Steel-cut oats are one of my favorite healthy breakfast recipes! There’s nothing like a wholesome bowl of hearty oatmeal drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with nuts to make my morning perfect. Today, I’m going to share my foolproof recipe and tips for making the perfect pot of creamy, yet never mushy, steel-cut oats.
This post includes affiliate links. I’m an affiliate for Amazon and other brands I love and use. If you use one of my affiliate links to make a purchase I will make a small commission. You’re by no means obligated to use my links but, if you do, thank you so much for supporting Organize Yourself Skinny.
Steel-cut oats are in a regular rotation at my house. Not only do I love eating a bowl for breakfast but my kids are also huge fans. And, when my kids are fans of something healthy I’ll make every day!
4 Reasons You’ll Love This Steel Cut Oats Recipe
- Super good for you – Steel cut oats are minimally processed making them high in nutrients like fiber and protein. They have a low glycemic index and are naturally gluten-free. When you eat a hearty bowl you can plan to be full and satisfied through lunch.
- Inexpensive healthy breakfast – a 24-ounce bag costs around $6. There are 15 servings per bag. If my math is correct, that’s only $.40 per serving. Just for reference, ordering steel cut oats from a cafe will run you about $4 or 5 dollars a bowl. Making it at home is less than 50 cents a serving!
- Can be made ahead of time – Cooking time does take longer than instant oatmeal but it can be made ahead of time and then warmed up all week. I’ll give more meal prep tips below.
- Customizable – a bowl of steel-cut oats is like a blank canvas. You can top it with maple syrup, nut butters, fruit, yogurt, or even savory toppings.
What are steel cut oats?
Before I jump into all things steel cut oats I want to give a quick rundown on steel-cut oats and the difference between old-fashioned oats and instant oats.
Steel-cut oats is oatmeal that has been minimally processed. The inner part of the kernel (aka. the oat groat) has been cut into 2 to 3 pieces by a steel blade.
This is the reason it takes the longest to cook. It’s also the reason it transforms into a nice chewy creamy texture after it’s cooked.
Old fashioned oats, or rolled oats, are cooked slightly and flattened out. This reduces the cooking time and makes them perfect for oatmeal recipes like overnight oats, granola, and cookies. The cooking time is shorter than steel-cut oats. The texture isn’t as chewy as steel-cut oats but it’s still firm without becoming too mushy.
Instant oats are the most processed of the three types of oats. The oats are cooked, dried, and then flattened out. These cook quickly and can often turn mushy.
How I decide on the type of oats to use
- I use steel-cut oats when I want a bowl of oatmeal.
- I use rolled oats when I’m making overnight oats, baked oatmeal cups, granola, energy balls, or any baked good that calls for oatmeal.
- I never use instant oats! But if I did it’d be just to throw together a quick bowl of oatmeal for my kids. A quick fact: Instant oats can’t be a substitute for rolled oats in recipes because of the fast cooking. Trust me, you’ll end up with much.
Steel-cut oats – Can be found in the cereal, natural food, or bulk section of your grocery store. Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I use most often.
Coconut or Almond Milk – Dairy milk or any milk of your choice will work just fine.
Coconut Oil or butter – Toasting the oats in either coconut oil or butter brings out a delicious nutty flavor with the oats.
Vanilla extract – This adds to the flavor of the oats.
How to Make Steel Cut Oats
I prefer the stovetop method when cooking steel-cut oats. Yes, a batch can be made using a slow cooker but I find this produces oats that are mushier than I like.
Cooking oats the old fashion way on the stovetop creates a creamy texture with a nice bite to them.
Here’s my foolproof method for cooking a large batch of delicious creamy steel-cut oats.
Step 1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil in a 5 1/2 – 6-quart pot. This only takes about a minute or so. Add the steel-cut oats and toast until golden and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
I don’t recommend skipping this step because it does give the oats a nice flavor.
Step 2: Add in 4 cups of hot water, bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
I’ll stir 1-2 times during this period. The picture is what it looks like after it has cooked for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Add in 2 cups of milk and let it simmer on low for another 20 minutes. This picture is what the oats look like after the milk has been added.
Step 4: Remove the oats from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let oats sit for another 5 minutes. You might think the oats look a little soup but they will continue to thicken.
In this step, sometimes I like to stir in some shredded coconut to give it a delicious coconut flavor. Just an idea 🙂
Step 5: Pour the cooked oats into a bowl and drizzle with pure maple syrup.
Step 6: Serve hot with your favorite oatmeal toppings.
Steel-cut oat topping ideas
- Fruit – raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples, and bananas.
- Dried fruit – cranberries, cherries, and blueberries.
- Nuts – pecans, almonds, and cashews.
- Nut butter – peanut butter and almond butter
- Shredded coconut
- Cacao nibs
- Flaxseeds or chia seeds
Can use all water, if needed. If you’re out of milk this recipe works fine using all water. The milk does provide an additional creaminess so if you can, use milk.
Substitute any milk. Almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, dairy milk all work fine in this recipe.
Add the sugar later. I never add a bunch of sugar directly to the recipe. Instead, adding a couple of teaspoons of pure maple syrup to your bowl of oatmeal is all the sugar needed for the perfect amount of sweetness.
Add superfoods. Bulk up the fiber and protein by stirring in chia seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseeds, or your favorite superfood.
The longer the oats sit the thicker the texture will get. If after 35-40 minutes the oats still seem liquidy don’t worry because they will thicken up as they sit on the stove. The oats will even thicken more when stored in the refrigerator.
Add more liquid for a creamier texture. The recipe I’m sharing creates a delicious creamy texture but if you’d like a softer texture with less bite then add in more milk.
Meal Prep Tips
After the oats have cooled, place them into a glass meal prep container and refrigerate.
To reheat steel-cut oats place the desired amount into a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and/or additional milk, add toppings, and serve hot.
Steel-cut oats freeze and reheat beautifully.
After the oats are cooked and cooled place them into 1-cup Souper cubes or a freezer container. If you’re freezing using Souper Cubes then after the steel-cut oats are frozen remove and place the oat blocks into a labeled freezer bag.
When you’re ready to eat then place the steel cut oats into a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 2-3 minutes or until hot.
Steel Cut Oats (Stovetop Method)
- 2 cups steel-cut oats
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
- 4 cups hot water
- 2 cups coconut or almond milk you can use any milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Melt the coconut oil or butter in a large pot. Once it's melted then add in the steel cut oats and cook for 1-2 minutes until the oats are golden and fragrant.
- Pour in 4 cups of hot water then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes or until the oats start to absorb the water and thicken up. Stir the oats 1-2 times during this step.
- Stir in 2 cups of milk and continue to let the oats simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Again, stirring 2-3 times so the oats don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Let the oats sit for another 3-5 minutes or until thickened.
- Serve hot with your favorite toppings.
Meal Prep TipsAfter the oats have cooled, place them into a glass meal prep container and refrigerate. To reheat the steel-cut oats place the desired amount into a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and/or additional milk, add toppings, and serve hot.
Freezer TipsSteel-cut oats freeze and reheat beautifully. After the oats are cooked and cooled place them into 1-cup Souper cubes or a freezer container. If you’re freezing using Souper Cubes then after the steel-cut oats are frozen remove and place the oat blocks into a labeled freezer bag. When you’re ready to eat then place the steel cut oats into a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 2-3 minutes or until hot.
Have you tried this recipe? If so, I’d love for you to rate this recipe and leave a comment below. We all learn from each other’s experiences. Also, it would be awesome if you could share a picture on Instagram and tag it #organizeyourselfskinny. I can’t wait to see it!