I’ve mentioned a time or two in this space that I enjoy my morning oatmeal! When I haven’t kept up with the demand for baked oatmeal or when we aren’t working our way through a backlog of eggs from our four chickens, this is the way I often prepare it.
Steel cut oats lend themselves to slow cooking, but not as long as the six to eight hours that many recipes suggest…unless you use the following technique: A water bath essentially steams the oats, making them creamy and delicious and far more difficult to dry out. If you ever cooked oatmeal overnight in your Crock Pot and the end result was thick, goopy oats that were overcooked and sticking to the cooker, this recipe might just be what brings you back.
Within the recipe, I include my tips for cooking, single serve options, and some of my favorite add-ins — pureed pumpkin being one of them. Pumpkin is a great option all winter long, when the seasonal berries are no longer with us. Frozen or canned puree both work well. That said, I often add frozen berries. If I remember, I will put them in a bowl in the fridge the night before to thaw. If not, I just take them out in the morning; either way, I warm gently before adding to the oatmeal. I like to add chopped banana with whatever other fruit I use and always nuts, usually slivered almonds that I toast in bulk and store in the fridge. The extra crunch makes the meal for me, and I have found that my kids like slow cooker or stovetop oatmeal if there is the added element of crunch, and a little sweetness right on top where they really taste it. There are lots of delicious sweetener options from brown sugar to honey, maple syrup to stevia.
Whichever way you decide to top your bowl of oats, I think you will enjoy this method as much for the taste as for the convenience. A healthy, hearty and hot breakfast will be ready and waiting. Your morning routine will be easy, and the cleanup is almost effortless!
Yields 4 servings.
- 1 cup steel cut oats (make sure it is a level cup)
- 4 cups milk (regular, almond, soy or coconut) or water (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree or chopped apples (firm or pureed fruit work best; see notes)
- Toppings: honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup to taste; chopped nuts; bananas, raisins, shredded coconut or other fruit of choice; chia seeds, etc.
- Before bedtime, place milk and/or water, oats and optional add-ins in a 2-quart casserole or bowl that fits in your slow cooker.
- Fill your slow cooker with a couple inches of water and place the casserole in the slow cooker. You want the dish to float. Carefully, add a little more water if the dish sits on the bottom of the cooker. You may also place the casserole on a rack or a ring made of foil to keep the casserole dish off the bottom of the cooker, still adding an inch or two of water to the cooker. This will cause the oats to cook more slowly, which you want.
- Cook on low for 6 hours ideally, but up to 8 hours. My cooker will change to "warm" setting after the allotted cooking time is up, but I have cooked for just over 8 hours as an experiment and the oats are still delicious, perhaps a bit creamier.
- Portion the oatmeal into bowls and top as desired.
- While you may use all water for this recipe, I like all milk for the extra nutrients, creaminess, and flavor. I often use a 50-50 combination of almond or coconut and 2% milk. A 50-50 combination of milk and water is fine, too. Use whatever combination appeals to you.
- You may also omit the fruit entirely or add fruit of choice as a topping once cooked.