Maybe I have old-fashioned taste in breakfast, but if I could only have one morning meal for the rest of my life, it would be a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. Today, I’m going to be sharing how to cook Steel Cut Oats that are creamy and perfect every time. They’re endlessly customizable, never mushy, and can be made ahead for healthy breakfasts all week. If you think oatmeal is bland, unappealing, or (as one reader expressed) you “just can’t get into it,” this foolproof steel cut oats recipe is worth another chance.

How to cook steel cut oats. The secret to making perfect steel cut oatmeal on the stovetop that turns out perfectly every time! Healthy and low calorie, this is the only oatmeal recipe you need. Simple, vegan, and high in fiber, steel cut oats keep you full all morning long.

Growing up, we always had a box of fruity-flavored oatmeal packets stuffed under the bottom shelf of our pantry. They were sugary (that part I didn’t mind) and microwaved up into a kind of slop that would change tints depending upon what flavor of fruit it was supposed to imitate. Strawberry was a dull, sad pink; blueberry was gray; peach was…well, we never did figure out what to call that color.

Then, I became older and wiser. I bought the oatmeal packets without the sugar. They tasted terrible. No wonder people thought oatmeal was terrible!

Then, at long last, I was in a cute cafe where I spotted something called “steel cut oats” at the top of the menu. Feeling somewhat magnanimous (but mostly curious) I decided to give this steel cut oatmeal business a chance.

SOUL MATES. In place of the bland, textureless muck that had been my prior bowls of oatmeal, steel cut oats were thick and creamy, pleasantly chewy and nutty, and left me feeling satisfied in a deep, wholesome way that I thought was reserved only for those who practice yoga.

Steel cut oats make a delicious, healthy breakfast.

The difference between steel cut oats and the instant oatmeal I had been eating is like comparing different foods.

Are Steel Cut Oats the Same as Rolled Oats or Instant Oatmeal?

In the sense that all come from the same grain, yes. How they are processed, however, is different, which is why making a bowl of oatmeal with each of the different types of oats yields different results.

  • Steel Cut Oats: The best bowl of oatmeal. The oats are left whole and cut into pieces with a steel mill. Steel cut oats are the least processed and therefore maintain the best texture when cooked. They also take the longest amount of time to cook (as you will see, it’s worth waiting). If you need them ready in a hurry, this Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats recipe is perfect. 
  • Rolled Oats: A respectable though not otherworldly bowl of oatmeal. The oats are steamed and pressed flat. If you are in a big hurry and need breakfast in a few minutes, rolled oats are reliable option. They are also my favorite for baking (steel cut oats stay way too crunchy).
  • Instant Oats: Just say no to a bowl of instant oatmeal. These are rolled oats that are cut into small pieces. By the time you heat them, they lose all texture (hence, mushy). Instant oats work nicely in some recipes where you don’t want the oatmeal to maintain its complete texture, like these Healthy No Bake Cookies, but would not be a good choice for a tasty breakfast.

If you’d like to make overnight oats, I recommend this overnight steel cut oats recipe, which is served cold and one of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts during the warmer months. If you are are cooking for a crowd, these slow cooker steel cut oats are another option.

For a cozy, everyday breakfast, however, a steaming, creamy bowl of classic stove top steel cut oatmeal is my forever love.

Easy Steel Cut Oatmeal. Top with berries, nuts, or nut butter to make your perfect bowl!

How to Cook Steel Cut Oats

STEP ONE: Pick Your Liquid.

  • For every 1 cup of steel cut oats, you’ll need 3 1/2 to 4 cups of liquid, depending upon how thick you’d like them to be (less liquid = thicker steel cut oatmeal).
  • I like to do a mix of water and milk to make the steel cut oats extra creamy. You can use any kind of milk you like. I typically opt for almond milk (perfect if you need vegan steel cut oats). If you are feeling indulgent (or are Ina Garten or the Pioneer Woman), whole milk is indisputably delicious.

STEP TWO: Place the Liquid, Oats, and SALT in a Saucepan.

  • Note the emphasis on salt above. Add a good pinch for each cup of steel cut oats.
  • I always recommend kosher salt, which has a clean taste. Also, because the grains are larger, you’ll more easily avoid over salting your food.
  • Salt won’t make the oats taste salty. Rather, it wakes up their flavor and helps ensure the oats are not at all bland.

STEP THREE: Bring to a Boil, Reduce to a Simmer.

  • Let the oats simmer for about 20 minutes to start. You don’t need to babysit them. Simply stir the oats every now and then to make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom and to remind yourself how delicious this bowl of steel cut oatmeal is going to be.

Classic stove top steel cut oatmeal is a healthy breakfast that is endlessly customizable.

STEP FOUR: Choose Your Texture.

  • Once the oats have been simmering 20 minutes, they’ll need about 5 to 10 minutes of additional simmering to reach their ideal texture.
  • “Ideal” is defined by YOU, the oatmeal chef! Like your oats more chewy? Stop cooking them sooner. Softer, thicker, and creamier is more your style? Let them go the full half hour. Thirty minutes is my personal steel cut oatmeal sweet spot.
  • The oats will continue to thicken as they cool, so don’t panic if they seem too thin.

STEP FIVE: Top ’Em Off!

  • This is the fun part. Oats are a healthy blank canvas for any of your favorite toppings and mix-ins. Fresh fruit, nuts, peanut butter or almond butter, and chia seeds are some of my go-tos.

This steel cut oats recipe will change your breakfast forever! An easy step by step recipe with lots of ideas for topping.

How to Store Steel Cut Oats

Since steel cut oatmeal takes longer to make than I typically have time for on an average weekday morning, I like to make a double batch on weekends and store it for healthy breakfasts all week long.

  • To refrigerate: If you are super organized or want to be able easily grab a single serving, portion the oatmeal into individual containers. You can also just put it all into one giant container, then scoop your desired amount into a bowl the morning you heat it up. Steel cut oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • To freeze: Portion your desired amount of the cooked oats into your container of choice. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

How to Reheat Steel Cut Oats

  • Place the steel cut oatmeal in a microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan. Add a good splash of milk or water. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, stirring a few times throughout and adding more liquid as needed to keep it from drying out.
  • Note on portions: Oatmeal quadruples when it’s reheated. OK, don’t quote me on that exact math, but I find that by the time the oats absorb the extra liquid, I end up with a much larger serving than it appeared when I first scooped it into my bowl.

Questions? Thoughts? Confessions of oatmeal love (or hate!)? LET ME KNOW!

I’d love to hear what you think about steel cut oats, along with any of your favorite toppings.

How to cook steel cut oats. The secret to making perfect steel cut oatmeal on the stovetop that turns out perfectly every time! Healthy and low calorie, this is the only oatmeal recipe you need. Simple, vegan, and high in fiber, steel cut oats keep you full all morning long.

Steel Cut Oats | How to Cook the Perfect Bowl

4.83 from 62 votes
How to cook steel cut oats. The secret to making perfect steel cut oatmeal on the stovetop that turns out delicious and creamy every time! Healthy and low calorie, this is the only oatmeal recipe you need. Simple, vegan, and high in fiber, steel cut oats keep you full all morning long. Easy to make ahead and you can add any of your favorite toppings.

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings (about 4 cups)


  • 2 1/2 cups water plus additional as needed
  • 1 cup milk any kind you like (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 cup  steel cut oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt do not omit this!
  • Toppings and mix-ins of choice see blog post above for suggestions


  • Place 2 1/2 cups water and milk in a medium/large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • As soon as the liquid boils, stir in the oats and salt. Return the mixture to a steady boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low so that the oats are at a gentle simmer. Don’t walk away from the pot at this point, as oats sometimes like to boil over. If your oats start to foam up and you are concerned, lift the pan right off the heat and let it settle down a bit before returning the pan to the heat to finish cooking.
  • Let the oats gently simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping along the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. At this point, judge how chewy or creamy you’d like your oatmeal. For softer, creamier oats, continue cooking for 5 to 10 additional minutes, stirring every few minutes until the oatmeal is as tender as you like. If the oatmeal becomes thicker than you’d like, splash in a little extra water or milk to thin it out to your desired consistency.
  • Remove the oatmeal from the heat and let sit a few minutes to finish thickening. Enjoy hot with any of your favorite toppings.


  • Leftover steel cut oatmeal is a meal-prepper’s dream! Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, either as one large batch or in individual portions. Oatmeal will thicken as it chills. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove with an extra splash of liquid to thin it back out.
  • Steel cut oats are also very freezer friendly. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1(of 4), about 1 cupCalories: 158kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 5gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gFiber: 4gSugar: 1g

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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 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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  1. I never cared for oatmeal but love this recipe! I pan toasted the steel cut oats before adding them to the liquid. I topped my bowl of oats with fresh honey crisp apples, pan toasted thin sliced almonds and cinnamon! Delish!5 stars

    1. Me, too. I wasn’t a big fan of oatmeal until I tried steel cut oats. Love honey crisp apples. It does sound delish. Thank you for the idea. I also add flaxseed to mine for health reasons.

  2. I heated the steel cut oats in a microwave ; then the cereal gushed out of the bowl onto the glass plate in the microwave. I tried cooking the oats for 30 seconds. SAME PROBLEM.
    How to prevent the oats from gushing out of the bowl; even when there is a plate over the bowl.

    1. Hi Robert! I’m sorry you are experiencing this problem. I’ve never had it happen before so not sure how to stop it from happening.

    2. Hi Robert!
      I may be too late! But to prevent boil over in the microwave be sure to use a bigger bowl. Hope this helps or someone answered your query.

    3. Robert,
      If it’s gushing out of the bowl then try it with only the water. It’s the milk that’s causing the problem. Hope this helps

    4. You need a much larger bowl than you think you would. I use a medium size mixing bowl for a single serving when I nuke them.4 stars

  3. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Will definitely try with True Elements steel cut oats as they are really good and a clean label food brand. You can also give it a try!5 stars

  4. Thanks for sharing this, I use true elements steel cut oats and they gave me the perfect texture that I required for this recipe. Once again thanks!5 stars

  5. Wonderful recipe. So creamy. I’ve never been able to make it this yummy. Thank you so much. The tips on reheating & freezing AWESOME 👍👍👍5 stars

    1. Hi Rebekah! Are you saying that is what you used? As stated in the post I recommend almond milk, which is my preferred milk in these oats. You should definitely not have a slimy goop on top if you are stirring occasionally.

      1. I made this recipe as written. I added fresh strawberries, walnuts and raisins. It is delicious. I made my oats with 2% milk and it does form a goopy film. I skimmed it off a few times, but ultimately ended up stirring it into the oats. Did not effect the flavor5 stars

  6. The first time I made steel cut oatmeal I did not like it. I was trying to make them just like the hospital recipes. I gave up on them until my daughter ( not knowing my bad experience) brought me a bulk size box. I found this method and gave it another try. it turned out to be perfect…thank you, I can finally enjoy this oatmeal again5 stars

    1. Hi! I do not recommend baking with steel cut oats. I normally used rolled oats. Hope you enjoy this recipe if you give it a try!

  7. I would like to know the measurements for one person using the microwave, Don’t really want to make a large batch the first time. I have never used steel cut oats. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jane! I haven’t tested this recipe out using the microwave, so I am not able to give you instructions on that. But this is freezer friendly, so you could make the batch and then freeze it into portions. I have all of the notes on how to do this in the blog post and on the bottom of the recipe card. Hope this helps.

  8. I use 3 dried cereals: 1/4 cup rolled oats, 2 tbl steel cut oats and 1/4 cup quinoa n 1 1/4 cups water. Boil water put in cereals and cook for about 15-20 min. Comes out thick and nutty and cooked enough. It’s real hearty. Thanks for the receipt. BH in Ohio.4 stars

  9. Hi Robert,
    I hope you haven’t given up on reheating your oats in the microwave. If you’re still having the boil over issue maybe I can be of help but as a disclaimer, “I make no guarantees”. 😆
    I agree with Anna L. regarding her suggestion that you use a larger bowl. There is also the possibility that you covered the bowl too snugly. Being a starchy food, just like beans, potatoes, rice etc. they are likely to boil over the top of the bowl if it’s covered too snugly. The pressure created when the food bubbles needs to escape. Hopefully you can solve your problem by using a larger bowl and venting the cover you’re using so the pressure can escape. Good luck & let us know if it helps.

  10. I’ve eaten steel-cuts almost every morning for years. I cook about 4 cups at a time, good for 3-4 days for two. I add chopped fresh ginger, chopped dried apricots, almonds +/or walnuts, and raisins as I cook them. I add real maple syrup, bananas and apples, and oat milk as I eat them. I eat them cold on days 2-4. Every day I am amazed at how lucky I am to never tire of this delicious meal.

  11. Great instruction, clear and timed appositely. Oatmeal is perfect every time. It’s also introduced me to Kosher salt… no going back to ‘ordinary’ salt now.
    I’ve experimented with fruit and frozen, pitted cherries are excellent along with all the usual suspects.
    Thank you. A great guide.5 stars

  12. I don’t know what I did wrong, or maybe I’m just sensitive to salt, but that 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt was awful. My husband and I both took a bite and went oh my gosh why is this so salty. He even thought maybe I had put in too much but I showed him the drying quarter teaspoon on the rack…
    Followed the recipe just as you said it. I love the unsweetened almond milk, that’s my go-to milk and I liked how it made it a little creamy. But my tongue is screaming from the saltiness! Is there a scientific reason that we should not omit it as you noted in the recipe? Because I plan on trying this again, but definitely without salt. I can’t even taste my blueberries in it, literally all I taste is salt…

    1. Hi Jen! I actually covered this in the blog post under “STEP TWO: Place the Liquid, Oats, and SALT in a Saucepan.” but you can adjust it based on your taste if you need too. Also, wanted to double check that you did use kosher salt and not table salt? Hope this helps!

  13. This is delicious. Nothing like regular oats.
    Used unsweetened almond milk and water and was not slimy. Ate it unsweetened without any add ins and love it at 30 minutes cook time.
    Want to try it with flaxseeds to make it even healthier.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.5 stars

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