If you’ve never woken up legitimately craving a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, then I’m convinced you haven’t tried steel cut oats yet. The easiest way to cook them? Today’s method for Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats!
Arguably one of the most healthy, budget-friendly, and versatile breakfasts in existence, oatmeal is a nutritional super star that, for reasons both just and unjust, doesn’t receive the kind of universal enthusiasm it deserves.
Reasons you might *think* you don’t like oatmeal: It’s bland. It’s mushy. It tastes like something you’d be better off scraping into your dog’s bowl.
I hear you. Many bowls of oatmeal I have had in the past qualify this statement. My hunch is that if you still feel this way, you likely are microwaving quick oats or even worse, instant oatmeal packets. Guess what? Oatmeal does not (and should not!) taste like mush.
ENTER STEEL CUT OATS.
Steel cut oats are chewy, nutty, great for you, and a pleasure to eat. Making them in the Instant Pot (this is the Instant Pot model I have owned for years and love) makes the entire process hands free.
Steel cut oatmeal also reheats beautifully, meaning you can make a big batch, then enjoy healthy leftovers all week long.
Read on below for more about steel cut oats, as well as the best way to cook oatmeal in your Instant Pot. I’ve eaten steel cut oats for years, and the Instant Pot is my favorite way to prepare them, because it’s easy, fool proof, and results in perfectly cooked steel cut oats every time.
What Are Steel Cut Oats (and Why They Taste Better Than Other Oats)
Steel cut oats are a less processed version of rolled, quick, or instant oats. To make them cook more quickly, rolled, quick, and instant oats are steamed, flattened, and pulverized to varying degrees, with rolled oats being the least processed and instant oatmeal being very processed and pulverized.
Steel cut oats are cut with steel blades (hence the name “steel-cut”) and more closely resemble a whole oat in its original state.
Because they are more intact and less processed, steel cut oats take longer to cook than rolled, quick, and instant oats. The benefit of the wait: their texture is a delight! The trade off between time and texture is well worth it, especially since the Instant Pot makes cooking steel cut oats so easy.
Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats – Which is Better?
Both rolled oats and steel cut oats are high in protein, fiber, and nutrients and are a healthy choice. Because they are less processed, however, steel cut oats are better than rolled oats in several ways.
- While both types of oats contain fiber with cholesterol-lowering properties (beta glucan), steel cut oats have a higher level of fiber than rolled oats. Each serving of steel cut oats has about 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.
- Steel cut oats rank lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats, meaning the body will digest and turn them into sugar more slowly.
- Steel cut oats are minimally processed and naturally gluten free, making them ideal for people with gluten sensitivities.
I’m super hurried and need a fast bowl of oatmeal, I’ll make rolled oats, which are the second best option behind steel cut oats. For a meal, I avoid quick oats, which are more processed and have an inferior texture to rolled oats or steel cut oats. Always avoid instant oats which have a gummy, unpleasant texture once cooked and offer fewer health benefits.
The only downside of steel cut oats compared to rolled oats is that they take longer to cook. That’s where the Instant Pot comes in!
Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats – A Handsfree Way to Cook Oatmeal
Steel cut oats can be cooked on the stove top, in the slow cooker, and in the Instant Pot.
- Stovetop. See my original Steel Cut Oats. It includes everything you need to cook the perfect bowl. This method requires nothing but a pot and a spoon, but you do have to keep an eye on it, so it’s not a “set it and forget it” situation, the way the Instant Pot is.
- Slow Cooker. These Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats cook in the crock pot while you sleep. They’re hands free but take hours, compared to the 25 minutes you’ll need for the Instant Pot.
- Instant Pot. The best of all words! They taste like stovetop steel cut oats, but the cooking method is completely hands free.
You also can prepare steel cut oats by making these Overnight Steel Cut Oats, which soak in the refrigerator to soften up. These are served cold, and while I adore them, today I’m focusing on hot steel cut oatmeal, which is a cozier option in cooler months, or for those who haven’t quite hopped aboard the overnight oats train yet.
Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats Cooking Time – How Long It Really Takes
- The cooking time to which you set your Instant Pot for steel cut oats is 4 minutes on high pressure.
- The actual total cooking time for Instant Pot steel cut oatmeal from start to finish is 25 minutes. This breaks out to 10 minutes for the pressure to build, 4 minutes cooking, and 10 minutes of natural release.
Stovetop steel cut oatmeal and Instant Pot steel cut oatmeal cook in about the same amount of total time. The benefit of the Instant Pot is that it is COMPLETELY hands-free.
You can start your oats when you wake up, walk away to get ready for work, then return to a hot, healthy breakfast that’s waiting for you.
How to Make Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
Preparing these steel cut oats is so simple, and you’ll love how they taste!
- Milk + Water. I like to make my steel cut oats with a mix of milk and water, though feel free to use just one or the other. As long as you keep the liquid ratios the same, you are set. NOTE: Some readers have reported burn warnings with dairy milk. To be 100% safe, I suggest using almond milk.
- Steel Cut Oats. As I discussed, steel cut oats are my favorite type of oats to cook and eat for breakfast. They have numerous health benefits, delicious texture, and the best flavor.
- Salt. Critical when cooking oatmeal to make its flavor pop. The oatmeal doesn’t taste salty, but without the salt, it will taste flat.
- Cinnamon. My favorite in oatmeal! Feel free to personalize your oats with your favorite spices.
- Maple Syrup or Honey. I love my oats with a touch of sweetness. Both maple syrup and honey add a rich, sweet flavor to my oats without using any refined sugar. These oats are very, very lightly sweet. Feel free to add more to taste, or omit it if you prefer to top individual bowls instead.
- Toppings. The possibilities are endless here! I suggest trying a few variations to see what you like best. I’ve listed some ideas below.
Add all the ingredients to your Instant Pot and stir. Cover and seal the pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 4 minutes. The pressure will build for about 10 minutes, then the timer will begin. Once the timer elapses, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Vent, then carefully open the lid. They oats will look a bit liquidy at first, but will thicken as they cool.
Give the steel cut oatmeal a big stir. Scoop into your bowl, add desired toppings, and ENJOY!
A note on the Instant Pot porridge setting: The porridge button on your Instant Pot is designed to be a quick method for cooking your oatmeal, rice pudding, or similar grains. In order to keep the cooking consistent across all models and guarantee best results, I recommend keeping it simple by cooking with high pressure as directed in this recipe. It’s fun to use the bells and whistles of your appliances, but it’s not necessary for this recipe. The 4 minutes of cook time for the steel cut oats I’ve listed works every single time.
Adapting this Recipe for a 3-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot
This recipe is written for a standard 6-quart Instant Pot like this one. That said, you can easily adapt it to different sizes.
- To make steel cut oats in an 8-quart Instant Pot: Reduce the pressuring cooking time to 3 minutes on high. Keep the natural release at 10 minutes. You can double the ingredients if you like, though you do not need to.
- To make steel cut oats in a 3-quart Instant Pot: Cut the recipe ingredients in half (no other changes are necessary).
- To make steel cut oats in a 6-quart Instant Pot: Follow the recipe as directed below.
Steel Cut Oatmeal Toppings Ideas and Recipe Variations
Once your oats are cooked, you can customize your bowl with a rainbow of mix-ins and toppings to create the oatmeal of your dreams!
- Fresh Fruit. Top your oats with your favorite fresh fruit. Blueberry and banana are two of our favorites. Drizzle honey on top for added sweetness.
- Frozen Fruit. You can also cook Instant Pot steel cut oats with frozen fruit! Frozen strawberries or raspberries would be delicious. Add a drizzle of honey for more sweetness.
- Dried Fruit. Stir ¾ cup dried fruit, such as dried cherries or golden raisins, into the Instant Pot before cooking. Top with a drizzle of honey for added sweetness.
- Pumpkin. Stir in 1 cup pumpkin puree into the Instant Pot before cooking. This version would be delicious with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg. For a slow cooker pumpkin version, check out my Pumpkin Overnight Oats.
- Apple. Chop 1 or 2 apples into small pieces, and stir them into the Instant Pot before cooking. If you love apples in your oatmeal, you’ll love my Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats.
- Banana Bread. Slice a ripe banana, and stir it into the Instant Pot before cooking. The end result will taste just like banana bread. YUM!
- Super Food. Stir chia seeds or flaxseed meal into your cooked steel cut oatmeal. You can add these to individual bowls, or to the entire Instant Pot, either before or after cooking.
- Nut Butter. Stir a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter into your bowl of cooked oats. Peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter would all be delicious.
To Make Ahead
Steel cut oatmeal reheats well so it’s great for meal prep. You can even freeze portions if you like.
- Refrigerator Method. Prepare the oats as directed, and let cool. Place equal portions of your oats in separate airtight storage containers and refrigerate. You can also add fruit into each container. Reheat one portion at a time throughout the week. If your oats become too thick, add a little milk or water when reheating. The oatmeal can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezer Method. If you prefer to freeze your portions, cook the oatmeal as directed and pour it into the cups of a muffin pan. Set the muffin pan in the freezer until oatmeal is frozen solid. Once frozen, place oatmeal cups in an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of milk or water. The oatmeal can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Recommended Tools for Making Oatmeal
- Instant Pot. For making delicious oatmeal in no time!
- Measuring Spoons. These are ideal for measuring your oatmeal ingredients.
- Ladle. Easily transport your oatmeal to bowls and storage containers.
A warm bowl of filling, cozy steel cut oatmeal has been just the morning fix I’ve needed to get (and keep!) me going lately. I hope it hits the spot for you too. If you try this recipe, please leave a comment. I love hearing from you!
Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or water*
- 2 cups steel cut oats do not use any other kind of oats
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey optional; add more to taste
- Toppings of choice fresh fruit, chopped toasted nuts, chia seeds or flaxseeds, additional maple syrup or honey, splash of milk
- In a 6-quart Instant Pot, stir together the water, almond milk, oats, salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Cover and seal. Cook on HIGH pressure (manual) for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Carefully remove lid.
- Give the oats a big stir. Carefully taste (they will be hot!) and add additional cinnamon and/or maple syrup to taste. The oats will continue to thicken as they cool. Ladle into serving bowls and serve hot with any desired toppings.
- *UPDATE on 3/10/21: Some readers have reported seeing "burn" warnings when using dairy milk. I have not had this issue personally, but to be safe, I recommend using almond milk or water.
- If using an 8-quart Instant Pot, reduce the pressure cook time to 3 minutes. If using a 3-quart Instant Pot, cut the recipe in half.
- TO STORE: Place oatmeal in an airtight storage container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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I’ve tried to use this recipe many times over and granted, I prefer to use mostly homemade nut milks instead of mostly water, 9 times out of ten, it get food burned. Is that a common theme with oats? Or is using too much nut milk the culprit? Has anyone else had any issues when making steel cut oats in their InstantPot?
I’m sorry to hear you are having trouble with the recipe Victor. Is there any vapor escaping when your instant pot comes up to pressure?
I tried it once again and again it burned. This time though, I sat there and watched it and I did notice it was taking it’s sweet time to properly seal, it never did. All of that moisture escaped as steam. I’ve been using the less setting thinking perhaps the normal setting was too hot. Cranking it up to more seems counter intuitive, but should I be using the more setting? I’m curious as to why instant pot recipes almost never tell you which of those setting to use. They almost always specify pressure, but not heat. What setting should I use?
If you have moisture escaping, then it’s the seal the issue and that would need to be fixed. Some models for Instant Pots do not have that more setting and I would not use it myself.
Love steel cut oats, really love the ease of now making in the instant pot, and the recipe turned out perfectly. So many comments so not sure if this was addressed, but you can also freeze them for quick easy meals. Just fill muffin/cupcake tins and freeze, once frozen pop them into a ziplock bag or container, store in the freezer. Use as needed by placing in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of milk or water/microwave for approx 1.5 to 2 minutes for each serving. With some good toppings, one can fill you:)
Hi Swan! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This recipe is terrible. It burns inside instant pot “FOOD BURN” and it stops cooking short of specified time, leaving oats raw.
Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe. The amounts, flavorings and timing have worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too! I know it can be so disappointing to try a new recipe and it not turn out for you.
No it isn’t. It’s a great recipe-I’ve been doing it for months with zero issues. Try getting a new pot or learn to follow the recipe before leaving a trash review.
Awesome recipe! Have used it for many months, and each batch always comes out great. Not sure why people are having an issue with the “burn” warning. Maybe make sure all your ingredients are correctly mixed.
Hi Jason! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This was my first attempt at make steel cut oats. They were phenomenal. I used full fat raw cows milk with no issues. It was quite thin when I first opened the pressure cooker but it thickened up quickly. I will definitely be making again.
Hi Sara! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I’ve never even used an instant pot before. Tried these 6 months ago and now it’s all I have for breakfast. By rotating fruits and adding the brown sugar crumble topping it’s always a little different and always delicious. Great recipe. For those having issue, I don’t understand. Maybe try sticking to the recipe instead of adding this, that, or the other. Thank you for sharing.
Hi snibbb! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Did you make a typo in the ingredients? I used 4 cups water (no milk) and 2 cup of steel cut oats, along with the flavorings. I have an Instant Pot 6QT model. Cooked according to the times you listed 4 minutes High with 10 minute natural release. It turned out extremely thick and I had to thin it out right away. Yours was the first recipe I looked at. I then checked other recipes and they all use 5 cups liquid for 2 cup of steel cut oats. Did you make a typo?
Hi Ginger! Nope, there is not typo. The method and ingredients have worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too.
We have been steel cut oat fans since a blogger I read featured an “overnight oats” recipe several years ago. I forgot to prepare the oats last night and decided to see if I could find another quicker preparation. I am new to the Instant Pot and I was tickled to find this recipe. The results were excellent! There was a perfect “chew” level to them and they were delicious. Husband asked me if I toasted the oats before I cooked them like I do in the overnight recipe. I hadn’t, but am wondering if that would be an issue using your recipe. It does add a nice nutty quality to the overnight oats and I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t do the same to this recipe- not that they need any enhancement. What do you think of toasting the oats prior to “Insta-Potting” them?
Hi Sue! I haven’t tried it myself but a few readers have toasted theirs in the instant pot on the saute function with a little butter. I think either way you toast them is fine and shouldn’t affect the recipe. Hope you enjoy it!
This recipe came out so good. The next time I make this recipe, I am going to add 1 extra cup of almond milk. We like our oats creamier. Thank you & Merry Christmas 🎄
Hi Christina! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! Happy New Year!
Thanks for the recipe! I too have had the burn notice but the next time I added all the ingredients to a metal mixing bowl and then put it in the instant pot. No burn notice.
Thanks for the feedback Jeann!
I really only looked at this to find liquid to oats ratio and time. Mix-ins are whatever I have on hand. Right this moment I have a sliced apple, handful of dried cherries, and a pumpkin pie spice going. I’ll add frozen blueberries, butter, and either maple syrup or brown sugar for eating. I do pot in pot for oats, and it works well for cleanup. 1 cup of water in bottom, then trivet, then pot with the ingredients. I also like making this the night before and refrigerating for the next day. The leftovers microwave real nice with some milk or water.
Hi Noelle! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Maybe there’s an issue with my pressure cooker, but I’ve made this twice (the second time adding an extra 2 cups of liquid) and both times I got a water warning, because the oats sunk to the bottom and burned.
It’s still edible afterwards, so I’m sure this is a good recipe, I just can’t make it work.
Hi Cole! Sorry to hear about the warning. It’s not something I’ve experienced before. Is there any steam escaping when it comes to pressure?
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With a recipe that’s 100% useless. No ingredient amounts! Seriously!?
Hi Joe! I’m so confused, because I see it on my end! The recipe is in the recipe card, right above the area where you commented. You can also click the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the screen to get you there faster. Could you please check again!
I followed the recipe as directed and was thrilled with the results. I’m going to try popping some into silicon muffin molds and freeze them according to other reviews! So yummy and easy. May I ask when I could add dried fruit to these? It seems like it would be a tasty treat!
Hi Tiffany! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! I’m sure you could add some in after they are cooked! Enjoy!
I’ve made this three times with canned coconut milk. I may be able to shed some light on when it burns. The first and third times I made it with standard steel cut oats from my grocery store. Everything was fine. The second time I made it with Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats. They are smaller (more cut up?) and a different texture than standard steel cut oats. That one gave me the burn warnings and the others didn’t.
Hi Just The Fax! Thank you so much for taking the time to give us feedback on why you get a burn warning! Very helpful!
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