Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Oats are a nutritious addition to your daily diet, adding protein, fiber, minerals, and beneficial phytochemicals (chemicals from plants). The steel-cut form is made by chopping the whole oat groat (the grain) into a few pieces. Both steel-cut oats and rolled oats are considered whole grains and are better for you than instant oats or oatmeal packets that have added sugar and other ingredients.

Steel-cut oats take longer to cook (30 minutes+) than rolled oats, but have a pleasing chewy texture. They also sport a lower glycemic index, due to their density, which is important for those watching their blood sugar. Since your body will digest them more slowly than rolled oats, you’ll feel full a bit longer and they will sustain your energy more evenly. Steel-cut and rolled oats are high in fiber, containing the soluble fiber “beta-glucan” which helps to lower LDL cholesterol. A one-cup serving of cooked steel-cut oats has 4 grams of fiber and about 6 grams of protein, as well as numerous minerals and B vitamins. 

rolled oats vs. steel-cut oats

6 to 8

2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water

Stovetop Directions for Steel-Cut Oats
This recipe makes a large batch. When cooled, this may be very thick, even somewhat solid. That makes it easy to store in the refrigerator and then reheat as needed with a bit of additional plant milk to achieve the desired consistency. Make a batch of this on the weekend to ensure you have a healthy breakfast or snack that is simple to reheat in the microwave during the week. 

Put the 2 cups of oats along with 6 cups water into a large pot and cover with lid. Bring to a boil, watching carefully so it doesn’t boil over, and then turn heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test the grain to see if it is the desired softness. If you plan to season the entire recipe the same way, you can put any additional ingredients into the oatmeal now. Cook an additional 5 minutes or longer as needed.

InstantPot Directions
If using an InstantPot, the proportions are the same but you may need to cut back on the quantity to suit the size pot you are using. (In a 3-quart pot, use just 1 cup oats and 3 cups water.) Set to cook on High for 5 minutes and allow for a natural release of pressure. Add more liquid as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Oatmeal Serving Ideas and Variations
Steel-cut oats can be served with fruit and other sweeter toppings for breakfast and even a satisfying dessert. You can also make your oats the foundation for savory vegetables and heartier flavors.

Here are several ways to enjoy this nutritious grain:

  • Caramelized bananas, cooked quickly with a bit of lemon juice and maple syrup in a non-stick pan, are a sweet addition and another way to use up overripe fruit.
  • Dried fruit or fresh fruit (berries, mango, pears, apples, banana, etc), and small amounts of nuts or seeds (walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), chopped crystallized ginger, a small amount of coconut flakes.
  • If you add nutritious chia seeds to your oatmeal (1 tablespoon has 70 calories, 2 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals), you will probably need to add more liquid since they are so absorbent; stir them in, add liquid, reheat and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
  • Craving savory? Mix your steel-cut oats with greens, herbs, nutritional yeast, spices such as turmeric, skillet-roasted mushrooms or onions, and other chopped vegetables.

Note: If you are making a large batch of oats, you may want to keep it plain initially and then have the flexibility to season each serving differently as you dish it up over the next few days.