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Here’s how to cook steel cut oats! It takes just 25 minutes to make an easy creamy bowl of oatmeal: the ideal healthy breakfast.

Steel cut oats
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Are you a steel cut oats fan? These chewy oats have a porridge-like texture and feel like a cozy hug in the morning. They’re a fun way to mix up the standard Old Fashioned oats, and may have some slight benefits over them: though both are an incredibly healthy way to start the day! Alex and I used to avoid this type of oats because they take longer to cook. But here’s the thing: you can make a big pot of steel cut oats in 25 minutes and eat off of the leftovers all week! They come out beautifully creamy and a fitting canvas for tasty toppings.

What are steel cut oats? What’s the difference vs rolled oats?

Steel cut oats are whole grain oats that are cut into nubs: the grains look like brown rice or barley. Rolled oats are oat groats that are rolled through steel rollers: this gives them a flat shape and makes them much quicker to cook. Both varieties have very similar nutritional profiles: lots of protein and fiber to start your day! To read more, go to Steel Cut vs Rolled Oats.

A potential benefit of steel cut oats is that since they are processed the most minimally, they may have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. This may allow you to feel fuller and have less of a “spike” of energy after eating. (Source)

Steel cut oats vs rolled oats
Rolled oats on the left, steel cut on the right

How to cook steel cut oats: tips!

Steel cut oats might seem daunting, but they’re very easy to cook. You’ll simply simmer them in a mix of milk and water for about 25 minutes, until they become creamy and tender. Here are a few notes on the process:

  • Simmer the water and milk (and watch closely). The mixture of water and milk can quickly go from almost simmering to boiling over. Keep an eye out!
  • Add oats and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll want to have the heat on low where it’s just bubbling. Stay close by so you can stir occasionally, or the oats will stick to the bottom and a film will form on the surface.

That’s it! It’s truly simple. It makes for a great make-ahead breakfast that you can store in the refrigerator all week.

How to make steel cut oats

Alternate method: Instant Pot!

You can also cook steel cut oats in an Instant Pot. This makes the method totally hands off, and makes a great creamy texture. This Pressure Cooker Steel Cut Oats makes a big batch of 8 to 10 servings: it’s perfect for entertaining or eating off of all week. Speaking of…

Storage info for steel cut oatmeal

Store your cooked steel cut oatmeal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Here’s the thing: steel cut oatmeal becomes very thick when it’s chilled. To reheat it, follow these instructions:

  • Add a splash of milk or water.
  • Throw it in the microwave for a minute, or heat it on the stovetop over low heat, stirring until it becomes creamy.
Instant pot steel cut oats

Vegan variation for steel cut oats

Steel cut oats are easy to make vegan! Simply cook them with your favorite non dairy milk. Here are a few non dairy milk options we recommend (all unflavored):

  • Oat milk: It’s got a great creamy body and neutral flavor. This is our top choice for oatmeal.
  • Almond milk: This type of milk also works, but the texture is thinner and almost like water. You may want to consider using all milk instead of the combination of milk plus water.
  • Soy milk: You can also use soy milk for steel cut oats. We typically don’t buy it because we prefer the flavor of oat or almond.

Note: Avoid coconut milk in this case: it has a very strong coconut flavor and is very high fat. It’s better to use in curries and to make vegan whipped cream.

Steel cut oats toppings

Once you’ve got a big bowl of creamy goodness, here’s the fun part: adding toppings! Here are some of our favorite oatmeal topping ideas:

The best is combining flavors into an interesting topping! Try PB&J oats with peanut butter and berry jam, or banana nut oatmeal with bananas, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey.

Steel cut oatmeal

More favorite oatmeal recipes

Are you as into oatmeal as we are? It’s our favorite healthy breakfast idea, hands down. Here are a few more of our our best oatmeal recipes to try:

This steel cut oats recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Steel cut oats

Perfect Steel Cut Oats (25 Minutes!)

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 ½ cups (4 to 6 servingfs) 1x


Here’s how to cook steel cut oats! It takes just 25 minutes to make an easy creamy bowl of oatmeal: the ideal healthy breakfast.


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups milk of choice (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 ½ cups steel cut oats
  • Scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. In a large pot, bring water and milk to a boil (watch closely to make sure that it does not boil over). Once boiling, add the steel cut oats, salt and cinnamon and stir to combine.
  2. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes until the oats are creamy and tender. Serve immediately with desired toppings. Stores refrigerated up to 1 week: it will become very thick when chilled, so stir in some milk or water when reheating. 
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Fred Meyer says:

    Do you leave the lid on the pot while the steel cut oats are simmering, or take it off? Thank you! Fred

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  2. Lisa Miller says:

    I’ve been making this a while now . My husband and I prefer it to rolled oats. I usually use unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I just like the taste not a dairy allergy. When I don’t have almond milk I use milk and add vanilla.