By Gabrielle. Images by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.
It’s time for another recipe in my Slow Cooker Series — and this time it’s a breakfast option. Did you know how easy it is to make steel cut oats in a slow cooker? So easy!
Put them in before bed and when you wake, they’re warm and ready to dish up. Normally steel cut oats take nearly an hour to cook, which can be tough on a school morning. Using a slow cooker bypasses that hour on the stove, so there’s no active cooking time and it’s ready to go when everyone is getting up and going. It feels good to send the kids off to school with a wholesome warm breakfast in their tummies, and anything that frees up time on busy mornings is a plus!
This recipe makes quite a bit — 8 servings or so depending on how big the servings (or the appetites) are. And one of the best parts is that you can add your choice of toppings, so you can vary the options endlessly. You could even host a family oatmeal buffet!
Have you ever tried steel cut oats? If you’ve been meaning to, try this recipe first.
Slow Cooker Overnight Steel Cut Oats
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
8 cups water
2 cups whole milk
2 cups steel-cut oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (see note on the sugar below)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Optional toppings – fresh sliced fruit, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, ground cinnamon, honey, fresh cream. See suggested variations at bottom.
Grease the slow cooker insert with the butter. Place the water, milk, steel cut oats, brown sugar, and salt into the slow cooker. Stir.
Turn slow cooker on to LOW and cook for 7 hours. After the 7 hours, remove lid and stir.
– If possible, don’t cook the steel cut oats for longer than 7 hours, 8 hours maximum. If they cook for longer than 8 hours on low, they will turn mushy. If you have a programmable slow cooker, this is a good time to use it.
– The edges and top might come out a little crispy. Totally fine, and it’s delicious (yet not photo-worthy). :)
– If you don’t have a slow cooker, or don’t want to go that route, you can soak the steel cut oats overnight with the water in a pan, add the milk and remaining ingredients in the morning, and it will cook for a much shorter time — like 10-15 minutes vs. 40-45 minutes.
– Buttering the slow cooker insert seems to help prevent it from sticking so much, though it will still stick a little bit.
– The sugar isn’t mandatory. It or another sweetener can be added to individual servings later.
– The normal ratio for steel cut oats is 1 part oats to 4 parts liquid. This recipe uses a 1:5 ratio to prevent the oats from drying out and/or burning. They will have a slightly softer, more cooked texture than stovetop steel cut oats.
– Vanilla – add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
– Apple Cinnamon – add 1 or 2 diced apples and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the slow cooker and cook as directed above. You can also use 2 cups of apple juice for part of the water and omit the brown sugar.
– Banana Nut – add 1-2 mashed bananas, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. You can also substitute almond milk for the whole milk. Serve with toasted sliced almonds, walnuts, or pecans on top.
– Maple Pecan – substitute maple syrup for the brown sugar and serve with toasted pecans on top.
P.S. — More slow cooker recipes that my family loves.