who doesn’t eat breakfast. I will get up, sit around doing my class work (gotta love being in college at 37), playing on Facebook, blogging, whatever, but I won’t eat until at least dinner time. :P

I also don’t care much for oatmeal – the texture drives me batty. But on the rare occasion I do eat it, I generally prefer strawberries & milk or brown sugar, cinnamon, milk & butter on mine. :)


29 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

Cheri, how do you have the energy to get through the day?!!? Lots and lots of coffee? Yoga? Some secret power stash of energy you can share with the rest of us?


30 Jennifer April 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Raleigh-Elizabeth, have you tried April Bloomfield’s English Porridge? The recipe can be found on the Food 52 website, though I believe it’s from her cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig. The porridge is half rolled oats, half steel-cut oats, and it cooks in 20 minutes. It’s excellent, except that we had to turn down the salt a little (1 tsp instead of 1.5). It’s great reheated, too.

Thanks for reminding me about steel-cut oats, and for the great add-in combinations! It’s time for me to make some more. Tasty stuff.


31 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 19, 2013 at 9:20 am

Jennifer, I have not. But I love rolled oats, so clearly I need to mix the things I love and give it a go. Plus, I kind of like the idea of being able to say “ohhh excuse me, I need to pour myself a cuppa tea and eat my porridge…” in my best British accent. (Which is a really bad British accent.) Is it savory? With the salt, I’m going to lean towards yes…


32 Jennifer April 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm

It’s a little savory, a little sweet. It has a tablespoon or two of brown sugar in it ( which I love), so it is pleasantly slightly sweet. But I’ve been thinking it would be quite good if I left the sugar out, and added something like parmesan. I think it could totally go either way. And I will eat it at any meal (it is that good) so developing a savory version would be awesome.


33 Marille April 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I have always been a breakfast person–in high school, I came up with the omelette sandwich (a three-egg sausage-and-cheese omelette between two slices of hot buttered toast, to be eaten in the car on the way to seminary). I am also an oatmeal fan, and on the weekends I like mine with a little brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon, plus a handful each of raw almonds and dried cranberries. Delicious.


34 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

Your omelette sandwich reminds me of my other great breakfast love: breakfast tacos. In which you just make regular, delicious tacos, but add a poached egg. Or rather, your head breakfast maker (husband) does all of this while you criticize the extent to which the peppers are being charred (too much! not enough! there is no winning here! i’m cranky and want breakfast!) and then you eat all of it in a most unladylike fashion and realize you’ve married the most perfect man in the world. For the zillionth time.


35 Emilie April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I graduated from the oatmeal course and moved on to the muesli program :) I always thought that uncooked oats and other cereals would be too big of a leap of faith but I am now officially addicted. I think about my bowl of happiness as soon as I wake up in the morning. I make it on my own. I shop at the local food coop and buy everything in bulk and organic. Right now I have it with regular oats, rye oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, Goji berries, pumpkin seeds, dry currents, walnuts, chocolate drops. I fill up a cereal bowl in half with the muesli, then pour hemp milk (original from Pacific => no carrageenan!!!). It is DE-LISH.
I like it very crunchy and raw in the summer but when the temperature goes down, I put it on the fire a very short time and get creative with chocolate, almond butter, regular butter etc.


36 Margo, Thrift at Home April 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

oh yum. I love breakfast, I confess, but we keep our oatmeal and hot cereal mostly basic around here. Although my husband came back from a bike trip with guys with a great combo: goat cheese, a smidge of brown sugar, dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, and walnuts. It’s amazing!


37 Veronika April 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I love oatmeal! And at costco, if you’re lucky, sometimes they carry coach’s oats – they taste like steel cut but cook in 5 minutes?! Yes please. I have mine with a big spoon of peanut butter, either raisins or cranberries, chopped pecans/almonds/walnuts, and a sprinkling of brown sugar or honey. I want some right now just thinking about this and it’s 11 pm! I don’t know if I’m allowed to post a link, but seriously, this stuff is great.


38 Amy Hackworth April 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Raleigh-Elizabeth, one of our sons is so disinterested in breakfast. This gives me hope that he’ll marry someone who can talk him into it. :)

And I loved your post and all the glorious incarnations of oatmeal. You’ve definitely improved it’s standing in my breakfast repertoire!


39 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

Huzzah! And yes, just weed out the potential girlfriends for a breakfast evangelist… she’ll win him over. Mine certainly did : )


40 Sabrina April 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I LOVE oatmeal and most breakfast foods. However, I rarely wake up hungry so I have to make a conscious effort to eat breakfast in the morning. My favorite topping combo for oatmeal is dried cranberries, sliced almonds, a drizzle of agave nectar and a splash of almond milk.

Another great way to eat oatmeal is baked oatmeal, like this:

For a non-oatmeal breakfast that we love at our house, I recommend these muffins (muffins are another favorite breakfast food around here): . I usually use all whole wheat flour, rather than half white, half wheat (although half oat flour would probably also be delicious), coconut oil for the oil, sucanat for the sugar and I will often sub pureed pears for the applesauce. It’s a great versatile recipe that gets veggies, fruits and whole grains into my family :)


41 isaac weisler April 19, 2013 at 7:32 am

It was amazing! I loved it!


42 Zoe - SlowMama April 19, 2013 at 7:39 am

Never been a big breakfast eater — like the rest of me, my appetite doesn’t kick in until I’ve been up for at least a few hours. I can manage a smoothie and sometimes toast. I do like breakfast foods, however, and oatmeal is a fave. I dump all kinds of stuff on mine — coconut milk, pecans, golden raisins, berries, yogurt, whatever appeals to me.

I’ve discovered a new thing to do with leftover oatmeal: griddle cakes. I whisk in a beaten egg, a bit of flour, some s&p, saute them in olive oil and serve with a chutney or hot sauce. It’s a yummy way of using it all up!


43 Mary Ann April 19, 2013 at 7:55 am

I love this subject. I never ate oatmeal in my entire life before I met my husband. He eats it every day. Now I do, too, and can’t imagine life without it. My favorite accompaniment is bananas and I always keep them a bag of them in the freezer.


44 cath April 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Yes! Steel Cut Oats are the best thing that happened to my morning routine in the last couple years. My husband made the discovery while watching “Good Eats” . We usually throw in diced apples, nuts and honey. Penny de los Santos, an excellent food photographer, blew my mind with the idea of savory oatmeal:
Who would’ve thunk?!


45 Jennifer April 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Oh, what a wonderful post!

We also do the steel cut oat ritual in our household every morning. It began while I was on maternity leave, and right before going back to work my husband gave me a red Le Creuset enamel cast iron pot for Valentines Day. Couldn’t have been a better gift — an instant heirloom for us! We’ve cooked oats in that pot nearly every morning since, and it’s just a really special ritual for our family. (note: to all working moms who can’t imagine how we’d cook oatmeal before heading out to work — my husband has been a unplanned-stay-at-home-dad, and has taken the reigns.)

Steel cut oats were some of the first solids our little guy ate. Our current concoction is peanut butter and bananas. Our most unhealthy and delicious was apples with carmel and brown sugar. : ) So much awesome inspiration for other combinations in eveyrone’s comments!

Hugs to all fellow steel-cut-oat-ers!


46 April @ Age Spots April 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Oatmeal is definitely a nutritious meal. Aside from being good for the heart, it’s also good for the skin. I really enjoyed reading your blog, such informative articles. I can’t wait to hear more from you, thanks for sharing.


47 MarT April 20, 2013 at 8:22 am

I second the slow-cooker oats idea. We do this on some ski days and it works well. But make it a ratio of about 4.125 to 1 (4 1/2 cups of water to one cup of oats). Spray crock pot with cooking spray.

Make sure to put a bit of butter in the pot and 1/2 cup of dried raisins/berries. They rehydrate magically and I just eat with a bit of milk or 1/2 and 1/2, don’t even need sugar. The leftovers keep well and re-heat nicely in the microwave.


48 Niki April 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I am a slow and reluctant convert to breakfast myself, also at the behest of the hubs.I used to do bread, fresh bread, ala Peter Reinhart and Poilâne smeared with homemade jams and what not. Big steaming mug of tea. Unfortunately I discovered a pesky little gluten intolerance and bread went from steady lover to bad boyfriend. Sigh. The unfairness vexes me daily. One day I will let it go.
Enter steel cut oats, stage right. They are like bread and jam….but different. I try and try again hoping one day I will wake up to discover I love them.
We soak them overnight in the zojirushi rice cooker and set the timer for an hour before we get up. My favorite combos are maple, blueberries, chia, almonds, and almond milk. I also like pumpkin, maple, cinnamon, nutmeg. I cant wait to try your banana version. Thank you for sharing.


49 Raleigh-Elizabeth April 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

Yum yum yum! I’m going to make the chia/maple/almond milk version tomorrow.


50 Isabelle April 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

I love mine cooked in milk with a half of a vanilla pod .It’s to die for.( The price of it too, if you do that daily!)
And on one of my experimenting days I tied cooking my oats with a pinch of salt and some good curry powder. Not bad either…though I thought it would need something more. haven’t found what yet… I definitely stick to the vanilla oats.


51 andrea April 24, 2013 at 8:37 am

My husband and I put chia seeds or flax seeds in our oats (with berries or brown sugar). And I am a sucker for cinnamon. He hates it, I love love love cinnamon.


52 Shalet April 25, 2013 at 8:18 am

An unusual topping suggestion. Add some grated coconut(fresh is better, available in asian grocery store) or dessicated coconut or even coconut cream and some cane sugar… Delicious..
I love steel cut oatmeal. I live in Belgium and have to order from Amazon uk.. :-(


53 Alexia April 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Ha! I blame pregnancy. I ate steel cut oats with raisins, brown sugar, and bananas Every. Single. Day. of my pregnancy. Which included cooking them in 90 degree heat in July and August in my unairconditioned house (I didn’t use the quick-cooking kind, so we’re talking about 30 minutes on the stove). And packing them up in containers when I had to leave town for work (about 1 week/month at that time). I would just make sure I got a hotel with a fridge and microwave in the room so I could eat them all during the trip.

Needless to say, I didn’t eat steel cut oats for about 2 years after that — but now I love them again.


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