Along the lines of the savory application of olive oil and on yogurt that changed our view of breakfast a while back, putting butter and pepper — and other savory flavors —on steel cut oats shifts them into the realm of delectable savory and provides much better fuel (for us) than sweet. But toothsome, cross-cut oat groats can take a long time to cook.


But when we wake up, we want our steel-cut oats NOW, not 30 minutes of cooking later. We found a brilliantly simple solution to having-our-steel-cut-oats-and-eating-them too at the Kitchn.  Do this simple 3-minute trick before you head for bed and they’ll be ready to heat when you come into the kitchen in the morning. We like to make enough for several days and “bank them” in a sealed container in the fridge.

Put the oats in a pot with water with a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover.No recipe is necessary. Just follow the proportion of water on the package (or figure 1 cup steel-cut oats to 3 cups water; add up to an additional cup water if necessary). 

Come morning, they will be ready to heat. If you like them very soft, a mere 5 minutes more of cooking will do the trick. 


Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider


We find butter, salt and pepper turn them sublime (the fat in the butter anchors the carbohydrates in the oatmeal to keep us from getting an energy dip).

steel cut oats with butter white bowl


Here are some other ideas:

—A sprinkling of freshly grated Parmigiano, or other hard aged cheese, gives them a risotto-ish savor. Bits of crisp pancetta or bacon would be great if you have the energy.

—Oats are swell with shredded sharp cheddar and a fried or soft-boiled egg on top.

—Curiously, peanut, almond or hazelnut butter stirred in can be deeply satisfying.

—Other fats can be delicious: roasted walnut, fine extra-virgin olive oil and sesame oil are our favorites. We could imagine bacon fat (with bits of bacon) would give oats a smoky, cooked-over-a-wood fire taste.

—A friend loves buttermilk, butter, salt and pepper.

And of course, the oats can be easily moved sweet with the addition of maple syrup, honey, brown sugar…


steel cut oats w butter dtl


Tonight we’re testing another cool trick at the Kitchn that turns steel-cut oats into a nutty, chewy Grape-Nuts’ish cold cereal: pour 1/4 cup of steel-cut oats into a bowl, then mix them with about 1/2 cup milk. If you like, spike them with a bit of cinnamon, grated orange zest and/or a few raisins or other dried fruit. Then refrigerate overnight.

By morning (if all goes well),  they will have softened enough to eat. Sweeten to taste, add sliced bananas or berries, and nuts etc as you would cold cereal.

Faith Durand/The Kitchn
Faith Durand/The Kitchn

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7 replies on “Steel Cut Oats Go Savory (+ a Trick for Having Them Ready in a FLASH)

  1. I discovered the “quick” version accidentally a few weeks ago. I had tried overnight soaking with moderate success. One sleepless night I decided to get up and “do something useful,” which sometimes helps me sleep, so I brought the soaking oats to a simmer, turned off the heat, and went back to bed. Sure enough, when the alarm went off at 5:40 they were ready to eat as soon as I reheated them. I’m more of a sweet breakfast kind of guy, though, so I’ll be sticking to my go-to frozen blueberries, brown sugar, and cream. Margaret finds that too “desserty” so I have a feeling she’ll try some of your savory ideas. She’s on a turmeric paste kick at the moment . . . hmm, that might be worth a go. Or, wow, nice compromise: saffron/almond.

    Thanks, Sally! I’ll go through my workday musing on steel-cut oats. Far better than most of my recent topics!

  2. I put mine in a slow cooker and in the morning it’s ready to eat. Kosher salt and butter! Fantastic.

  3. Thank you, Sally! Will try this tonight. I like a savory breakfast. too. Soy sauce, cilantro pesto. An egg on top or hard-boiled chopped & mixed in. Mmhmm.

  4. Thanks, Sally, great tip! Love my oatmeal, but wasn’t making it because of time. Tried peanut butter with bananas and milk. Awesome!

  5. Curious. What made you do that particular action: “brining to a boil and turning off the heat”?
    I believe we are led to things, or divine our way somehow, to make these little useful discoveries.

  6. Wow! Lots of yummy sounding suggestions to try. I bake my oatmeal in the afternoon and have it for dinner. Then I have leftovers that I can microwave another day. I’ve got some in the oven right now. I’m going to try it with salt, pepper, butter and Parmigiano. Sometimes I go savory, sometimes sweet. When I need a sweet treat I have a combo based on Turtle candies . . . pecans, caramel, chocolate. Sometimes I add shredded coconut. Dropping in some homemade marshmallows and chunks of chocolate is fun. It all melts and swirls.

    Here’s the recipe I follow for baking . . . Two-minute Weekday Oatmeal . . . I only use 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

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