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!
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.
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.
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:
- 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).
- Combine all of the oatmeal ingredients in that container and then place the dish in the middle of your slow cooker.
- 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?
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!
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.
Nothing beats a self service buffet when you have a gaggle of guests, especially if you’re not a morning bird.
Love oatmeal in the morning? Check out some of our other favorite recipes for this belly-warming breakfast.
- These Banana Nut Baked Oatmeal Cups are perfectly portioned - great for breakfasts on the go!
- Our Blueberry Baked Oatmeal and our Raspberry and Cream Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal recipes highlight just how irresistible the combination of juicy berries and oatmeal can be.
Check out all of our Breakfast & Brunch recipes!
- 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
- ½ 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)
- Place heatproof bowl in your slow cooker. Stir together milk, mashed banana, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt and oats in heatproof bowl. 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.
- 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, if desired.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen in individual portions. Gently reheat with enough milk for desired consistency.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 5gSugar: 16gProtein: 9g