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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18 Responses to “my favorite slow-cooker steel cut oats recipe”

  1. 1
    Sara — March 31, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    What a great idea! I just bought steel cut oatmeal and I will definitely try making them in the slow cooker! Haven’t used my slow cooker in such a long time! 🙂

  2. 2
    gigi — March 31, 2010 @ 10:20 am

    I use a very similar recipe by Alton Brown. I’ve been making this oatmeal in my slow cooker for about 6 months straight now and I love them. I usually add a little brown sugar and a mix of dried cherries, cranberries and plums. Will never go back to instant oatmeal again. They’re super and super easy. The only drawback is having to clean my slow cooker. 🙂

    • 2.1
      SSCollins — March 30, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

      Eliminate the clean-up by using crock pot liners. I will never use my slow cooker without them again. 🙂

  3. 3
    Liren — March 31, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    Recipes like this really make me wish I have a slow cooker. I can only imagine all the fun I would have! It’s been a while since I made steel cut oats, simply because of the time factor, but this has inspired me. Hubby is eating regular oatmeal right now; I bet he’d love this.

  4. 4
    merrygourmet — April 1, 2010 @ 6:30 am

    Sara – This is a great recipe to pull out the slow cooker for.

    Gigi – Best thing about this method is that there is no mess in the slow cooker since you’re primarily using it as a bain-marie. It’s fantastic!

    Liren – Our slow cooker is a hand-me-down from my MIL. I’ve thought about upgrading to one of the fancier models, but this ancient thing does the job well.

  5. 5

    I never thought about doin’ this in the slow cooker. We own 4. Yup, 4 slow cookers. Might have to pull one out for this purpose. Thanks for the idea!! [K]

  6. 6
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — April 2, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

    Thanks for posting this – I have been looking around for a slow cooker recipe for steel cut oats! I feel I need to try them out!

    • 6.1
      merrygourmet — April 2, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

      Kim – FOUR slow cookers?! Yes, definitely use one for this purpose.

      Mardi – You will love them!

  7. 7
    Rachel Winter — September 22, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

    ok, slow cooker is going for a hearty breakfast! I am so excited! Will let you know how they turned out.

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  9. 8
    Dawn Hutchins — December 16, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

    I love steel cut oats. I will try this when I get off my Barbara’s Shredded Wheat kick!

  10. 9
    Kimmie — March 26, 2011 @ 11:26 am

    Thanks for the recipe! I accidently ordered a 50 pound bag from my co-op and didn’t know what to do with them. This is a huge help…and my children will love this!

    thanks again!
    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  11. 10
    Bob — May 14, 2011 @ 8:24 am

    I’ve been a fan of steel cut oats since the following 2005 NYT article:

    I cook them at home – and in my office – with a microwave in about 22 minutes. (No burning of milk to metal with the microwave.) I use a small, round semi-transparent bowl (anything microwave-proof) on top of which I can drop a small plate to create a good seal. Then, using a 3:1 ratio of milk to oats:

    1] At 100% microwave power, bring to a simmer. (By experience, I know this is 2 minutes for 1/3cup of oats and a cup of milk.)
    2] Reduce to 10% power and cook for 20 minutes.

    The sealed top creates the risk of boiling over, so keep an eye on the bowl during the 100% power phase.

    My preferred additions: vanilla extract, Nutrasweet or Splenda, cinnamon and raisins.
    Try: cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon. It’s only 10 calories and makes it taste like a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. (You’ll still need to sweeten it. Raisins still an option.)

    • 10.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — May 15, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

      Bob – love these suggestions. I can’t get enough of steel cut oats – the flavor and texture are so much better than rolled oats.

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  14. 11
    Casey — March 5, 2015 @ 9:59 pm

    Thank you for posting pictures!  I found the original recipe from Food 52 but wasn’t sure how to set up slow cooker for it. I look forward to trying some awesome oatmeal in the morning! 

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