Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal

Here’s the rundown on what breakfast looks like around here on any given week:
2-3 mornings a week = my favorite Oatmeal Pancake Mix
1-2 morning a week = simple french toast (with homemade whole wheat bread, usually pulled out of the freezer)
1 morning a week = scrambled eggs and toast (sometimes we mix it up by putting the eggs in a tortilla with cheese – I know, crazy)
1 morning a week = fresh or frozen fruit smoothies with Refrigerator Bran Muffins or toast
1-2 mornings a week = cold cereal (my kids think I’m ultra-boring because the options usually consist of shredded wheats, cheerios, or….cheerios – I told you we were crazy)

I like to send my kids off to school (and keep the tummies full of the little ones still at home) with a hearty and hopefully hot breakfast but sometimes (all the time!) mornings are hectic with lunch-packing and generally just getting out the door. So imagine my delight when my sister, Emily, introduced me to the concept of overnight oatmeal. Um, huh? What? Where have I been?

Basically, steel cut oats cook in a slightly sweet bath all night long and the kids and I get to wake up to an instant breakfast. I was skeptical that it would really work and wondered if the oats would fall apart after cooking that long. The key is using steel cut oats. They hold up beautifully to the long cooking time and the oatmeal, after a good, thorough stir, is ready for scooping and heaping upon lots of fresh fruit. The combination of pure maple syrup and brown sugar with the hearty oats makes for a fantastically, delicious and healthy breakfast.

We prefer our oatmeal with a sturdier consistency because we like to pour a bit of milk over it when adding fresh or dried fruit (I’ve included a note with the recipe below allowing for the right oatmeal consistency). I usually pull out the myriad of fruit options, stick them on the counter, chop up what needs to be chopped and my kids go at it. I scoop oatmeal in their bowl and they load on the fruit and milk. It has definitely become a favorite breakfast around here and our fruit options consist of any of the following: raisins, dried cranberries or cherries, dried/fresh/frozen blueberries, sliced bananas, chopped apples or pears, chopped nectarines or peaches (when in season), fresh pineapple chunks, fresh orange segments, fresh or frozen strawberries…and probably others I am forgetting.

We eat breakfast around 7:00 a.m. so I set the oatmeal to cooking in the slow cooker around 11:00 p.m. and head to bed. It’s perfect right around the time we all wake up starving. I’m so happy to be able to add another do-able breakfast option to the above list. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal

One Year Ago: Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili
Two Years Ago: Classic Italian Lasagna
Three Years Ago: Asian Lettuce Wraps

Overnight Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Yield: Serves 6-8

Overnight Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Note: Steel cut oats are essential in this recipe. Quick oats or regular rolled oats won't hold up to the long cooking time in the slow cooker. Also, the liquid measurement completely depends on how you like your oatmeal. My sister, who gave me the recipe, cooks her oatmeal in the slow cooker with 8 cups water to 2 cups steel cut oats but she doesn't add any milk or liquid in the morning when serving. I, on the other hand, like a sturdier oatmeal consistency because we pour a bit of milk on ours when serving, so I use 6 cups water to 2 cups steel cut oats. Judge the liquid-to-oats ratio based on how you like to eat your oatmeal.


  • 6-8 cups water (see note above)
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup dried blueberries (optional)


  1. Lightly coat the inside of a 4-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker and stir. Cook for 7-8 hours on low. Stir thoroughly before serving with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Serve immediately. The leftover oatmeal can be portioned into tupperware-like containers and refrigerated to be reheated and enjoyed for 3-4 days.

Recipe Source: sent to me by my sister, Emily

87 Responses to Overnight Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

  1. Melissa says:

    Any update on doing this in the Instant pot?

  2. Jenny Conklin says:

    Have you made this in the Instant Pot? How did you modify it? I just got one and I’m trying to learn the pressure cooking ways. 😉

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t made it yet, Jenny, but usually steel cut oats can cook in the InstantPot in 3-4 minutes (about 1 cup oats to 3 cups liquid).

    • Amanda says:

      I’ve made these a ton in my pressure cooker! I don’t modify it at all, I just do 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill “Quick Cooking” Steel Cut Oats, (It’s what they sell at Costco), and 6 cups water. My kids love this stuff!

      • Amanda says:

        Oh–I should mention, I don’t have an instant pot, but I put mine on the “rice/risotto” setting of my PowerXL for about 12-15 minutes. I will also sometimes put everything in the pot the night before and set it on time delay.

  3. alasia miller says:

    I love Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal it is my favorite and I just put Bananas in it

  4. Jennifer says:

    Love overnight slow cooker oatmeal – I usually use 3 cups of Almond Milk and 3 cups of water and 3 cups of oats. Chop up some tart apples and add nutmeg and cinnamon and vanilla. But my kids aren’t that fond of it – they used to love the major brand maple/brown sugar kind. But we are cutting out all GMO’s and this will be fantastic!! Glad I looked today for some meal inspiration!!

  5. Rene says:

    Do you know approximately how big a serving size is? I’m trying figure out the carbs for my diabetic daughter. Thanks!

  6. Christy B says:

    I’ve been making a double recipe in my 5 qt slow cooker. After it cools slightly I portion it into greased muffin tins and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen I pop them out into a gallon bag and store in the freezer. Setting the muffin tin on cookie sheet filled with hot water for a minute makes it easy to twist them right out. My kids love portioning out a puck or two for breakfasts or snacks. Two or three minutes in the microwave to heat.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I’m such a cheapskate. Has anyone tried imitation maple syrup? Does it work?

  8. Heather says:

    I am also generally an oatmeal (any hot cereal) hater, but I LOVE this recipe! Try it!

  9. M says:

    Warning note: don’t forget that light coating of cooking spray! I ignored that: ended up with delicious oatmeal, but also a quarter inch of stuck crud all around the inside of the slow cooker…won’t make that mistake again!

  10. Allyson says:

    Do you think dried blueberries are the only possibility? I love the idea of adding a fruit, but do you think fresh or frozen would turn out gross in this?

    • Mel says:

      Allyson – I’ve added fresh fruit to this but I just stir it in at the end – if the fresh fruit cooks in the oatmeal it gets really mushy.

  11. Laken says:

    Mel, I have been a secret follower and lover of your blog for over three years now. I’m sorry I have never commented until now! I absolutely love your ideas, and I rely heavily upon them to fill up my weekly dinner planner. THANK YOU! I have made this recipe at least once a week for the past two years and felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have found THE easiest, most delicious oatmeal recipe. I. Love. It. If I could get my husband to agree that eating oatmeal three times a week for dinner is perfectly normal, then I truly would be the luckiest girl. 🙂 Thank you again! Our family dinners have been made much happier/delicious/easier because of you and your glorious blog.

  12. Amy says:

    We tried this today and it is delicious! My 2 year old had 2 helpings. I have another recipe that I use for this (steel cut oats, water and sea salt) in the slow cooker. I thought I had read some place that you aren’t supposed to microwave steel cut oats, I don’t remember the reason and I don’t know if its just in the initial cooking stage. But I usually just scoop some of the leftover oatmeal to heat up in a small sauce pan, add some water and it comes out great. Love this stuff. Its so hearty and really keeps us full through the morning.

  13. 30 Super Sweet Oatmeal Recipes - Something Swanky says:

    […] Samoas Oatmeal Oatmeal Brulee Baked Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal Oatmeal Smoothie Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal Chia Walnut Oatmeal Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate Oatmeal Scottish Overnight Oats with […]

  14. Stephanie B says:

    I made this the other day; it was my first time cooking with steel cut oats. While it didn’t convert my non-oatmeal eating husband, my boys and I gobbled it up! I just bought some Arborio rice and I’m looking forward to trying your red berry risotto oatmeal.

  15. Peter says:

    That was what a friend and I had come up with yesterday; will try shortly and see how it is .

  16. Mel says:

    Peter – not a stupid question! I usually reheat on low power in the microwave until it is warm and then stir in a little milk.

  17. Peter says:

    Just tried this tday for the first time 😉 Yummie!

    Now for the stupid question of the day; what is the best way to reheat leftovers??

  18. […] main two recipes that I used to guide me were Frugal Upstate’s Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s Overnight Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal. I started with the ingredients pictured below. Couldn’t find the Steel Cut Oats at the local […]

  19. Marde says:

    I have always hated oatmeal… Had 9 siblings and it seemed like we had it a lot! I love using my crock pot… so thought I would try it again with steel cut oatmeal.. It is delicious! Love waking up in the morning and smelling breakfast already done! This recipe is a little different, can’t wait to try it!

  20. Mel says:

    Brooke – yep, same thing!

  21. Brooke says:

    This is probably a really dumb question but I figure I better ask… a crock pot the same thing as a slow cooker? 🙂 I am so embarassed I had to ask this. Thanks Mel!

  22. Mel says:

    Hi Valerie – I’ve found the best bang for my buck is to buy maple syrup in larger quantities at Sam’s Club or Costco. Now that I’ve moved and don’t live near those stores I’m going to buy it online. I’ll share a link when I find a great resource.

  23. Valerie says:

    pure maple syrup is quiet expensive at my local grocery store ($13 for a small bottle), and I live in an area where you can get almost anything, where do you get yours, or is it just an expensive item that you use sparingly?

  24. Tonya says:

    This sounds delicious. I just stumbled onto your blog and am terribly excited to try out many of your recipes! Thanking the link that led me to you!

  25. Joan says:

    Great recipe and I LOVE steel cut oats. I used eight cups of water and had to add more maple and brown sugar before serving.

  26. Meg says:

    Yum, yum, yum!! I made this last night, minus the cinnamon, and we all loved it!! THe flavors are perfect, as well as the consistency! Thanks for another great recipe:)

  27. Marie Olsen says:

    Hey this recipe sounds delicious! I often eat steel cut oats, but always brown them lightly in butter (about 10″ on low) before cooking them. They have the most delicious, nutty flavor! I’m gonna try your slow cooker recipe with browning them first…yummy! Thanks for all your hard work on this blog, I turn to it often when I need inspiration for cooking for my big, crazy family!

  28. Sara Tuma says:


  29. Stacie Aho says:

    I made this last night. I love yummy oatmeal, and I was excited about this! My crockpot cooks things quickly, so I think the 8 hours was a little long, because it got all burnt around the edges, but the oatmeal was great!! The flavor and texture was delicious. I’m getting a new crockpot and making it again!

  30. Hey Melanie – We tried this and 8 hours was a little too long in my crock pot, so it was a little mushy, but we’re going to try it again because I love the idea of it! Just wondering how you go about heating up your french toast after it has been frozen. I want to serve more hot breakfasts (something other than cereal!) but our mornings are crazy too…so it has to be quick! Thanks for all of the fun breakfast ideas!

  31. Cari says:

    Made this on Tuesday and it was delicious! I loved having a hot breakfast waiting for me when I woke up. Thanks so much for sharing. Good luck in these last weeks of your pregnancy!

  32. […] mel’s maple & brown sugar oats […]

  33. Heather Bell says:

    Oatmeal is the best. I wish my kids liked it. Maybe I”ll trick them into it with this recipe.=) Let me tell you, we just finished driving across the country to move to IA for a new job and it was so refreshing to come on here and see all the new recipes!=)

  34. Jennifer says:

    I’ve tried a few different steel cut oatmeal/slow-cooker recipes, and this is by far the best! I used 1 c. steel cut oats and 3 c. water, halved all the other ingredients and used a small slow cooker (Chefmate brand, maybe 1 or 1 1/2 quart size?). It turned out great. Just the right amount for my husband and me for breakfast!

  35. Danielle says:

    yeah! Thanks! We love steel cut outs but have to make them on days we don’t wake up starving (since it does take longer to cook) or when we have more time, like a Saturday or Sunday. I was thrilled with the baked oatmeal that you prep the night before but now I am even more excited. Who would think to be excited to wake up in the morning? 🙂

  36. KBerco says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE night before prep breakfast meals!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! I’m just NOT a morning person and the easier it is in the morning … the better for the WHOLE family 😉

  37. Cammee says:

    I’m going to try this tonight. Steel cut oats beat the pants off rolled oats but are inconvenient before school because of the longer cooking time. I love the chewier texture. I want Allyson’s recipe with the pumpkin in it!

  38. Veronica says:

    I’ve tried this with a smaller amount and the oats turned to mush, but it didn’t occur to me that making a larger batch would make it turn out better-duh! Thanks for the recipe, I’ll have to try it!

  39. Overnight Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal | See Jane Blog says:

    […] like breakfast when I wake up.  So far though, I had only prepared them one way.  But on Friday, this recipe was posted on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, so I decided I was going to make it for Saturday […]

  40. grace says:

    i prefer my oatmeal a bit sturdier as well–if i wanted soup, i’d eat soup! great mix-in suggestions–i’ve never tested fresh pineapple, but i will!

  41. Allyson says:

    Just an FYI for any if you oatmeal-haters/skeptics out there: I have gagged and grossed out on ANY hot cereal since I was a kid. I didn’t want to admit this to my children, so I would make a simple oatmeal for them occasionally. But lately I’ve been making recipes similar to this one (another one uses puréed pumpkin and lots of cinnamon!) and I can honestly say I LOVE oatmeal!!! However, the trick for me is not eating it hot AND loading it with fresh fruit and nuts (even coconut, flaxseed meal, etc)! I dish mine up and let it cool to room temperature while I do dishes, make the kids’ lunches, etc. Sorry if anyone grosses out at oatmeal that’s not hot, but it makes me SO happy in the mornings … and keep my whole digestive tract happy for a long time. I sometimes feel like I’m eating dessert for breakfast. Seriously yummy.

  42. Erin says:

    I love overnight breakfasts like this one. Overnight waffles are my very favorite! Who has time to cook in the morning.?!

  43. Mel says:

    Alisa – hmmm, I don’t know. I’ve seen regular steel cut oats with labels like “cooks quickly” I think to help out the marketing and let people know they can still cook steel cut oats without boiling them all day – but if they are true quick cooking oats (meaning they’ve been precooked somehow), then I think they will turn mushy and overcooked int his recipe.

  44. Brooke says:

    Yay! I have been looking for a reliable recipe to try steel cut oats!

  45. Yum, sounds delicious – I bet it’s a great aroma to wake up to too!

  46. Nikki says:

    Oh my stars! I made this last night. It cooked for about 8 hours. Absolutely 100% fantastic! I love tht I can just dip more out of the bowl of leftovers in the fridge, warm it up, and breakfast is served in no time! I eat oatmeal everyday, so this is a jewel of a recipe for me! Thanks so much! Oh, I made the refrigerator bran muffins Friday. Fabulous!!!

  47. Nicole, RD says:

    I love that this cooks for 8 hours. Some oatmeal recipes cook 3-4 hours and I can’t help but wonder if people really get up at 3am to put their crock pots on!

  48. Vicki says:

    This sounds great – we make oatmeal about three times a week, but with a difference – I bought a “fuzzy logic” rice cooker about a year ago, with oatmeal in mind – I set it up the night before, and time it to be done by 6:00 a.m. – my recipe has evolved over time, and we add raisins, walnuts, flax seed, oat bran, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and for a bit of protein, tvp. With the raisins, we find we don’t need the added sugar, although my maple syrup loving husband is delighted when I garnish his cereal with a glug of maple! (He was a confirmed oatmeal skeptic until I started him on steel cut oats, and now, even though he pretends to grumble, he polishes off every drop!) If we are out of milk, we just serve it with yogurt, or even water. Has anyone tried hot milk on their shredded wheat, by the way? This turns a cold cereal into a hot cereal – I sprinkle it with a bit of cinnamon sugar, because I like a little spice, but when we have been too tired to set up oatmeal the night before, and are too rushed for any other sort of hot breakfast, the shredded wheat fills the bill. (He likes it with hot milk, while I hit mine with a bit of boiling water, finishing it off with milk).

  49. Lisa says:

    I just made this over night last night and just finished eating a bowl. It was absolutely fantastic. I’ve already passed the link to this recipe on to most of my family and friends it was just that good!

  50. thank you very much, this is the information I need. I hope this website always gave the information quality. visiting my blog Tupperware Indonesia

  51. Nikki says:

    If you add 2 tsp. of pure vanilla, you would think you’re eating the most delicious rice pudding. It is a must.

  52. Wanda says:

    Mel, my kids’ fave breakfast was overnight wheat (whole wheat berries) in the slow cooker. The delight is they can cook longer w/o turning to mush, so mama can go to bed at 9 instead of 11! 😉

  53. Alisa says:

    My steel cut oats say Quick Cook. Do you think they would work?

  54. Mel says:

    Amy – I’ve seen other overnight oatmeal recipes that use part milk but I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you do!

    Teri – yes, you could probably halve the recipe but I do think you would need to cook for less time (maybe decrease by an hour) and make sure your slow cooker isn’t overly big, otherwise the oatmeal will burn if it’s a smaller quantity. The other option is to make a full batch and store the leftovers in the refrigerator for a quick breakfast in the mornings that can be easily heated up.

  55. Mel says:

    Jenny – yes, I find them by the old-fashioned or quick oats (usually in the cereal aisle). They are in smaller canisters, usually, then the large cans of oats.

  56. ChrissieK says:

    seriously. you are my hero. a bit ridiculous to declare such sentiment to someone I DO NOT know, i agree… and i don’t do this often. however, i had just seen marked this to try from somewhere else (a granny apple version) … and THEN … here you are! just want you to know, YOU are my cookbook. i go rarely anywhere else on the internet for our eats. (i even have friends that tell others to “befriend” me, talk about melskitchen recipes…. ha!) THANK you darling woman, you make my family and friends VERY happy.

  57. Beth says:

    Okay, so now I would love to see a post on what your typical lunches are! Thanks for sharing. This is the pick-me-up we needed to our breakfast rut!

  58. Teri says:

    Could the recipe be cut in half or would that throw off the timing? The dog doesn’t eat oatmeal…makes a mess in her beard. 😉

  59. Jenn says:

    I’m the only one in my house who will eat oatmeal – hubby hates it and both of my sons have texture issues with it.

    But this looks soooo Yummy!

  60. Amy M says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I will try it soon. I had not experimented with baked oatmeal until very recently and now I’m completely hooked. It lasts in the fridge for a few days and on a hectic morning it’s SO nice to be able to pull something wholesome out of the fridge.

  61. Amy says:

    I always cook my oatmeal in milk. Do you think that would be okay in this recipe? I love your blog! It’s the first one I turn to when meal planning. Thanks for all your work making my job easier.

  62. Francesca says:

    I have overnight oats for breakfast every morning on weekdays. However, mine are made differently. I don’t use a slow cooker at all. I mash up 1 banana in a bowl, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of regular old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tbsp. brown sugar – at this point I mix everything well. Then I add 3/4 to 1 cup of skim milk, mix well again, and add 1 tbsp. of peanut butter (just plop it in there, no need to mix as it will melt when warmed). I sit this mixture in the fridge overnight. In the morning I heat it up for about 1 minute 40 seconds, add a touch of honey…and have the most delicious and healthy breakfast! I got my inspiration from this recipe: She has many varieties on her site!

  63. Candace says:

    Mel, thank you, I love you! I’ve been stressing out about breakfast and I really needed someone to just put their breakfast ideas out there. I make things so complicated I get overwhelmed and then we don’t have complete breakfasts. 🙂

  64. Sheila H. says:

    Love this recipe and am glad your sister introduced you to this. You could get really crazy and forgo the maple syrup and stir in some nut butter to taste, or if you love carrot cake- add carrots and walnuts to this, and a lover of Almond Joy can add coconut, chocolate chips, and almond slivers. There are lots of stir-ins to keep it interesting and yummy. Your original recipe has so many variations and each child can have the original or a “custom” version.

  65. I want to eat breakfast at your house! I have sort of fallen off the wagon lately, dragging my sorry self out of bed as late as possible. Perhaps this would be a good solution for us. I need to mix up some more pancake mix, too, because that was great while it lasted.

  66. Jenny says:

    I have never looked before but would I find these right by the regular oatmeal or do you need a health food store?

  67. Bev says:

    I’ve been making this overnight oatmeal for a while, but with brown sugar only. I’m definitely going to try it with the maple added! I like to add figs or dates to the mixture, then add pecans, almonds, or walnuts in the morning. YUM!

  68. Amanda says:

    I’ve recently been introduced to the world of steel cut oats and love them! I’ve made them in the crock pot overnight using this recipe,+Slow+Cooker,+Apple+Cinnamon+Steel-Cut+Oatmeal and loved the sweetness of the baked apple in it. I can’t wait to try your recipe! I’ve been doing a lot more “hot breakfasts” lately since cereal prices have recently gone up so much, and cereal doesn’t keep my four boys (or myself) full very long. P.S. Your Oatmeal Pancake Mix is one of our favorites, too, so is your baked oatmeal– We make that one A LOT… sometimes for dinner!

  69. Love the idea of having this ready first thing in the morning. What an aroma that must be to wake up to! Great recipe, Mel. Thanks for sharing!

  70. Andrea says:

    I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for including the note for a sturdier consistency–that’s definitely our preference! I will have to pick up some steel cut oats when I’m out and about today.

  71. i LOVE overnight oats, can’t wait to give this version a try!

  72. tina says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing it, and have a great weekend!

  73. Erin says:

    You must be a mind-reader! I *just* bought a bag of steel cut oats to try for the first time this weekend. Looks like I don’t have to google a recipe! Thanks!!

  74. StephenC says:

    I have nothing of any importance to say, except that this does take me back. During the chilly months oatmeal was a breakfast staple, complete with brown sugar and the occasional drizzle of maple syrup.

  75. Lien4424 says:

    I love, love, love steel cut oats! I make a pot of it cooked in coconut milk. Then we stir in plain greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, and drizzle with maple syrup or honey. I also add ground flax. My kids (especially my 9 month old twins) love this breakfast.

  76. Kristin says:

    Mel – glad you discovered this, it is such a wonderful breakfast option! I’m with you about sending the kiddos off with full tummies of hearty goodness – helps me forgive myself for any parenting misses that I may make in the morning – HA!! Just a note: you don’t have to use a slow cooker for this. I regularly make a version of this (you can play with the flavor/sweetening additions) but I just bring the water to a boil, stir in the oats, cover, remove from heat and let sit until morning. Then, as everyone is getting ready in the morning, I turn the heat back on, stir the oats up and, once warm, serve with toppings. There’s no health risk having them sit on the stove all night (lots of articles out there on this) and it avoids having to have the slow cooker plugged in all night. If it makes someone feel more comfortable, you can put the pot in the fridge on a hot pad while you sleep. Either way, thanks for your version of the recipe!

  77. Kim in MD says:

    Confession time. I wish I loved a bowl of oatmeal…I just don’t. Wierd, huh? I love oatmeal in cookies and bread, and as a crumble topping on crisps, but a warm bowl of it? I’ve just never enjoyed it. That said, this overnight recipe looks delicious, Mel! It looks so comforting, and it may just make me change my mind about oatmeal! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, and have a great weekend!

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