Easy prep-ahead method and slow cooker tip results in ready-to-eat oats with toothsome texture and easy cleanup. The classic spice combination is holiday worthy!
The best part of this recipe? Lift the bowl of perfectly cooked oatmeal out of the slow cooker, cover and refrigerate for a wholesome breakfast at-the-ready. Done!
As for the cleanup? Simply dump the water out of the slow cooker and dry. Done!
Of course, these easy steps are preceded by the few minutes needed to put the ingredients into the cooking dish and three easy hours of hands-off slow cooking.
Really…it’s that easy!
The gingerbread version is one that we’ve enjoyed for 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 eliminates overcooked oats sticking to the sides of your slow cooker － something that often happens when steel cut oats are cooked the traditional way.
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!
- 1 cup steel cut oats (make sure it’s 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 pure 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 (1/8 for less spice; see notes)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (1/8 for less spice)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
- Optional toppings: additional maple syrup or brown sugar, to taste; chopped nuts; bananas, raisins, a drizzle of milk (even eggnog for a holiday spin), 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 as well as a variety of plant-based milks like almond and coconut. Milk with some fat will enhance the creaminess. Use what appeals to you.
•If using very old spices, they may become bitter and spices like cloves and allspice can overshadow other flavors. When in doubt, go light. You can always add more (or purchase fresh) for the next time.
•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.
•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. Note that the longer cook time will result in less “toothsome” oats.