The Perfect Bowl of Steel Cut Oats

It's Tuesday morning. Your alarm clock goes off. You hit snooze. Once. Twice. Three times. Okay, now it's really time to get your butt out of bed and downstairs to start breakfast. As you peel the cozy blankets off of yourself and your feet hit the freezing floor, a chill runs up through your body. Brrrr. What's a better gut-warming breakfast on a chilly morning than a piping hot bowl of oatmeal? Easy, NONE! But, please, don't even think about cooking up one of those little packets of instant oatmeal that claims to taste like apple cinnamon when it doesn't actually contain any apples or cinnamon. Real, healthful oatmeal is easy peasy to make, even before you've had your first cup of joe in the morning. Your happy body, warm gut, and wallet will thank you for the (slightly) extra effort.


 Saying oatmeal is a breakfast staple in my household is a gross understatement.  We eat it more mornings than not and on the mornings I shake it up and, say, make something as crazy as scrambled eggs or pancakes for breakfast, my 3-year-old weeps (literally) for her beloved oatmeal.  So, I've had many, many, many oppertunities to fine tune my oatmeal making skills. 

Steel cut oats are from the same plant as traditional rolled oats (the flat flake variety), but are just processed differently. The oat grain of steel cut oatmeal is cut into thirds with a sharp, steel blade instead of being rolled flat into rolled oats. Steel cut oatmeal and rolled oatmeal are nearly identical nutritionally, with the exception of steel cut being slightly lower in calories, fat, and holding a lower position on the Glycemic Index.  

My family opts for steel cut oatmeal because we love the dense, chewy texture of it. It's such a chameleon of breakfast cereals, as you can doctor it in any way your little heart desires. My husband claims he never tires of his breakfast bowl frequently brimming with oatmeal because I make it different each day. While making steel cut oatmeal isn't rocket science, it can be one of those finicky dishes that is a bit temperamental about how it is cooked.

The Perfect Pot of Steel Cut Oatmeal

Serves 4

1 cup steel cut oats

3 cups of water/milk (milk makes it creamier. Half water, half milk is also acceptable)

1. Bring water to a rolling boil on high heat. Stir in steel cut oats. 

2. Cook for 20 minutes on a low simmer uncovered stirring occassionally


That's it. Really! I often will put on the oatmeal to cook and either drink a cup of coffee on the couch in front of the morning news or jog up stairs to finish getting ready while it simmers away, returning to the stove now and then to give it a stir. Stirring is important. No stirring= big clumps of oatmeal. No bueno. 

So, now that you have this lovely bowl of oatmeal in front of you, what do you put on it? I've got you covered. Below is a list of all the things I use to make oatmeal interesting each day. Mix and match. Add and subtract. Have fun with it! Don't take oatmeal too seriously, people.



For something sweet: 

sliced peaches


sliced mango

pomegranate seeds  

sliced apples



sliced bananas

dash of cinnamon

whipped coconut cream* 

peanut butter*

maple syrup*


coconut sugar* 

cocoa powder* 

*use in moderation


For something with a crunch:

pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) 

chopped walnuts

pecan pieces  

sunflower seeds

slivered almonds

chia seeds

chopped cashews


For something savory :

Yes, savory oatmeal! Remember, oatmeal is a chameleon and can take on whatever form you want. If you aren't in the mood for something sweet, don't walk past the oatmeal bowl quite yet. Try out these savory ideas  

a poached egg

sautéed kale  

sauteed spinach


nutritional yeast

sesame seeds

soy sauce

sea salt

black pepper


crushed red pepper



sautéed mushrooms  


Now, go! Cook and eat oatmeal! And be merry and full!