Meet my current favorite reason to start the day when it is -20 F outside: Overnight Steel Cut Oats. For those who are craving something creamy and warm without the additional calories on a cold winter day, you have come to the right place.
If you are like me, a fan of steel cut oats, but feel like they take forever to cook on the stove not to worry. Because today I come to you with a foolproof overnight steel cut oatmeal recipe that you can make with only 10 minutes hands-on time. And it is just as good as the version where you have to wait in front of the stove and stir for over 25 minutes.
What is Steel Cut Oatmeal?
If you are new to the world of oats, you might be wondering how are steel cut oats different than old fashioned (aka rolled oats) or even quick cooking oats.
Well, you are not alone. I was quite a bit confused at the beginning myself, but after trying my hand in every version I feel like I now know the difference.
What is The Difference Between Steel Cut Oats and Rolled Oats?
Before I talk about steel cut oats or rolled oats, I probably first talk about groats and then continue with the rest.
- Groats: The term “Groats” refers to any whole kernel of grain with its outer husk or hull removed. Grains like wheat, bulgur, barley and oats can be processed into groats. When it comes to oats, they are the least processed oat product. With their outer layer still intact, they are considered to be high in fiber. They have a hearty and chewy texture, but need to be pre-soaked or simmered for a longer time to soften during the cooking process. Because of this reason, they are not ideal for a quick breakfast on a weekday.
- Steel Cut Oats: Also known as Scottish or Irish oats, steel cut oats are made by cutting groats into coarse bits (pin-like small pieces) for easy cooking. Doing so shortens the time of cooking while delivering a nice chewy texture.
- Rolled Oats: Also known as Old-Fashioned or whole oats, rolled oats are made by steaming groats and pressing them into flat flakes. Since they are super thin, it takes much less time for them to cook, but you end up with more of a gummy bowl of oatmeal compared to a bowl of oatmeal made with steel cut oats.
- Instant Oats: Also called quick oats, instant oats are the most processed of all oats. They are partially cooked, dried and then rolled to make them extra-thin. As a result, they cook much faster. While they certainly come handy when you need a quick breakfast on the go, an oatmeal made with instant oats lack in the nutty flavor and chewy texture we all love.
Can You Make Overnight Oats With Steel Cut Oats
You sure can. Though it takes a few minutes of preparation, you can easily make the overnight oats with steel cut oats.
How To Make Overnight Steel Cut Oats
For the longest time, I made steel cut oats in my slow cooker. It was so easy and quick to make with literally 2 minutes of preparation. It would never disappoint and I would always wake up to a bowl of warm overnight oats in the morning.
However, when I read how folks over at America’s Test Kitchen cook their steel cut oats in their new cookbook, The New Essentials Cookbook(affiliate link), I decided to give it a try. And it did not disappoint. It was just as easy and delicious.
The process of making this make-ahead overnight steel cut oatmeal (in their way) has two parts.
First, you boil 2 cups of water and place it in a medium saucepan with a lid. Then you add in a cup of steel cut oats along with a little bit of salt. Give it a stir, put the lid on, and let it sit on the counter overnight.
In the morning, you will realize that most of the liquid has been absorbed and the steel cut oats are softened.
Second, you cook the steel cut oats over medium heat while stirring frequently (with a wooden spoon) until most of the liquid is absorbed or it is in the consistency that you like. It should take no more than 5-6 minutes.
At this stage, if you prefer, you can add in some almond milk into the mixture to make it even more creamy. I personally like my overnight steel cut oats with almond milk so I usually go for unsweetened almond milk, but any milk of your choice (coconut milk is also a favorite of mine) would work.
Here, I recommend starting with half a cup of almond milk first and adding more as you see necessary based on the texture and consistency you like.
When you are ready to serve, all you have to do is to divide it between bowls and top it off with your favorite fruits, nuts, and perhaps, drizzling it with a little bit of maple syrup or honey for additional sweetness.
How Long Do Overnight Oat Need to Sit To Soften
I usually let it sit 8-9 hours. However, they are usually softened after the 6th-hour mark. Additionally, if you like your steel cut oats on the chewier side, you could let it soak shorter.
You might think of it as an additional step, but I find that soaking steel cut oats in hot water is the best way to cook steel cut oats fast.
How To Make Creamy Oatmeal with Milk
As you will see in the recipe below, you soak the steel cut oats in hot (recently boiled) water and let them sit on the counter (or off the heat) overnight.
If you like your overnight oats with steel cuts to be creamy, you can add a little bit of milk later when you are warming it up.
As mentioned earlier, I start with half a cup of almond milk and stir constantly with a wooden spoon as it cooks. I find that half a cup of milk is more than enough for 1 cup of cooked steel cut oats, but you can adjust it for the consistency and texture you like.
Best Way to Cook Oatmeal on The Stove Top
When it comes to cooking steel cut oats on the stovetop you have two options:
- Method #1 – Overnight Soaking Method: Similar to how I did in this recipe, soak it in hot (recently boiled) water overnight and then heat it up in the morning using a little bit more liquid. The whole process from start to finish for soaking method is between 8-9 hours with only 10 minutes of hands on time.
- Method #2 – Cook On The Stove Top Without Soaking: You can also cook steel cut oats with water without soaking. Depending on the brand, the ratio of steel cut oats to water is usually 1 to 3. From start to finish, cooking on stove top without soaking takes between 25-35 minutes (depending on the brand) and requires you to keep a close eye on it.
How To Cook Steel Cut Oatmeal in A Crock Pot
If you want to try your hand in making overnight steel cut oats in a crockpot, you can check out the Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats recipe I shared a few years ago.
Similar to this overnight steel cut oatmeal recipe, making steel cut oats in a slow cooker takes only a few minutes of hands on time and delivers perfect results every time.
The beauty of this Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal recipe is that it can be customized in many ways. Here are a few of my favorites ways to serve it:
- Peaches & Cream: Top it off with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and sliced ripe peaches.
- Blueberry and Lemon: In a bowl mix together fresh blueberries, lemon zest, and a tablespoon of maple syrup. Use the mixture as a topping.
- Peanut Butter (or any nut butter) and banana: Garnish your oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a few slices of banana. If you want additional sweetness, drizzle it with maple syrup.
- Apple Cinnamon: Cut an apple into small cubes and sauté with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon for a few minutes in a skillet. Garnish your steel cut oatmeal with the sautéed apples and drizzle it with maple syrup or honey.
- Carrot Cake: Shred a small carrot in a small bowl. Mix it with a tablespoon of maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a handful of raisins. Use the mixture as a topping.
- Superfood mix ins: Similar to how I did, you can add in superfoods like chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, and even your favorite protein powder.
There you have it, friends. I think I covered everything you need to know about making the best overnight steel cut oats recipe.
I would love to hear if you are a fan and how do you like to cook your steel cut oats. Drop a line below and tag me on social media if you make this recipe.
Other Recipes Using Steel Cut Oats That You Might Like
- One-Pot Savory Steel Cut Oats
- Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
- Pressure Cooker Steel Cut Oats Recipe
- Other Breakfast Bowl Recipes
- Steel Cut Oats Cookies – by Real Food Real Deals
- Pumpkin Pecan Baked Steel Cut Oats – by A Couple Cooks
If You Liked This Steel Cut Oatmeal You Might Also Like
Overnight Steel Cut Oats
For The Steel Cut Oats
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or water
For The Toppings (Optional)
- 1/4 cup Seasonal fruit
- 1/4 cup nuts
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds*
- Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan (with a lid).
- Stir in the steel cut oats and salt.
- Put the lid on.
- Off the heat, let it sit on the kitchen counter overnight.
- In the morning, put it back on the stove and heat over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent from sticking. As it cooks the water will start to evaporate and it will have a thicker texture.
- While stirring constantly, add in the almond milk.
- Cook until its consistency and texture reaches to your liking. Feel free to add in more milk if you like it to be thinner.
- Serve with your favorite toppings.
- If you prefer, you can add the chia seeds in right before heating the oats in the morning.
- Nutrition facts below do not include the toppings.
- The best way to store overnight oatmeal with steel cut oats: If you prefer to make a big batch you can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. Alternatively, you can divide it amongst small mason jars to serve them in individual portions/
- How To Reheat Leftover Overnight steel cut oatmeal?: While you can certainly enjoy steel cut oatmeal cold (right out of the fridge), you can easily reheat it in a small saucepan with a little bit of water or milk. Be sure to keep an eye on it and stir it with a wooden spoon to prevent it from burning. It takes no more than 4-5 minutes to reheat it on the stove top. Alternatively, you can reheat this oatmeal in your microwave. To do so, place it in a heatproof bowl, add in a few tablespoons of liquid (milk or water) and warm it up in 15-second increments making sure to stir a few times until it is warm enough to your liking.
- How Long Do Overnight Oats Last?: As long as it is stored in an airtight container, these overnight steel oats will last up to 5 days.
- Can I freeze this overnight steel cut oats? Yes, you can. To do so, bring it to room temperature, divide it amongst single-serving airtight containers, and place it in your freezer. When ready to serve, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
This post was originally published in Jan 2019. It has been updated with new information but with no changes to the original recipe in March 2021.