Though I’ve run across many recipes for steel cut oats on my favorite blogs and inside my most dog-eared cookbooks, somehow the fact that steel cut oats are infinitely better than their old-fashioned counterparts escaped me. Steel cut oats are so creamy that they seem positively indulgent—so decadent that I can’t resist eating tiny bowlfuls for dessert. If you haven’t given steel cut oats try yet, please do. I promise you’ll never look at oatmeal the same way again.
If, like me, you’ve avoided steel cut oats because they require more time on the stove, I assure you that they are worth the effort in spades. The process is largely passive, so you can set the timer and forget about it for a while. I made this big batch last weekend and it has proven to be plenty for all five weekdays thereafter. I just reheat a bowlful with a bit of extra milk and top it with a big spoonful of yogurt. Breakfast is served!
As usual, when I want to learn how to cook something right the first time, I turn to The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook for the proper technique. The test kitchen tried cooking oats every which way and determined that they are best when toasted first, and cooked with one part milk with three parts water. If you’ve tried steel cut oats any other way, please let me know how these compare!
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoon water
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Stir constantly for about 3 to 6 minutes, until the cranberries pop, the sauce thickens and turns red. That’s it!
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup almond milk (or other milk: cow’s milk, coconut milk, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Zest of one orange and juice of one orange
- Cranberry sauce (recipe provided above)
- Optional garnishes: toasted and chopped pecans and/or yogurt
- In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, melt the butter (or coconut oil) in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Toast the oats, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, around 1½ to 2 minutes.
- Stir the oats into the simmering water/milk mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is very thick.
- Stir in the salt. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. The oatmeal should be very creamy at this point. Stir in the orange zest and juice, and let the oatmeal stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- Portion into bowls and top with cranberry sauce, toasted pecans, a splash of almond milk and/or Greek yogurt.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Just substitute coconut oil for the butter, and choose a non-dairy milk.
Make it gluten free: Use certified gluten-free steel-cut oats.
Preparation tips: If you ignore the orange zest and juice part of the recipe, you'll have a basic recipe for super creamy steel cut oats, which you can top any way you'd like. Nut butters, fruit (fresh or defrosted), toasted nuts, compotes, jam and honey are all good ideas. Greek yogurt is highly recommended.