Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal

By Ann Fulton

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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!

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal
This method of cooking produces creamy oatmeal with a hint of nuttiness and is virtually clean-up free. No goopy slow cooker to scrub as the oats are much harder to overcook. When finished, simply cover the container in which you cooked the oats and refrigerate any leftovers.

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)
Optional add-ins
  • 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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Portion any leftovers into bowls and reheat another day.

Portion any leftovers into bowls and reheat another day.

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    1. Ann Post author

      Absolutely, Allison. My first thought was to stir the blueberries in at the end for best texture – just long enough to warm through. Then it occurred to me that if the berries break down as the oats cook, they may provide a lovely blueberry flavor throughout. Maybe do half and half to see how you like it. The color may be grayish-blue from the juice/oats combo, but I think it would taste great. If you try, I’d love to hear how you make out.

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  2. Sue Kurtz

    What if you have an old-fashioned crock pot? I doubt that I can fit a bowl in it, and am trying to think of a way to keep the container from touching the bottom of the crock pot??

    1. Ann

      Hi Sue,
      To keep the container from touching the bottom of the crock pot, you can make a ring out of foil. A trivet might work, too. As for the container itself, I just got out my old crock pot to see. You may have to cut the recipe in half, but I found a jar, a bowl that is like an oversized ramekin, and another bowl that is part of a nesting set that fit. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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  5. Debbie

    I’ve cooked steel cut oats in the slow cooker for years. I also use the water bath method. I prefer my oatmeal to be a little on the dry side – I like them to be a little chewy. That might be strange; I don’t really know. I measure out 3/4 c into separate zip lock baggies and keep in the refrigerator and each week day morning, I add a little butter, warm in a coffee cup in the microwave and pour into a thermos to take with me to the office. It’s a great way to start the day and I’m not definitely not starving come lunch time.

    1. Ann

      Great system and I bet it makes the morning routine a breeze. Thanks so much for sharing how you do it, Debbie!

  6. Rila Hackett

    Ann, we (Don and I) finally prepared this last night and ate it this morning — delicious! And the clean-up was SO much easier than the previous week when I cooked steel cut oats in the crockpot overnight and had to scrub the pot multiple times.

    We used applesauce in place of the pumpkin and added a teaspoon of almond extract. It makes a lot so we’re all set for breakfast for the next couple days. Thanks again!

  7. Terri D.

    Ann: I am making this tomorrow during the day so I can monitor the progress. I feel the need to ask if it would be okay to cook the oats in a stainless steel mixing bowl instead of a glass or ceramic bowl?

    BTW…where do you purchase slivered almonds in bulk?

    (Another additive for the end of the cooking cycle is ground flax seed.)

    Thanks, Ann! Happy weekend!

  8. Terra

    Oh interesting that you put your casserole dish in the slow cooker, but totally makes sense! This is a great recipe, and one I need to try ASAP! Hugs, Terra

    1. Ann

      Thank you, Terra! This method really helps to keep the oatmeal from getting overcooked while you sleep. The easy cleanup is a bonus! xoxo