Savory oats! Have you tried them? I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. I’m accustomed to oatmeal that tends toward the sweeter side. After publishing my “perfect” steel-cut oats recipe, a few of you recommended trying savory oats. Oats are whole grains, after all, so why wouldn’t they be good with savory toppings? Polenta and risotto are creamy like oats, and they’re great with savory toppings.
I cooked some up and stirred in extra salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper and cheese (Parmesan). Then I topped one bowl with a fried egg and both with lightly dressed, lemony arugula. I was skeptical for the first few bites, but now I can vouch for the idea.
I can’t claim that my choice of toppings was the be-all, end-all of savory oats, but I’m offering it as a starting off point. Think of savory oats as an alternative to a stir fry—they’re both cheap, veggie-packed, improvised dinners, perfect for busy weeknights. I keep my pantry stocked with Bob’s Red Mill’s steel cut oats, so savory oats are always an option.
My next savory oats might feature sautéed mushrooms (like this) or sun-dried tomatoes for some extra-savory umami flavor. Sturdy greens (like kale or collards) sautéed with garlic sound epic. What sounds good to you?
Savory Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Savory oats are a great clean-out-the-produce-drawer weeknight dinner recipe. You can make them for breakfast and brunch, too, of course. Recipe yields 4 modest servings (about ¾ cup each), so I’d double it if you’re feeding 3 or more people, or want leftover oats for later.
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup neutral-flavored milk of choice (like cow’s milk or plain, unsweetened almond milk) or an additional cup of water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 cup steel-cut oats (choose certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Mix-in ideas: grated cheese or nutritional yeast, drizzle of additional olive oil or pat of butter, sautéed veggies or greens, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and/or ground spices
- Topping ideas: toasted chopped nuts or seeds, fried/poached/scrambled eggs and/or lightly dressed fresh greens
- In a large saucepan, combine the water and milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, melt the butter or warm the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is sizzling or the oil is shimmering, add the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, around 2 minutes. This toasting step greatly enhances the flavor of the oats.
- Stir the oats into the simmering water/milk mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick.
- Stir in the salt. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to prevent scorching on the bottom, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. (If you have doubled the recipe, your oatmeal might need an extra 5 minutes cooking time here.) The oatmeal will be very creamy when it’s done.
- Remove from heat and let the oatmeal rest for 5 minutes before serving so it has more time to thicken up and cool down a palatable temperature. Season to taste with additional salt (I added another ¼ teaspoon), pepper and optional spices. Stir in any mix-ins that you’d like now.
- Portion oatmeal into bowls and add any toppings you’d like. Let any extra oatmeal cool completely before covering and refrigerating.
Recipe adapted from my perfect steel-cut oats recipe.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Use olive oil instead of butter, non-dairy milk (or water) and don’t add cheese. Sun-dried tomatoes or sautéed mushrooms would add some umami, and nutritional yeast could add some cheesy flavor. Don’t add eggs if you’re vegan.
Make it gluten free: Use certified gluten-free steel cut oats (Bob’s Red Mill makes some) and make sure your toppings are gluten free (all of the ideas listed above are gluten free).
Make it egg/nut/soy free: Don’t add anything with eggs, nuts or soy. :)
▸ Nutrition Information
This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!
Yay, finally a savoury oatmeal recipe!
I’ve been having a lot of oatmeal in the mornings recently and have been looking for ideas to change it up.
Thanks for the great inspiration – it looks so delicious!
I love my oats with a nice fresh half avocado on top…. Simple but delicious! I look forward to adding a fried egg to that combo as I think it will be a perfect addition. Thanks for the idea!
I don’t know why avocado and oats don’t belong together. I’ll have to give that a try soon!
This looks good. I always say never knock it until you have tried it, and I often make my morning porridge with turmeric, ginger, and yoghurt. It is delicious. Coconut or regular milk.
That sounds like an amazing, warming combination! Yum!
Porridge with salt is the only way we are used to eating it in Scotland although now the sweet influence is permeating our traditional dish but as long as we can get our kids to eat this wonderful grain it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. The Highlander armies here (like Braveheart) carried a bag of oatmeal and a bowl with them everywhere they went and that was their staple food.
I love that! Thanks, Irene!
I actually don’t care for sweet things for breakfast. I know – all my friends think I’m weird too! For the past several years, my favorite morning food has been cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice or oatmeal, usually) + sauteed vegetables (spinach, tomato and onion is my current fave) + over-easy egg + red pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil and possibly some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. So healthy, and yet it feels like such a treat! Can’t wait to try your recipe. I love the idea of the dressed fresh greens on top.
For what it’s worth, I always opt for savory at brunch! The sweet options are always SO sweet that they give me a stomachache. Your breakfast sounds amazing!
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
Yum! I haven’t tried savory oatmeal yet but savory works well with quinoa…so why not! Nothing like breakfast with a little dose of veggies.
I was just scouring the internet for savory oatmeal recipes yesterday. Somedays I just don’t want to start out my day with cinnamon and sugar. I can’t wait to try this!
Perfect! Hope you enjoy it!
Your fried egg steel-cut oats with arugula looks amazing!
It made me think about my recently prepared miso-ginger sauce from the NYT cooking web site; its great on everying I’ve tried it with so far, and I bet it would be good on the oats, too.
My usual is oats mixed with chopped pear, ginger simple syrup, and a dollop of yogurt.
Well, I am intrigued by that miso-ginger sauce. I haven’t been able to find plain yellow miso anywhere around here, though, which is really irritating! I’ll hunt it down once I find some. Your pear-ginger oats sound stellar.
Thanks, Kate. The savory oats with the miso-ginger sauce was amazing. I am trying to cut down on my sugar intake, and this savory oat concept is brilliant.
Taylor @ The Girl on Bloor
I’ve been seeing savoury oatmeal popping up all over the place and it is such a genius remix of what used to be bland, boring oatmeal. Loving this combo with some arugula and chilies!! So simple but yummy!
I adore savory oatmeals! I made one with curried butternut squash and chickpeas. Sauteed the oats in olive oil for a few minutes, then tossed in fresh ginger and chicken broth. Topped with the curried squash and chickpeas. Never thought of topping with egg!
Oh man, I love the sound of your savory butternut oatmeal!
I agree! This idea sounds amazing! You’ve got me salivating over here!!
So this is brilliant! I have two bags of BRM’s steel cut oats collecting dust in my pantry because I’m…nervous?…to try and cook them! For some reason, they seem so much more intimidating than the rolled variety. I think I’m going to give this a try!
It is time! Hope you give them a shot soon. You could totally make a batch, divide them into individual portions and play around with sweet/savory versions.
This is actually the first I’ve heard of the savory oats trend. It still feels weird when I think about it but you’ve convinced me that it would be awesome to try. I think sun-dried tomatoes sound really good (especially if there’s feta thrown in there too).
Susannah I. Sherwood
Thanks for your inquiring mind and willing palate! I prepare a big batch of savory oats as though couscous, i.e., toasted first in garlic oil, rather than as wet, gruel-like porridge or risotto. In this way the oats keep as well as cooked rice to become the basis of any filling, tasty, nutritious main or side dish.
Oh, I love that! I’ll have to try your way soon.
This is a recipe I definitely wouldn’t think of but you’ve convinced me it’s worth trying!
I love your flair for risk in an effort to put excellent food into the body. Thank you! This is delicious. Brainstorming your invitation to share my thoughts, I think that because oats can lean towards a little bit mushy, it could be nice to take your lemon idea to the next level with a Key Lime Steel Cut Oats, using the oats for the crust, an egg custard with lime, and topped with perhaps crushed pecans? A sort of creme boule direction?
That sounds delicious to me! I have a curd recipe on the blog that could easily be made key lime…
Try steel cut oat risotto with mushrooms and roasted cubes of butternut squash! A bit labor intensive for breakfast but great for dinner or lunch.
That sounds amazing!!!
rachel @ athletic avocado
I love this change up to regular sweet oats. I must say that I was a little skeptical when I was first reading but you made them look so good that I have to give them a try :)
I usually do oats with a drop or two of sesame oil, kimchi, and a fried egg. I swear I could eat that every morning.
Sesame oil and kimchi! I never would have thought of that.
Ooooh i’m gonna make this topped with roasted broccoli and an egg and report back.
I’ve never tried savory oatmeal. I’m hesitant but willing to give it a try!
Yum! My favorite savory oats at present are butternut squash soup overnight oats and oats + curry paste. Post more! Post more! :)
I’ll try! :)
Amazing idea with non-sweet oats! I will be giving it a try soon!
Thank you for your recipe and inspiration :)
Do you have a recipe for the lemon dressing?
I don’t—it was just a dash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
So glad everyone is coming around to savory oatmeal!
Six days a week I do steel cut oats with Parmesan cheese, peas, quick fried shallots and a fried egg. It is so perfect I don’t even put hot sauce on it.
I’m definitely going to have to try some lemony arugula soon!
Thank you for sharing!!
Thanks, Carlin! Your version sounds awesome!
I grew up eating savory oatmeal. My mother would salt the oats when cooking and then put butter on top to melt. She would then pour a small amount of milk on top–the melted butter would create golden pennies!
I’ve never liked the sweetened cinnamoned flavored oats.
Made this today for lunch – added sauteed mushrooms, stirred in a large tablespoon of homemade hummus, topped with some greens and a little olive oil. Very filling and hubby says we’ll make it again. I couldn’t believe how creamy the oats turned out – just like risotto but healthier.
Thank you for posting, this has completely changed my oats game!! I just warmed up some leftover roasted veggies we had for dinner last night (yams, green beans, peppers, onions, and mushrooms) and tossed it in the cooked oats and much to my surprise, it was delicious!! It’s a great way to use up those leftover veggies. And thanks to all the previous comments, I have no shortage of ideas!!!
I’m looking for overnight cold oatmeal recipes that use steel cut oats – rather than old fashioned rolled oats – along with fresh or frozen fruit and a liquid (like unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, etc). Do you have any recipes like that?
I’m also looking for simple Mason jar salad recipes. Do you have any of these on your site as well?
Thank you in advance for your help!
Hi Fran, I’m sorry, I don’t have any cold overnight oat recipes. I do have a mason jar salad recipe over here!
Just made overnight steel cut, yummy, after some internet research. 1. Toast the oats as directed while water comes to a boil (same 3 C H20 to 1 C oats). 2. Add the 3 C H2O to the oats, stir to mix then simmer for 1 minute. 3. Take off heat, give it another stir, cover and let sit overnight on the stove. 4. In the morning, heat up and add the salt and the 1 C dairy (replacing some of the milk with yogurt or buttermilk adds an interesting tangy note, but whip first (Alton Brown) and let cook for another 10 minutes or until texture is as you desire. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat as needed.
I’ve been using your website for a few years, and recently found myself Googling “savory steel cut oats.” Low and behold, your website popped up. I made these recently for a potluck, and they were a huge hit. Thank you for making so many delicious, simple vegetarian recipes! They have honestly become my go-to staples, and I couldn’t be more grateful for you blog. Keep up the amazing (and amazingly delicious) work!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Gwyneth! I really appreciate them.
Just came across this blog. I am from India and savoury oats are extremely common here. It is one of my favourite breakfast meals. Lightly saute onions and tomatoes, add a pinch of salt and turmeric (turmeric is optional), chilli powder and any other vegetable you may like (peas, cut beans, carrots, zucchini etc). Add water and bring it to a boil. Add oats and let it cook till oats become soft and water content is reduced.
Hi Shruti, thank you for your note! Your savory oats sound incredible. Can’t wait to try them.
Savory steel cut oats! YUM! My husband laughs at me and turns up his nose but this is one of my favorite breakfasts: Steel cut oats freshly cooked, chopped raw crimini mushrooms, chopped chard and fresh sprouts. The chopped vegetables will cook some in the hot oats. Mix in tamari soy sauce, a little sesame oil and a splash of mirin. Try it sometime!!
Thanks, Gail! That sounds like a winner!
Made this today for lunch & was sceptical I would like savory oatmeal. I sauted up some fresh spinach & parsley with garlic & Montego Bite spices. Fried up some farm-fresh eggs to go over the top. Even my son who doesn’t like “green plants” scarfed it down. THANK YOU! It is going into my recipe book for future use. Yummy!
Can I use this recipe as make ahead breakfast or meal ? Like your apple steel cut oat meal recipe.
Hi Pravin! You could definitely make the oats in advance and portion them out. I would recommend waiting to add toppings so they stay fresh.
Just curious…has anyone else tried using broth instead of water/milk?
Yes! I have been making steel cut oats with chicken broth for years. I usually just top it with green onions, Parmesan, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It is delicious!
Very late to this but I had a savoury oatmeal w roasted chickpeas, roasted corn, and spiced coffee syrup in it. It was amazing.
I really like this recipe! I eat oatmeal usually strictly for the nutritional content, but I really have never enjoyed the sweet flavors the are usually served with it. I shove it in my mouth as fast as possible to get it over with while getting the fiber before work. I woke up early to make this recipe today and it was great!! I’m excited to try more veggies and add an egg (I was out today) to switch it up a bit! Thank you for opening my eyes to the world of savory oatmeal :)
I’m happy you liked it, Rachel! Thanks for your review.
Just tried this with sun dried tomatoes and a fried egg. Really delicious. It’s a great idea for when you’re craving oats but don’t want a sweet breakfast. Thanks for putting this out there!
Very easy to make! And very tasty! I was surprised that it turned out so well even though I’ve never made savory oatmeal before.
I made this with some of the liquid replaced by bone broth. I added andouille sausage, summer squash, spinach, green onions and lemon to mine. It was PERFECT. Honestly the best food for cold rainy days.
Loved this recipe! So delicious! My husband’s comment was: “I didn’t think you are porridge!”. And I don’t, not the sweet-ish, texture-lacking stuff that comes out of the microwave.
But after reading about steel cut and then discovered that I can have a savoury option, I thought I’d try it!
And I’m addicted.
I had it for lunch (not into breakfast), but happy to have breakfast food at lunch!
And I can always add more stuff to it, if extra hungry (like the egg featured in your image), or chickpeas, I don’t know just now. Just grateful for the recipe! Thank you!
Wonderful to hear, Milena! I appreciate your review.
Great blog and recipes! Trying to eat more steel cut oatmeal these days
I’m glad you are enjoying them!
Is there an adaptation for making this recipe in an Instant Pot rather than the stovetop?
I don’t, sorry! I hope you try it as is.
I have been doing something similar to this for years. Except I use broth instead of water or milk. Chicken, beef, vegetable, whatever I have on hand. Then stir in baby spinach and cheese at the end, then add an egg, and occasionally bacon crumbles on top.
Before I found your recipe, I did some experimenting on my own. After cooking the oats in the normal way, I cooked some chopped onion in my trusty iron skillet. When the onion was translucent, I added my oatmeal and browned it in some butter and peanut oil with the onions. Put it on a hot plate, then fried my eggs in the same skillet. Seasoned with simple salt and pepper. Delish