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

4.53 from 72 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
    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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276 Comments

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  1. We all loved this recipe! Speaks volumes because my daughter has had oatmeal so much she won’t normally eat it anymore. She told me this was the best oatmeal she ever had. We will surely make it again. Garnish with chocolate chips ;)5 stars

  2. Made this today and they smelled really good for a while. Not sure what happened. I used the good steel cut oats and set on low for 7 hrs. At 4 hrs I took a peek and they were a soupy mush with no bite to them at all. (Like a pack of instant oatmeal except they didn’t have any flavor either.). I thought the 6 cups of liquid was a lot since the regular cook method calls for 4 cups, but since I never did oats in a crock I decided to follow the recipe exactly (for once in my life).
    (The only thing I did different was I used 2 small bananas from the freezer. And I used a crock pot bag, which I had never done before.)

    1. I’m sorry to hear that this didn’t turn out for you, Catherine. It sounds like the oats overcooked. Every slow cooker is different, and yours might be extra powerful. I would try cooking it for even less time and see how that goes. I hope you were still able to enjoy them!

  3. Made this twice now and absolutely love it. Only adjustment I made was maple syrup instead of vanilla because that’s what I had on hand. Wow. This is the best. The house smells like banana bread. The taste and texture are perfect. I also tried the instant pot version of this recipe but much preferred the slow cooker version. I never thought I’d be passionate enough about an oatmeal recipe to write a review for it but here we are! Thank you for a great recipe!5 stars

  4. Question… If I add chia seeds instead of, or in addition to the flax seeds, do I need to add more liquid? I know chia seeds absorb a lot, but not sure how that might affect the cooking outcome? Is it better to add them afterwards? I only ask because you suggest adding it in the recipe as an alternative and am curious how it turns out. I usually add both flax and chia to already cooked oatmeal so don’t know how they do being cooked.

    1. Hi Alli! You can simply swap in the chia seeds for the flax seeds, and other readers have made this swap with success. I haven’t tried adding both, but that may require a little extra liquid. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

    1. Janell, the full recipe card is just above the comments. You can use the “jump to recipe” button at the top too.

    1. Hi Ryan! Unfortunately, I don’t have the information for this recipe in grams. You should be able to find some charts online that will help you convert the ingredient amounts. I hope this helps!

  5. Tried cooking it on warm as I was afraid to overcook and left it precisely 7 hours. I just have to agree with so many others….. soupy goopy mess. Perhaps there are just different kind of oatmeal preferences, mine is not mush and that’s all this turned into. I tried to save it by adding more oats when I woke up to get back the nutty chewy texture, I think I just wasted more oatmeal.

    1. Hi Kirsty, I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you. I know it can be disappointing to try a new recipe and not have it work out, so I really wish you would’ve enjoyed it!

    1. I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed it, Michalene! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  6. Follow the recipe to a T! But unfortunately the oats weren’t very sweet. I think my bananas could have been riper. I will probably try to add some brown sugar to it for sweetening.3 stars

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and sharing your results, Megan! I hope you enjoy it even more next time!

  7. Taste and texture were really good. I used quick cooking steel cut oats, added 4 egg whites and cooked in slow cooker for 1.5 hours. Also added more salt and some Splenda. Was great with chocolate chips and maple pecans. Will definitely use this recipe again.4 stars

  8. Absolutely the BEST breakfast recipe for the whole family! My 6 year old son loves this so much he asks for it every week! He loves alternating between chocolate chips and blueberries/strawberries as a topping. I follow the recipe as is and only added 2 tbs of brown sugar for a little bump in sweetness for my son and I as we have a sweet tooth :-)! I also alternate between the flax seed, chia seeds and hemp hearts for a little extra nutrition boost. Another week of awesome steel cut oats in our house for breakfast! My son will have a huge smile tomorrow morning when he smells and sees his oats in the crock pot!5 stars

  9. Taste: okay if you add sweeteners like dried fruit, maple syrup, agave syrup,… The banana doesn’t taste good after so long.
    Texture: completely dried out to a crust on the sides if you use the overnight option. Inside on the dry side of creamy.
    Ingredients: I like that it’s a healthy porridge without processed sugar and with the addition of flax-seed for omega fats.

    Conclusion: if I make it again I will shorten the time to 5-6 hours on low. Otherwise add extra liquid. I had apple sauce in my fridge, maybe that would have worked better but was scared of the sides burning… happened anyway.2 stars

    1. Sorry to hear this didn’t turn out as expected! I know it can be frustrated when trying a new recipe and it doesn’t go as expected. Did you happen to use my suggestions on how to make them plain or any of the tips on making these as success that I outlined in the blog post?

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