Quick, Night Before Steel Cut Oatmeal Prep (2 ways)

By Ann Fulton

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How do I cook steel cut oats faster?

Despite the cooking time a package of steel cut oats recommends–15 to 20 minutes, or longer for creamier oatmeal–a warm, satisfying bowl of hearty oatmeal can be ready far sooner. 

Steel cut oats will cook in 7-8 minutes–or in as much time as it takes the pot to boil. It just takes a minute or two of prep the night before.

Based on the details noted, one option may be preferable to the other. A few choice add-ins will make the hearty, nutty, lightly chewy oats a true breakfast of champions. 

As an added benefit, soaking oats is thought to allow for better absorption of its many nutrients. 

Option 1:

This option is preferable when adding ingredients that should be refrigerated overnight and yields one serving; double or triple accordingly.

To slash precious minutes in the morning, place ¼ cup steel cut oats and 1 cup milk of choice in small pot. Alternatively, water or half milk/half water may be used. 

I like to add a hefty shake of cinnamon and ¼ cup pumpkin puree for its velvety texture and added taste. Mashed banana–or applesauce or even apple or pumpkin butter–works well, too. Cover the pot and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, bring the soaked oats to a simmer then cook over medium-low heat until creamy, about 7 or 8 minutes, stirring regularly. I like to add a chopped banana at the end of the cooking time then top with raisins, slivered toasted almonds, a pinch of sea salt, and drizzle of maple syrup. Both the flavor and texture are unbeatable.

Options: Seasonal berries are fabulous toppers as well, and other dried fruit, like cranberries, chopped dates, dried apples, and apricots, also enhance the flavor. Instead of maple syrup, you could use brown sugar or another sweetener of choice. Or skip the sweetener and rely on the dried and fresh fruits to supply that flavor. 

A drizzle of nut butter also adds nutty flavor and satiating fat to a bowl of stovetop oatmeal. 


Option 2 for easy night-before steel cut oatmeal prep:

The following is written for 4 servings, but like the method above, may be scaled up or down if needed.

1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
Optional: pinch salt, vanilla, cinnamon
1 cup milk of choice (more or less to achieve desired consistency)

The night before, add the oats, water, and salt to a medium pot or saucepan. Stir in the water and optional salt, vanilla, and/or cinnamon; bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave it on the stove, and get a good night sleep!
In the morning, to reach your preferred consistency, stir in up to a cup (start with less) of milk before reheating. Then bring the oatmeal to a simmer. At this point you simply need to reheat it. When the oatmeal is warm, serve and enjoy with your favorite oatmeal toppings.

As an option for a little extra nutty, toasted flavor, you may toast the oats in 1 teaspoon butter, coconut oil, or olive oil over medium heat until they are fragrant, about 3 minutes, before adding the water. 

Tip: I like to make enough for several days. In the morning before reheating, I loosen the plumped oats with the milk, portion them into single-serve bowls, and then cover and refrigerate what I will be saving. Then I warm what I will be enjoying that morning. 

Storage: Covered and refrigerated, leftovers will keep for up to 5 days. Warm on the stove or in the microwave, loosening with a little milk if needed.


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