Steel Cut Oats – A Quick and Healthy Breakfast

Steel Cut Oatmeal


When I made steel cut oats for the first time, I knew that eventually, they would totally replace those instant oatmeal packets that I had been using for years, and now they have. Steel cut oats with fruit and nuts have become one of our favorite “quick” breakfasts.  They are right up there with grits and green chile – well, almost. 🙂

spoonful of steel cut oats

So what are steel cut oats?  Steel cut oats are the a hulled grain or the inner portion of the oat kernel. Rather than being rolled flat like rolled oats, they are hulled and cut into smaller pieces.  Because they aren’t rolled, they undergo less processing. Some sources say, that because of less processing, they maintain more of their nutrients than rolled oats. However, I did find some sources that said that rolled oats and steel cuts have the same amount of nutrients. Regardless, both make a highly nutritious breakfast;  therefore, it comes down to which one you like best. In this house, it’s no contest – steel cuts win out every time!  (Image source:  Wikipedia, public domain)

Steel cut oats normally take 30 to 40 minutes to cook; however there are a few methods that allow you to reduce the cooking time considerably. If you have a slow cooker, you can cook them overnight and they’ll be ready when you get up in the morning.  However, since I don’t have a slow cooker, here are two methods that I use.

Method 1:  Before going to bed, bring the water with the salt to a boil. Add the oats, stir, bring back up to a boil, then remove from the heat. Cover and go get a good night’s sleep.  The next morning when you get ready to make breakfast, you’ll only need about 10 minutes to add some fruit and nuts and finish cooking the oats.

Method 2 (in case you forget to prep the night before): When you get up in the morning and are waiting for the coffee to brew, bring the water with the salt to a boil, add the oats, stir, bring back up to a boil, then remove from the heat. Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes, the longer the better.  Allow 10 to 15 minutes to add some fruit and nuts and finish cooking the oats.

Our favorite fruit and nut combinations are banana and raisins with almonds, and apples and dried cranberries with walnuts. These combinations go great with the nutty taste and texture of the oats. You’ll find both recipes below.




Steel Cut Oats with Banana, Raisins and Almonds Recipe

Recipe author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Yields:  Two 1 cup servings
Prep time:  5 minutes with an overnight rest or 45 minute rest
Cook time: 10 to 15 minutes


½ cup steel cut oats
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups water
~ ½ cup almond milk, milk, soy milk, or coconut milk
¼ cup raisins
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. brown sugar or honey
2 dashes of cardamom
1 dash of cinnamon
A touch of nutmeg
1 banana, mashed or chopped
¼ cup chopped almonds


  1. The night before (or morning of) bring the water and salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the oats. Bring back to a boil stirring, remove from the heat and cover. Let sit overnight or for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When ready, reheat the oats with ½ cup milk over medium heat.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Add the extract, brown sugar, raisins, and spices.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes. It the oats start to thicken too much, add a little more milk.
  5. Add the banana and nuts.  Cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Taste for texture, sweetness and saltiness. Adjust to your tastes.*
  7. Divide the oatmeal between two bowls.
  8. Top with a few more nuts if desired.

*We like our oats a little crunchy, so 8 to 10 minutes is perfect for us. If the oats are still too crunchy for your taste, add a little more cooking time and milk if needed.


Steel Cut Oatmeal with apples, cranberries, and walnuts


Steel Cut Oats with Apple, Cranberries, and Walnut Recipe

Recipe Author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Yields: Two 1 cup servings
Prep time:  5 minutes with an overnight rest or 30 minute rest
Cook time: 10 to 15 minutes


½ cup steel cut oats
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups water
~ ½ cup almond milk, milk, soy milk, or coconut milk
1 small apple or ½ large apple, cored and diced
¼ cup dried cranberries (or Cranraisins)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 dashes of cardamom
1 dash of cinnamon
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  1. The night before (or morning of) bring the water and salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the oats. Bring back to a boil stirring, remove from the heat and cover. Let sit overnight or for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When ready, reheat the oats with ½ cup milk over a medium heat.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Add the extract, apple, cranberries, and spices.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes. If the oats appear too thick, add a little more milk. Taste for texture, sweetness and saltiness.* If you want them sweeter, add the maple syrup.
  5. Add the walnuts. Stir and remove heat.
  6. Divide the oatmeal between two bowls. Top with more nuts and apples if desired.

*We like our oats a little crunchy, so 8 to 10 minutes is perfect for us. If the oats are still too crunchy for your taste, add a little more cooking time and milk if needed.



Steel Cut Oatmeal with Banana, raisins and almonds


Kitchen Notes

The milk or milk substitute – Most of the time I use almond milk, but if I don’t have any, I’ll use 2% milk or soy milk, whichever I have at the time.  It’s hard to tell a difference between them.  I’ve never tried coconut milk, but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be delicious!

The fruit and nuts – I do make other versions of steel cuts but I stay consistent with the basics: fruit (fresh and/or dried) and nuts.  So just play around with what you have on hand. Frozen fruit works, but remember that it will add moisture; therefore, you might need to cut back on the milk or water.

The Banana – If the banana is overripe, just mash is with a fork and stir into the oats.  If it’s ripe or a little green, chop it and add it a little earlier into the cooking time like I do with the apple.

The sweetener – The sweetener can be pretty much anything you like.  I usually use maple syrup, honey or brown sugar; however, it’s good to taste before you add.  The fruits can add enough sweetness so that you don’t need any additional sweetener at all.


These steel cut oat recipes were shared with Whole Foods Wednesday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday .

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69 Responses to “Steel Cut Oats – A Quick and Healthy Breakfast”

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  2. Annie June 22, 2015 at 1:03 am #

    Im not one to eat oatmeal..ive tried Muesli and didnt like that either, but this? my god, its delicious. just made some now and im SO SO excited to have found the PERFECT recipe. Thank you so very much!

    • mj June 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

      Annie, thank you SO MUCH for the feedback!! I’m thrilled you liked it. You made my day! 🙂

  3. Tracy September 22, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    We love steel cut oats! My hairdresser only eats a raw diet. She got me hooked on steel cut oats this way: Pour a good amount into a plastic lidded container. Throw a handful or two of practically anything you like in with them. My simple favorite is to use raw almonds and frozen blueberries. Cover with cold water so everything is submerged by a 1/4″ or so. Pop it overnight into the fridge. In the morning, drain off the water and eat it like cereal with almond milk. Another option is to put it in a bowl and add a container of flavored or plain greek yogurt. Make it on Sunday night and I have breakfast in the fridge all week long. Just add the milk or yogurt each morning to your master oat stash Ü It is so filling, quick and delicious. Love that I don’t have to cook it. The soaking overnight does all the work for you. Any raw nuts, shredded coconut and frozen berries work great together with the oats. Love your blog Ü

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Great information Tracy! You must like you steel cuts crunchier than I do. I let mine sit overnight, but I still have to cook them down for a few minutes in the morning, otherwise they are too crunchy for us. We do eat them A LOT during colder weather and just love them. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

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  5. Javelin Warrior November 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    I need to try one or both of these versions, MJ. I’ve found a couple ways I like traditional rolled oats, but I’ve yet to find a steel cut version I like. Sometimes the steel cut oats seem bitter to me. But perhaps the banana or apple would cut that a bit. And there’s nothing that cranberries and walnuts can’t improve 😉

  6. Scott July 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    You can eliminate the morning cooking time by doing the following. Boil water (covered pot). Add steel cut oatmeal. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 min. Turn off heat and cover. Let rest over night at room temperature. In the morning the oatmeal is fully cooked. All you have to do is warm it up. I add a little milk when reheating it so the oatmeal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

    For a single serving:
    1 cup of water
    1/4 cup of steel cut oatmeal
    The 4:1 ratio results in a wet final product that is easy to reheat. For drier oatmeal reduce the water.

    • mj July 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Thanks Scott for your comment. Your method is pretty much the same method I describe in this post. Letting the oats sit overnight if definitely a must!

  7. Terra February 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    I made steel cut oats once, crazy right? Now I have read two recipes, and think it is about time I make more:-) Actually I was trying to remember if they were healthier than rolled oats, thank you for sharing more about the different oats! Your recipe looks fabulous, Hugs, Terra

  8. Sawsan @chef in disguise February 23, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    I love the texture of steel cut oats MJ but the cooking time always puts me off now with your wonderful methodes I will be making it more often for sure!

  9. Debra February 22, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Thank you for reminding me I have a can of these in the pantry.

  10. Liz February 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    My hubby is the oatmeal eater in our house and I’ve been trying to convince him that steel cut oats are the way to go. Picky man will not believe me. I may just have to make breakfast for him one morning 🙂 Adding fruit and nuts sounds wonderful.

    • mj February 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      Thanks Liz! Oh you really should just make them for him. That’s what I did! My husband didn’t think oatmeal could be improved, but then I made him steel cuts one morning. He hasn’t eaten the rolled oats since. 🙂

  11. Vicki Bensinger February 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I literally have the old fashioned oatmeal every single morning for breakfast. I’ve never tried the steel cut but it’s been on my list to pick up. I’ve heard from so many that it’s better. I’ve finally decided to pick some up (haven’t yet though) because I found out I can cook them in my rice cooker in no time at all.

    So if you have a rice cooker you should try that. If not, you can get a check one for as low as $8 that I’ve seen at WalMart and they work just fine.

    Your version is pretty much how I’d eat mine, maybe with the addition of strawberries and blueberries. I can’t seem to live without them in my oatmeal in the morning.

    Thanks for sharing your research.

    • mj February 21, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! If you eat oatmeal everyday, you really should try the steel cuts if for no other reason than variety. 🙂 No I don’t have a rice cooker, but thanks for the information.

  12. Food Jaunts February 21, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    I’m an overnight oat fanatic – so good, so filling and so tasty with all of the possible mix-in combinations! Great feature MJ.

  13. Reese@SeasonwithSpice February 21, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Method 1 for me! I just can’t wait 30 minutes for breakfast unless someone has prepped it for me:) You made a good point. Whenever we start trying out a healthier, less processed ingredient, we can never go back to those convenience packed foods. This is the kind of breakfast that gives a great boost of the day.

    • mj February 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks Reese! I’m one of those that can’t eat breakfast until after a couple of cups of tea which means that I’m up an hour or two before I feel like eating. So I usually end up doing method 2. 🙂 Yep – the instant oatmeal is gone forever from my pantry!

  14. cquek February 21, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    We just started to eat oats. I believe it will bring down cholesterol. My dad have a high cholesterol, so I am going to try out your recipe. Thanks a lot.

    • mj February 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      Thanks Cquek! Yes, oats have been shown to lower cholesterol, so when you need to eat a lot of oats, it’s good to have some tasty ones. I hope you and your dad enjoy these recipes!

  15. Love2cook Malaysia February 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    What a great dish to start the day!!! You made me craving for this now 😉

  16. Soni February 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    I love your oats with fruits!Makes for the perfect healthy breakfast.I typically use the instant Oats with Flax and Blueberries (sold at Trader Joe’s) that I love, but I have yet to try steel cut oats!!On my shopping list 🙂

    • mj February 21, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      thanks Soni! Since you love oatmeal with flax, you’re going to love steel cuts!

  17. Bill February 20, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Hi MJ, you’ve reminded me a something that I love but have not had in a while. I agree with you that steel cut oats are the way to go. I love them with blueberries as well. Thanks for a great recipe and reminding me to put this back on my breakfast favorites!

    • mj February 20, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks Bill! I’m with in seeing recipes that cause me to say ” wow, I haven’t made that in a long time!” 🙂 Blueberries sound good in these!

  18. Kate@Diethood February 20, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    MJ, your photos are so pretty! I feel like I can almost grab that bowl and set it right in front of me and stuff my face with it. This sounds so, so good!! YUM!

    • mj February 20, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks so much Kate!

  19. Giulietta | Alterkitchen February 20, 2013 at 3:58 am #

    This is such an unusual breakfast for me: I’m used to cookies, milk, cakes 😉
    But sounds interesting, and good, to me 🙂

    • mj February 20, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Thanks Giulia! I knew you were more of a sweet breakfast person. You can make these recipes as sweet as you want them but just adding more honey or sugar. I love it that your sweet tooth is in the morning, whereas mine doesn’t kick in until after lunch – very quickly after lunch. 🙂

  20. Treat and Trick February 20, 2013 at 3:29 am #

    This classic combo was always my favorite! Lovely shot and love that bowl too…

  21. Nisa Homey February 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    Mj, so much of information and first time hearing about steel oats…thanks for this wonderful and healthy recipe.

  22. Zsuzsa February 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Peach Lady, mine is never this elaborate – yours must be fabulous – but I agree with you the instant packets are bad. However, those instant cream of wheat packets are even worse. My husband bought a package by mistake and there was nothing, absolutely nothing I could do with them. Finally I threw them in the trash. Nothing ever tastes as good as the real thing. 🙂

    • mj February 20, 2013 at 2:27 am #

      Thanks Zsuzsa! Oh, I SO agree! I tried the cream of wheat once and couldn’t get past the first bite. The same when I tried instant grits. UGH! Some things should be taken off the grocery shelf and never made. 🙂

  23. beyondthepeel February 19, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    I love oats for breakfast. What a fab idea to get it going the night before. I’ll have to try that!

    • mj February 20, 2013 at 2:24 am #

      Thanks Frances! You definitely should try it! It’s makes it a lot faster and easier the next morning. 🙂

  24. Sissi February 19, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    As much as I love this recipe and the way you cooked oats, I would definitely be the one to choose grits and chile for breakfast instead 😉 (Yes, I’m a savoury breakfaster). Thank you for the explanation what steel cut oats mean. I have seen it so many times and never knew why “steel cut” or the way they looked. Your bowl would make an excellent teatime snack! And so healthy…

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks Sissi! Hum – why am I not surprised that you would go for the bowl of grits and green chile? We do like it spicy! 🙂

  25. Katerina February 19, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    This is new to me! I don’t get to eat as much oat as I should! The photos make me drool!

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      Thank so much Katerina! Keep an eye out for Irish oats. It’s the same thing.

  26. Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb February 19, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    Very interessting post about oats MJ. I had never heard about the term steal cut oats before. Sounds like we don’t get that here and I am not sure if they would survive the monsoon season here with the mold and all. Those will be less polished and the core contains more oils, right? Your breakfast oats treat is something for me and if we ever get to meet each other in real live I would say we have a oats session and no coffee session. What say you? 🙂

    PS: Your pictures have a lovely warm mood, great job MJ!

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks Helene! Apparently, these are also called Irish oats. Just learned that from Kelly in a previous comment. So keep an eye out for Irish oats. You bet! I would love to share a breakfast of oats with you! Come on over!!! 🙂

  27. Hotly Spiced February 19, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    I have never heard of steel cut oats but I agree, they must be very good for you and really tasty xx

  28. Nami | Just One Cookbook February 18, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    I haven’t really made oats for breakfast. I’d totally follow your step by step for this quick breakfast. I always want to feed my kids something warm to start a cold day before sending them to school. This week is going to be very cold while we had 70-80F this past week/weekend. Thanks for the recipe!

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Thanks Nami! This is a perfect meal for kids to start the day with! It’s hearty, healthy and stays with them for a while, fighting off that mid-morning hunger. I hope they like it. Stay warm!

  29. Swathi February 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Yummy oats love start the day with that bowl of breakfast.

  30. Anne@FromMySweetHeart February 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Oh my gosh, MJ….this looks so soul satisfying. I eat oatmeal all year round (just like ice cream!). But the idea of putting this in the slow cooker and having it ready when I get up in the morning is more than appealing! LOVE it! : )

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks Anne! Let me know how the slowcooker thing works. Since I don’t have one I can really guarantee that it works, but I have seen recipes for it. I think The Yummy Life has a slowcooker oat recipe.

  31. maha February 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    very innovative recipe.

  32. Carole February 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Steel cut – completely a new one to me. Thanks for letting me know about it. Hope you are having a good week.

  33. Jennie @themessybakerblog February 18, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I love steel-cut oats. After having them for the first time, I resolved never to eat the instant again. These look so good.

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      thanks Jennie! Totally agree! And by eliminating the instant packages, we’re saving money. Buying the steel cuts in bulk is cheaper and you don’t have all of the packaging to deal with.

  34. Ramona February 18, 2013 at 6:01 am #

    What a healthy and beautiful way to wake up in the morning. I love all the add-ins. 🙂

  35. Raymund February 18, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Never seen this type of oat, I guess they taste the same but the texture would be way much different.

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Actually Raymund, I even find the tastes different. Steel cut are more “nutty” and earthy tasting than the rolled oats. They actually have flavor. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  36. ChgoJohn February 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    I’ve never been much of a breakfast person, MJ, and oatmeal of any kind was never on the table. What little I’ve had has usually been instant and doesn’t look anything like yours here. Maybe I should get adventurous and try some of your steel-cut oats. They sure do sound good!

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Thanks John! Believe me, there is NO comparison between instant and steel cuts. It’s a matter of choosing if you want to eat mush or nutty, crunchy sweet grains. No contest! 🙂

  37. Angie@Angie's Recipes February 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Oats is my husband’s favourite dinner…he likes it with a banana and protein powder. But I usually give him just old fashioned rolled oats. Have to get some steel cut one for him. Your breakfast looks wholesome!

  38. Carolyn Jung February 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    My fave kind of oatmeal. It definitely takes more time, but it’s so worth it when you get to dig into a bowl of the hearty, creamy end result.

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      Totally agree Carolyn! Thanks!

  39. john@kitchenriffs February 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    It’s been ages since I’ve had steel cut oats. Or even “long” cooking rolled oats, which I used to eat for years (mainly because you can cook them in the microwave in about 2 minutes; I don’t know but I wonder if you soak your steel cut oats overnight, whether you could do the same). Of course now you have me hungry for them! We do have some quick cooking oats in the pantry (for making cookies) but they’re not in the same league when it comes to breakfast. I have to give these a try again – thanks for the inspiration and encouragement!

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks John! That’s one of the benefits of blogging – finding those old dishes that you use to eat and would love to have again! The overnight soak for steel cuts works perfect! In fact both methods work great. If I don’t presoak – we don’t don’t eat oats. 🙂 Hope you get some soon!

  40. Choc Chip Uru February 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    What a great brekkie to start the day 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  41. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles February 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Love my Irish oats! :). Chunky, chewy and nutty. They just taste so darn good and I couldn’t agree more that it’s hard to come back from that kind of goodness once you’ve had a taste.

    I’m captured by your lovely presentation and beautiful bowls MJ. It’s not always easy to make porridge come to life but you’ve mastered it here – the toppings look mighty inviting too… it’s so fun to change them up and get a different taste experience every time. I’ve never used a slow-cooker but I have one and should experiment a bit more since I make oatmeal at least 3 mornings a week… It’s a cold morning classic (and we have a few ;-)). Thanks for the different method ideas.

    • mj February 19, 2013 at 8:45 am #

      Thanks Kelly! I didn’t know they were called Irish oats! Thanks for that bit of info. Yes, I did struggle with making “oatmeal look pretty”, then I read an article on how to photography ugly food – make everything else pretty. 🙂 With your temperatures I would alternate between oats and grits everyday. Stay warm my friend.

      • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles February 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

        An article on photographing ugly food…?! do share! ;o). (You really did make everything else look pretty from the bowls that you used to the filling choices on the side and your lighting is lovely too – very well done!).

  42. Jane February 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    I like the fruit and nut combo in my oatmeal too 🙂 Looks delicious!


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