Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe

We eat a lot of oatmeal in this house for so many reasons. It is nutritious, filling, inexpensive and incredibly easy to make.  Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber (the kind that helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol by the bloodstream), as well as rich in antioxidants and lignans, which protect against cancer and help stabilize blood sugar levels.    An oatmeal breakfast also allows me to employ the topping bar, which means everyone makes his or her own breakfast.  It’s a win-win.  During the school year, I usually cook a pot of oatmeal twice a week.  I prefer steel cut oats, also called Irish oats, because of their hearty, chewy texture.  They’re also only one step away from a whole oat groat since the grain has been merely sliced.  Old fashioned rolled oats have been steamed and rolled flat and are considered slightly less beneficial than steel cut.

When my sister told me recently that she brings instant oatmeal packets (loaded with sugar and who knows what else) with her kids to their day care for breakfast, I almost choked on my kale chips.  But I know my sister has a rough time of it getting two toddlers ready very early in the morning and out the door before 7:00 am.  Since steel cut oats can take up to 30 minutes to cook, it’s quite understandable why they don’t get made in her house on a weekday.  But since I can’t imagine life without steel cut oats (or maybe I can’t imagine life with instant oats), I sent her a crockpot as a very late new baby gift (I knew the right gift idea would come to me one day!) so that she could make the kids oatmeal overnight and have it ready when they woke up.  I was so pleased that I saved my sister from instant oatmeal, until she told me she loves her crockpot so much because she uses it for making dinner while she’s at work.

No problem!  I’m all about oatmeal solutions.  Turn to Plan B which is overnight steel cut oats, the answer for anyone who has absolutely no time in the morning.  You just boil water, add steel cut oats and a pinch of salt, cook for a minute and remove from the heat.  Keep it covered until the morning.  Then all you have to do is reheat, which takes about a minute.  You can also use this method in the morning if you wake up early and you want to go workout before everyone gets up and you don’t want to leave the stove on while you’re gone.  Just reheat when you get back.  It’s genius, really!

You know I have very little time to mess around in the morning with the two girls needing to be out the door at 6:40 am with breakfast AND lunches packed.  I can’t imagine what I would do if my kids didn’t like oatmeal.  But they sure wanted to find out!  Daughter #1 informed me a few months ago that she really doesn’t like oatmeal.  “Oh yes you do.”  “No, I don’t.”  “Haha! LOL!  JK!  Right?”  “Mom, you’re so weird.  I think oatmeal is boring.”  Well, stop right there, Missy.  I believe that when you have a problem with children, it’s best to nip it in the bud quickly before it turns into something major.  So, I took this recent turn against oatmeal VERY seriously.

Normally, I cook oatmeal in water, and stir in a little almond milk at the end for a creamy finish.  I set out a topping bar of cinnamon, dried fruit, jars of walnuts and pecans, homemade granola and whatever complementary fresh fruit I have on hand, such as bananas and berries.  Since this was no longer enough, I needed a new plan to bring her back.  Here are a few of the new versions that my daughter has approved of which really aren’t much trouble, but just make oatmeal seem special again.

  • Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal (see photo)– upon reheating, stir in pumpkin puree (about 1/3 cup per person) + pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon and nutmeg, pinch of ginger and cloves), top with maple sugar, pecans and dried cranberries.
  • Chocolate Oatmeal (see photo)– prepare oats with water and finish with chocolate hemp milk, top with fresh berries and mini chocolate chips (and sometimes walnuts).
  • Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana — finish with chocolate hemp milk, add a spoonful of peanut butter and diced banana.
  • Oatmeal with Sauteed Apples or Pears (see photo below) — saute chopped, peeled apples or pears with a touch of coconut oil or unsalted butter, then cook with apple juice or water and a dash of cinnamon until tender.  Sometimes we add to oatmeal with walnuts or pecans.
  • Pamela’s Special — oatmeal finished with almond milk and topped with chopped almonds or walnuts, raw cacao nibs, goji berries or chopped dates, flaked unsweetened coconut.
  • The Hubby — hold the milk, but add fresh blueberries (when in season) or sliced bananas and homemade granola.
  • Mr. Picky’s favorite — oatmeal finished with raw milk and topped with 1/2 diced peach, 1/2 diced plum, a dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of maple sugar.

Some of you mentioned to me that you like to stir in a little almond butter and that you freeze your oatmeal in individual portions.  I’m going to try that immediately.  Please share more of your oatmeal combos!

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal
Serves: 4*
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • optional: additional drizzle of milk such as almond milk or raw milk
  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oats and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand overnight.
  2. The next morning, reheat over medium heat, stirring in some milk (I usually use about ¼ -1/3 cup) if desired for extra creaminess.
*To make 6 servings, increase water to 6 cups and oats to 1 ½ cups.

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  1. Hi Pamela,
    I’m trying to accommodate my husband because he likes his oats cooked in milk.
    I don’t think it would be safe to leave milk/oats out overnight. Any suggestions?

    • I agree, not safe to make with milk and leave out overnight. Bring to a boil, turn heat off. Allow to cool slightly and then refrigerate (you can keep it in the saucepan), covered. Reheat the next morning on the stove.

  2. Why I find a bit bitter after I cooked 20mins Steel cut oats? Need help >.<

    • I’m not sure. Do steel cut oats always taste bitter to use or just this one time? I normally cook my steel cut oats more than 20 minutes.

  3. Concerning the greenish color…it’s from the water and is harmless. We have well water at home in SD and cooking steel cuts oats creates a green scum. We also live in AZ during the winter, and with city water have no green at all. Don’t worry about it.

    • Thanks, Marcia!

  4. Could you please post how you make crock pot oatmeal too?

  5. I tried the overnight soaking of the steel cut oats. I used filtered water and followed the directions exactly. This morning when I opened the stainless steel pan cover there was green scum on the top of the oatmeal. Yuk!! I threw them away. No way was I going to eat that. Have you heard of this problem before. What in the world could of caused this?? It makes me not want to have steel cut oats again. Thanks for responding.

    • Trish, I did actually look into this and I can’t believe I didn’t post what I found out. Apparently, if oats are harvested too young, there can be a green tinge that results when cooked. The woman I spoke with at Bob’s Red Mill thinks that it could be a little chlorophyll. The green is more likely to show up with organic oats than conventional. It has no taste and is completely harmless. There is nothing off or spoiled about the oats. It has happened to me many times and I just skim off the anything that has a tinge of color and eat everything else. Promise — nothing wrong with them! If you are not happy with the product and it’s from BRM, I know they will refund your money.

  6. You can divide the cooked oatmeal into single servings and put them into microwaveable bowls, then cover and refrigerate them. To make one serving, just uncover the bowl and microwave it on high power for 1:30 (one minute and thirty seconds). Delicious!

    • So smart, Amy! Thanks!

  7. I am not sure if you have seen the savory oatmeal recipe flying around Pinterest lately, but it is surprisingly delicious. Steel cut oats topped with a fried egg (I don’t see why you couldn’t do poached) sea salt, cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of shaved parmesan. I am not usually a savory breakfast person but it was superb!

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Ashley! I have seen some savory preparations on oatmeal including a risotto and tabbouleh, but not with a fried egg — sounds delicious!!

      • Over medium eggs are good with grits. Otherwise grits are disgusting

  8. Thrilled that I came across this recipe!! My husband and I are oatmeal eaters but our schedules really didn’t allow for the long process of cooking steel cut oats–definitely not during weekday mornings so we always opted for Instant rolled oats, which are not the greatest nutritionally. I’m so excited to pick up steel oats again and try this!! Will definitely enjoy my post-workout breakfast!

    • I know what you mean. I know it sounds silly, but overnight oats has changed my life!

  9. I used to use a rice cooker (with a timer) to make these overnight, but this method is easier and to my mind the results are better. The texture is firmer and overall it is less “soupy” than the rice cooker method. I include some dried fruits (like raisins) and stir in a few dark chocolate chips after it’s heated in the morning when I want a special treat.

    • John, I’m so glad you left this comment. People have asked about using a rice cooker and since I don’t own one, I never knew. Thanks for your great suggestions, too!!

  10. My husband came back from the grocery store yesterday with a big bag of steel-cut oats–“this is what you eat, right?” I get up at 4:45 AM to go to work every day… I make quick oats because I don’t have time to mess with anything else. Thank you for this method. Ain’t no way I’m getting up at 4 just to stir oatmeal for half an hour.

    I like to mix ground flaxseed, honey and natural peanut butter into mine.

    • Rosey, I don’t blame you. 4 am is way too early to get up for steel cut oats, but this method is made for you! I need to leave for work some days super early and overnight oats saves me. Love the flax-honey-PB combo!

      • I DO get up at 4 am everyday – so I’m thrilled to try this! I would think it would be easy to put into portions and put in the fridge or freezer. so you end up with a whole work week’s worth and can vary from day to day….

        • good gracious, 4:00 am! I like the way you think — yes, portioning it out for the week is a fantastic idea!

  11. My kids don’t like milk so I like to use skim milk in place of water when I make oatmeal. Think it’s ok to do the overnight thing with regular milk? Thanks.

    • Technically, you really shouldn’t leave milk out overnight since bacteria can grow. I’m not saying that I personally wouldn’t do it, but I need to tell you what the FDA says. A better option is to cook the oats in a tad less water than the recipe indicates and reheat the next morning with a bit of extra milk. I hope that helps!

  12. Thank you for introducing me to this overnight recipe. My family loves it and I feel good knowing they ate a healthy and hearty meal to start their day….or end it ( my boys come home from a hockey game and eat it too). My question to you is why does it have a greeny tinge to it in the morning (after cooking overnight)? Should I be rinsing the oats prior to cooking? I’ve made it in the slow cooker and it doesn’t have that colour. It can’t be mould, right? No foul taste either.

    • You know, I’ve wondered the same thing. Most of the time I soak my oats before cooking them and I drain the soaking liquid and when I do that, there’s no green tinge. I’m going to call Bob’s Red Mill on Monday and see what they have to say. I really don’t think it’s anything to be worried about, but I’m curious. Stand by!

  13. Thank you so much for this post! I know you posted this awhile back, but I just happened to come across it when I did a google search for overnight steel cut oatmeal. My family has recently fell in love with it, but 30 minutes cook time during the week is a little difficult. Also, your suggestions at the end are great! Thank you!!

    • So glad, Kayla! And thank you for taking the time to post such a nice comment 🙂

  14. I love to make this and be ready the next morning for the oatmeal pancakes! It makes the mornings so smooth when some of the kids can eat pancakes and some can enjoy the oatmeal topping bar!

    • I live for smooth mornings! Thanks Louisa~

  15. Hi Pamela,
    I can’t wait to try this! So I’m curious, after the first day you eat it, do you just refrigerate it until the next morning to re-heat again & so on for as long as it lasts? Or maybe since I’m single I should just make enough for the next day? I saw some said it would last them a few days so I just wanted to be sure, thanks!

    • Great question! Yes, the oatmeal will last for a few days in the fridge and you just need to add little liquid to reheat it (I put it in a small pot with a tablespoon or two of almond milk, but use what you like.) But if you’re making four servings, then you’ll be eating this four days in a row. If you don’t want to do that, you can freeze the oatmeal in single portions, too.

      • Thank you, I just bought almond milk today!

  16. I just heard you speak tonight – AMAZING – and love your oatmeal secret! I raced right home and threw the oatmeal and water in a pot and got my topping bar ready for the morning! I can’t wait to wake up and give it a try with the kids!

    • So nice to meet you, Liz. Hope everyone has a good breakfast this morning!

  17. My husband informed me this morning that he has a new love in his life!! It’s steel cut oatmeal! Whew! I never was great at the dating scene. So happy to hear he likes the easy and healthy breakfast.

    • Aren’t you the lucky one! I’m so happy to hear this, too. Thanks, Launi~

  18. I love that you can make this the night before and it is ready to go in the morning. It is so easy to accommodate all the different topping preferences and keep everyone happy and well fed.

    • You can see why I wasn’t going to let my daughter not like oatmeal anymore. It’s really the perfect for a busy family.

  19. Thanks for the great time saving idea. Are cacao nibs different than chocolate chips?

    • Yes, they’re different! Raw cacao nibs are partially ground up cacao beans. It’s pure cacao (cocoa). There’s nothing added to them unless you buy sweetenedcacao nibs. They’re super crunchy and a bit bitter, so I don’t eat them straight out of the bag. I add cacao nibs to different things — as part of a trail mix or on top of yogurt or oatmeal with walnuts. You can add them to brownie mix or cookies. Chocolate chips are a processed form of cacao with sugar, flavorings and emulsifiers added.

  20. Hi, I’m a student in college and I love following your blog for tips on eating healthier. I really like having the oatmeal with…one or two spoonfuls of plain greek yogurt on top (for creaminess), blueberries, and raw almonds. Thanks for all of the great tips! 🙂

    • So happy you’re here, Sarah and thanks for the suggestion! My sister-in-law turned me onto putting yogurt on top of oatmeal. It’s delicious and we also dollop it on top of pancakes with berries.

  21. I like your combo, Jane! BTW, you can employ the topping bar for LOTS of things. Have fun!

  22. I love this oatmeal! It is so easy, and so fulfilling! I had it with raw honey, almond milk, blueberries and chia seeds. It was delicious. My kids loved the oatmeal with topping bar that I read on the breakfast feature on your website. Thank you Pamela!

  23. I tried this recipe and I just loved it… I am trying to eat healthier and I am eating more oatmeal…Thanks for making our lives easier with all your great recipes!!! Whooo-hoooo… I love them…

    • Hi Ellen! If you’re trying to eat better, oatmeal in the morning is a great start!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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