Sunday, June 3, 2018

Overnight Steel Cut Oats (Hot or Cold)

An easy, fuss-free recipe for overnight steel cut oats with little prep and a short cook time. Unlike the no-cook or slow cooker methods that can leave the oats either too chewy or gloopy, this technique yields oats with a nice blend of chewiness & creaminess. Steel cut oats are just as tasty eaten cold (straight from the fridge) or reheated to piping hot, which makes them an excellent option for meal prepping healthy breakfasts the week ahead (no matter the weather). {gluten-free with vegan options}

Overnight Steel Cut Oats (Hot or Cold)

Raise your hand if you're currently obsessed with Outlander

{emphatically waves both hands} 

I started reading the series in January of this year and 4,400 pages later I'm about halfway through the 5th book. I haven't been this wrapped up in a book series since A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones). If only every book I read made me want to drop all my priorities and read 24/7! 

If you have NO IDEA what I'm talking about, puh-lease jump on the gallant, fiery-haired, Scots accent-lovin' bandwagon either with the first book (it's seriously addicting - you will want to stay up all night reading it) OR the first season of the TV show.

(Pro Tip: Sign up for a monthly subscription to the Starz Channel on Amazon Prime, binge watch seasons 1-3, then cancel.)

Today's recipe is inspired by one of the most popular food dishes in the Outlander series: Scottish parritch (a.k.a. porridge). Or, to us Americans - oatmeal

Reading about parritch many times over gave me a deep hankering for oatmeal, but not the gluey instant stuff or the softer rolled oats kind. The real deal: steel cut oats (or groats). I figure this heartier, chewier, stick-to-yer-ribs version is probably what they ate back in the 18th century. 

Let's take a quick second to imagine Jamie Fraser eating a big bowl of steel cut oats...

Ahem. Yes, please.

And recreating my own modern version of it is a great way to keep me busy during the "Droughtlander" months while we're all waiting for the next season of Outlander to air. That and plugging along with the books. ;) 

Soaked Overnight Steel Cut Oats

Why Use Steel Cut Oats For Overnight Oats Instead of Rolled or Old Fashioned Oats? 

Texture, Texture, Texture.

Rolled or old-fashioned oats are awesome for refrigerated overnight oats (like my mango overnight oats) but the final result is super creamy and pretty soft. That's why I like to top mine with crunchy granola to give it some bite.

In contrast, using steel cut oats for oatmeal yields some of the same creaminess, but with a chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor that makes the dish more satisfying (in my opinion). Steel cut oats keep me full longer, which is a good thing! My favorite oats to use are these gluten-free organic steel cut oats.

Why the difference in texture? It comes down to how the oats are processed. 

Once the outer hull is stripped from the whole oat, the inside piece is then cut into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. This forms steel cut oats, which is the chewiest variety with the longest cooking time. From here, they can then steam & roll out those small pieces to form large or medium flakes (rolled oats) or further grind it to make instant oats, both of which have a quicker cook time and softer/mushier texture.

Overnight Steel Cut Oats

How to Make Overnight Steel Cut Oats Without Overcooking or Undercooking Them

When I first decided to try overnight oats with steel cut oats, I did a little digging into cooking techniques and found that two of the most popular methods were yielding some inconsistent results. 

There are folks who use the no-cook method of letting the oats soak in milk in the fridge overnight (like regular rolled oats) but you end up with really chewy oats that need another day to soak before they're a good consistency. Who wants to wait two days for their breakfast? Not me!

The other camp is the slow cooker folks who stir everything together into a crock-pot, turn it on low, and let it do it's thing while they sleep. Unfortunately, that 7-10 hour window often creates mushier steel cut oats with a gloopy texture. Okay for some, but not ideal for people who enjoy that gentle chewy texture.

So, how do you get the steel cut oats right without standing over the stove for 30-45 minutes? The key is to soak them overnight on the counter then give 'em a quick cook on the stove the next morning.

Soaking the oats overnight has two major benefits. First, it greatly reduces the cooking time (yay). Second, it makes the oats more nutritious and easier to digest (adding an ingredient like vinegar or yogurt helps to pull out phytic acid).

Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Mix-Ins

Are Overnight Steel Cut Oats Better Hot or Cold?

Believe it or not, they're equally good both ways. 

I've eaten them warm from the stove on a chilly morning and straight from the fridge on a muggy Texas day with an extra splash or two of water to loosen them up. Unlike rolled oats or instant oats, steel cut oats keep their texture in the fridge (which makes them yummy cold) and reheat super well without disintegrating into a gloopy mess.

Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep: Making Overnight Steel Cut Oats For The Week Ahead

Because steel cut oats keep well in the fridge and are tasty hot or cold, they're perfect for make-ahead breakfasts. Here's a rundown of how I prep mine for the week ahead, no matter the weather or season:
  1. soak enough oats overnight for 5-6 servings (double or triple if you're fixing for multiple people)
  2. drain and rinse the next morning
  3. pour into a medium saucepan with fresh water & salt, bring to a simmer, and cook for a few minutes
  4. stir in basic mix-ins to add flavor (butter or coconut oil & Ceylon cinnamon powder + sometimes chia seeds or hemp seeds (for extra protein & fiber)
  5. portion into individual servings (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) in glass jars with lids (mason jars or weck jars are good options)
  6. if I plan on eating the oatmeal cold, I'll go ahead and add the toppings ahead of time (like frozen blueberries, sliced bananas, peanut butter, nuts, etc.) so I can grab them straight out of the fridge
  7. if I plan on eating them warm, I'll leave the oatmeal plain (except for the basic mix-ins) and add the toppings after I reheat the steel cut oats on the stove.
Note: Whether I eat them hot or cold, I always add a few extra splashes of either water or milk to loosen up the steel cut oats so they're not sticking together. This is a must!

Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Oatmeal Toppings

More Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes To Try:

overnight steel cut oats, overnight oats
Scottish, American
Yield: 6 servings
Overnight Steel Cut Oats Recipe (Hot or Cold)

Overnight Steel Cut Oats

prep time: 5 minscook time: 10 minstotal time: 8 hours 15 mins
An easy, fuss-free recipe for overnight steel cut oats with little prep and a short cook time. Unlike the no-cook or slow cooker methods that can leave the oats either too chewy or gloopy, this technique yields oats with a nice blend of chewiness & creaminess. Steel cut oats are just as tasty eaten cold (straight from the fridge) or reheated to piping hot, which makes them an excellent option for meal prepping healthy breakfasts the week ahead (no matter the weather).


For Soaking The Steel Cut Oats:
For Cooking The Steel Cut Oats:
Oatmeal Toppings #1 - Banana & Nut Butter:
  • 1/2 of a banana, sliced & quartered
  • 2-3 teaspoons of peanut butter, almond butter, or coconut butter
  • extra cinnamon powder
Oatmeal Toppings #2 - Blueberries, Nuts & Hemp Seeds:
  • 1/4 cup of frozen or fresh organic blueberries (I prefer frozen because they thaw and release juices)
  • 2 tablespoons of walnut or pecan pieces (or candied pecans)
  • 1 teaspoon of hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of milk or nut milk
Oatmeal Toppings #3 - Strawberries & Chia Seeds:
  • 1/4 cup of sliced organic strawberries (1-2 tablespoons of strawberry jam would also be yummy)
  • 1 tablespoon of milk or nut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
Recommended Equipment


  1. The night before you plan on cooking the oats, measure 1 1/2 cups of steel cut oats into a large bowl and add enough purified water to cover the oats by 2 inches. Stir in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or plain yogurt (this ingredient helps pull out the phytic acid in the grain). Cover the bowl with a dishtowel or lid and leave on your counter overnight. 
  2. The next morning, drain the oats through a fine mesh strainer or a colander with a cheesecloth and rinse well. Pour the rinsed oats into a medium saucepan set to medium heat, then add the fresh purified water and sea salt. 
  3. Cover the pan with a lid, bring the oats to a simmer, give them a stir, then reduce temp to low and cook 3-5 minutes, or until the oats reach your desired consistency/chewiness. 
  4. Stir the oats again, remove from heat, and add the butter or coconut oil, real maple syrup, chia seeds or hemp seeds (optional), and cinnamon powder, then stir once more to combine. Serve immediately while hot with your favorite toppings. 
  5. For Meal Prep: Let the oatmeal cool completely, then spoon 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup portions (depending on your appetite) into individual containers (like glass mason jars), add your favorite toppings (see ingredients list for 3 different ideas), cover with a lid and store in the fridge for up to a week. Serve the leftovers cold straight from the fridge OR hot by gently reheating on the stove. 


Steel cut oats thicken up in the fridge, but shouldn't get gloopy like rolled or quick oats. Because of this, I highly recommend adding a bit of water or milk to loosen up the oats and make them more porridge-like, whether reheating them or eating them straight from the fridge.

To speed up the cooking time the next morning, heat up the water first before you rinse the oats so you can cut down on the time it takes to bring it up to a simmer. If you have an electric kettle or regular kettle, that might be the easiest & fastest way when you're in a hurry.
Created using The Recipes Generator

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Want a bowl of hearty & healthy steel cut oats without standing over the stove for 30-45 minutes every morning? Look no further! Try my easy overnight method to meal prep a week's worth of oats with yummy toppings that you can eat hot or cold for quick, nutritious breakfasts!

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