Morning Steel Oatmeal

Morning Steel Oatmeal

Steel … as in steel cut oats, a.k.a: Irish oats, a.k.a: pinhead oats. No matter the moniker, we’re talking about oat groats that are cut into chunks rather than steamed and rolled into the ubiquitous flat form. They’re nutty, chewy, delicious and just about the healthiest thing you can put in your mouth. Oats have been proven to lower LDL cholesterol, slow the movement of food through the gut, and recent studies have shown they can help to balance testosterone levels so … get your morning steel on … morning steel cut oats I mean. 

Morning Steel Oatmeal
Serves 4
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  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 1 cup steel cut oats
  3. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 3 cups boiling water
  5. 1/2 cup whole milk
  6. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
  1. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  2. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  3. 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  4. 1/4 cup fruit such as blueberries or chopped peaches
  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and when it's melted add the oats and salt. Stir for 2 minutes or until the oats smell slightly toasty.
  2. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.
  3. Combine the milk and half of the buttermilk, gently stir into the oatmeal and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with remaining buttermilk.
  4. Taste before sweetening or adding any spices...who knows, you might like it.
  1. I often add fruit to my morning oatmeal and I do so when I add the milks because I like the fruit to cook a bit...especially blueberries.


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  1. 2

    My favorite oatmeal recipe, and I actually love treating them as grits and stirring in cheese and serving with bacon and eggs.

  2. 3

    Alton, come into the 21st Century, people don’t have time to stir steel cut oats for 25 minutes. I had three children leaving for school at different times and had a ladle, bowls, and Tablesppons on the table the night before.. Also put SC Oats in crockpot on low setting to cook till morning with cut up apples and egg in it plus milk . Was ready for children to ladle out their breakfast every half hour before school ! Now they are grown, I use a small four portion crock for myself and add egg white, stir till cooked then frozen blueberries, milk and protein powder, eazey Peary !
    PS: I also won NY Regents Science award.

  3. 5

    I must try this! I have buttermilk in the fridge & steel cut oats in the cupboard. I have lately been favouring savoury oats & I think this cook up will make any version of oats I want to try

  4. 6
    Katy K.

    I just have to tell everyone..the buttermilk MAKES this recipe! I was never a big lover of oatmeal (steel cut or otherwise) but I am now totally addicted to this steel cut oatmeal! (Thanks Alton!) I made it exactly as in the recipe except I didn’t have whole milk so I opted for unsweetened almond milk and the buttermilk with the boiling water. Added dried tart cherries and toasted chopped walnuts in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Then topped with the rest of the buttermilk, brown sugar and a cinnamon/cardamom/ginger/nutmeg spice mixture. Best stuff EVER! The buttermilk makes it creamy and gives it an extra wonderful buttery taste (even if you don’t like buttermilk, you’ll like it in this). It’s worth the wait cooking it this way—I make double batches and put in a container in the fridge and scoop some out and warm up in microwave or on stove and then add the buttermilk and toppings to it (it’s even good cold or plain with no sugar or other toppings on it!)..YUM!

  5. 9

    Saw on fb last night, made this morning. Definitely the best steel cut oats I’ve had. My only regret is that I saw it served 4 and cut it in half since I was just serving 2 – now I want more. 🙁 Thanks Alton!

  6. 11
    Savory Oats

    I eat my oats with congee and use chicken stock. I often add chicken, veggies, and/or Parmesan cheese to it. It’s also great with a soft poached egg.

  7. 14

    I always use evaporated milk. I was the first bottle baby in my family (long long ago), and I think she fed it to me in my bottle lol, but it’s yummy in oatmeal!

  8. 15

    We use a wide mouth insulated coffee carafe – multi tasker (or a large wide mouth thermos) 1/4 cup steel cut oats/per serving and one cup boiling water. Cover with a tea cozy for 2-3 hours than adjust consistency in a fry pan to thicken/warm up if desired. Minutes to prepare. Can also overnight temper the oats – softer texture.

  9. 17

    For lactose intolerance use pure plain organic almond milk. It has replaced all my milk needs. I use almond coconut too but you do get a coconut taste which you don’t always want. And as for comparing with regular oats these are much healthier. And I never have used butter milk in my oats. Just sayin’.

  10. 18
    Jeremy the Canuck

    Delicious! Made this today and it was awesome. I have always liked the flavour of oatmeal but not the texture. The chewy oats and the gang from the buttermilk was definitely a great way to start the day. Thanks Mr. Brown, going to make this in my slow cooker to make my mornings quick and easy.

  11. 19

    OK. I finally gave in and tried these. I am kicking myself for not having tried them sooner. MMMMMmmmm… adding fruit, nuts, and a sprinkle of brown sugar was the bomb. I bought some havarti with dill to try next time. 🙂

  12. 20
    Mike S


    Fresh Buttermilk is not something I keep around the house. Do you think a reconstituted Buttermilk Powder (I’m thinking the King Arthur brand) would suffice?

    Thank you.

    • 21

      You can freeze buttermilk in a ice tray, then transfer to a ziplock when frozen. It’s great to have in the freezer when you need it on that rare occasion.

  13. 23
    Christon A.

    AB, is there an alternative to the buttermilk? I highly trust your culinary skills but bad memories of being made to drink buttermilk have left a sour taste permanently on my palette. Ha.

    • 24
      JoAnn K

      You can make your own buttermilk by taking 1 cup of milk I use 2% and 1T of white vinegar or 1T lemon juice. Add to milk and let set 5 minutes stir before you use

    • 27

      Yes, where are you getting the super fatty idea? I assume maybe you’re thinking buttermilk is fatty but it’s actually very low in fat. Use skim milk or almond milk and this is a very healthy, great carbs, low fat recipe.

    • 28

      Fat is only “bad” depending on your regular diet and lifestyle. Someone who cares enough to invest in steel cut oats, I’m just going to wing it and say you don’t eat at McD’s a lot… So the benefits of this breakfast far outweigh anything you could think of to make it seem bad. lol And you need some fat regardless.

  14. 31

    I have been doing quick oatmeal quite often as it’s an easy breakfast and great for nursing mommas. I add some nuts and sometimes berries – blueberries, raspberries or strawberries or some dried fruits – cherries are delish!
    For this recipe I’m wondering if I can use almond creamer In substitute of the milk and buttermilk as I cannot have dairy due to belly issues my baby is having. I will try it and let you know!

  15. 32
    Kate A.

    What about quick oats? Make it the same? Cut back on time? Can you make it the day before? (For those of us who work early mornings)

  16. 36

    Mr. Brown, Would you please share ideas for savory versions? I am trying to eat more oats but do not care for sweet breakfast. I’ve flavored steel oats like I do grits, with bacon and cheddar, and liked them quite a lot but I’m interested in new flavors. I would appreciate you advice.

    • 37

      Have you had Asian congee before? Its a savory rice porridge that’s usually served for breakfast in Asia. I’ve made it with oatmeal and it really works!
      Basically you use chicken/pork stock (low sodium) instead of water (don’t add any milk and a couple slices of ginger. Simmer it until thicken, and season with some soy sauce. Then top it with poached egg or Chinese century egg, chopped scallion, sliced ginger, fried garlic, shredded chicken/pork, fish, shrimp, shiitake mushroom, you name it. This oatmeal congee is much faster to make than rice congee (which takes several hours), pretty convenient.

  17. 38

    Yum. Love steel cut oats. My husband & I make them with a splash of vanilla &/or cinnamon. We also really like them savory -with a sprinkle of shredded cheese & savory herbs. Will have to try Alton’s version, because his recipes are always THE BEST!

  18. 39

    Alton-how essential is the buttermilk? I’d love to make this is the morning for myself and my 2 year old, but reeeeeally don’t want to run out right now to pick some up. Can I sub yogurt maybe? I have that on hand.

    • 40

      Yogurt works well as a substitute for buttermilk. I almost never have buttermilk on hand, but I always have yogurt. I even substitute it in buttermilk pancakes.

  19. 41

    I just used blueberries and honey as additives. Fantastic. Does this work if I double the recipe and use it for breakfast for the week? Would I need to adjust the cook times?

  20. 42

    Trying this recipe this morning. Curious about whether the measurements for the add ins are per serving since you divide into bowls before adding? Also should the “add milk and half buttermilk” really be half a couple of buttermilk, leaving the extra tablespoon for adding in the bowl (maybe per bowl)? Just seems weird to measure a ¼ and ½ tablespoon of buttermilk.

  21. 43
    Blueberry Muffet

    8 oz dry SC oats; 4 cups water in Instant Pot pressure cooker. Set on manual; 6 minutes; vent closed. Let pressure subside normally (about 30 min). KEY: Stir very well, put lid back on and let rest for few minutes. Portion out 4 servings (@ 9 oz each). Add whatever goodness you want; I just use organic cinnamon.

  22. 47
    Lee H.

    I found a great recipe for steel cut oats made in a pressure cooker…cooked quicker and turned out perfect! AND i then froze small portions in greased muffin tins and when frozen, removed from tins and put in zip-lock bags. Just take out one (or two) portions in the morning and reheat (frozen) in the microwave.

    • 48
      Karen Ross

      Thank you for the awesome idea of freezing the portions in a muffin tin. I love steel cut oatmeal in the morning but don’t have the time to make it each morning. I will definitely try this! Thank you.

  23. 50

    I find it and many other things cook quicker if you wait on adding the fat. By toasting the oats in the butter, you’ve essentially waterproofed them. Try toasting without the butter and then just adding the butter at the end. I’ve been doing it with recipes like pizza dough too, add water first, let everything hydrate then stir in fat to hold the water in the particles.

  24. 51

    I’m fairly certain that Paula Deen did not invent the cooking of steel cut oats. Read a book people and stop watching so much television. In related news, this recipe is fantastic.

  25. 55
    Becky J.

    Notwithstanding Alton’s calling rice cookers “unitaskers” and tossing one out the window of his set, steel cut oats are one of the many great uses for a fuzzy logic (digital) rice cooker. I do mine on the “porridge” setting, but check it every now and then because the oats cook quicker than the full cycle, around 15-20 minutes IIRC. I rarely use my rice cooker to make rice because we rarely eat rice. But I love it for tons of other things.

  26. 58

    This is missing the most important step to enjoying all the health benefits of steal cut oats which is soaking them over night in water and whey or yogurt or lemon juice. For starters it makes them more digestible and can reduce the cooking time. I make one cup of steal cut oats for the week and get 4 portions out of it. I reheat with some water add blueberries, Chia seeds and finish with butter, yogurt or milk.

  27. 59

    I trIed the slow cooker, big and small size, and found the edges were a solid mess of glue in the morning. Not tasty, impossible to clean.

    Then I tried using my slow cooker as a double boiler – prepare oats per directions on the box or however you like in a oven safe dish, place dish inside the slow cooker with water enough to come almost to the top, let ‘er rip. Oatmeal will be perfect in the morning, no scorching, no glue, no 45 minute prep.

    I can usually fit two servings in my crock pot.

    • 62
      Becky J.

      It may be that the recipe was corrected since your comment, but anyway what it says now is to combine the regular milk with half of the buttermilk. The other half of the buttermilk is to pour over the finished oatmeal.

  28. 63

    AB, I thought I was as excited as you are about butter, but I now know I’m mistaken. “Add the butter and when it’s melted add the butter and once it melts add the oats and salt.” 🙂

  29. 67

    How about a slow cooker, non-dairy version? Just made my first batch of gluten-free steel cut oats in slow cooker. Yum. Directions were on the package

  30. 68

    Maria, I sub coconut oil for the butter and almond milk for the milk just because I like it better. I top with maple syrup before serving.

  31. 69

    Sounds delicious, but do you have a lactose free version. I am a breastfeeding mom and my little one can not handle the lactose. Steel cut oats are amazing for nursing mothers.

  32. 72

    This makes about a weeks worth nit mushy at all…… I make ahead & potion out servings & reheat w a lil water in the mornin. When I’m bored I make muffins with white whole wheat & apple compote.

  33. 74

    I love steel cut oats, but never have the time to prepare them in the morning….it’s a long commute. Is it possible to cook them in the crockpot? I can’t think of anything better than waking up to the yummy smell of cooking oats and fruit…….

  34. 75

    What caused your change of heart regarding salt? I’ve been making your Good Eats version of this for years, which specifically excluded it. Willing to rethink, I’m just curious…

  35. 76

    I brown some ground chicken in butter then add the oats and continue the recipe from there. Finish with some curry powder and a dash of fish sauce. Sounds crazy but it is savory and awesome!

  36. 77

    Recipe for the slow cooker????? I would love to make a weeks worth and freeze and reheat it but I’m afraid it would be mushy?

  37. 78

    You can make great steelcut oats overnight in a crockpot. I use a single serving sized crockpot. But, I used to make a weeks worth at a time and reheat them in the microwave .So, yes you can reheat them.

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