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, 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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