This easy, versatile overnight steel cut oatmeal recipe is simple, delicious, and customizable with endless add-in options!

I’m a big, huge fan of breakfasts that pretty much make themselves (let’s be serious, count me a fan of any meal that makes itself as long as it isn’t icky).

We have a breakfast rotation that ebbs and flows depending on the morning, the attitudes of children and mothers who may or may not be morning people, any last minute breakfast cravings and several other factors.

A bowl of cooked steel cut oats topped with banana slices and cranberries.

I have loads of fantastic breakfast recipes but some are just not suited to busy school mornings.

Our family goes in cycles of eating the classic breakfast foods over and over until we need a change. Right now our rotation on any given week for the last month or so consists of these goodies:

Blender Wheat Pancakes (at least 1-2X per week; definitely the most-oft made pancakes during this recent cycle)
Em’s Overnight Pancakes (I use this when I don’t have an inch of time to even whip up pancake batter)
Refrigerator Bran Muffins (I keep the baked muffins in the freezer, serve them alongside yogurt and green smoothies)
French Toast (no recipe, just simple egg/milk mixture with homemade bread)
Cold Cereal (1X a week, more or less, on the mornings I can’t face the reality of a hot breakfast; we try to nab the cereal on the healthy-ish end of the spectrum – high fiber/low sugar – which is probably why my poor children are the only kids in the universe not excited about cold cereal)
Scrambled eggs and Toast (again, no recipe)

A bowl of cooked steel cut oats topped with bananas and dried cranberries.

There are a few other breakfast options I’ll throw in now and again, like this slow cooker overnight oatmeal or just regular oatmeal microwaved quick in the morning.

But I’ve neglected to share our favorite way to eat oatmeal. And if “no-brainer” is a word that entices you to make something then you better listen up.

This is a no-brainer.

The night before, I bring water to a boil and throw in some steel cut oats and a pinch of salt. Boil for one minute, cover and let it rest overnight.

The next morning it is thick and tender and perfectly cooked. A 1-2 minute warmup is all that is required to get breakfast on the table.

I’ve been hesitant to share it with you because I have a feeling most of you know about it already and/or it is so simple, “recipe” is quite a loose term.

Top view of cooked steel cut oats with bananas and dried cranberries on top.

All of us prefer steel cut oats to regular so this version of oatmeal is a hit all around. And guess what?

Although I’ve been making steel cut oats like this for years, just recently we tried a variation wherein half the steel cut oats were swapped for quinoa and it’s cooked the exact same way.

Holy deliciousness.

Our favorite oatmeal toppings are a swirl of honey or maple syrup or agave nectar followed up with a hefty dotting of fresh fruit (in lots of varieties; whatever is in season), dried fruit, and sometimes even freeze-dried fruit if I haven’t been to the grocery store in forever.

A lovely breakfast that pretty much makes itself. And like I said, I’m a huge fan of that.

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Apple Cider Muffins
Two Years Ago: White Bean and Sausage Ragout {with Tomatoes, Kale and Zucchini}
Three Years Ago: Baked Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Overnight Steel Cut Oats

4.55 stars (62 ratings)


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium or large saucepan (big enough to accommodate about 4 cups of cooked oatmeal with a bit of room to spare).
  • When it reaches a rolling boil, stir in the oats and salt. Boil for one minute (watching closely so it doesn’t boil over).
  • Remove from the heat and stir. Cover the pot and let it sit overnight, 8-12 hours.
  • In the morning before serving, stir the oatmeal to recombine the oats with any residual liquid and heat over medium for 1-2 minutes until the oatmeal is heated through.
  • Serve with your favorite oatmeal toppings! We love bananas, craisins, agave nectar or a bit of brown sugar, blueberries, and lots of other fruits.


Oats/Quinoa: you’ll see from my pictures that sometimes we get a little wild and crazy with this recipe and use half quinoa, half steel cut oats. The directions and water/salt amounts are completely the same, just change out half the steel cut oats for rinsed quinoa. Yum!
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 154kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 157mg, Fiber: 4g

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe