How to Make Steel Cut Oats


New to steel cut oats? They’re my favorite kind of oats!! This post explains how to make them and how they’re different from rolled oats or instant oats. 

I love me some steel cut oats. I’ve been eating them for years, and I never tire of them. They remind me of home since the first time I ever had them was at a cute little breakfast joint in Sugarhouse, Utah. I also just really like the chewy texture. It’s a much heartier bowl of oats than traditional old fashioned, rolled oats or instant oats.

If you’re new to steel cut oats, I’m here to share why I love them, how they’re different from regular oats and how to make them! They take a little more prep time than rolled oats, but I promise it’s totally worth the extra work.

So, what are steel cut oats?

First, let’s have a little lesson on oats, shall we? Old fashioned oats and steel cut oats both come from a little thing called an oat groat. Also known as pinhead oats or Irish oats, steel cut oats are the groats of whole oats that have been cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Presumably cut by, um…steel. Get it? STEEL. Once cut, they end up looking like little pinheads (hence, that name). See the picture below!

Steel Cut Oats

Old fashioned oats vs. Steel cut Oats

Now, old fashioned oatmeal or rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed and rolled flat (hence the name rolled oats!). Since they have been steamed and flattened out, they cook faster. So, yes, steel cut oats take longer to cook since they are larger pieces and because they haven’t been pre-steamed, but the effort is worth it.

Steel cut oats are touted as one of the healthiest grains you can eat and for good reason. Because they are minimally processed, they tend to contain more fiber which is great for digestive health and feeding the good bacteria in our stomachs. They also digest the slowest out of all the oats and are lower on the glycemic index. (Be sure to read this post for more tips on a healthy gut!)

I always opt for steel cut when I can, then rolled oats if I am in a rush, and I almost never buy the quick-cooking oats or instant oats (or oatmeal). Often times, flavored instant oats have added ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, colors, or a lot of added sugar and salt. Yuck! My exception to instant oats are buying the ones from Picky Bars – they have solid ingredients, even though they’re instant!

I typically buy Bob’s Red Mill brand because of their non-GMO pledge (and they have gluten-free and organic options, too). They are delicious, obviously, but don’t really taste that different from the variety I buy in bulk at Whole Foods. So choose what brand is handy or available for you. Note that while oats are naturally gluten free, they are typically processed on machines that also process wheat. So be sure to buy gluten-free certified if you are celiac.

Ok, let’s talk about nutrition, shall we?


1/4 cup steel cut oats (dry, not prepared) has 170 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 29 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein, and 158mg of potassium. They also have a good amount of calcium, magnesium, iron, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Oh yeah, and they are insanely delicious.

How to Make Steel Cut Oats

Step 1

Start by combining 1/2 cup of steel cut oats with 1 1/2 cups of water into a pot and place on the stove top. You can also add a pinch of salt.

Step 2

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.

Step 3

After reducing heat, cook the oats for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure it’s turned down low enough that it doesn’t bubble over so check it every few minutes.

I like my  steel cut oats slightly chewy, which usually calls for a cooking time of around 15 minutes.

I use the cooking time to do some post-run stretches while I wait for my breakfast to cook since I have these most often after I’ve finished a run! (Or, what’s been happening more often more recently, after finishing a Peloton workout!)

Step 4

When the water has been absorbed by the oats, place into a bowl and enjoy! You can serve eat them plain, but toppings are the best part!


I think steel cut oats are delicious plain since they have a kind of nutty flavor. But of course, if you want to get all fancy, feel free to add all sorts of toppings. They pair well with traditional oatmeal toppings and savory toppings!

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Raisins
  • Nuts
  • Fresh Berries
  • Bananas
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Chia Seeds
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Dates
  • Go savory with a runny egg, hot sauce and cilantro! Or try avocado, diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese.

One of my favorite versions is Bruleed Banana Steel Cut Oats. You can get that recipe here.

Alternative Cooking Options

With your next batch, you might try adding more water and cooking them a little longer for a softer result. Or add less water and cook for a shorter time if you want a chewier version. Experiment and find your perfect combination of water, oats and cooking time.

Ok, so you are probably wondering how you can have steel cut oats every morning AND do all the things on your to-do list, am I right? Well, there are a couple of alternate methods for cooking steel cut oats to save time if you don’t have 20-30 minutes to watch your stove every morning.

Well, I guess a lot of us have extra time at home these days, myself included. But, even if we aren’t rushing into an office, you still might be rushing to log onto your computer, home school kids, etc. So, I’ve got three hands-off cooking options!

Instant Pot

If you are an Instant Pot lover like me, a great option to free up your stove top hovering time is to use your trusty pressure cooker. This is a great option for busy mornings since you don’t have to keep an eye on the stove top and worry about bubbling over. This works best for a larger batch vs. an individual serving. Add 4 cups water and 1 cups steel cut oats to your Instant Pot and pre-soak it overnight. Then, in the morning, set your Instant Pot for 4 minutes on high pressure. This will mean that from start to finish, they should be ready in about 25 minutes; let the pressure build for 10 minutes, cook for 4, and let it release naturally for 10 minutes. You can also skip the overnight soak and just combine it in the morning.

Overnight Oats

When I know I have a crazy morning ahead or a lot of meetings one day, I throw some steel cut oats and water (sometimes almond milk when I’m feeling it) into a mason jar, pop it in the fridge, and voila! It’s ready to eat first thing in the morning and it’s delicious cold. You can even add some vanilla extract or sweetener to your oats. I also like to add chia seeds and dried fruit to mine.

Slow Cooker

If you have a slow cooker or crockpot, you can just throw your steel cut oats and water in there, turn it on, and walk away until they are ready! Cook on low for 7-8 hours. This is a really good option if you’re hosting a brunch and need to make a larger quantity. (I probably wouldn’t do it for a smaller batch since it may be prone to burning!) You can add about anything you want to this. Apples, cinnamon, and/or raisins are a particularly delicious combo with the slow cooking route. If you’re serving a crowd (parties will resume someday!), make the steel cut oats plain and then set out a toppings bar so people can create their own oat masterpiece!


For all of my dairy-free friends, (or non-dairy free and just like the flavor), try adding almond milk for some or all of the water to get a creamier breakfast bowl of steel cut oats!

Fun Flavors

One thing that I love to do with steel cut oats (but I don’t always have the time) is toasting the oats before cooking them. It really enhances the nutty flavor of the steel cut oats. All you need is 5 minutes with a skillet or you can pop them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes (or until they turn light brown).

Then proceed cooking in the same way as instructed above.

Steel Cut Oats

Hopefully, this was helpful to any steel cut oats newbies. And if you haven’t tried them out, you must and then let me know what you think in the comments! (Your comments also help others who are trying the recipe!) And if you have a favorite toppings combo, I’d love to hear that too!




1/4 cup (dry) of steel cut oats

1 1/2 cups water

pinch of salt (optional)



  1. Combine 1/2 cup of steel cut oats with 1 1/2 cups of water into a pot and place on the stovetop.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.
  3. Cook the oats for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. When the water has been absorbed by the oats, place into a bowl, add toppings and enjoy!



  • Calories: 170
  • Sugar: 0
  • Fat: 3
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5
  • Carbohydrates: 29 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0

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