I’m not usually one to play matchmaker, but I was so firmly convinced that two of my longest-running, most-treasured breakfast besties—overnight oats and steel cut oatmeal—would hit it off that I couldn’t resist the urge to combine the two into a single bowl of Overnight Steel Cut Oats. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a match made for a 1990s rom-com classic! Ever since I stirred together my first batch of make-ahead steel cut oats, it’s been a ride-off-into-the-sunset breakfast love story.
Now, if you are reading this and thinking to yourself, Isn’t the fact that you can use steel cut oats for overnight oats incredibly obvious?, please consider the great fictional romances of our time.
Wasn’t it also obvious that Harry would end up with Sally? That Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were meant to be (twice)? That Ross would finally win over Rachel? Why, yes. But that doesn’t make the evolution of the love story any less satisfying.
The same is true of Overnight Steel Cut Oats.
If you are reading up to this point and wondering, What are overnight oats?, let me give you a brief rundown: overnight oats are dry oats that are stirred together with milk, a bit of sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, and whatever other deliciousness you like.
You can make overnight oats with chia seeds, peanut butter, fresh or dried fruit, and any other mix-ins. The limit is only your imagination (or perhaps your pantry). This Sugar Cookie Protein Oatmeal, for example, includes a scoop of protein powder.
You leave the oatmeal in the refrigerator overnight and then wake in the morning to a bit of breakfast magic.
In the refrigerator, the oatmeal absorbs a portion of the milk and becomes irresistibly creamy. You give it a stir, pour it into a bowl, and sit down to reap the benefits of a filling, healthy, delicious breakfast that took seconds to prepare.
Overnight oats are typically enjoyed cold, similar to muesli. If you prefer a hot oatmeal that can be made overnight, you can check out my Overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats. If you need a hot oatmeal that can be made in minutes, check out my Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats.
So, What’s the Difference between Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal and Every Other Overnight Oats Recipe?
Up until the point of making this recipe, I’d always made my overnight oatmeal with rolled oats (a.k.a. old-fashioned oats). Rolled oats are whole oats that have been steamed and pressed, so they cook more quickly and have a more pliable texture. Overnight oats made with rolled oats are more creamy than chewy. They are also delicious. Start with my Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats and see if you agree.
Steel cut oats are closer to their original harvested state. They are not steamed but instead are cut into pieces with a steel blade (hence the name “steel cut”). Steel cut oats are chewier and nuttier.
The firmer texture of steel cut oats means they take longer to cook, but your reward is a bowl of oatmeal that has the most perfectly pleasing texture and is never ever mushy. Steel cut oats are also higher in fiber than regular rolled oats, and I find that they keep me fuller for longer.
Generally, you never want to substitute steel cut oats for rolled oats in a recipe, because the two have such different textures…
…unless, of course, you want to try making overnight oatmeal using steel cut oats, which is exactly what I did for us here!
(If you’d like to know more about the difference between different types of oats, this guide briefly explains).
Overnight Steel Cut Oats—Fall Asleep Dreaming of Breakfast
Overall, I found that I loved overnight oatmeal made with steel cut oats. It was definitely chewy and nutty, but in a way that I found refreshing and enjoyable.
I recommend soaking the steel cut oats for at least 10 hours before eating. They’ll be super chewy but yummy on Day 1 and will continue to soften throughout the week. Even on Day 5, the Overnight Steel Cut Oats still had a nice texture and were not at all mushy. Hearty oats only, please!
Falling asleep knowing that I don’t need to worry about a healthy breakfast in the morning gives me peace of mind. Being better rested is one of my Four Intentions for 2018, and of the four, it’s been my biggest focus so far.
I hope this Overnight Steel Cut Oats recipe gives you better sleep too. I’ve made dozens of versions of overnight oats, and today’s is the best steel cut oats recipe I’ve tried yet. Once you see how yummy it is, I think you’ll fall asleep dreaming about it too!
If you were hoping for an overnight steel cut oatmeal mason jar recipe, I have you covered there as well.
I recommend waiting until Day 2 to divide the steel cut oats into the mason jars, as they need at least one full night to soak up the liquid. Doing it right away was less convenient in the end.
Waiting to divide the oats also makes it easier to add other yummy mix-ins you know you’ll want in every jar too. Personally, I love my overnight steel cut oats with chia seeds, and if you were looking for overnight oatmeal with peanut butter, ME TOO! You’ll find a suggested amount of nut butter in the recipe as well.
I can’t overstate how flexible these make ahead steel cut oats truly are. If you need an overnight oatmeal vegan recipe, use almond milk or any other nondairy milk you love. Want to pack in some extra protein? Stir in a scoop of protein powder or Greek yogurt. Don’t have any fresh fruit on hand and want to use dried or frozen? GO FOR IT! Chocolate chips? YES!
I’ve come across a few leads on a hot overnight steel cut oatmeal recipe, so that’s my next experiment. Any other overnight oat requests? Send ’em my way!
Recommended Tools to Make Overnight Steel Cut Oats
- I love these stacking mixing bowls.
- These containers come with lids, and the large size is perfect for refrigerating a batch of make ahead steel cut oats.
- One batch of this overnight steel cut oatmeal will tightly fill four 12-ounce mason jars (if you’d like a larger portion or want to have plenty of room for fruit, use pint-sized mason jars).
- Favorite mix-ins: chia seeds, flaxseeds, and protein powder.
Overnight Steel Cut Oats
Overnight Steel Cut Oats—Base Recipe:
- 1 3/4 cups milk any kind you like (I use unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter or other nut butter of choice, optional but delicious
- 1 cup uncooked steel cut oats you can also use quick-cooking steel cut oats; the final oatmeal will have a softer, less chewy texture
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Chia seeds flaxseeds, or hemp seeds
- Protein powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Citrus zest I love orange zest with honey and cinnamon!
- Dried fruit favorites: reduced-sugar dried cranberries, raisins, chopped dates
- Fresh fruit or frozen and thawed fruit
- Toasted almonds walnuts, or pecans (add just before serving to maintain the most crunch)
- An extra drizzle of honey or maple syrup
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, honey, nut butter, and any protein powder you may be adding until smooth. Stir in the oats, salt, and any other optional additions (wait to add fresh fruit or nuts so that they stay fresh/crisp). Cover the bowl tightly with plastic (or transfer it to an airtight storage container) and refrigerate overnight or for up to 5 days.
- When ready to serve, stir the oats and portion the desired amount into your bowl. (At this point, you can also divide the oats into individual containers and refrigerate for the week.) Top with any desired fresh fruit, nuts, or other toppings. (If placing the oats in individual jars, feel free to add toppings to each, as they will store fine this way. If storing as a single larger batch for the week, I find it is best to wait to add the fresh toppings/nuts until just before serving so that they don't all sink to the bottom.) Enjoy cold and congratulate yourself for your breakfast-planning prowess.
- Leftover steel cut oats can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Their texture will soften as they sit, so if they are too chewy for you on Day 1, you can let them hang out a bit longer.
- The first day, the oats will be more liquidy, but they will continue to absorb more of the milk throughout the week. If at any point you'd like more milk, simply splash a little on top of your bowl or pour more in the individual mason jars if you are storing the steel cut oats that way.
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