Oats of Steel: A Love Affair

I was at a retreat center when I took my first doubtful bite of steel cut oats. The chewy texture instead of the paste-like consistency of its rolled oats cousin delighted me so much I almost gasped aloud during silent breakfast. It even had some flavor of its own and it has enough body to accommodate any toppings including fresh fruit.

I didn’t want it to be a retreat-only fling with these amazing oats; I definitely wanted a long-term relationship. But then I learned about the prep. I refuse boil anything on the stove for breakfast, and certainly not for 40-some minutes. So steel cut oats and I agreed we just weren’t at a point in our lives to commit to one another.

Because it’s healthy and I’d convinced myself I really liked it, for several years I had eaten oatmeal–the rolled oats kind–for breakfast every day. Finally one day I admitted to myself that no matter how much granola, brown sugar, nuts, ground flax, or dried fruit I piled on top, I was not enjoying my oatmeal. I was even beginning to dread it.

I switched to cold cereal for a while, punctuated with occasional eggs, but felt a growing sense of dissatisfaction with my morning meal, especially after learning that steel cut oats were out there. Then I read that one could make steel cut oatmeal in a rice cooker. Since then I have been enjoying a satisfying relationship with my breakfast. I add water and steel cut oats and set the rice cooker for an hour before I wake. The next morning, my perfect cereal awaits me. I dress it up just so, and voila–happiness!

You can’t really make one serving at a time, so I refrigerate the other three portions and the next three mornings I scoop out a serving (I admit it looks rubbery and gross at first), add a little milk and microwave. Perfect again!

Perfect & Convenient Steel Cut Oatmeal

(makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel cut oats (also called groats)
  • 3 cups water
  • pinch of salt

Dump your oats, water, and salt into your rice cooker. Set on porridge setting. If you don’t have such a choice, try the brown rice setting or experiment to see what works. If your rice cooker has a timer, set it to start an hour before you wake so that it’s ready for you. Not to make you jealous or anything, but my rice cooker also keeps it warm for me.

Toppings: I love brown sugar, ground flax, and fresh blueberries. And you?

Leftovers: Refrigerate in single size portions in microwave save containers. To reheat, cut the springy mass into several pieces with a spoon and add a little milk or a milk substitute. Microwave for a minute and stir and then continue heating until it reaches the desired temp. Add toppings. Just as delicious as fresh out of the rice cooker!



  1. did you know that blanched steel cut oats can substitute for bulgar to make a gluten-free tabouli? (making sure you have gluten-free oats, of course)

  2. Rachel made me these oats every day for a few days. They were great. Rice maker magic.

  3. Do you think I could make them in my slow cooker? Would my low setting be equivalent to your porridge setting?

  4. It might work, Dawn, and I’d love to hear how it goes! A rice cooker cooks at a higher temp than a slow cooker, I think, and turns off automatically. The package directions for steel cut oats say to bring the water to a boil before adding oats and then reducing to a simmer. I’m guessing it may depend on if your slow cooker has a high enough setting to get that initial boil and then turning down to lower heat and allowing the oats to simmer for a while.

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