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.
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!)
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!
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!)
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.
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
Overnight Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Banana
- 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
- 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.
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