HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


I know steel cut oatmeal takes time and a little more effort to make.

Is the extra effort worth it. Does steel cut offer something special like a tastier product. I know it is quite popular today but is that based on health fad or is steel cut really special and worth the effort I also question whether it is really more healthy or just requires more work

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tastier as compared to what? Instant? I usually make my steel cut oats first thing Sunday morning while I'm cooking other things for the week. I make a big batch and freeze it into breakfast sized containers. I don't think the effort is any more, it just takes longer to cook is all.

    1. It is way, way better IMO. I find the rolled oats to be like a gluey paste now and really don't like them. Steel cut are almost like a completely different food. I cook a big batch in the crock pot and freeze in small portions for easy reheating.

      21 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        at the risk of being labeled the crazy pressure cooker lady, SCO take 10 minutes in the PC. and they are way more delicious. almost like barley to me. as far as labor goes for conventional cooking, they don't take more, imho, just more time

        1. re: eLizard

          And you can also cook it in a rice cooker.

          1. re: sr44

            Cool, how many minutes? Or does the rice cooker know automatically?

            1. re: coll

              I have a fuzzy logic one, and set it for the porridge setting to complete close to when I expect to get up. There's a perky song at the end of the cycle and I want to avoid that.

              1. re: sr44

                Ah, I have a $12 special from Walgreens. No special settings, it just turns off when done. Maybe I'll experiment during the day, while I'm awake.

                1. re: sr44

                  My husband is so addicted to SCO made in my Zoji that he takes the damned rice cooker on his annual, week-long fishing trip in November with his buddies. He often puts dried fruit (Craisins & the like) in while cooking, or puts fresh berries in after. I'm not sure which I miss more that week: my husband or the Zoji.

            2. re: eLizard

              There are worse labels than Crazy Pressure Cooker Lady. I don't have one, they scare me, but you go, girl.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                I don't have one either because they also scare me. But I am intrigued because it seems to shorten cooking time dramatically-- especially for cooking things such as dried beans. I remember seeing them used routinely on the original Iron Chef in Japanese.

                1. re: ohmyyum

                  i, too, was scared. everyone knows someone that had one explode and wound up either scraping stuff off the ceiling or in the emergency room, but those were 1st generation cookers. these second generation ones have a bunch of safeguards. the amount i will save on canned beans will pay for this puppy alone. not to mention the time saved. i made beef stew in 16 minutes. 26 counting the chopping and some sauteing. like melt in your mouth tender beef stew. chili in 10. i can't wait to try brown rice in 15 minutes. i ordered the ci pressure cooker cookbook that's going to come out in 2 weeks.

                  1. re: eLizard

                    After the explosion this week on The Taste involving a pig's head, I will not not be purchasing one.

                      1. re: melpy

                        Lol see, such examples make me feel that my fear is justified. But I am still sorely tempted by the mention of 15min brown rice!

                        1. re: ohmyyum

                          don't overfill and turn it down all the way once it reaches pressure and that would have never happened..... he made lots of mistakes.

                          but, if i had seen that before buying one, i never woulda bought one! i'd have been too scared. so i totally get it.

                2. re: eLizard

                  What precautions to you take when using the PC?

                  - use a pot within a pot method?
                  - stay well below half full?
                  - add fat to reduce foaming?

                  1. re: paulj

                    i stay below 2/3 full. if it's a foamy food, i add oil and keep it under half full. but the pot is so freaking big everything is under half full practically. i haven't used pot within a pot, but may tonight with the brown rice. i didn't even know that was a safety precaution. i thought it was for ease of cleanup. i also reduce the heat to practically off when it reaches pressure. but there are so many safety valves that would release the steam without it exploding if it got to that point, that i'm pretty comfortable with it. i also make sure said valves are clear prior to firing her up. and i clean and store it properly.

                      1. re: eLizard

                        I'd like to know how the brown rice turned out! Also, is rice considered a foamy food? I know it foams when it boils over when I make it on the stovetop. Which is why I now buy frozen rice at TJs.

                        1. re: ohmyyum

                          i'm still at the office..... i don't know when i'll get home. but i will definitely report on the brown rice!

                    1. re: eLizard

                      Crazy Pressure Cooker Lady,

                      Do you have even vague instructions for making SCO in a PC???

                      Tnx, CH

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        you can look online.

                        Here's one example


                        To be honest, though, I don't think this will really save much time. It only takes 20 minutes or so to cook the SCO on the stove anyway.

                  2. I find the texture is better, and they are more filling. I agree with Rick, it's not more work - unless you are used to cooking instant oats... :)

                    some people recommend cooking the SCO in the slow cooker - I don't find that necessary. I make a big batch on the stove once a week and portion it out in 1 cup size portions to reheat as needed.

                    1. It's much tastier, to my mind. It's got a nuttier flavor and a much better texture...much less "gloppy" than rolled oatmeal.

                      I make a big pot of it on Sunday evening and I have it in the refrigerator for breakfast during the week. You can reheat it easily in the microwave for a couple of minutes, covered and maybe with a bit of butter in it to help rehydrate it.

                      Also, if you make it and put it in a shallow and wide pan, you can treat it like cold polenta; cut slices and fry them in a non stick pan in some butter or olive oil and eat it that way.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mwk

                        Nuttier flavor, yes.
                        Much less gloppy, yes.
                        But it is still oatmeal. Some of the posters here have really built up the experience as if it is an incredible leap from,,, oatmeal. The texture is more interesting, but the nutty taste does not radically alter oatmeal.
                        We will make overnight steel-cut oatmeal in the crockpot about once a month.
                        I was just reading in Prevention Magazine the benefits of barley. I may put together a 1/2 steel cut oatmeal 1/2 barley overnight mix tonight.

                        1. re: Florida Hound

                          Barley? What's special about that? Any and all, or just certain forms? I have some cooked 'hulled barley' in the fridge at the moment.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Prevention (March 2013) lists barley as one of its "Power Ten- Try to eat these foods every week" "This hearty grain is a top source of beta glucan, the same cholesterol-lowering fiber found in oats." That's all this thumbnail says, before going on to similar 1-liners about baby spinach, etc. in their Power Ten.
                            BTW, My over-night creation of steel-cut oatmeal, mixed with quick barley in the crockpot, was nothing special, but brown sugar on top made it quite fine.

                          2. re: Florida Hound

                            That's like saying a french baguette is still just bread like wonder bread. Both wonder bread and instant oatmeal are soft/gummy enough that it makes all the difference.

                        2. I just read (but haven't yet tried it) that you can bring the oats and water to the boiling, turn off heat, cover, and leave overnight to get a nicely-textured oatmeal. To me it sounds counterintuitive, but who knows, maybe it works.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                            We do that and it works great. Who wants to stir oats for 45 minutes in the a.m. While the spouse whines about dying of hunger?

                            1. re: Just Visiting

                              I do it too. Constantly. It only takes a few minutes at night and they turn out perfect every time. There is no way I could ever go back to eating rolled oats.

                              1. re: la2tokyo

                                So how long do you cook the next morning? Thinking of trying this weekend.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I heat my single serving of SCO for 2 minutes in the microwave.

                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                    So after sitting overnight, it's good to go?

                                    1. re: coll

                                      I've never used the overnight cooking method, but yes that's my understanding.

                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                        OK so it I do it, I will report back.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          It's done in the morning. I just microwave each serving for a minute to warm it up and keep the rest in the fridge until it's all gone, up to five days. Just make sure you use a pot with a tight fitting lid. And the pot probably shouldn't be too big or it might not retain heat as well.

                                          1. re: la2tokyo

                                            This is excellent news, and thanks for the tips! I always make extra, no matter what type of oatmeal, to microwave over the next few days, now I can finally finish off that box of steel cut.

                          2. Yum! Steel cuts are a different animal from rolled....

                            They are so good with a bit of cream, real maple syrup, and a sprinkling of chopped pecans.

                            Or, I was also reading about using them in savory breakfast dishes, with veggies, eggs, etc. on top.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sandylc

                              I love them with soy sauce, bacon jam, and green onions!

                            2. Taste is no comparison. Steel cut are much better.

                              I've been playing around with using my slow cooker and a timer. I think 3 hours in a slow cooker on high is it. Set it up at night, have oatmeal in the morning.


                              1. I prefer the taste and texture. I believe they are the same as rolled oats from a nutrition standpoint, but food is about more than nutrition.

                                I don't find them to be more work, as I do up a big batch in the slow cooker and reheat as needed. As others have said, unlike rolled oats, they reheat beautifully.

                                1. Steel cut oats are the whole oat cut up. You would think oatmeal is a whole oat product but it isn't. Some of the bran is lost and tossed during the rolling process. Cooked rolled oats look whiter than cooked steel cut oats due to less bran. So....you get more nutty taste w steel cut

                                  Take the instant oatmeal....even whiter with less taste. It is quicker cooking due to more bran tossed out. Instant oatmeal can be a fun ingredient in pancakes and waffles

                                  You can buy whole oat grains. Brown them in a pot then add water. Takes a while to cook but delish....you can cook and freeze for later of course

                                  http://cancerdietitian.com/2008/11/qu... The bran in rolled oats is mostly removed according to this source. My take is they are 40-50% removed

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lastZZ

                                    But this nutrition blog claims that the differences between rolled oats and cut ones are minimal

                                    Your source claims: "Rolled oats have the bran mostly removed and are rolled flat to make them easier to cook. With the bran removed, they have less fiber than steel-cut oats."

                                    Mine: "Old-fashioned rolled oats: These are made by steaming the toasted groats and then running them between rollers to create flakes. "

                                    Another source that claims the differences are minimal

                                  2. While there is an obvious difference in texture, I don't detect much difference in flavor. Admittedly I haven't tried the two in a blind side by side taste test. I use both. I even pass the rolled oats through a coffee mill to approximate finer Scottish oats. And I like whole oats (groats) as well. They are all different, but none is clearly superior.

                                    The supposedly superior fiber in oats is soluble. That's the stuff that makes cooks oats stickier than cooked wheat or rye. Rolled oats are just as 'sticky' as cut.

                                    1. I've been eating steel cut oats for years, and I don't care if they're healthy or trendy or whatever. For me, the preference is a taste preference. I love that they are hearty, chewy, and nutty; plus, the flavor of the oat grain really stands out. I cook them on the stovetop and don't find them to be more labor intensive or difficult to cook at all-- in fact, I just leave the pot alone and unattended as I go about getting ready. I like baking with quick cook oats, and sometimes like thick cut rolled oats mixed with a multigrain hot cereal blend from TJ's, but steel cut is definitely my go-to (sometimes with the addition of cooked wheatberries for even more texture). Whole oat groats, on the other hand, take forever to cook!

                                      1. I have seen McCann's in "Quick" style but have not tried it.
                                        My trick is to put the oats and water in a saucepan the night before and let it sit.
                                        In the morning I out on the stovetop and turn on the heat. It cooks perfectly in 20 minutes.
                                        I also make regular Quaker (not quick) oats that cook up in no time. Both good just different.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          Yup this is exactly how we do it and it works great.

                                          1. re: Motosport

                                            I know I'll probably get slammed for this but:
                                            How many people put cream and brown sugar or maple syrup on the hot oatmeal?
                                            Instead: Spoon out the steaming hot oatmeal into your bowl and put a nice scoop of good Vanilla ice cream on top.
                                            The combination of the hot oatmeal and cold ice cream is amazing. Not much different than cream and brown sugar.
                                            Please try it before you comment!!

                                            1. re: Motosport

                                              i have a dairy allergy so I can't try that specifically, but it sounds tasty! I use vanilla soy milk to loosen up my oatmeal when I reheat it, might try it with vanilla soy dream sometime! :)

                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                Some vegan ice cream is pretty good. My daughter is a vegan (the Hezbollah of vegetarians).
                                                Try it and let me know.

                                              2. re: Motosport

                                                I think that's just fine! You're right to break it down into its ingredients and see the similarities. I may or may not (Idon't actually remember) have been slammed on an eggnog thread when I suggested melting good ice cream and adding nutmeg to get eggnog. It's the SAME ingredients, so why not? This kind of thinking is what creates a Chopped winner.

                                                1. re: Motosport

                                                  how could anyone slam anyone for ice cream on anything?

                                                  1. re: eLizard

                                                    Or slathering with melted cheese!!!!

                                              3. I used to like the other oatmeal but after eating steel cut for a while, I can't eat the other stuff anymore, just too gummy. I make up a big batch and microwave small batches w/ milk in the morning so it's like a porridge. You can also do overnight oatmeal in the slow cooker. I have had McCann's 5 minute oatmeal and that's pretty good.

                                                1. I use a slow cooker, 6 cups of water to one cup of steel cut. Just leave it overnight on slow. If you want a taste test first Costco sells a packaged steel cut you can just microwave.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: PeterL

                                                    I've never used it but Trader Joe's has it frozen.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      the trader joe's version is very tasty, just a hint of maple and brown sugar flavors but not overwhelmingly sweet, IMO.

                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                        Good to know. I'm not sure if I'd spend the money but maybe on vacation. I find most prepared oatmeals too sweet so this might work.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          It's nice to have as a backup... I think I have a serving lurking in the freezer at the moment, just in case. :)

                                                      2. re: chowser

                                                        They also sell 'quick cook' steel-cut oats that you can nuke. Not sure how that works, but I like them more than regular rolled oats.

                                                    2. For us, the extra effort IS worth it. Some might disagree, but we have tried dozens of alternatives, and always go back to the "original."