Make Ahead Stovetop Steel Cut Oats

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Try this Make Ahead Steel Cut Oatmeal that takes just 10 minutes of prep the night before! These delicious and creamy steel-cut oats are versatile, healthy, and easy to make.


The last few days it has been unseasonably chilly in the mornings and that has me craving a big bowl of creamy steel-cut oats. Since steel-cut oats can take a while to cook, I almost always make them using this overnight stove-top method so I don't have to stand by the stove for an hour. I also love this foolproof Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal.

It takes about ten minutes of prep the night before and you have the most delicious, creamy oats in the morning. Plus unlike traditional oats, they only get creamier after a couple of days in the fridge. Just reheat them on the stove-top or in the microwave with a touch of milk.

Depending on how you like your oats, you may want to add a sweetener during the cooking process. You can add about one-fourth of a cup of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup to add some sweetness or a couple of mashed ripe bananas for a more natural option. You can also add dried fruits, nuts, nut butter, or any combination of spices you like.

Once everything is cooked, the options are endless. I almost always add some yogurt and fresh fruit, some flax or chia seeds, and a drizzle of wild honey.

What are steel cut oats?

Steel-cut oatmeal is the least processed of the three most common types of oatmeal found in stores.  It is also called Scottish or Irish oatmeal. It has thicker, pieces that almost look like broken rice. When cooked, steel-cut oats have more texture and bite. It is almost a bit chewy. The taste can be nuttier than traditional oatmeal, especially if the oats are toasted. It takes the longest to cook, about 30 minutes on the stove.

In comparison, rolled oats also called old-fashioned oats, are flat and round. They have been further processed and have a smoother, more porridge-like texture. They take about 5 minutes to cook.

The last type of oatmeal is instant oats. These have been processed more than the other two types. They normally cook in one minute. This is normally what is used in prepackaged, flavored oatmeal packets. 

Best Toppings for Make Ahead Steel Cut Oatmeal

Let's be honest, the toppings are what makes a bowl of oatmeal delicious. Here are some of the best toppings to add.

  • Fresh fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries blackberries, bananas, apples, pineapple, mango, peaches, plums, or cherries
  • Dried fruit: Figs, apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins, blueberries, cherries, or apples
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts, or shredded coconuts
  • Nut butter: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or hazelnut butter
  • Seeds: Chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or flax seeds
  • Chocolate
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Yogurt: Any variety works and if the yogurt is sweetener, you can avoid adding additional sweetener.

How to Store Leftover Steel Cut Oatmeal

Cooked steel cut oatmeal keeps very well in the fridge and freezer. It's a great option for meal prep.

  • To refrigerate: Refrigerate cooked oatmeal in an airtight container.  It can be packed in individual portions or as one large portion. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Please note that the oats will absorb more liquid as they sit so you may need to add more liquid when reheating.
  • To freeze: Freeze in individual portions, like these freezer oatmeal cups, for the best results.  They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

The Best Ways to Reheat Oats

Once oatmeal is cooked and frozen, there are a few ways to reheat it. If making a big batch, the easiest option is to gently reheat it on the stove with some extra water or milk. If possible, let it defrost slightly in the fridge before reheating.

For individual portions, they can reheated slowly in the microwave or in a saucepan. Add a splash of extra liquid and stir occasionally as it reheats. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions from readers about making steel cut oats.

Generally speaking, all types of oatmeal including steel cut oats, rolled oats, and instant oats are healthy. With that said, since steel-cut oats are less processed, they do have slightly more fiber and a lower glycemic index than rolled and instant oatmeal. Also since they are less processed, the nutrients stay more in tact than in more processed oatmeal. 

If steel-cut oatmeal is hard in any way, it means that it hasn't been cooked long enough. Continue to simmer the oats, adding more liquid if needed until they soften. In terms of chewiness, steel-cut oatmeal does have some chewiness and texture and won't be as smooth as old-fashioned oatmeal.

Raw steel-cut oatmeal is very hard and difficult to eat. It is generally not recommended to eat steel-cut oats without cooking them first. If you want to eat raw steel-cut oats, make sure to soak them first in water in the fridge. This can help slightly soften the oats and make them easier to eat raw. Uncooked steel cut oatmeal can also be difficult to digest. 

When cooking steel cut oatmeal, you will need 3.5-4 cups of liquid for every one cup of steel cut oatmeal. They can be cooked with water, milk, or a combination. 

It is not necessary to soak steel cut oatmeal before cooking, but it is optional. Soaking steel cut oats will soften the oats and also make them cook more quickly. Thye also tend to have a fluffier, creamier texture when they are soaked beforehand. 

To soak oats, simply cover them with water and let them soak for at least one hour, ideally overnight in the fridge. Strain out the water before cooking. 

The Recipe
Make ahead steel cut oatmeal in a bowl with sliced bananas and nuts.

Make Ahead Stovetop Steel Cut Oats

COOK TIME: 8 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 Hours, 10 Min
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  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

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The night before you want to eat the oats, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the oats and toast them for 3-5 minutes until you can smell them toasting.


Add the water, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Then cover and turn off the heat. Let cool and place the whole pot in the fridge overnight.


In the morning, remove the oats from the fridge. Add the milk and bring it back to a simmer for4-5 minutes until warmed through. You can add dried fruit, nuts, or sliced fruit at this point as well. Serve and refrigerate leftovers.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: about 2/3-3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 199
Calories from Fat 43
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 119mg
Total Carbohydrate 32g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Sugars 2g
Protein 7g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Make Ahead Stovetop Steel Cut Oats
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February 12, 2019 - 18:31
Add a Rating:
If I wanted to add mashed banana as a sweetener, should I add them before covering the pot to sit overnight? Or in the morning?
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October 5, 2019 - 08:57
I would add in the morning
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Nelly Steele
December 16, 2016 - 12:06
Add a Rating:
I love steel cut oats. My husband hates all things oatmeal. Does not matter. He asked for this for breakfast every morning this week. I used walnuts for crunch. We did sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar and I added bananas in the morning to each bowl.
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Nelly Steele
October 5, 2019 - 08:51
These are a favorite. so much so that some mornings we wished we would have thought ahead and started them the night before! I figured out a starting instant pot process. Sharing here. if anyone improves on this, please do share.

Note: the only ingredient changes is 1/2 cup (almond) milk v 1 cup in original recipe. All else remains same

in Instant pot on Saute mode, melt oil/butter, saute oats for 3-5 minutes.
Add cinnamon, vanilla, water and salt, bring to boil.
Turn instant pot to manual mode, 6 minutes, NPR (natural pressure release, 13-15 minutes approximately). Once pressure is released, remove lid, turn on saute again, add milk, stir and bring to simmer.

That's it, add your sweetener if needed and fruit. We also add chopped walnuts at the milk stage. so good and adds additional toothiness.
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