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Steel Cut Oats: Make Once - Eat All Week (Three Topping Ideas Included)

Spoiler alert! Steel cut oats with fig preserves & walnuts

I think by now the excesses of the holidays are firmly behind us, and resolutions– like health and fitness and saving money–stretch ahead.  I’d like to suggest one proverbial stone for these two birds—and that is Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats. They’re incredibly healthy and filling, full of protein and fiber– I definitely notice that the days I start with whole grains like steel cut oatmeal, I can hold out better ‘til lunch. It’s also cheap to prepare; plus you can make enough in one go to last for the week, (like I’m about to describe) and using different toppings helps keep it interesting. Voilà–cook once, and you’ve got hot breakfast for the week.

And most important, they really taste great.  I’ve pretty much sworn off rolled oats and instant oatmeal, because after I tasted steel cut oatmeal, with its nutty taste and firmer texture, I’ve never looked back. No more gluey oatmeal for me.

Steel cut oats straight from the box can be cooked immediately in about 25-30 minutes . . . but I’m not going to wake up 30 minutes early to make them. (I know myself.) Luckily, with whole grains like steel cut oats, a little forethought can save a ton of time. I like the texture best when they’re soaked overnight, and the shortcut method – dropping them into boiling water the night before, then warming them up the next morning after they’ve soaked—simplifies life.

Start with a cup of Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats.

1 cup Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats

Boil 4 cups water in a saucepan, and pour in the oats. (Note: I’ve heard some people use milk, or half milk/half water, but I never have–have you?)

Pouring oats into boiling water

Some foam may develop as the oats hit water—just give it a good stir. It doesn’t hurt anything.

Let them boil for a minute. Now the best part: turn off the heat, cover the pan, and forget about it until the next morning. Really.

Cover and leave overnight

They’re basically done when you uncover the pot the next morning. They’re just cold. (Not exactly what you’d like on a cold January morning.)

Oatmeal's ready, but cold

Warm them on medium low heat for about ten minutes, and they’re ready to eat. You’ll hear them start to bubble lazily, because they’re so thick, and you’ll see the surface pop with big bubbles like molten lava.

You can test the consistency by spooning a bit into a bowl, and seeing how well it keeps its shape. My personal preference is for it to be pretty well set up, and not move or run too much when I tip the bowl. It will become firmer as it cools, too.

You can eat immediately, or refrigerate and heat up single servings in the microwave (mine works at 1 ½ – 2 minutes on medium) or the stovetop on low (with a sprinkle of water and attentive stirring).

Now onto the fun: what will you top them with?

The one thing I believe in, strongly, is a pinch of salt. We think of oatmeal as sweet (most toppings and add-ins are), but the oats themselves are nutty, and the salt brings out the nutty savory-ness in them. If you’ve never tried it, then you’re missing out. I like to sprinkle it on after it’s cooked, because I can use a bit less than when it’s cooked in, and the taste is front and center.

Here are three topping ideas that I’m currently enjoying—these are taste combination suggestions, and where possible I’ve chosen ingredients that can be easily found and stored, so you can keep them on hand and not have to think about breakfast– because it’s just too early to think.

My classic favorite: Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Brown Sugar and Milk

Download this recipe as a PDF

Steel cut oatmeal with brown sugar and milk

  • 1 cup cooked Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. 2% milk (use more or less, to taste)

This is the first way I ever ate steel cut oatmeal, and it’s still pretty awesome. The sugar melts, and the milk cools it all down and flows into all the cracks. If you’re anti-sugar, but still want some sweetness, either maple syrup or honey makes a great substitute.

A newer favorite: Fig and Toasted Walnut Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steel cut oatmeal with fig & walnuts

  • 1 cup cooked Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 Tablespoon fig preserves
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted walnuts
  • Pinch of salt
A friend who always has great ideas for taste combos just introduced me to this. It’s really deep and earthy tasting, hardly sweet at all. The fig preserves are smooth and rich, contrasting with the crunchy walnuts, and it’s a perfect match with the nutty oats.


And my newest favorite —

Chocolate-Hazelnut and Raspberry Steel Cut Oatmeal

I seem to have overdone it on the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Oh darn.

  • 1 cup cooked Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats
  • 1-2 teaspoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
  • 1 teaspoon all-fruit raspberry preserves
  • Pinch of salt

It’s a bit decadent, but the goodness of the oats under it helps keep it grounded. It’s my reward for those days when it’s reeeeeeally difficult to get out of bed. I can only imagine how amazing this would be with actual bits of shaved dark chocolate, chopped toasted hazelnuts, and fresh raspberries on top . . .  but seriously, I can’t be expected to have all three of those things in the house at the same time.

These are my favorites—do you have any? Are you a traditionalist, or an experimenter? (I hear some people do savory oatmeals, and I’d love to hear what works and doesn’t work.) Leave any ideas in the comment section.

Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oatmeal, Overnight Timesaver Method

Boil 4 cups of water in a large saucepan or pot, add 1 cup of Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats. Turn off heat, cover, and leave overnight. In the morning, cook them on low for 10 minutes.


Makes 4 servings. Keep in sealed container in refrigerator up to 4-5 days, and reheat in microwave or on stovetop.

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Author: Erin

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Showing 17 Comments
Avatar  Pittsfield, MA 4 years agoReply

Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats -is this gluten free? Thank you!

Avatar  Erin 4 years agoReply

Hello Pittsfield MA -

Good question - I believe these oats aren't currently processed on dedicated gluten-free equipment, so they're probably not suitable for anyone with celiac disease. I hope that helps.

Avatar  Pittsfield MA 4 years agoReply

Thanks Erin - any suggestions for a gluten free oatmeal? I am not finding one that actually says gluten free on it? Thanks again!

Avatar  Hodgson Mill 4 years agoReply

Hello Pittsfield MA, Our Steel Cut Oats are not certified gluten free and are produced in the same area as our gluten items they are very low in gluten so if you can tolerate low amounts of Gluten you would be fine. We will be having multiple Gluten Free products coming out in 2014 including a line of Certified Gluten Free Oat products that are produced in our Gluten Free environment .

Avatar  Pittsfield MA 4 years agoReply

Thank you - looking forward to the new products!!

Avatar  airport bob 5 years agoReply

Try diced dried prunes+dried raisons /mangoes /apple /cranberries/chopped walnuts and of course -flaxseed

Avatar  [Pingback] 5 years agoReply

<...> a hot breakfast all the more feasible on time-crunched mornings.  You can see Erin’s post - Steel Cut Oats: Make Once – Eat All Week – on how to prepare the oats the night before so that they only need warming in the morning and <...>

Avatar  [Pingback] 6 years agoReply

<...> point for dinner vs. breakfast/dessert. Remember when we talked about how convenient it is to make a big pot of steel cut oats for the week, and using different toppings to keep your meals exciting? It got me to thinking about other, more <...>

Avatar  Erin 6 years agoReply

Lifehacker is getting in on the overnight Steel Cut Oats fun -- has anyone tried this overnight crockpot method? I'm not sure the texture would be up to snuff if it was cooked overnight. Would love to hear.


Avatar  prov31wannabe 6 years agoReply

We (ahem, Daddy) make steel cut oats the night before a lot! But they don't last all week at our house! We have also converted my mom to them! Hubby likes them with molasses. I use salt, nutmeg and anise seed, plus candied ginger when I remember it! Dried cranberries and blueberries, and pecans, sound divine! And chocolate never fails! And flaxseed ~ great idea! Sometimes I really indulge and add some half and half. Steel Cut Oats rock!

Avatar  Erin 6 years agoReply

You rock, too, @prov31wannabe! Ooh ANISE SEED AND GINGER. . . that sounds really interesting! With ideas like that I'm sure they don't last all week chez vous. :)

Avatar  megustajulie 6 years agoReply

How about blueberries and pecans? Or dried cranberries and almonds? Of course any of these is even better with Nutella along side!

Avatar  Erin 6 years agoReply

JoAnne, you out-grained me! Does the flax seed change the texture of the oatmeal, or does it stay obligingly on top while you eat?

Avatar  JoAnne 6 years agoReply

The flax seed stays on top. Can't really taste it, but it makes me feel good to think of all the health benefits:)

Avatar  Becky Howard 6 years agoReply

I use Maple syrup & Cinnamon

Avatar  Erin 6 years agoReply

Yay, another sweet tooth like me! :)

Avatar  JoAnne 6 years agoReply

I use brown sugar, pecan pieces, and a tsp of flax seed

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