Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats recipe with Bananas

by | Mar 23, 2020 | All, Breakfast & Brunch

A warm, make-ahead breakfast with just a few minutes of prep? Yes, it’s possible thanks to this Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats recipe. Made with bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg, a bowl of this oatmeal tastes just like homemade banana bread! 

Three white ramekins filled with Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas. Garnished with brown sugar, fresh banana slices and walnuts.

Last week’s cold snap reminded me how much I love warm breakfasts. 

Truthfully any type of hot food was welcome during that freakishly freezing weather, but there is something so comforting and satisfying about a toasty bowl of oatmeal to start the day. Plus steel-cut oatmeal always keep me full for the entire morning. 

This Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Bananas recipe creates a tempting aroma that coaxes even the sleepiest of heads out of their warm beds in the morning. I think it tastes just like banana bread in oatmeal form.

The best part about this crock pot oatmeal? All the hard work is done while you sleep. That’s my type of breakfast.

A bowl of Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats garnished with bananas and pecans in a slow cooker water bath.

Difference between Steel Cut Oats, Rolled Oats and Instant Oats

If you were to place bowls of each of these oats next to each other, you’d immediately notice that they look different. Steel cut, rolled and instant oats may all be oat groats, but the difference between them lies in how much they have been processed. The more they have been processed, the quicker they cook.

  • Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been chopped into two or three pieces. They almost look like rice and retain much of their shape when cooked along with a slight bit of “chew”. Because they are minimally processed, steel cut oats take the longest to cook but retain the most nutritional value of all oats.
  • Rolled oats are just that – oat groats that have been steamed and rolled flat. They also hold their shape fairly well when cooked but their cooking time is shorter than steel cut oats because of their additional processing.
  • Instant oats are the fastest cooking oats and are actually made from rolled oats. (You might also see them labeled as quick oats.) These oats are pre-cooked, dried and then rolled. You’ll find their texture is a bit mushy when cooked.

Note: pay attention to the type of oat called for in your recipe. They cannot be interchanged without adaptations to other ingredients (like liquids) and cooking times.

Cooking steel cut oats

As I mentioned above, steel cut oats take the longest to cook of all the types of oatmeal. So plan on babysitting them for about 30 minutes if you make them on the stovetop.  (Looking for a stovetop recipe for steel cut oats? Check out this one from Cookie & Kate.)

Avoiding that extended cooking time is exactly why I love this slow cooker method for cooking steel-cut oats. Basically I can enjoy the chewy texture and rich flavor of steel cut oats with hardly any effort. (Can I get a Heck Yeah!?!)

All the ingredients for this oatmeal recipe are stirred together in a dish and placed in slow cooker the night before. It’s an almost completely hands-off recipe that reaps huge flavor rewards just hours later because not only will breakfast be made but your whole house will smell like freshly baked banana bread.

Tip: Toast your steel cut oats in a skillet for a few minutes over medium heat before adding them to the recipe for a nuttier flavor.

One white ramekin filled with Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas on a gray plate. Surrounded by banana slices, walnuts and a spoonful of brown sugar.

How to cook Steel Cut Oats in the slow cooker

Oatmeal cooked in a slow cooker can be notoriously fickle. Some units run hotter than others, and removing the lid hours later often reveals crusty, overbaked oatmeal.

The solution? A slow cooker water bath! (If you’ve ever baked a cheesecake in a water bath, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the same concept applied to oatmeal.)

A water bath helps to keep the baking temperature as consistent as possible during the baking process. Even, moist heat ensures the oatmeal cooks at the same pace (no crusty bottoms or hard edges). And it’s really no extra effort other than finding an additional container and pouring in the water.

Follow these tips for using a water bath in the slow cooker:

    1. You’ll need a large slow cooker for this recipe. Place a heat proof container inside it (I used CorningWare, but Pyrex would work well, too).
    2. Combine all of the oatmeal ingredients in that container and then place the dish in the middle of your slow cooker.
    3. Add enough water to the slow cooker until it is about an inch or so below the top of the dish. Then step back and let ‘er cook.

That tiny bit of effort ensures your oatmeal cooks gently and evenly in its toasty water bath. And no overcooked edges or bottoms means no scrubbing crusty, baked-on oatmeal out of your slow cooker the next day.

I mean, really, who wants to do dishes first thing in the morning?

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats is nestled in a water bath in a slow cooker. Oatmeal is garnished with sliced bananas and pecans.

Storing cooked oatmeal

This Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas keeps for a week in the fridge and needs just a bit of milk when reheating to bring the leftovers back to their glory, just like our popular Baked Steel Cut Oats with Apples and Cinnamon recipe.

You can also freeze portions of cooked oatmeal which is an awesome idea if you have more leftovers than you need or want to have something quick and easy for breakfasts on the go. Simply spoon portions of the cooked oats into freezer-safe containers. When ready to use, reheat gently in the microwave along with some milk.

Voila! Breakfast is served!

Gray bowl filled with Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Bananas.

Steel cut oats for a crowd

Hosting a houseful for the holidays? This slow cooker oatmeal recipe has an advantage if you have early risers as guests because you can set out the toppings – brown sugar, walnuts or pecans and bananas – next to the slow cooker and have guests help themselves whenever they wake up in the morning.

Pop a tray of these make-ahead Cherry Almond Smoothie Shooters in the fridge before you call it a night and consider breakfast done.

Nothing beats a self service buffet when you have a gaggle of guests, especially if you’re not a morning bird.

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas in white bowls. Oatmeal is garnished with fresh banana slices and walnuts.

Love oatmeal in the morning? Check out some of our other favorite recipes for this belly-warming breakfast.

Check out all of our Breakfast & Brunch recipes!

Yield: Serves 6

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Bananas

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Bananas

Why choose between banana bread and oatmeal when you can have both? This overnight Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats recipe with bananas smells and tastes just like banana bread with all the nutritional benefits of steel cut oatmeal.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed or pureed until smooth (I used frozen ones I had in my freezer)
  • 4 - 6 tablespoons brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like your oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (do not substitute quick cooking or rolled oats as the consistency of the oatmeal will be off)
  • Water (for water bath)
  • Toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
  • Banana slices, optional
  • Brown sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine milk, mashed banana, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt and oats in a heat proof bowl. Place in your slow cooker and fill the slow cooker with enough water so it is about one inch from the top of the bowl. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
  2. When ready to serve, carefully remove hot bowl from slow cooker. Gently stir oatmeal until it is thoroughly combined. Serve with nuts, banana slices and extra brown sugar.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 6gSugar: 20gProtein: 10g
Make breakfast effortless with this easy, overnight recipe for Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Bananas. All the hard work is done while you sleep and your reward is a bowl of hearty steel cut oats that tastes just like banana bread!

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46 Comments

  1. Avatar

    What a wonderful idea!!! That looks, and sounds fantastic! I have always been too scared to try crockpot oatmeal as I have heard too many horror stories…..and would like to have more than 6 hours sleep! This will be great to try! Thanks so much! I need to keep up my carbohydrate level for my high level of training, and oatmeal is a wonderful way to fuel up before a workout or race! Giving this a try asap! Thanks!

    Reply
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      Hoping this hits the spot for you, Tina. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
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        Great recipe! As a nursing mother, oatmeal is so important, it helps keep your supply up! It gets old after having it so often though, this looks like a fantastic twist! Thanks!

        Reply
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          Gotta keep mama happy to power through those early morning feedings! Thanks for stopping by, Hannah.

          Reply
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      At our house we use an outlet timer for our crockpot (the kind that you would use to automatically turn lamps on and off while on vacation). It turns the crockpot on and off automatically so we don’t have to worry about over cooking anything and we can still get enough sleep! I thought I’d pass along the tip to you. Sleep + a yummy breakfast = the best of both worlds!

      Reply
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        I never thought of that, Mary. Genius!

        Reply
  2. Avatar

    YUM! I eat oatmeal every single day for breakfast, but have never made it in the crockpot! I love that I could make this ahead and have breakfast ready for the week. Perfect!

    Reply
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      It’s always nice to have a new option to shake up the morning routine, right? Hope you enjoy it, Taylor!

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Since becoming pregnant I have eaten a lot of oatmeal–it keeps me feeling full and I know I can add the healthy good stuff to it. Love this slow cooker version! Delicious and easy to make! Thanks for sharing! Pinning!

    Reply
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      That baby is going to be an oatmeal lover! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    I love the water bath tip! I have to eat better breakfasts, I think this is the perfect way to kick of my new meal plan! Pinning this for sure!

    Reply
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      The water bath rocks. No more crusty, dried out oatmeal edges!

      Reply
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      Amen. It’s nice to have breakfast taken care of so (if you’re like me) you can focus your attention on herding kids out the door.

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    I’m not a huge oatmeal fan, but a total banana bread fan so I need to try this ASAP!

    Reply
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      Hoping these steel cut oats win you over, Marnely!

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    So this is gorgeous! Love your little water bath tip!!! Now if I could just get my kids to eat oatmeal…

    Reply
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      Maybe a little extra banana, brown sugar and pecans will do the trick!

      Reply
  7. Avatar

    This looks great! I’m not a morning person AT ALL, so I’m always on the lookout for easy breakfasts that are still substantial.

    Reply
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      Perhaps the aroma of this oatmeal will make waking up a little bit easier, Lauren!

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    Awesome trick with the water bath!!! Oatmeal is my winter breakfast staple, and I love the make ahead technique.

    Reply
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      Making this in the Crock Pot allows for just a few extra minutes of sleep in the mornings…who can’t use that?

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    So smart and so pretty! I would never have thought to use a water bath to keep the oatmeal from dying out!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Nicole, it was new to me, too, but it sure is slick!

      Reply
  10. Avatar

    Warm comforting oatmeal in the morning…yes. Scrubbing dishes in the morning…no way!!! I love the great tip on using another dish inside the crock pot to bake it evenly!!

    Reply
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      The water bath is one of those slap-your-forehead-why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before moments. 🙂

      Reply
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      Thanks, Jessica. You can’t beat waking up to breakfast that’s already made!

      Reply
  11. Avatar

    LOVE crockpot oatmeal and this version looks phenomenal!

    Reply
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      Thanks, Rachel!

      Reply
  12. Avatar

    For a variety could you use other fruits instead of bananas? Mashed or pureed – Strawberries, peaches, blueberries or apples? Maybe a mixture of two? Would it still taste as good with all other ingredients, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, milk and just use whatever toppings you like?

    Reply
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      Hi Diane, I haven’t made the recipe as written with any other ingredients, but it seems pretty forgiving. Apples seem like the easiest fruit to substitute, but give it a try with the other fruits you mentioned and simply omit the cinnamon until you taste the finished product. You can always stir it in before serving if you still want it. Or you may find another spice suits the flavor better. Happy experimenting!

      Reply
  13. Avatar

    Made this oatmeal last night-what a great way to wake up this morning! It was so yummy and the water bath worked perfectly!

    Reply
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      Yay! So glad the Baumanns enjoyed it!

      Reply
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        Can’t wait to make this. Just wondering, how big of a Corningware dish did you use for the 3 cup milk 1 cup oats batch? Want to make sure it doesn’t overflow while cooking. Also do you think I could use water or almond milk for this? My LO has a dairy sensitivity.

        Reply
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          I used my 1.6 L round CorningWare dish without any issues. And definitely experiment with the liquid of your choice. Enjoy!

          Reply
  14. Avatar

    What if I don’t have a crock-pot? Is there anyway around this?

    Reply
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      Hi Lauren, You can certainly make the oats on the stovetop (with the milk) and then mix in the remaining ingredients while everything is still warm. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  15. Avatar

    This looks great – one quick question. I usually make my oatmeal with water instead of milk, do you think this recipe will hold up with this substitution?

    Reply
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      Yes, feel free to substitute water for milk. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  16. Avatar

    I’m a novice at this. What would be a “heat safe bowl” appropriate for a crock pot? I have glass bowls that say “Conventional oven, microwave safe, no stovetop, no broiler use” but don’t know about crock pot. THANKS!

    Reply
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      Hi Lisa, good question. Anything that says oven safe is perfectly fine for the crock pot. I used a corningware bowl if that helps at all. Enjoy!

      Reply
  17. Avatar

    What a brilliant idea!!!!! I cannot wait to make this for the weekend. So glad to have found this site.

    Reply
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      Thanks for stopping by, Keisha. Hope you enjoy the oatmeal!

      Reply
  18. Avatar

    Looks like I found something to substitute my cereal in the morning!

    Reply

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