How to Cook Steel Cut Oats on the Stove

By: Lindsay Bare

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These stovetop steel cut oats deliver a super creamy, beautiful texture and you don't have to pre-soak your oats ahead of time.

Side view of bowl of steel cut oats with spoon and coffee mug in the background.

Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe

Steel cut oats have a bounty of health benefits, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but have a reputation of being a little fussy to cook (since they take a little longer than instant or old-fashioned oats). If you've written off steel cut oats for any reason, I implore you to try again with this recipe. We've tested it to give you tried and true, perfectly textured oats (think: just the right amount of chew and the best nutty flavor) every time for a wholesome and hearty way to start your day.

What is the best way to cook Steel Cut Oats?

The best way is whatever works for your life! We've tested and developed recipes for cooking steel cut oats in the microwave (coming soon!), on the stove, in the Instant Pot, and overnight (also coming soon!). Aside from the obvious difference in equipment and cooking method, each recipe also has varying amounts of hands-on time, so there may be one method that is better for you than the others. Whichever you choose, though, will give you delicious and creamy oats!

Ingredients for Making Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oatmeal ingredients on a gray and white marble surface.

The ingredients are super simple to make the base for these stovetop steel cut oats. Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • 1 cup of your milk of choice
  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • Pinch of salt

Ingredient Modifications

This recipe is meant to serve as a basic base for steel cut oats that can be customized to your preference. Here are some ideas of how you can add and modify to make them your own:

  • Add a little sweetness – add ½ of a ripe banana or 1 tablespoon of maple syrup into your oats for a little sweetness. If you're using a banana, mash it right on into the oats while they are cooking.
  • Add a little spice – add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, or cardamom to the oats to bring warm flavor notes.

What is the ratio of water to steel cut oats?

The ratio of liquid to steel cut oats is 3½ to 1 (so, 3½ cups of water/milk to 1 cup of oats). This ensures there is enough liquid for the oats to soak up for an uber, creamy texture.

Supplies Needed to Make this Recipe

How to Cook Steel Cut Oats on the Stove

Top down view of white ceramic pot with milk and water liquid and a wooden spoon with a spoonful of steel cut oats.
Top down view of wooden spoon in a white ceramic pot with creamy steel cut oats being stirred.
White ceramic pot on the stovetop.
Top down view of bowl with creamy steel cut oats.
  1. Add ingredients to the saucepan. Add liquids, oats, and salt into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, while stirring.
  2. Reduce heat. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the oats don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Check on texture. Check on the texture of the oats after 20 minutes and cook an additional 5-10 minutes longer (if needed) to reach the desired texture. The longer they simmer, the softer and creamier they will become – 30 minutes is ideal in our house!
  4. Remove and stir. Remove from the heat and stir. The oats will continue to thicken as they cool.
  5. Serve and enjoy. Garnish with your favorite toppings, serve, and enjoy.

How long to cook Steel Cut Oats

We found that 30 minutes is the sweet spot for the creamiest textured oats.

Steel Cut Oats Toppings

Bowl of steel cut oats topped with peanut butter, jelly, and crushed peanuts.

There is no wrong way to top your oatmeal! Have fun with the toppings and individualize them to whatever sounds good to you. Here are some ideas:

  • PB&J – make peanut butter and jelly oats by adding a spoonful of peanut butter, your favorite jelly or preserves, and a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.
  • Classic – for a simple, classic oatmeal flavor reminiscent of flavors from childhood, add a sprinkle of cinnamon, your choice of sugar (cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar), and a drizzle of heavy cream.
  • Tropical – go tropical by adding some unsweetened coconut flakes, tropical fruit (mango is delicious here), and a sprinkle of chia seeds for added texture.

Storing and Reheating Steel Cut Oats

To store your steel cut oats, let them cool and place them in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat by adding a splash of milk or water and warming through in the microwave or on the stovetop.

How long do steel cut oats last?

Stored in the fridge, your oats are good for up to 5 days. You can also freeze your cooked oats and store them in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months. We recommend freezing in a muffin tin or silicone mold, then popping the individual oat servings out once frozen into your storage method of choice.

Side view of bowl of steel cut oats with spoon and coffee mug in the background.

Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe FAQs

How are steel cut oats different from rolled oats?

The key difference between steel cut oats and rolled oats is how the oat grain is processed. Steel cut oats are left whole and cut into smaller pieces by a steel mill, while rolled oats are steamed and pressed flat.

Is steel cut oatmeal better for you than regular oatmeal?

Steel cut oats are less processed and have a slightly lower glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, which makes them the best option if you are looking to control blood sugar levels.

Should steel cut oats be soaked before cooking?

Soaking steel cut oats prior to cooking is entirely optional. Soaking can help to soften the oat, reducing active cooking time, but since the oats and liquids are brought to a boiling temperature together in this recipe, the oats are in some ways getting a soak before the liquid comes to temperature.

Can you just pour boiling water over steel cut oats?

You want to avoid pouring boiling water over your oats, as this imitates the breakdown of the starches and can result in gluey, sticky oats. For the best texture, you'll want to simmer your oats over low heat.

Can you overcook steel cut oats?

As with any oats, you can overcook your steel cut oats, but it would take a while. Since they start as a harder grain, steel cut oats are more difficult to overcook and generally get creamier the longer you cook them.

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Steel Cut Oats (Stovetop)

These stovetop steel cut oats deliver a super creamy, beautiful texture and you don't have to pre-soak your oats ahead of time.

  • Author: Lindsay Bare
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Oat Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Add liquids, oats, and salt into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Check your oats after 20 minutes, and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes until they reach your desired texture. The longer they simmer the softer and creamier they will become.
  4. Remove from heat, stir, and the oats will continue to thicken as they cool.
  5. Garnish with your favorite toppings, serve, and enjoy.

Notes

For added sweetness, you can use:

  • ½ ripe banana or 1 tablespoon maple syrup

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