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How To Cook Steel Cut Oats On The Stovetop

How To Cook Steel Cut Oats On The Stovetop – This cozy, healthy steel cut oats recipe is anything but boring. Learn my secrets for perfect oats every time and check out the list of oatmeal topping ideas! 

Overhead view of stovetop steel-cut oats with different toppings

Winter is such a cozy time for food! During these months, I usually gravitate away from my colder breakfast standbys like overnight oats and acai bowls, and more toward warm breakfasts, like potato and veggie scrambles and steel cut oatmeal.

There are so many reasons to love steel cut oats, and I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know to get a perfect bowl every time.

I’ve mentioned this before, but steel cut oats aren’t nutritionally different from other forms of oats (like quick-cooking or rolled/old-fashioned). They’ve been prepared differently (cut by a large steel blade instead of being rolled or sliced), but they have the same basic nutrients (protein, fiber, etc.) as any other form of oats. What IS different is the glycemic index, or how quickly the carbohydrates enter your bloodstream. Think of steel cut oats as a slow-releasing form compared to quick or rolled oats. This means that while they take a bit longer to cook, they won’t cause any sharp blood sugar spikes and they’ll stay with you a little bit longer.

The extra cooking time is sometimes what keeps people from trying steel cut oatmeal, but for me, it’s worth every moment of that time. If you’re really strapped for time in the mornings, you can actually make them the night before and reheat them. Their cut will keep them from getting gluey or losing their texture, and you can finish cooking them in the time it takes to clean up dinner!

Here’s What You Need To Make Steel-Cut Oats On The Stovetop:

  • A Saucepan. To make stove top steel cut oats, you’ll cook them in a small pot on the stove. I recommend something with a lid, which can help your water boil faster.
  • Water. I usually cook my steel-cut oats in water. It’s easy and keeps them from burning.
  • Steel-Cut Oats. Can’t make oats without oats! I use gluten-free steel cut oats.
  • A Pinch Of Salt. One of my tricks is to add a small pinch of salt. It won’t make your oats taste salty at all (pinky promise!), it’ll just bring out the flavor of the oats and keep them from tasting flat or dull.
  • A Drizzle Of Milk. After the oats are done simmering on the stove, I like to stir in a small splash of milk. It adds a creamy finish, which is so lovely. I use almond milk, but you can use whatever you drink!
  • Vanilla (If You Want). I recommend a little vanilla. It adds a hint of sweetness without sugar, and really makes the oatmeal taste fantastic.

How To Make Steel-Cut Oats On The Stovetop:

  1. Start By Boiling The Water. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add Oats & Salt. When the water is boiling, add the steel-cut oats and a tiny pinch (less than 1/8 tsp.) of salt.
  3. Simmer & Stir. Reduce heat to low and cook 15-20 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed and the oats are tender.
  4. Finish With Flavor. Stir in milk and vanilla and remove from heat.
  5. Add Your Favorite Goodies! Top with your favorite goodies. There are TONS of steel-cut oats toppings to try, but we’ve definitely got some favorites, like…
Overhead view of stovetop steel-cut oats with different toppings

Yummy Toppings To Try On Stovetop Steel Cut Oats:

I’ve shared a ton of ideas for topping your oatmeal here and here, but here are a few of my favorite steel cut oat toppings and flavors to try…

Fruit:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries (Try frozen berries! They’re delicious, too!)
  • Fresh Cherries
  • Sliced Bananas
  • Pomegranate Arils
  • Applesauce
  • Sliced Pears
  • Peaches or Nectarines
  • Raisins or Dried Cranberries
  • Diced or Sliced Apples

Nuts, Nut Butter & Seeds:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Like Nutella or this dairy-free Option)
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Sliced, Chopped, or Toasted Almonds
  • Chopped Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans

Sweeteners, Flavors & Extras:

  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Raspberry or Strawberry Jam
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Chai Spice
  • Cacao Nibs
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
Overhead view of stovetop steel-cut oats with different toppings

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Stovetop Steel-Cut Oats:

How To Make Steel Cut Oats In Advance. A great thing about steel cut oats is that it’s almost impossible for them to end up gluey. They maintain their slightly chewy texture and can even be reheated, so you can make a big batch on Monday, keep leftovers in the refrigerator, and warm up a bowl in the microwave or on the stove each morning for the rest of the week.

Pack Oatmeal For On The Go! You can even pack them in single-serving jars or containers for a quick on-the-go breakfast to warm up at work or right before school.

Gluten-Free? Read This! Oats themselves are gluten-free, though farming and processing procedures often cause cross-contamination with gluten/wheat. If this is a concern for you, you can try certified gluten-free oats. We love these.

Prefer To Make Them In An Instant Pot? If you want a more hands-off approach, you can totally make steel cut oats in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Get our Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats recipe + favorite flavors here!

Tips for Perfect Steel-Cut Oats Every Time

  1. Cook them long enough. You might be tempted to pull them off the heat early. I say give them a good 20 minutes of simmering time. They’ll be at their best texture and will have absorbed the most liquid.
  2. Don’t be afraid to add more liquid. After cooking, I always stir in extra milk at the end. I use non-dairy milk (almond, cashew, or coconut), but dairy milk works great too.
  3. Make the most of non-sugar flavor boosters. Adding a little vanilla extract or cinnamon will give your brain and tongue the feeling of sweetness without adding any extra sugar. You’ll end up using less sweetener overall if they’ve already got a little taste of sweetness.
Overhead view of stovetop steel-cut oats with different toppings

Print
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Overhead view of perfectly cooked steel-cut oats

How to Cook Steel Cut Oats On The Stovetop


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This cozy, steel-cut oats recipe is anything but boring. Don’t miss our favorite toppings!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (gluten free, if needed)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use almond, cashew, or coconut), plus more as desired
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Start By Boiling The Water. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add Oats & Salt. When the water is boiling, add the steel-cut oats and a tiny pinch (less than 1/8 tsp.) of salt.
  3. Simmer & Stir. Reduce heat to low and cook 15-20 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed and the oats are tender.
  4. Finish With Flavor. Stir in milk and vanilla and remove from heat.
  5. Add Your Favorite Goodies! 

Notes

  • Make them ahead! A great thing about steel cut oats is that it’s almost impossible for them to end up gluey. They maintain their slightly chewy texture and can even be re-heated, so you can make a batch Monday and warm up a bowl each morning for the rest of the week.
  • Breakfast on the go. You can pack cooked oats in single serving jars or containers for a quick on-the-go breakfast to warm up at work or right before school.
  • Toppings To Try: fresh berries, nuts or nut butter, cinnamon, cacao nibs, peaches, apples, jam, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, etc. 

 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: steel-cut oats, stovetop steel-cut oats, how to cook steel cut oats, steel cut oatmeal

Originally shared Nov 2016. Fully updated Jan 2021.

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29 Comments

  1. Looks amazing!! I’ve never had steel cut oats before, but I’m going to have to after this! (Thanks for the video, by the way.)

  2. hello, I like your blog. Clean simple and thoughtful info. Thank you. FYI- I almost always prepare them savory. A hi protein preparation is to poach a couple eggs in the pot with the oats as they finish cooking.
    I started eating these when living in London in the mid 1970’s. We were told the traditional way to prepare was with curdled milk (buttermilk) mixed in after cooking. My current (and favorite) variation on that is to mix kefir in (the bowl, not the pot). It gives both a tartness and savoriness. Very healthy, no added sugars of any kind. Maybe some chopped walnuts for texture.

    Thanks, I’ve bookmarked your blog and will be back

  3. This is a great basic recipe for steel cut oats. I would make a note that oats should be added to the boiling water slowly while stirring. I added a diced apple when I added the oats. When adding the milk (I used sweetened Almond vanilla almond milk) I reduced the vanilla extract to 1/4 tsp. vanilla, I also added 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground clove. To each bowl I added a 1/2-1 tsp brown sugar. It was absolutely delicious. I am going to try saving the leftovers in fridge overnight, will see how well they keep and reheat

  4. Totally loving steel cut oats. Need to understand how much dry oats equal how much cooked oats? Besides the recipe you use–the one I do–I have used steel cut oats as a ‘savory’ side turning them into a sort of risotto. Great invention these! (hated oatmeal as a kid too!) Thanks for loving them too.

  5. I have used steel cut oats for overnights oats (I add kefir instead of milk) for months. Thanks for a great column on how to cook them!

  6. Thanks for the suggestions on how to make oatmeal.

    Should the pot be covered ? Not clear whether it cooks better or quicker, but beware because even on a simmer, it may boil over. So watch it during cooking and stir periodically.

    Should the pot be covered or not?

    Also, quick cooking steel cut oats cook in 5-7 minutes and the difference in the oats seems to be in the size. Could regular steel cut oats be placed in a food processor or coffee grinder to reduce the size, creating a quick-cooking version?

    I have begun to toast the oats before cooking and this creates a wonderful aroma, and the taste is quite spectacular. My wife and son may have become converts to oatmeal after tasting this wonderful variation. It might even be good as a risotto-type dish.

    I used to cover the pot when making the quicker-cooking version but it invariably boiled over, so I do not cover it but I do use the cover after it is done and leave it on for about 5 minutes.

    I sometimes use a good quality maple syrup and milk, kefir, or yogurt. This time of the year, I top it with my favorite: fresh blueberries.

    Thanks.

    1. I typically don’t cover mine when cooking, for just that reason! I find it’s easier to keep an eye on the oats, prevent boiling over, and get a feel for when they’re done when I cook them uncovered.

      Also, from what I understand, quick-cooking steel-cut oats are just cut into smaller pieces so they cook faster. I’ve never tried to grind my own, but a food processor or coffee grinder could be a good place to start!

      Lastly – thanks for your serving suggestion tips! I love blueberries on my oatmeal!

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