Start the day with a hearty, nutritious bowl of apple cinnamon steel cut oats, made overnight in your rice cooker!
What's the Scoop on Steel Cut Oats?
With a chewy texture and nutty flavor, steel cut oats are a satisfying, healthy, delicious way to start your day. They are extremely easy to make, and hands-down one of our favorite and most often prepared breakfasts. (We especially love them topped with a nutty streusel!)
Steel cut oats are toasted groats (whole, husked oat kernels) that have been cut into tiny pieces with steel blades, resulting in a coarser, chewier texture and nuttier flavor than rolled or quick oats. Also known as Irish oats, steel cut oats are heart-healthy, high in B-vitamins, a good source of protein, and rich in fiber (including high levels of soluble fiber).
There’s only one problem with steel cut oats: they take significantly longer to cook than traditional rolled oats – about 40 minutes on the stovetop (which is about 35 minutes longer than I want to wait for breakfast in the morning!).
Cooking steel cut oats in a rice cooker solves this problem. With less than 10 minutes prep the night before, you can wake to a fragrant, cozy stew of apples, cinnamon, and creamy rich oatmeal, warm and ready to enjoy!
What Goes into this Easy Steel Cut Oats Recipe
These recipe ingredients highlight our favorite rice cooker oatmeal flavor-combo. You can easily adapt this to your own tastes by changing up the liquids, fruits, and flavorings.
- Steel cut oats: We use regular steel cut oats for overnight rice cooker oats. You can also use quick-cooking oats; however, they seem to cook up a bit softer, and don’t have quite the bite that the regular steel cut oats do.
- Liquid: You can use almost any milk or alternative milk to make steel cut oats. (Our personal favorite is an almond-coconut milk combo.)
- Fruits: We enjoy using a combination of apples and dried fruits. Tart apples like Granny Smiths are perfect, but we’ve made these steel cut oats with just about every variety found in our corner of the world. Some apples break down more easily than others when cooked.
- Sweeteners: We love the combination of honey and brown sugar.
- Spices: Apples and cinnamon are made for one another!
- Vanilla: This gives the oatmeal a rich flavor.
- Fats: It is important to use a small amount of fat when making steel cut oats. We usually use salted butter or coconut oil.
How to Make Overnight Steel Cut Oats in a Rice Cooker
Max Capacity: To avoid messy, frustrating boil-overs, use a maximum of 1 cup of oats in a 3-cup rice cooker; 2 cups in a 6-cup rice cooker.
Combine all ingredients in the rice cooker bowl. Give everything a good stir to combine.
Ratio of Steel Cut Oats to Liquid: For each cup of steel cut oats, use 3½ to 4 cups of liquid, depending upon how thick you'd like your oats to be. (The less liquid you use, the thicker they will be.) You can use water and milk in any combination, from all water to all milk. I usually use a combo of 2½ cups of milk to one cup of water. This results in thick, rich oats without being overly so.
Set the rice cooker for Porridge, Oatmeal, or Steel Cut Oats, depending on your rice cooker model.
Set the timer for the cycle to start an hour before you want to serve the cooked oats.
When cycle is done, stir the oatmeal mixture. Set the rice cooker to Warm if your rice cooker doesn't have an auto-warm feature.
Steel cut oats continue to thicken as they cool, so don’t worry if they seem too thin when you initially open the rice cooker. Serve warm, with toppings on the side as desired.
We do not recommend cooking steel cut oats in a single-setting rice cooker. The heat rises too quickly, and as a result, the liquids have a tendency to boil over. However, if you want to try, in our experience, the following method is the most successful.
For rice cookers with only Cook and Warm settings: Allow the liquids in the rice cooker to reach a boiling point, and then switch the setting to Warm. Cook for 35-50 minutes, or until oats are cooked to the desired consistency.
- Liquid: Plain water also works, but the results won't be quite as creamy.
- Fruit: Experiment! Use any combination of fresh and dried fruits you like.
- Sweeteners: Maple syrup, agave, or other sweeteners can all be used. (Avoid using artificial sweeteners: some degrade at higher temperature and release harmful compounds.)
- Spices: Ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin spice are all good choices.
- Vanilla: Substitute in almond, hazelnut, coconut, and maple extracts will all work.
Dairy-free: Use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter. Use a dairy-free milk or all water for the milk.
Vegan: Use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter. Use a dairy-free milk or all water for the milk. Use agave or maple syrup in place of honey.
Gluten-free: Use certified gluten-free steel cut oats. Use only gluten-free toppings.
Rice cookers aren’t just for making white rice! In addition to cooking a multitude of rice varieties, you also can cook everything from quinoa to couscous in them.
Modern rice cookers are multifunctional, with settings for steamed vegetables, soups, and porridge or oatmeal in addition to a variety of rice settings. Some even have a dedicated Steel Cut Oats setting.
Most multifunctional rice cookers have a Porridge or Oatmeal setting. Those factory presets are the key to why making rice cooker steel cut oats is such an early-morning lifesaver. In fact, cooking steel cut oats in a rice cooker has become so popular that some rice cooker manufacturers even have a dedicated setting for them.
The first thing to look for when buying a rice cooker is capacity. Consider the size of your family: a 3-5 cup rice cooker is fine for a small family, but you will need a 4-6 cup (or even a 10-cup) cooker for larger groups.
Two other must-have features for a rice cooker are a Delayed Start and an automatic Keep Warm setting. These functions are the keys to making overnight steel cut oats effortlessly. You may also want to consider points like cook-and-serve design, detachable power cord, cleaning ease, and manufacturers warranty when deciding on the best unit for your needs.
Unlike regular oatmeal that breaks down into mush as it sets, leftover steel cut oats can be refrigerated and reheated without losing their texture or flavor.
- Refrigerator: Portion leftover cooked oats into individual containers, or put them all in a big container and portion them out as you go. Refrigerate cooked oats for up to a week.
- Freezer: Portion leftover cooked oats into individual containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave.
- To Reheat: Place cooked steel cut oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a 2-4 tablespoons of milk or water and stir. Reheat in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid as needed.
Once the oats have finished cooking, give everything in the rice cooker a good stir, and then let it all set for another 5-15 minutes to allow the oats to thicken fully.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s gluten-free labeling regulations, oats are considered a gluten-free grain. However, manufacturing practices vary, and you should always check packaging for gluten-free certification, particularly if you have celiac disease.
More Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes
Serving & Pairing
Toppings add flavor, texture, and nutritional benefits to your steel cut oats. Here are some tasty additions:
- Dried fruits: Cranberries, raisins, blueberries, chopped apricots, cherries
- Fresh fruits: Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, mangos, apples, peaches, pears, bananas
- Nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, coconut
- Nut butters: Peanut butter, almond butter
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, chia, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, pepitas
- Chocolate chips
- Spices: Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice
- Nut streusel (This is one of our favorite toppings!)
- Sweeteners: Honey, agave, brown sugar, maple syrup
- Dairy: Cream, half-and-half, milk, alternative milk, yogurt, Greek yogurt
- Jams or jellies
Rice Cooker Steel Cut Oats
- 1 rice cooker minimum 3-cup capacity
- Combine all ingredients in the rice cooker bowl. Give everything a good stir to combine.
- Set the rice cooker for Porridge, Oatmeal, or Steel Cut Oats, depending on your rice cooker model.Set the timer for the cycle to start an hour before you want to serve the cooked oats.
- When cycle is done, stir the oatmeal mixture. Set the rice cooker to Warm if your rice cooker doesn't have an auto-warm feature.Steel cut oats continue to thicken as they cool, so don’t worry if they seem too thin when you initially open the rice cooker.
- Serve warm, with toppings on the side as desired.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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