Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Steel cut oats (almost instantly)

I am an oatmeal fanatic, and I used to be perfectly happy with regular old Quaker oats. Then I tried steel cut oats and I haven't been able to go back. Specifically, I love oven baked steel cut oats. I've tried the short cut method of cooking them in the crock pot overnight and they turned out gooey and I was severely disappointed. Baked in the oven they come out chewy and delicious and I could eat them everyday.

The problem? Steel cut oats take time, about 30 minutes on the stove or about 45 minutes in the oven, and I don't have that kind of time in the morning. You can cook them in big batches, but I am the only oatmeal eater around here, and I hate the pressure of having 10 servings of oatmeal waiting in the fridge.

So I'm trying something new. I cooked up a double batch of oven baked steel cut oats, in all their chewy goodness.

The full batch, fresh from the oven

And then I spooned the oats into a muffin tin, let them cool down, and stuck them in the freezer.

"Oatmeal muffins" about to be frozen

Once frozen, I popped them out (this was slightly harder than it sounds, so I recommend letting the bottom of the muffin pan sit in hot water, briefly, just to loosen them up a bit and then using a fork to pull them out) and stashed them in a ziploc freezer bag and then put them back in the freezer. Each one is about 1/2 a cup which is perfect for me because 1 cup makes a meal and 1/2 cup makes a great mini breakfast. I don't think that the quality will suffer at all, but I'll be sure to update you on the great oatmeal experiment.

All ready to go

Here's the "recipe." It makes a lot of oats, so you might want to cut it in half if you aren't totally committed.

Oven Baked Steel Cut Oats (makes about 16 small servings, 1/2 cup each)
2 cups steel cut oats
5 1/2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
Spices of your choice (I dashed in nutmeg and plenty of cinnamon)

Boil the water on the stove in a large pot. Add the oats and lower the heat to medium-low. Stir and allow to boil gently for 5 - 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the spices and the salt. Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered baking pan with a lid ( I use my two quart pyrex dish and it works great for this large batch). Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Take the dish out and carefully stir the remaining liquid back into the oats. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

If you prefer less chewy oats, you can add more water and cook a bit longer, but I think the chewiness is the best part. Obviously, you can make these much more decadent by using milk instead of water and adding brown sugar or maple syrup. I'm trying to avoid adding sweetener to my food, so I just amp up the spices and they kind of fool me into thinking I am eating something sweet.


This is hands down my favorite way to eat them. Walnuts and plenty of spice. I usually add a drizzle of milk to the top as well.

UPDATE: This plan is working so well! I've been taking a few portions at a time to work and keeping them in the fridge and zapping them in the microwave for about 1 minute 30 seconds. I find that they re-heat best if they are defrosted, although frozen works too. They tend to dry out just a bit, but you can add a little bit of milk or water on top before heating them and that helps a lot. A half cup portion of these oats is so much more filling than the little oatmeal packets I'd been relying on before. And with plenty of added spices, I don't even miss the sugar.


  1. yummmm! that last photo is amazing and makes me crave a bowl of cozy oatmeal. ;-)

  2. YAY for yeast-free food options :) this looks amazing and i sheepishly agree with you since i eat quaker oats slosh every morning.

  3. Rachel, this is perfect for me. I have been wanting to make steel-cut oats for my infant daughter (and myself) because they have more nutrients than regular oats, and the muffin tin idea is perfect since she is starting to eat larger portions now.


  4. This is a great idea. Have you had a chance to try reheating any yet?

  5. i've been doing this all the time thanks to your muffin tin genius! i add a dollop of peanut butter after they are cooked (before frozen) which makes them smell so yummy when I re-heat them.

  6. More than a year after you posted this, I finally tried it. Genius idea- trader joe's sells little frozen oatmeal cylinders that I can just pop in the microwave, but this is much cheaper and super easy!

  7. Nice thought! I actually hadn't thought of cooking them up in batches and storing them in the fridge.

  8. WOW! What a great idea. I can hardly wait to put the pan on the stove top and turn on the oven. Thanks for designing this for all of us.

  9. Another option for freezing is to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and use an ice cream scoop to dole out portions. Stick the whole thing in the freezer, and then lift off paper/put in bags when frozen through.


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