Slow Cooker Gingerbread Steel Cut Oats (with easy day before method)
The best part of this recipe? Lift the bowl out of the slow cooker, cover, and refrigerate for a wholesome, speedy breakfast. Dump the water out of the slow cooker and dry. Done!
Of course, that is preceded by a couple of minutes to put the ingredients into the cooking dish and three easy hours in the slow cooker. Really…it is that easy! The gingerbread version is one that we have enjoyed over countless breakfasts, and I have tweaked the combination of spices and molasses over time to achieve just the right flavor.
When I prepare steel cut oats in my slow cooker, I use a water bath method. This technique steams the oats, and it eliminates overcooked oats sticking to the sides of your slow cooker in the morning. In my original recipe, which I still make often, I allow the oats to cook overnight. But the day-before method described below is perfect for those who like their oats on the nutty side because I stop the cooking before all of the liquid is absorbed. After resting in the refrigerator overnight, the excess liquid has been absorbed yet there is still a bit of “bite” to the oats.
You can absolutely use this technique for plain steel cut oats. Stick with the one cup of liquid to every quarter cup of oats ratio. In this case, I like to add any sweetener just before eating. I find that if the brown sugar or maple syrup is on top, I taste it more and need less. With the gingerbread recipe, however, the spices and other flavors truly develop as the oatmeal rests–another excellent reason to prepare it the day before. In fact, this oatmeal will keep for about a week in the fridge. So, I often portion a batch into bowls for the next several days, and the flavor seems to get better and better!
This method of cooking is virtually clean-up free and ensures perfectly cooked oats that are ready when you are. After the designated cooking time, simply cover the container in which you cooked the oats and refrigerate. The oats will still be a little soupy, but by morning they will be perfect.
If you prefer to cook this overnight, cook on low for six hours and no more than eight hours. If your slow cooker has a warm option, you can cook the oatmeal for 3-4 hours on low, letting it switch over to warm at that point. The oats will continue to cook, albeit a bit more slowly, when the cooker is on the warm setting.
- 1 cup steel cut oats (make sure it is a level cup)
- 2 cups milk (regular, almond, soy or coconut; see notes)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
- Optional toppings: additional honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup to taste; chopped nuts; bananas, raisins, shredded coconut or other fruit of choice; chia seeds, etc.
- Place milk, water, oats and the remaining ingredients (except the optional toppings) in a 2-quart casserole that fits in your slow cooker.
- Fill your slow cooker with a couple inches of water and place the casserole on a rack in the slow cooker. (You may also place the casserole on a ring made out of aluminum foil. You don’t want the dish to be sitting on the bottom of the cooker.)
- Cook on low for 3 hours. Cool slightly, and then remove the dish from the cooker, cover and refrigerate until ready for breakfast. You may also portion into individual bowls.
- In the morning, reheat gently in the microwave and top as desired.
While you may use all water for this recipe, I like the added flavor, creaminess, and nutrients provided by the milk. I have even used all milk and enjoy a 50-50 combination of almond or coconut and 2% milk. Use what appeals to you.
If you are cooking this for one person to eat over a few days, you may portion into four separate bowls and cover for super-speedy breakfasts.