How to Cook Steel Cut Oats Perfectly on the Stovetop and Oatmeal Project Day 3

Steel Cut Oats with Bananas and Walnuts[The Oatmeal Project, Day 3: Sliced Fresh Bananas and Toasted Walnuts]

There are more than a few ways to cook steel cut oats, but we’re just getting started, so we’re going with the old-fashioned way of cooking them in a pot on the stove top. We’ve decided to stick with just cooking the oats in water, so that our bowl of oatmeal will be a fresh canvas for flavor variations everyday. At least for now. We’re pretty sure at some point later this month we’re going to break out the chicken stock.

We did a little research on other food, recipe and discussion sites, read the “Cooking Instructions” on the backs of some packages of steel cut oats, then experimented in the TasteSpotting Kitchen. After a week of doing nothing but cooking steel cut oats, we have have found that for stovetop cooking, these “ingredients” in this ratio works best for us because we prefer the a “bumpy texture” to our oats over something creamy and more porridge-like.

It takes about 20 minutes, and it’s active time because you have to watch the pot (don’t worry, it’s not meant to boil ;) ) and stir pretty frequently. It sounds tedious, and 20 minutes in the morning can be the difference between the light early commute and two angry hours on the freeway, but trust us. In the grand scheme of things you’ll be better off having started the day with a slow, deep breath.

And a bowl of oats.
How to Cook Steel Cut Oats on the Stovetop

How to Cook Perfect Steel Cut Oats on the Stovetop


1 part steel cut oats
3 parts water
pinch of salt for each part steel cut oats


Put oats, water and salt in a pot that will leave at least 2 or 3 inches of room at the top (so the oats don’t boil over. Bring to a boil over medium high-heat. Turn heat down to low, then simmer the oats for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Today, we topped our bowl with sliced fresh bananas and toasted walnuts.

by Sarah J. Gim on February 3, 2011 · 29 comments

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

shazia February 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm

what a great idea! I hope that you have some great ideas about how to make oatmeal interesting. i have been eating oatmeal everydayyyyy for breakfast for the last 2 years. tomorrow i am planning on trying something new! i love my oats but i can’t think of any interesting new combinations, good luck i can’t wait to see what you come up with :)


Kristina February 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Ah yes, it’s another 20 minutes in the a.m., but if you’re going the traditional route of cooking them stovetop on demand, before you’ve experimented with other methods, remember that steel cut oats keep in the fridge so beautifully. Make a huge batch so that you have leftovers. I promise they are not gummy and glue-like the way regular or quick oats can be. Steel Cuts are the Iron Men of the oat world. Although I’ve never actually read or seen Iron Men. I’m just ‘sayin. They are champions.


Pat February 4, 2011 at 8:36 am

Or put those dry oats in the pan over medium heat until you smell them toasting. Then add the water and salt and finish cooking. Toasting gives them a little more depth of flavor.


Elaine February 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

This week I tried making stovetop-overnight steel-cut oatmeal. (Boil water, add oats, boil 1min; cover & leave out overnight; in the morning, bring back to boil & cook 5-10 min.) The 3/4 cup of steel-cut oats that I had from an earlier brief infatuation a year or more ago made enough oatmeal for most of a week. And yes, they do reheat nicely after being kept in the fridge. I was very happy with the results, enough so that I bought more and will do it again next week.


sonia February 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

lovely recipe..thanks for sharing healthy tips !


Lindsey February 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm

BLT Wraps!


Lindsey February 4, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Crap. Wrong post.


Jean February 6, 2011 at 9:23 am

In a begrudging attempt to eat less white rice, which I grew up on and love dearly, I started subbing in steel cut oats. I just make a big batch and keep it in the fridge, then take out what I need when I need it. I must admit, though still begrudgingly, that it’s not at all bad in savory dishes — in all kinds of soups, or mixed with kochujang/sesame oil/minced tuna or other protein. Kind of like bibimbap.


Mary February 7, 2011 at 7:44 am

Everyone talks about adding things exterior to the oatmeal. I say start from within. Instead of water, try tea or flavored bottled water. The integral taste is sublime. For special days, it’s sparkling water. For the fall, try apple juice or cider. I don’t drink coffee but oatmeal mocha may be a treat.


Pat February 7, 2011 at 8:23 am

Mary – those are wonderful ideas! I’m going to give a few of those suggestions a try!


Alex November 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I followed this but mixed in cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar mixed with blueberries, sliced strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. It was time consuming but I have no complaints bc it is gratifying to know I took the time to consider the health not only of myself, but of my mother, father and aunt. I refridgetated it and it will be my breakfast after my morning run :). I wish health and happy days to you.

I did take a taste before putting it away and mmmhm, goodluck!


kbarbara January 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm




Rich August 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Just tried this out while wating for the oats –
1 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/4 c. Chopped walnuts
Gently sear banana with a little oil or butter, mix in a bowl wth walnuts, sugar, and syrup mortar-and-pestle style until you have a rich brown paste.

Add a scoop of the mixture to those oats and a touch of milk (I used almond milk) and watch your problems melt away…


Paula September 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

This sounds divine. For breakfast tomorrow!

Deborah September 22, 2012 at 7:10 am

Could you please clarify if pot should be covered or not during cooking?


Carolyn November 17, 2012 at 3:44 am

How to best reheat the oats after being refrigerated …thanks


Chasey November 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

Per Alton Brown, salt during the cooking phase locks up a big part of the nutritional benefit. See Alton Brown Good Eats on YouTube about oats and grains.


Nancy December 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

I cook 4 cups of oats to 12 cups of water and freeze individual portions in plastic freezer containers….makes enough for 2 or 3 weeks. Thaw in microwave for 3 or 4 minutes.


joe December 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm

OK, so Jamba juice, who makes killer steel cut oats with awesome somewhat sweetened and salted, probablys roasted pecans (I don’t use their fruit, I use my own organically grown big frozen blueberries thawed just a minute in a bowl of water)…. was OUT of oatmeal before 10am and I decide “ok, I’m gonna a bunch of money (theirs is 3.54) and make own. So, I went to Raleys and searched for something that said “steel cut”. ¬†And out of about 10 choices, includeing bin, health section and regular section.. there’s only 1 in a can .. some Irish oatmeal, and it doesn’t say organic, either. So, I went back to the bin and got the organic whole oats for 1.69/lbs Is there a difference? Between organic whole oats and steel cut?


ajari July 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Nah dog. Rolled oats and steel cut oats are just variations of the original whole oat. Rolled oats are flattened and steel cut are simply chopped.

Benjamin December 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Thanks for the tips.. Ate this yummy stuff this morning. Kept me full throughout the morning. Can’t wait to try preparing with some horchata.


Wendy January 19, 2013 at 10:55 am

Joe, check out this article:
Nutritionally there is no difference as both steel cut and whole oats are both whole grains, but it has to do with the processing and how long it takes for them to cook.


Robin January 29, 2013 at 6:18 am

Thanks for this information; I’m reading it and cooking steel cut oats at the same time :)


Mark February 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Rich: I gotta try that banana paste thing!
And I stole a tip from Alton Brown too: pre-toast the oats before you cook in water. Use the same pan you’re gonna cook the oats in, but first add a little butter, then pour the oats in, and stir on medium heat for two minutes. Then cook with water as directed above. it gives the oats a nice nutty flavor.


Brandon February 22, 2013 at 12:38 am

My fav add-ins are honey, cinnamon, and banana slices…sometimes also organic peanut butter. Great mix or natural carbs, protein, and healthy fats to start your day.


Jaimi February 22, 2013 at 7:32 am

Try cooking with coconut milk and a few grated apples! yum! I love the tea idea though! I am going to give that a try!


mc April 5, 2013 at 4:52 am

I use the crockpot method. 3 children + waking up to breakfast already done = YES. You do want a crockpot that is on the cooler side. I have one for my oats and one for other dishes that gets a bit hotter and tends to burn oats if i use it. We add apples, cinnamon, a little sugar {or maples syrup, honey, or stevia depending on how healthy I’m feeling}, and some yogurt for extra creaminess… But this morning I woke up to an unplugged crockpot. Come on, mom brain… So I looked up a recipe to cook on stove top because, honestly, I’ve never done it.. :) So, thanks for the help!


Cindell April 13, 2013 at 8:58 am

FYI, you can just stick all the ingredients in a crock pot.
I put the oats and some cinnamon in, stir it a bit then add boiling water, (I do NOT stir again at this point), and cover it. Then, here’s the best bit, I walk away and get dressed. NO extra stirring required.
When I am ready it’s ready. It can be put in a travel mug for enjoying on the bus/train commute. You can add any thing you like, such as dried fruit when you start it, but add a bit of extra water to fluff them up.
I also like to add a fresh chopped apple at the end to cool it. Or I advance cook and freeze small breakfast sausages and stick a frozen one upright into the travel mug. This cools the steaming hot stuff to be a better eating temp, and thaws the sausage, (If you are eating it right away, if not take it out to thaw before you go away to get dressed. You can just stick it on plate and set it somewhere safe like inside the toaster oven so the dog or spouse doesn’t see and eat it.) ;)
Then I just fill/soak the empty crock pot with water and when I get home at the end of the day, it’s super easy to wipe out.


debi May 1, 2013 at 6:05 am

I make mine overnight in a crockpot on low. 1/2c oats, 1c water and 1 c almond milk. I also add cinnamon,brown sugar, pumpkin seeds or flax and some fruit. I wake up to yummy smelling perfect oatmeal.


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