overnight oatmeal

No-cook overnight oatmeal

8 March 2012

My school kids had state testing this week, so I made an extra effort to feed them a good breakfast. We love steel-cut oatmeal, but the 30-minute cook time can be prohibitive on a rushed weekday morning. This week I tried something new – before bed, I put oats and water in a pot, brought it to a boil, covered it, turned off the heat and left it out overnight. I figured I would finish cooking as needed in the morning. But after sitting overnight, the oatmeal was perfect – evenly cooked and creamier than when I cook it on the stovetop.

With her busy family of three teens and a pre-teen, my sister-in-law likes to buy frozen steel-cut oatmeal that heats in the microwave. I have another friend who actually drives to a restaurant to buy steel-cut oatmeal freshly made. But this method is so much cheaper and easier than pre-cooked options.

It cooks itself. It doesn’t take up freezer space. My $3 canister of organic steel-cut oats from Trader Joe’s makes 20 servings – 15¢ a serving.

Plus when you eat oatmeal at home you realize how much unnecessary salt is in commercially made oatmeal.

This is foolproof. If you can boil water, you can make steel-cut oatmeal at home. It cooks coolly and silently while you sleep.

One cup of steel-cut oats in a saucepan.

Four cups of water.


Give a quick stir and turn off heat. Cover and leave on the stove. Say goodnight.

In the morning, say hello to a creamy pot of oatmeal.

Give it a stir and warm it up with any toppings you like. Lately I’m into walnuts and wild blueberries from my freezer.

Forget Quaker. This is microwave oatmeal worth eating. And leftovers keep well in the fridge for more easy, nutritious mornings.

No-Cook Overnight Oatmeal
As easy as boiling water. Turn off heat and cover, and in the morning the oatmeal is perfectly done.


  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 4 cups water


  1. In medium saucepan, heat oats and water until boiling. Stir briefly with a spoon. Turn off heat and cover tightly. Leave out for a few hours or overnight. Do not refrigerate.
  2. Reheat on stovetop or microwave and serve with toppings of your choice. Leftovers store well in refrigerator for several days.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin 8 March 2012 at 12:39 pm

Couldn’t agree more – this is so the way to go when you need something hearty and made ahead! Interesting that you put the oats in and bring the water to a boil with them…I usually bring the water to a boil, dump the oats in, give it a quick stir, then cover and remove from heat and let sit overnight. I wonder if the order of things makes any difference??


cg 8 March 2012 at 3:04 pm

hi kristin – good question. i think with a more fine grain – polenta, for example – the grain is streamed in to keep from clumping in the water. but the steel-cut oats don’t clump easily, so i do the lazy method and dump it all in together. i think it’s all the same in the end. thanks for sharing!


Anna 8 March 2012 at 8:44 pm

I use my rice cooker to make steel cut oatmeal. Before I go to bed I pre-set the timer on my rice cooker and wake up to hot oatmeal. No need to boil, just place oatmeal and water in the pot. I think I got this tip from Martha Stewart.


cg 9 March 2012 at 8:47 am

yes, this is a great idea for people with programmable rice cookers! i have done this too, super convenient. thanks for sharing, anna!


mm 9 March 2012 at 6:00 am

This made me smile as it reminded me of baking cakes and tarts for my children to eat in the morning when they had important exams. Must be the Chinese grandma in me!


cg 9 March 2012 at 9:04 am

mmm, cakes and tarts – i want you as my mommy. =) i hope your kids aced their exams after special treatment like that!


Sherri 25 March 2012 at 2:01 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever had steel cut oats, I’ll have to try them. This is what my mom used to do with large flake oatmeal. I don’t know why I’ve never done it. I do make oatmeal in the slow cooker overnight but I’ll be trying this. Thanks for the tip.


Mary 2 April 2012 at 2:14 pm

We eat a lot of oatmeal, but I’ve never tried this method. I did try it overnight in the slow cooker once and none of us were impressed. I think I’ll try this tomorrow. Thanks!


cg 7 April 2012 at 7:26 am

hi mary – hope it works out for you!


Marie 6 January 2013 at 1:55 pm

This is how my Irish grandma prepared oatmeal ~


cg 8 January 2013 at 10:28 am

hi marie – then it must be right! thanks. =)


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