my favorite slow-cooker steel cut oats recipe

I’m a big fan of oatmeal. I grew up on Quaker quick cooking oats, which I still like well enough, but over the past year I’ve developed a real love for the steel cut variety. When prepared well, they have a great taste and texture – slightly chewy and with a bit more nutty flavor than quick-cooking oats. The only downside of steel cut oats is the time it takes to make them.

making slow cooker oats

There is a solution and it’s called…the slow cooker! You know that I’m a big fan of my ancient slow cooker, and for making steel cut oats, it’s the only way to go. Not terribly long ago, I found a recipe on Food 52 that has now become my favorite way to prepare them. The basic recipe is here, and it’s so simple to follow.

making slow cooker oats

The only change I make to the recipe when I prepare the oats is to use skim milk or 1% milk (depending on what’s in the fridge) in place of the one cup of whole milk.

making slow cooker oats

The toppings are entirely up to you. This time I used honey, golden raisins, and a dash of cinnamon. I’ve also used dried cranberries and maple syrup, but my favorite topping is honey and banana.

making slow cooker oats

And one of the best parts of making steel cut oats in the slow cooker is that there is always leftovers, perfect for a quick but healthy breakfast as I’m trying to get out the door during the weekday mornings.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours (or overnight)

Slow-Cooker Steel Cut Oats

This recipe slightly adapted from ying's, on Food52, here. I encourage you to visit the Food52 site yourself - it's a great one for finding community-sourced recipes. Serves 3-4, depending on appetite.


2 cups water
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 pinch kosher salt
toppings of your choice - sliced banana, raisins, honey, sliced almonds, etc.


In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, stir together milk, water, oats, and salt. Place in a large slow cooker and add enough cold water to come about half-way up the outside of the glass measuring cup which holds the oats mixture. Turn on low for 8-10 hours (overnight).

In the morning, stir oats well – it should be very creamy. Mix in your choice of toppings prior to serving. Enjoy!

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24 Responses to “slow-cooker creamy southern grits”

  1. Paula — November 7, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

    I’ve never had grits. I’m 56 years old. This post makes me think that my life has been missing something wonderful for many, many years.

  2. Kathryn — November 8, 2011 @ 4:33 am

    That does look like a big bowl of deliciousness and so comforting especially at this time of year.

    I’m so glad you’re back in the kitchen!

  3. Brian @ A Thought For Food — November 8, 2011 @ 7:16 am

    Cooking can be so cathartic. Glad to see you back in the kitchen, darling! And these grits… well, it makes me wish I lived in a place where one ate them more.

  4. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — November 8, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    Comfort in a bowl. These look perfect!

  5. margaret — November 8, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

    I think that I now have a reason to buy a slow cooker. Grits are my ultimate comfort food. Thanks!

  6. Macaroni Mama — November 8, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

    I agree. Grits seem like a comfort food.

  7. Dina — November 8, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    i love creamy grits đŸ™‚

  8. Nutmeg Nanny — November 9, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    These look awesome! I’m a huge grits girl. My Kentucky born grandma would always make them…yum!

  9. Chris — November 13, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Stone ground coarse grits are the best thing ever, who needs polenta? Never thought of making them this way, rather a genius idea.

    I like grits topped with smoked pork and a fried egg and a dash of hot vinegar sauce. Think I might have to have that for lunch.

  10. Lucy — November 15, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    What a novel idea–I’m of the standing-over-the-stove-stirring family, but I think I’ll have to try this method. I so love grits. Southern comfort food!

  11. Cheryl Balara — November 15, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    These grits are DELICIOUS!!! So creamy, hearty tasting and I haven’t even added butter, salt or any pork topping. This is my first time cooking “real” grits, usually I cook the quick grits. These are so much better. Plus with the crockpot method; Very easy! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    ps. I think I’ll set this up Christmas eve. It will be a wonderful Christmas present to myself.

  12. Pingback: looking back, looking forward, and a cocktail recipe: the st. honoré 75 | The Merry Gourmet

  13. Kathy Vaught — August 13, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    Can’t wait to try this method. I am not sure how much water to add from “add enough cold water to come about half-way up the outside of the glass measuring cup which holds the oats mixture” – is that 2 cups?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 13th, 2012 @ 8:43 am

      Kathy – It really depends on the size of your slow cooker, so I can’t give you an exact measurement. Pour a cup or two in, then see where the water level comes (remember, you’re not pouring it IN the oats). Add more if needed.

  14. cottonlily — October 17, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    I read the recipe twice but want to make sure I got this! You place the glass bowl/cup with the grits mixture in the crock pot? You do not pour the grits directly into the crock? I didn’t get that until I read the reply to Kathy. I can’t wait to try this! I agree the slow cook grits are the best; we just never get them because of time constraints.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 17th, 2012 @ 10:23 am

      Yes, put the grits in the glass bowl, NOT directly in the slow cooker. I’ll try to make this more clear in the recipe itself.

  15. Natalie — November 29, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

    This is similar to how I do Steel Cut Oats. Can’t wait to try these grits!

  16. Susan — January 18, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    Hello- Great site. I am looking to make Grits this weekend for a dinner party. Would love to know which recipe you recommend for Grits – the slow cooker one or the one with shrimp and sausage that is made on the stove top. I prefe to use the slow cooker (sounds easier) but also seems a bit bizarre to put the ingredients in a glass bowl and then into the slow cooker. Am I reading this right?? Thank you very much. Susan

  17. patsy — January 30, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

    Grits are corn not oats!

  18. Phil — February 12, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    I have used this method for Steel Cut Oats, as well. If you are reading this in the morning and wanted to go home at lunch to set it up, but just don’t want to eat at 8pm you can just put the cooker on high and do it for 4-6 hours. I generally just use 3 cups of whole milk to 1 cup Stone Ground Coarse Grits, which makes a thicker consistency, then chill and slice and sautee and top with Shrimp Creole….really hard recipe to mess up no matter what liquid you use. I do caution not to salt too much beforehand, though.

  19. Jamey — August 10, 2013 @ 9:48 am

    So it confuses me. Do I then take out the measuring cup. Seems like a dumb question but … Need this tomorrow night for our back to school teacher breakfast on Monday morning. Hope u have time to answer. Thx

  20. Donna — September 9, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    My husband loves grits. I bought Bob’s Red Mill Grits/Polenta and made the slow cooker recipe twice now for him. They turn out perfect.

  21. Kevin Sr. — November 10, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    I eat grits every where I go for breakfast and some times at home, after making them this way this will be my go to recipe, I dehydrate my own fruits and vegetables and added some of my dried apples with sugar and cinnamon and this was the best I have had any where

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 11th, 2013 @ 8:23 am

      Oh, I’m so glad! Thanks so much for your comment, Kevin.

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