If you struggle to find time in the morning to cook yourself a healthy breakfast, then please allow me to introduce you to banana bread Overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats. This healthy crock pot oatmeal recipe is the closest thing you’ll find to living in a bed and breakfast. Simply stir the ingredients together the night before, set your slow cooker to low, and in the morning, you’ll awake to the heavenly scent of warm cinnamon floating through your home. 

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal in a white bowl topped with bananas

If I ignored the dishes, I’d feel a little like I had a personal breakfast chef.

I discovered this method for cooking steel-cut oats in the crock pot the year a series of unfortunate events left us without a stove for almost three months.

I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that without a proper cooktop or oven, I embraced my slow cooker with a passion I didn’t realize I could muster for an appliance.

I’d seen overnight steel cut oatmeal recipes floating around the web for ages, but most were for the cold variety that soaks overnight in the refrigerator. (Check out my version of Overnight Steel Cut Oats!)

While I do adore regular overnight oats (these Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats and this Sugar Cookie Overnight Protein Oatmeal are two favorites), in the winter months, I crave my oatmeal hot.

The issue: On weekday mornings, I’m usually too busy or too unmotivated to stand at the stove and wait for steel cut oatmeal to simmer. My priorities are coffee and finding a pair of socks that match.

The solution: Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats!

2 bowls of overnight steel cut oats next to fresh bananas and cinnamon sticks

What Are Steel Cut Oats

If you’ve never had steel cut oats, prepare yourself for a serious oatmeal upgrade.

  • Steel cut oats (whole oats that have been cut into a few pieces) are significantly less processed than instant oats, which are steamed, pressed, ground, and otherwise obliterated.
  • This means that, unlike instant oatmeal, which has all the flavor and texture of a pile of wet sawdust (oatmeal skeptics, I can sense your nods of understanding), steel cut oatmeal has a hearty, pleasing texture and nutty taste.
  • As a bonus, because steel cut oats take your body longer to break down, they keep you fuller too.

The one downfall of steel cut oats is that, if you make them day of, they can take 30 minutes or longer to cook on your stovetop, which is about 26 minutes longer than I’m willing to wait for my breakfast on an average morning.

Making overnight steel cut oats in the slow cooker solves the problem.

All of the steel cut oatmeal magic happens in the slow cooker overnight, so in the morning, the only waiting you’ll do is for the coffee to brew. (Another example of overnight recipe magic: Crockpot Egg Casserole!) 

slow cooker full of cooked overnight steel cut oats

Flavoring Steel Cut Oats

On its own, oatmeal can be pretty bland, but with a few little tricks, you can turn it into a crave-worthy breakfast.

  • To give my banana bread overnight steel cut oats some pizzazz, I took inspiration from my favorite healthy banana nut muffins, adding mashed ripe bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the oats before they cooked.

The result was a filling, healthy breakfast with the cozy flavor of freshly baked banana bread.

Going along with the Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats banana bread theme, I couldn’t stop myself from topping my bowl with extra banana slices and walnuts.

Combined with the bananas that were mixed into the crock pot oatmeal, this steel cut oats recipe has just the right amount of sweetness for me.

  • If you prefer your oatmeal on the sweeter side, I suspect a drizzle of pure maple syrup or honey will do the trick. Chocolate chips and a giant dollop of peanut butter wouldn’t hurt either.
  • For those who prefer to keep the overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats plain, you can swap the mashed banana for unsweetened applesauce or a few extra splashes of milk to ensure they do not dry out.

Tips for Slow Cooker Overnight Oats Success

  • Either be VERY generous with the nonstick spray or use a crock pot liner. Steel cut oats like to stick.
  • Use regular, long cooking steel cut oats like these ONLY. Any other kind of oatmeal (including quick-cooking steel cut oats, regular rolled oats, quick oats, and the aforementioned instant oatmeal) can’t stand up to the hours in the slow cooker and will degrade into total mush.
  • Every slow cooker is different. If your slow cooker runs hot or does not have a function to switch to “off” or “keep warm” after the cooking time is through, you risk overcooking or even burning the edges of the steel cut oatmeal. If this is the case, my suggestion is to make the slow cooker steel cut oats during the day when you can keep an eye on it, and then reheat it the next morning. This guarantees perfect crock pot oatmeal, and you still have the make-ahead benefit.
  • Hack if you are REALLY worried about the edges burning: stir together the steel cut oatmeal ingredients inside a large casserole dish that will fit inside your slow cooker. Pour a little water in the bottom of the slow cooker, and then place the dish inside (the water should go about halfway up the side of the dish). This creates a water bath and allows a longer cook time.
  • HAVE FUN!

Other Favorite Steel Cut Oats Recipes

  • Pumpkin lovers will flip over these Pumpkin Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats. Bonus: Kids love them too—my 2 1/2-year-old niece eats them daily.
  • I’m also a fan of stirring in a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder into my oatmeal to make it even more filling.
  • Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats. Ideal for making perfect steel cut oatmeal in less time.
  • Also, steel cut oats can be made on the stovetop! Here is how to make the PERFECT bowl of Steel Cut Oats.
2 bowls of overnight slow cooker steel cut oats topped with sliced bananas

How to Store Leftover Oatmeal

This recipe makes a big batch of slow cooker oatmeal, which I guarantee you will be happy to have on hand.

  • You can store leftover overnight slow cooker steel cut oats in the refrigerator for almost a week, and in the freezer for months. To reheat, simply mix your desired portion of steel cut oats with a little water or milk and warm it in the microwave.
  • For meal-prep ease, I also like to freeze my leftover crock pot oatmeal in portioned containers and place a few in the refrigerator to thaw at the beginning of each week. I love waking up knowing that I’m just a few minutes away from a warm, healthy bowl of steel cut oatmeal, with no work beyond lifting my spoon required.

Recommended Tools to Make Overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Overnight Steel Cut Oats. Healthy steel cut oatmeal with the flavors of your favorite banana bread. Just dump everything in your crock pot, and in the morning, it's ready to eat!

Overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Banana

4.46 from 92 votes
Overnight slow cooker steel cut oats that cook while you sleep! With banana, cinnamon, and warm spices, this easy crock pot oatmeal tastes like your favorite banana bread. Just put the ingredients in your slow cooker and in the morning, breakfast is served!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 8 hrs
Total: 8 hrs 10 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 cups steel cut oats do not substitute quick cooking, instant, or rolled oats, gluten free if needed
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups milk any kind you like (I used skim)
  • 2 large mashed ripe bananas plus additional banana slices for serving
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon  freshly grated nutmeg  it’s an amazing flavor upgrade to grate your own nutmeg. I use this zester to do it.
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For serving: chopped toasted walnuts raisins, chocolate chips, maple syrup, peanut butter, or any other mix-ins you enjoy with banana bread

Instructions
 

  • Place all of the ingredients except the toppings in the bottom of a 4-to-6-quart slow cooker and stir to combine: Steel cut oats, water, milk, mashed bananas, flaxseed meal, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours (overnight) or on high for 4 hours, until the oats are soft but maintain a bit of chew. Remove cover and stir to evenly combine the ingredients. Enjoy warm with desired toppings.

Notes

Overnight steel cut oats can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months. To reheat, top desired amount with a few tablespoons of water or milk, then warm in the microwave or in a small saucepan until hot. If the oatmeal is frozen, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator first.
*The ground flaxseed meal I added for a nutritional boost. If you don’t have it or do not wish to add it, simply omit it. You can also substitute chia seeds or hulled hemp seeds.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6, without toppings—about 1 1/4 cups)Calories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 7gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 28mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gCalcium: 139mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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322 Comments

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  1. Quite possibly the worst recipe I have ever cooked. It smelled good but tasted like slop. Way too much liquid is called for1 star

    1. Hi Harry! I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish it would have been a hit for you.

  2. I made this recipe and am very happy with it. I didn’t have a banana that was ripe so I-left it out. It still turned out great. I made this with unsweetened soy milk. Halfway through i saw it was a little soupy. So I added 3 Tbsp extra of the oats and a Tbsp of peach preserves. It came out delicious. Great recipe – thanks for sharing.5 stars

  3. Turned out great! I followed the proportions of my brand of oats (1/4c oats to 1.5C water) and did three servings and it turned out great! Also, using lots of Pam made cleanup easy as well.

    My smaller (3.5qt) slow-cooker does not have a timer, so this probably cooked for too long. I will continue to experiment! Thanks for saving me from the stovetop method.5 stars

    1. Beth, I have a plug-in timer that I set so that I can schedule the oats to start cooking at midnight. I have a 2.5 casserole slow cooker with no timer as well. Love it, wish it had a timer, but this is a good workaround.

  4. Absolutely one of my favorite ready meals to wake to! I enjoy adding some nut butter and maple syrup for added flavor.5 stars

  5. Omg!!!! Made these steel cut oats in slow cooker and just can’t believe the magic. The fragrance about drove me crazy it was so wonderful. My only tweak to your recipe was to add allspice. Erin this is such a winner. Once again you came through. Also congratulations on being Healthlines best cookbook of the year. Well deserved as your recipes are delicious, healthy and doable.
    Thanks much for making these wonderful recipes available.5 stars

  6. Mine didn’t come out at all. It was soupy and not the consistency of oatmeal. Not sure why others who rated got good results.1 star

    1. I’m sorry you had trouble with this recipe, Jennifer. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to say what might’ve gone wrong without being in the kitchen with you. I hoped it would of been a success for you.

  7. Wow Erin, this is my new favorite recipe. I’ve used this template to make steel cut oats a half dozen times now using different spices and fruits. Also made your pumpkin oats. How can something so sinfully delicious be this healthy! Right now it’s in my crock pot with your spices plus garam masala and blueberries to be folded in with walnuts to serve. Thanks again for doable recipes that are healthy and delicious.5 stars

    1. Hi Kerry! You likely could. I haven’t tried it myself and it won’t come out as creamy as it would with milk. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  8. I loved it and it is now my make in advance go to! I can’t wait to change it up with different fruits. It was a little soupy so I just shut the heat of and vented it. It was thickened by the time I finished my crunches. Thanks for posting!5 stars

  9. I made this during the day so I could stir it occasionally and just keep an eye. Turned out GREAT. We’ll see what everyone at the potluck breakfast tomorrow thinks of it, but it smells so good! I subbed chia seeds for the flaxseed meal and the consistency is perfect.5 stars

  10. Really good. Never would’ve imagined long cooked bananas would be so well incorporated and so tasty. Do you think I could add strawberries too?
    Thank you5 stars

    1. Hi Marineh! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! I haven’t tried any other types of fruit but I believe some other readers have with success. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  11. I didn’t have flax seed so added an extra 1/3 cup of steel cut oats as I saw the other comments about it being too soupy (I like thick oatmeal). Also added a tablespoon of maple syrup, about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and a chopped apple. Cooked it on low for 5 hours and saw that it was perfect consistency so turned it off then. It was very good with just the right amount of sweetness! Would make it again!5 stars

  12. Genius! Has become my go to oats recipe. Only thing I do differently is add powdered protein during the cook and dark chocolate chips on the reheat. I double the recipe and freezer most of it in weekly portions. Hell of a recipe! Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi JC! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and feedback on the protein powder!

  13. I woke up to the best smell in my kitchen. Cinnamon and nutmeg. I looked into the slow cooker and there was a black mess of burnt oatmeal. I followed the directions exactly. In fact, I added extra milk accidentally. It was all burned up crusted to the side of my slow cooker. I am so disappointed as I was excited to wake up to delicious oatmeal. I’m not sure people actually make these recipes before they post them.1 star

    1. I’m sorry you to hear had trouble with the recipe! I know it’s frustrating to try a new recipe and not have it turn out. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed them, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too! It’s hard to know what went wrong without being in the kitchen with you.

  14. This turned out great. I followed the recipe and set my cooker for 8 hours on low then it switches to warm thereafter. Very hearty and filling. Didn’t have extra bananas for topping, but that was okay since adding a dollop of peanut butter, bit of honey, chocolate chips, and toasted walnuts ended it tastily. Thank you for this recipe!5 stars

  15. I was looking for an alternative to instant oatmeal and this recipe is great! Other than adding a touch of honey in my serving I made no changes. So much better than plain oatmeal, loved it!
    I cooked it for 8 hours which may of been a bit too long but other than a very messy pot it was great. I did not read the part about spraying ALOT or using a liner but definitely will do that next time.5 stars

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