Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

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A mixture of steel cut oatmeal and quinoa that can be cooked overnight in your slow cooker. This overnight steel cut oatmeal can be topped with fresh berries and a splash of milk for a delicious and healthy breakfast the whole family will love.

Overhead image of overnight steel cut oatmeal with fresh berries in it

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

This breakfast is one of my favorites! Similar to overnight oats there is virtually no morning prep required. A healthful, warm, creamy, sweet, and comforting breakfast awaits you the minute you’re ready to begin the day.

It’s simple, with minimal prep required — it takes about 10 minutes (or less) to throw everything together.

The only tricky component for figuring out this recipe was how to allow it to cook in the slow cooker without getting overly mushy. It’s perfect after about 3 hours, but that’s really only beneficial for a brunch. So after loads of testing, I’m excited to share how you can have this oatmeal piping hot, not at all mushy, loaded with flavor, AND ready after a good 7-8 hours of sleeping time. 

Overhead image of the raw steel cut oats in a container

Steel cut oats

Why use steel cut oats? For one, they are the only oats I’ve found to work overnight in the slow cooker. Rolled oats or quick oats end up overly mushy and absorb too much of the liquid. Here are a few other reasons why it’s great to add steel cut oats into your diet:

  • Because steel-cut oats are minimally processed, they contain more fiber and density and are one of the most nutritious grains you can eat.
  • As a complex carbohydrate, steel cut oats are a great way to give your body a energy to last through the day. (Complex carbs are harder for the body to break down and use so it takes longer while providing a more sustained energy source.)
  • Steel cut oats are denser than other oats meaning you can eat less of them, feel satiated longer, and all while still gaining the same nutritional benefits found in rolled oats.
  • Steel cut oats contain 7g of protein in every 1/4 cup of dry oats.

Quinoa

I love the textural add of combining quinoa with steel cut oats in this breakfast! Quinoa is full of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is also a great source of protein with 8 grams of protein per 1 cup of dry quinoa.

  • Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which can make it taste bitter. Make sure to first rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and wash thoroughly for 30 seconds to one minute to remove that coating.
  • I don’t recommend any substitutes for the quinoa; it absorbs the liquid and really thickens up these oats. It also adds a deep savory, almost nutty, flavor to this overnight steel cut oatmeal.

Process shots-- images of all the ingredients being added to the crockpot and being cooked on low

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal tips

  • Use a 6-quart slow cooker. I have tested this recipe multiple times in 6 quart slow cookers, but have not personally tested in smaller slow cookers so I can’t vouch for how they will work.
  • Generously grease or line the slow cooker. This overnight steel cut oatmeal can be messy to clean-up without a prepared (greased or lined) slow cooker.
  • Do not remove the lid. As tempting as it may be to check on the oats after they’ve cooked on low for 30 minutes, do not remove the lid! This allows all for the heat to escape and the dish won’t properly cook in time.
  • Make sure to use steel cut oats not rolled oats or quick oats. I haven’t had success with cooking any other types of oats overnight in the slow cooker.
  • We love almond milk in these oats. While you can use water in a pinch, the almond milk gives these oats a phenomenal flavor and creaminess. Do not use cows milk in place of the almond milk, it will curdle overnight.
  • Don’t forget the toppings! More on this below.

Toppings

Don’t get me wrong, this overnight steel cut oatmeal is luscious, creamy, and perfectly sweet, but it does rely on some great toppings! Hands-down our favorite additions to these steel cut overnight oatmeal are these “off-beat” nut butters. I’m not sponsored or affiliated by this company, but I’ve included the links below to order online. While a bit spendy, they are the best nut butters I’ve ever tried!

Here are our favorite topping combos:

  • Banana: extra cinnamon, thinly sliced banana, a big scoop of cinnamon bun nut butter, almond butter, or peanut butter, & a splash of milk
  • Berry: a handful of frozen raspberries mixed into the oats and topped with fresh strawberries, fresh raspberries, and/or any other berries with a splash of milk and a spoonful of almond butter or aloha nut butter.
  • Apple: extra cinnamon, diced honey-crisp or fuji apple, big scoop of cinnamon bun nut butter, almond butter, or peanut butter, & a splash of milk
  • Strawberries & Cream: diced up strawberries, splash of milk or coffee creamer, and lemon coconut bliss butter or almond butter
  • Nuts & Seeds: handful of toasted and coarsely chopped nuts (sliced almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, etc), small handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, small handful of dried cranberries, dried blueberries, raisins, or dried tart cherries, and a big scoop of almond or peanut butter
  • Additional sweetener: depending on how sweet you like your breakfast and what toppings have been added, you may want to add an extra drizzle of honey, maple syrup, or a sprinkle of brown sugar to top the oats. Liquid stevia is another great option for a zero calorie sweetener.

Up close overhead image of the overnight steel cut oatmeal

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal Cooking Options

  • For morning brunch: cook on low for 2-1/2 to 4 hours. I don’t recommend cooking these overnight steel cut oats on high temperature
  • Overnight – with quick cooking steel cut oats: cook on low for 30 minutes and then turn to warm for 6-7 hours
  • Overnight – with regular steel cu oats: cook on low for 1 hour and then turn to warm for 8-9 hours
  • Note that not all slow cookers are the same, some cook at a higher temperature than others. If your slow cooker has a tendency to cook quicker, it may be done even sooner than the times indicated.

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Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

4.85 from 13 votes
A mixture of steel cut oatmeal and quinoa that can be cooked overnight in your slow cooker. This overnight steel cut oatmeal can be topped with fresh berries and a splash of milk for a delicious and healthy breakfast the whole family will love.
Print Recipe

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

4.85 from 13 votes
A mixture of steel cut oatmeal and quinoa that can be cooked overnight in your slow cooker. This overnight steel cut oatmeal can be topped with fresh berries and a splash of milk for a delicious and healthy breakfast the whole family will love.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword Overnight oats and quinoa
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 131kcal
Cost $3.23

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (215g) steel cut oatmeal (See Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup (90g) white quinoa
  • 5 cups (1265) unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or water; we prefer almond milk!)
  • 4 tablespoons (50g) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, fresh berries, splash of milk, additional sugar for topping

Instructions

  • PREP: Spray your slow cooker generously with non-stick spray or line with a slow cooker liner. In a mesh strainer, rinse out the quinoa really well under cold water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Let dry.
  • FILL UP SLOW COOKER: Combine the steel cut outs, rinsed quinoa, almond milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract, and cinnamon (if desired) into the slow cooker.
  • COOK OVERNIGHT: Stir everything together really well, place the lid on the slow cooker, and then set your slow cooker to low for 1 hour. Then, without opening the slow cooker or disturbing it (otherwise the heat escapes!), switch the dial to "warm" setting. Allow to "cook" overnight for 8-9 hours (longer than that and it becomes mushy). See Note 2
  • IN THE MORNING: Once you wake up, immediately turn it off the heat and stir the oats. They may still have some liquid, but it continues to soak in as they are served (we like them better with extra liquid rather than dry and mushy/gummy!) These oats are intended to be fairly creamy.
  • SERVE: We have plenty of serving suggestions in the post, but add your favorite toppings such as fresh fruit, an extra splash of milk, any additional brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup, and a big scoop of nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.).

Recipe Notes

Note 1: do not use regular old fashioned or rolled oats or quick oats -- they won't work. IF you use instant or quick cooking steel cut oats (be sure to check the package, sometimes it's hard to tell if they are instant steel cut oats at first glance), it will be done in about 6-8 hours. For best results, I highly recommend regular steel cut oatmeal.
Note 2: Different cooking options:
  • For morning brunch: cook on low for 2-1/2 to 4 hours. (I don't recommend cooking these overnight steel cut oats on high temperature.)
  • Overnight - with quick cooking steel cut oats: cook on low for 30 minutes and then turn to warm for 6-7 hours
  • Overnight - with regular steel cut oats: cook on low for 1 hour and then turn to warm for 8-9 hours
  • Note that not all slow cookers are the same, some cook at a higher temperature than others. If your slow cooker has a tendency to cook quicker, it may be done even sooner than the times indicated. If it is left in the slow cooker too long it will likely become mushy and gummy. If your slow cooker has a tendency to cook slower and oats/quinoa isn't tender, turn the slow cooker back on to low for 30 or so minutes in the morning.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 18.7g | Cholesterol: 1.8mg | Sodium: 93mg | Fiber: 3.3g | Sugar: 5g

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59 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It is so easy to get into a breakfast rut! This is such a great recipe to change up the breakfast routine! It so healthy and delicious!

  2. I love both quinoa and oatmeal so I can tell that this breakfast would be my absolute favorite! It looks so fluffy and delicious! And your pics are gorgeous! x

  3. Oh . . . I love warm cereal in the morning, but especially when it’s healthy. I’ve never made quinoa before {come on! I had to learn how to say it first!}, but I love the variation of having it for breakfast. I’ve never seen that before. YUM! I’ll have to try making this and posting my version on my blog.

    From your whole foody!
    Janie Lynn

      1. You can find them near the tinfoil and storage bags at my grocery store. I know Target carries them as well, but they’re usually a $1 or so more expensive.

  4. I made this for a weeknight overnight guest, and we both loved it! I set the slow cooker for 4 hours on low, and let it sit on warm for about another 3 1/2 hours, and it was great.

  5. can you use 2 cups of the oat and no quinoa? i would love to make some tonight but don’t have quinoa in the house! thanks! i’ve tried with old fashioned oats and it didn’t work well.

    1. Here is a nutritional label; hope that helps!

      Nutrition Facts

      Amount Per Serving
      Calories 140 Calories from Fat 15
      % Daily Value *
      Total Fat 2g 3%
      Saturated Fat 0g 0%
      Trans Fat
      Cholesterol 0%
      Sodium 105mg 4%
      Potassium 160mg 5%
      Total Carbohydrate 28g 9%
      Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
      Sugars 10g
      Protein 4g
      Vitamin A 0%
      Vitamin C 0%
      Calcium 4%
      Iron 8%
      * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  6. Has anyone tried this in a rice cooker? I have a zojirushi with a congee setting – might that work with the same water ratios?

  7. has anyone tried 2 cups almond milk and 2 cups water for 4 cups total liquid? I made the recipe with just almond milk and it was to die for but just curious

  8. I did not see it on here; or I overlooked it. But how long is it good for once it is cooked? I want to do some breakfast meal prep and was hoping this would be good for a few days after it was cooked?

  9. Reynolds Wrap has a product called a Slowcooker Liner. It is a disposable BPA Free plastic liner that you put in your slow cooker, and when the food is cooked and you’ve ladled it out, you throw the liner away and your crockpot is spotless.

    Steel cut oats in the slowcooker, is awesome to use a liner for. I make one batch per week, eat it fresh one day, and then put it in individual containers and just heat in the microwave.

    1. Great, great tips!! Thanks so much for sharing with everyone DonCam! πŸ™‚ Love that you have breakfast for the whole week!!

  10. To avoid having a messy slow cooker bowl to deal with: put all your ingredients in a heat proof bowl that fits inside your slow cooker bowl. Place the bowl in the slow cooker bowl and pour just boiled water into the slow cooker until it reaches the same level as the porridge ingredients. Then turn slow cooker on. It’s like a double boiler and works wonderfully. I use a Pyrex bowl that I leave the porridge in and put it in the fridge after its cooled & just reheat what I want every day. The bowl doesn’t get too messy and I put it in the dishwasher anyway. And the slow cooker doesn’t even really need a clean. I’ve done many batches like this and it works perfectly. But I do on high for a couple of hours while I’m at home rather than overnight. I’ve done oats & quinoa this way but was looking for a combination when I found your website. This method will make your experiments much easier – I know it has for me. So much I bought another Pyrex bowl!

  11. 3 stars
    I’ve made this twice now and my whole family loves it (even my quinoa-hater hubby). My two-year-old asks for it all the time now, which is okay because it actually makes great leftovers! I just store it in a big ziplock in the fridge, dump out the portions into bowls, add a little milk, microwave, and ta-da! This recipe has been a lifesaver!!!
    By the way, I use an outlet timer (ya know, the kind you plug into the wall and plug your Christmas light in) to tell my crockpot when to come on, and it works perfectly!

    1. That is so great to hear! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much Kristin! πŸ™‚ And what a genius thing to use an outlet timer — so smart! And I love how you reheat the leftovers — that’s perfect!!

  12. I only have a 1.5 qt slow cooker – if I cut the recipe proportionately, would I also cut the cook time? I assume the recipe uses a 5-6 qt size. Any insight would be great.

    1. I’m not sure since I’ve never used a 1.5 slow cooker but I definitely think the cook time would be a lot shorter. Wish I could be of more help!

  13. 5 stars
    Loved this. Much better than recipes with just Steel Cut Oats. Didn’t stick to slow-cooker and was very fluffy and moist. The recipe indicates 6 servings. Can you tell me the serving size as it seems like it is more than a cup serving size.

    1. That is SO great to hear! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your comment and trying out this recipe! πŸ™‚ I’m not sure the exact serving size, but essentially divide everything made into 6 equal parts and each part will be 1 serving πŸ™‚

  14. Can I double the recipe? Will the cook time be the same? I’d like to make this for a big group reception on Sunday! I’m guessing it will fit in my crock. Thank you!

    1. I’m sorry Rita, I’ve never tried doubling this so I’m not certain how it would work out. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, but I don’t think you’d want a longer cook time as it would likely become mushy. Wish I could be of more help!

    1. I’m sure it could! I would just use the recommended amounts of water on the packaging though because it won’t need as much liquid as the crockpot. Good luck πŸ™‚

  15. Made this for my bible study’s Christmas brunch-it was the favorite item on the buffet!! I used equal parts canned coconut milk and water and only the maple syrup. At the brunch I put brown sugar and dried cranberries on the side. Plenty sweet and they LOVED it! Thanks?

    1. I’m so happy it was a hit at the Christmas brunch; thank you so much for sharing! πŸ™‚ Happy holidays Jeanne! πŸ™‚

  16. 5 stars
    I tried this on the high setting on my crockpot and it was perfect in 2 hrs. Great when you forgot to put it on the night before or are crunched for time.

  17. I have a mini slow cooker for 1 serving. No heat adjustment so I use a on/off timer-set it, plug in wall,add slow cooker and great breakfast ready.

  18. I’ve made this several times and its terrific. I take food to my 94 year old mom and am always looking for good healthy breakfasts that she will enjoy. I like to add raisins and pecans 1/2 cup hemp hearts (really nutritional) and replace some of the brown sugar with raw honey. Thanks Chelsea for a great recipe!

  19. 5 stars
    I enjoyed this recipe. I cut it in half because I use 1.5 qt crockpot. I used flaxseed milk and added tart cherries to it for the cooking process. Cooked it on low for about 7 hours. Perfect warm breakfast for a cold morning.

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