This slow cooker steel cut oats recipe uses simple, inexpensive pantry ingredients to prepare a delicious healthy breakfast. Make a big batch on the weekend, store portions in the fridge or freezer for quick heat, and eat breakfast all week!
Top a bowl of warm oatmeal with fruit, nut butter, shredded coconut, or pure maple syrup for a wholesome meal that’ll keep you full until lunchtime.
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We are big steel-cut oats fans, especially my youngest daughter. I make a batch every Sunday for her to eat all week for breakfast. She loves it with a swirl of maple syrup and likes to pile on the fruit and other toppings.
Most of the time, I’ll make this easy steel cut oats recipe on the stovetop. However, on busier meal prep days, I’ll break out the crockpot and let it do all the work.
Reasons You’ll Love This Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats Recipe
- Simple pantry ingredients – To make a basic pot of steel-cut oats, all you need are oats and water. I’ll give some other variations below, but essentially, all that’s required are two ingredients.
- It’s an inexpensive, healthy breakfast – one serving of steel-cut oats is between .40 – .50 cents. And that’s for organic!
- You can easily double the recipe – It’s easy to make a large batch of steel-cut oatmeal to feed a crowd or freeze for later.
- Easiest breakfast meal prep recipe. Steel-cut oats can be made ahead for the week or frozen into portions for a quick healthy breakfast. I’ll give more meal prep tips below.
Steel-cut oats (also called Irish oats). These oats are less processed than rolled oats. Instead of being steam and rolled flat to speed up cooking time, steel-cut oats are the full groat cut in half with a blade. This is why steel-cut oats take longer to cook.
However, I prefer steel-cut oats over rolled when it comes to a warm bowl of oatmeal. Cooked steel cut oats are creamy and chewy with a little bit of bite to them.
Rolled oats often result in mushy oatmeal. However, rolled oats work better in other oatmeal recipes like overnight oats, baked oatmeal cups, or breakfast cookies.
Steel-cut oats are the perfect choice for cooking in a slow cooker.
Unsweetened almond milk – You can certainly make this crockpot steel cut oat recipe using just water, but I love to add unsweetened almond or coconut milk to the recipe for extra creaminess.
You could use dairy milk, but I like to keep this recipe vegan, so I use non-dairy milk instead.
Water – I use hot tap water when making this recipe.
Pure Vanilla Extract – A couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract infuses some extra flavor into the oatmeal. However, it is an optional ingredient, so you can leave it out of the recipe.
Cinnamon – This is another optional ingredient, but it does add a nice warm flavor to the oatmeal recipe.
Salt – A pinch of salt makes all of the other flavors pop.
You can purchase steel-cut oats at any grocery store. My favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve also used many excellent store brands.
You can find steel-cut oats in the cereal section or are often sold in bulk too.
I’m going to go against popular opinion here. No, I don’t think this recipe can cook for 8 hours or longer.
Over the last ten years, I’ve made steel cut oats in the crockpot many times, and the few times I tried to cook it overnight, it resulted in mush that stuck to the sides.
In my experience, the perfect cooking temperature and time is 4 hours on low and then 2 hours on warm.
I don’t recommend cooking it over 4 – 5 hours on low because it will burn and turn into mush. Also, I never recommend cooking slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal on the high setting.
Of course, that’s been my experience using my slow cooker.
When cooking steel cut oats on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, you’ll need 4 cups of water for 1 cup of oats.
Double both when you want to make a larger batch.
I like to use non-dairy milk to add creaminess but cooking steel-cut oatmeal using just water will work fine.
Toasting the oats is an optional step, so you don’t need to do it. However, toasting the oats adds a delicious nutty flavor, so I highly recommend it if you have the time.
I’ve been preparing slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal in the ten years I’ve never rinsed the oats. So, from my experience, no, you don’t.
To prevent sticking, spray the insert liberally with cooking spray. You can also use a slow cooker liner.
Sweeten the cooked oatmeal afterward. You might notice there’s no sugar in this recipe. I do this on purpose.
I find it easier to control the calories when I add the sweetener after it’s cooked. Also, we can all control the sweetness to our tastes.
Topping ideas to sweeten oatmeal:
- Pure maple syrup
- Brown sugar
- Coconut palm sugar
- Jam or jelly
- Stevia or monk fruit
- Chocolate chips
Add other toppings. You can enjoy a simple bowl of oatmeal or get creative and build the perfect bowl of oatmeal with your favorite toppings.
Keep in mind that if you’re trying to lose weight, then choose healthier toppings and measure out everything before adding it to the oatmeal. Even healthy calories can add up.
More topping ideas for oatmeal:
- Chopped apple
- Dried fruit
- Shredded coconut
- Nut butter
You can even make savory oatmeal by adding eggs and sauteed vegetables.
Stir in superfoods. Including superfoods is a fantastic way to pack extra nutrition into a bowl of oatmeal.
Superfoods to add to oatmeal
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Goji berries
- Cocao nibs or powder
- Coconut oil
Supplies to Prepare This Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats Recipe
- Slow cooker – I have a programmable Hamilton Beach 5 ½ quart slow cooker and 6-quart Crockpot; both work great cooking steel-cut oats.
- Glass storage containers – I love these Pyrex and Ello containers for storing cooked steel-cut oatmeal in the refrigerator.
- Souper Cubes – Using these silicone trays is my favorite way to freeze steel-cut oats into 1-cup portioned out blocks.
How to Make Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
Spray the insert of the slow cooker liberally with cooking spray.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or coconut oil in a medium saute pan. Once the butter melts, then add in the steel cut oats.
Cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and toasty.
Add the oats, water, milk, pure vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and salt to the slow cooker. Give it a couple of stirs.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours and then on warm for 2 hours. If you can stir it a couple of times while it cooks, it will help prevent the oats from sticking and burning.
Serve with your favorite sweetener and toppings.
Storing and Reheating Tips
Steel-cut oats store and reheat perfectly, making it great for weekly meal prep.
To store in the refrigerator, place the cooked and cooled steel-cut oats into glass meal containers. You can use a large or container or portion it out into smaller ones. To reheat the oatmeal, put it into a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 1-2 minutes or until hot. Add your favorite oatmeal toppings and enjoy.
To freeze steel-cut oatmeal, portion out into 1-cup Souper cube trays and freeze. After the steel-cut oats are frozen, remove the blocks from the trays and place them into a labeled gallon-sized freezer bag.
You can also freeze into portions using quart-size freezer bags.
To reheat, remove the oatmeal from the plastic bag and place it into a microwave-safe dish. Heat on high for 2-3 minutes or until hot. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy.
Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 2 cups steel-cut oats
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk or use your favorite milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract optional
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt optional
- Spray the insert of the slow cooker liberally with cooking spray.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or coconut oil in a medium saute pan. Once the butter melts, then add in the steel cut oats.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and toasty.
- Add the oats, water, milk, pure vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and salt to the slow cooker. Give it a couple of stirs.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 hours and then on warm for 2 hours. If you can stir it a couple of times while it cooks, it will help prevent the oats from sticking and burning.
- Serve with your favorite sweetener and toppings.
Cooking NotesYou can use all water, instead of the 2 cups of milk, in this recipe.
Storing and Reheating tipsSteel-cut oats store and reheat perfectly, making it great for weekly meal prep. To store in the refrigerator, place the cooked and cooled steel-cut oats into glass meal containers. You can use a large or container or portion it out into smaller ones. To reheat the oatmeal, put it into a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for 1-2 minutes or until hot. Add your favorite oatmeal toppings and enjoy. To freeze steel-cut oatmeal, portion out into 1-cup Souper cube trays and freeze. After the steel-cut oats are frozen, remove the blocks from the trays and place them into a labeled gallon-sized freezer bag. You can also freeze into portions using quart-size freezer bags. To reheat, remove the oatmeal from the plastic bag and place it into a microwave-safe dish. Heat on high for 2-3 minutes or until hot. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy.
Other slow cooker oatmeal recipes
- Slow Cooker Morning Glory Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Slow Cooker Apple Harvest Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Slow Cooker Blueberry Banana Steel Cut Oatmeal
Have you tried this slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal 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!
Oatmeal turned out very good! Added dried cranberries & apples. It makes a LOT! I’m storing half in the fridge & froze the rest. Unfortunately the oatmeal cooked/burned on to half of my slow cooker. It’s a beast to clean! I cooked on low for 6.5 hours in my 4.5 qt Crock Pot slow cooker. Is this just what happens when making oatmeal this way? Or did I do something wrong?? Makes for a very messy cleanup.
i use an outlet timer and plug my crockpot into it. Set the outlet timer when to go off and shut off. It works great
I was excited to do a large batch of oats. Unfortunately, they were very mushy. One of the things l like about steel cut oats is their texture.
Donna Blanchard says
I freeze my steel cut oatmeal in muffin tins and once frozen put the “hockey pucs” in a plastic zip lock and take out as needed and nuke.
Amy Myles says
This is a perfect recipe! My family loved it and I now love steel cut oats! Thank you for this amazing site! I read it often and you always update exactly when I need it!
Tina W says
Since I am a huge fan of the McDonalds Oatmeal now I thought I could do this on my own. Moving on to Steel Cut oats and found this website and blog! Thanks so much for sharing…my oats are cooking now…and I do plan to freeze!
Just bought steel cut oats for the first time. I don’t like raisins but dried cranberries are the new ‘fruit snack’ at our house! Love your blog thanks for making it a great resource so people don’t have to do this alone!
I started the crock pot at midnight on low. My husband forgot I told him I was making it. At 7:30 I went in kitchen and saw it. They cooked 7 1/2 hours and they tasted fine to me. I couldn’t tell any difference in them from stove top cooked ones. I will definitely keep cooking this way. So easy!
Fantastic yummy breakfast. I am making this for a second time and plan on adding the raisins at the end, I didn’t like how they rehydrated into gooey dead grapes. Otherwise delicious!
I make my crock pot oatmeal and then put the whole crock in the refrigerator. When it is cold, I line giant muffin tins with sandwich bags and fill each one to the brim of the tin with the oatmeal, close the bags and pop the whole tin in the freezer. When frozen I put them in a large bag and store them in the freezer. Each morning I put a “muffin” in a microwave proof bowl and microwave it on high for 3 minutes. I then add any toppings I choose. Works great for me!
Crockpots are weird. They are all a little different, especially if you have one made in the last decade or so. (I have a blog post about this at http://greenmomintheburbs.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/its-too-darn-hot-or-crockpot-woes-why-did-they-raise-the-temperatures-to-make-them-cook-hotter/ )
In one of my crockpots, the newish one in which “low” seems to cook everything at a slow but definitely bubbling simmer, I do this: put the ingredients, including boiling water, in the crock on high for an hour, and then before bed I turn it to warm without lifting the lid and it’s perfect by morning.
In another, my smaller crock that seems to actually cook on “low” at an actual real LOW temperature, I can put the ingredients in before bed but using actual ice water instead of warm, with maybe an extra 20% of water, and I can go on low overnight and it’s good in about 8 hours. But only if the ingredients are really cold to start with.
This is cool!
Just found your website and started looking thru it. Recently started making steel ground oats in my mini crockpot. Since it just has one setting – on! I use the timer that I use for our lights. What works for me is for it to turn on at 1 and off at 6. I usually get it prepped around 10pm. Oatmeal comes out great. Hubby loves oatmeal, and now I don’t have to do it on the stove in the morning.
Stephanie Pyne says
Hi there, I just found your blog via pintrest, and this was the first recipe that I looked at since I have recently been cooking steel cut oats in my crock pot. I have been using this recipe: http://www.theyummylife.com/blog/2011/03/159/Overnight,+Slow+Cooker,+Apple+Cinnamon+Steel-Cut+Oatmeal
It’s is really yummy. I did make a few changes for my liking. The 3rd time I made it, it turned out the best. I added 1 Tbsp of agave nectar, and one more tbsp of brown sugar, and finally 1/2 tsp of vanilla ( I also omitted the flax meal, since I don’t have any). It was awesome. I’ve tried a couple different ways to cook with my crock pot settings, and the last time that it turned out best, I had it on warm all night, then changed it to low when I got up. The apples were still a tiny bit crunchy, but that made it all the better.
Cyndee B says
Thank you-I love this recipe!
You are welcome! It is one of my favorites too!
I like to add chopped apples and dried cherries, cinnamon. I use apple juice instead of water. I put it on low the night before and it is ready in the morning. Put it into one cup containers and it is ready for breakfast anytime. Add a dollop of plain greek yogurt and you have a really nice hardy breakfast.
Yum that sounds delish!! I will have to give that a try.
Karol Westbrook says
I freeze steel cut oats all the time. I put 1 cup portions into freezer/microwave safe containers. Once they are room temperature, I put in freezer. Reheat in microwave on high for 3 minutes. My cross country running 12 yo loves this for breakfast.
laura cryns says
I just discovered your blog and its awesome! I plan on making this tonight for morning. Can I freeze the left overs?
Hey there! thanks for stopping by. I personally have never froze steel cut oats. However, I just saw steel cut oats in the freezer section of the grocery store the other day which says to me that it most likely can be frozen. You may have to play around a little with it but give it a try. Let me know how it goes.
Lori Rowley-Sipple says
I just read another blog talking about slow cooker steel cut oats…she said that she makes a big batch and refrigerates them and freezes it as well…said they freeze great! Not sure what the re-heating would consist of…but most baked goods or grains are best taken from the freezer to the fridge to thaw…then reheat. 🙂
I make steel cut oats in the crockpot weekly. I keep in the refrigerater and heat in the microwave. I usually do not add anything to mine, I prefer topped with fresh berries.
This was awesome! I used about a 1/3 cup of brown sugar and added a chopped apple about 90 minutes before it finished and it was really good! Mine took about 5 1/2 hours.
I leave my crockpot on Warm all night and turn it up to High for about an hour when I get up in the morning. It works pretty well for us. I usually cook 1 cup of oats with 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of water.
This is a great idea! Thanks! I am still trying to get the hang of my crockpot.
donna b says
Do the steel oats sill have a chewy consistency with your method of warm all nght and high for an hr? I think that is what I like about steel oats and was afraid I would not get that in the crockpot…