The Perfect Bowl of Oats

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A bowl of perfect, fluffy steel cut oats topped with berries, banana, nut butter, and hemp seeds

Ah, the perfect bowl of oatmeal – a thing to behold.

When we’re sick, craving comfort food, or just want something extra hearty for breakfast, this is our go-to meal.

In the hundreds of times we’ve made oats, we’ve found some tricks that elevate the texture, flavor, and tenderness, and we’re stoked to share those with you today. Shall we?

Wood cutting board with steel cut oats, salt, maple syrup, flaxseed meal, and cinnamon for making a delicious gluten-free vegan breakfast

This recipe requires 4 ingredients, 1 pot, and simple methods to prepare.

Our top tip is to SOAK. Now, if you can’t find the time to soak your oats ahead of time, that’s fine. We’ve got shortcuts for you in the notes. But if you know you’re having oats the next day, the best way to get dreamy oats is by soaking them overnight in cool water.

Soaking not only softens the oats, but it also makes them more tender, quicker to cook, and easier to digest. In a side-by-side comparison, we found that unsoaked oats lacked that fluffy, creamy texture soaked oats provide. So, from here on out, we’ll be soaking.

Once they’re soaked, it’s time to cook. Simply bring oats to a low boil. Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender.

A saucepan filled with freshly cooked perfect steel cut oats

Lastly, add in your sweetener of choice, along with cinnamon and flaxseed.

For toppings, we can’t resist our go-to Berry Compote (we add chia seeds at the end for thickening + healthy fats!), hemp seeds, nut butter, and banana. Seriously dreamy.

Using a wooden spoon to stir berry compote in a saucepan for the best gluten-free steel cut oats

We hope you LOVE these oats! They’re:

Easy to make
Fluffy
Tender
Creamy
Naturally sweetened
Nutritious
& SO delicious

These oats make the perfect weekday or lazy weekend breakfast. They’re super versatile as well! In the fall, top with roasted apples. In the summer, go with fresh berries or compote. In the spring, go with oranges! The options are endless.

For more oats recipes, check out our Brown Sugar Pear Steel Cut Oats, 5-Ingredient Vegan Gluten-Free Cookies, Everything Breakfast Cookies, Pumpkin Pie Oats, and Peanut Butter Overnight Oats.

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Close up shot showing two bowls of perfectly cooked steel cut oats topped with fruit and nut butter

The Perfect Bowl of Oats

How to make the perfect steel cut oats in 3 easy steps: Soak, boil, simmer. Soaking the oats is the secret to ultra creamy, fluffy, tender oats. Plus, it improves digestibility! Just 4 ingredients required for this staple breakfast recipe.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Using a spoon to grab a bite from the Perfect Bowl of Oats
4.9 from 19 votes
Prep Time 6 hours 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings 2
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3 Days

Ingredients

OATS

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water (plus more as needed for cooking)
  • 1 Pinch sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar (or other sweetener of choice), plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon , plus more to taste

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • Add 1 cup oats to a large saucepan and top with 2 cups water (or, if making more or less, just make sure there is double the water as there are oats). Cover and soak for 6 hours or overnight (see notes for shortcuts). This will improve digestibility and also slightly speed cooking time. It also yields fluffier, creamier oats!
  • The following day (or 6 hours later), add a pinch of salt and bring to bubbling boil over high heat. Once bubbling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the water is mostly absorbed and the oats are tender. If the oats appear dry, add more water as needed. Then remove from heat.
  • Scrape any oats off the bottom that may have stuck to the pan. Add in flaxseed meal (optional), sweetener of choice, and cinnamon. Stir once more to combine. For creamier oats, add in a splash of dairy-free milk of choice at this time (optional).
  • To serve, divide between serving bowls and top with any additional garnishes. Our go-to is berry compote with chia seeds, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, and hemp seeds.
  • Best enjoyed fresh. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat on stovetop with water or dairy-free milk until hot.

Video

Notes

*If you don't want to soak your oats, simply bring listed amount of water to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, add oats, stir, and reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook until tender - 15-20 minutes.
*Prep time includes soaking. If not soaking the oats, the prep time is only 5 minutes.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate based on 1/2 of the recipe calculated with maple syrup and without optional toppings.

Nutrition (1 of 2 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 369 Carbohydrates: 70.9 g Protein: 11.3 g Fat: 4.7 g Saturated Fat: 0.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.63 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.13 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 39 mg Potassium: 356 mg Fiber: 9.8 g Sugar: 6.8 g Vitamin A: 2.55 IU Vitamin C: 0.01 mg Calcium: 44.34 mg Iron: 3.5 mg

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  1. Nicole says

    I hated quick oats. First time doing this following your recipe, it’s save to say that I’m converted :)
    I put a little 85% dark chocolate and bloobies. I like the texture of this oat.

    Thank you.

  2. Courtney says

    This recipe is perfect! – especially if you’re less familiar cooking steel cut oats than say rolled oats. The overnight soaking method is great (and easy!), and these are so yummy. :)

    Side note: I especially like that you can customize the recipe with the serving button. Bump the number of servings up and you can see how every ingredient is adjusted!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you found it helpful, Courtney! Thanks so much for the lovely review!

  3. Mel says

    I’ve found that soaking for even an hour or two in the morning while I’m making my coffee and getting ready helps to soften the oats and definitely makes cook time shorter! I always hate myself when I forget to soak before I go to bed, so I’ve found i can cheat a little bit

  4. Pat says

    My 16 year old daughter loves steel cut oats! Your recipes makes amazing and creamy oatmeal! She used to do overnight oat during the summer months but then started heating up the oats soaked in almond milk in the microwave when the weather got colder and she’s in a hurry to leave for school in the morning. Now that she will be home for at least another month or all the way through summer, she will be making it your way. Thank you!

  5. Samantha says

    So good. So easy. So quick (for steel cut oats)
    Awesome as left overs, I doubled the recipe and my family ate it for the next few days. I used raspberries and cherries for the fruit compote and alternated between almond and peanut butter.

    Additional add ons I love are pomegranate, walnuts or pecans chopped, and plain thick yogurt(vegan or not, I like both). The diversity of creamy, cold, sweet, hot, crunchy, sour, salty is everything I dream of in my morning breakfast. Thank you again!!

  6. Heather says

    What a great recipe! My picky husband loves it and now packs it for breakfast in the mornings.

    He adds a little coconut sugar and honey to it and voila!

    Many thanks!

  7. Ameerah says

    I had no idea it was better to soak the oats . Amazing always learning something new daily. Thank you.

    What toppings do you guys like on your oats ??Normally when I make them I throw on a cut banana at the end . Its good but getting kinda boring. Any ideas on how to jazz it up a bit ??

  8. Malak says

    What if you don’t like steel cut oats and want to use rolled oats instead (not instant oats, but old fashioned)?

      • russ says

        I use 1/2 Scottish Oats and 1/2 Steel-cut( Irish/ pinhead). That combo won this years porridge contest,But I’ve done that blend for 30 years. Scottish oats are stone ground, so it makes the whole concoction creamier.

  9. divya dayal says

    should you discard the water it is soaked in and then add fresh water to boil?
    have you tried to replace the water with soy milk?
    any tips on how it keeps in fridge?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      It’ll keep in the fridge up to 2-3 days. Just reheat on the stovetop adding more water or dairy-free milk to thin as it will thicken.

      As for the soaking water, no need to drain! Cook in the soaking water.

  10. Belinda says

    Now that Winter has arrived in Australia, I have been craving something warm and comforting for breakfast and these oats are the perfect post-run treat on a chilly morning! I used chia seeds instead of flax, and topped the oats with your beautiful berry compote, peanut butter and banana. So nutritious, quick and easy to make! I will be enjoying this for breakfast every week this Winter ;) Thank you, as always, for your amazing recipes, Dana :)

  11. Nicole says

    Hi
    I have discovered steel cut oats. I make 1 cup of oats to 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk of choice. Bring to boil for 2 minutes. Move pot aside. leave overnight and reheat the next morning.. very nice indeed. :-)

  12. Vanessa says

    Wow! So yummy. You were right about soaking the oats overnight. They really melted together the next morning. Thank you!

  13. Yvette says

    Great recipe! I’ve only tried it plain thus far but I intend to try it for supper with savory flavors rather than sweet. I like oatmeal with sauteed onions and mushrooms (and a glass of red wine). If I put them to soak in the morning before going to work, it will be about 10 hours before I can cook them in the evening. Would this be too long of a soaking time?

  14. Sandra Proulx says

    PS: I soaked the oats in 1 cup of maple water and 1 cup of filtered water. I also added sliced almonds to the cooked oatmeal.

  15. Sandra Proulx says

    Thanks for all the great tips! I really enjoyed this recipe. Soaking the oats really made them creamy so I’ll be using this method from now on. I didn’t rinse the oats after soaking. I used almond milk, a dollop of crunchy peanut butter and cinnamon. Such a yummy breakfast this morning along with my healthy, homemade shake! Delicious and filling.

  16. Ritoja Paul says

    Can I use rolled oats instead of stellcut oats?? Do we need to soak the rolled oats overnight is using it for this recipe?

  17. Olivia says

    I made this with the Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking steel cut oats from Costco. When I have made them in the past they’ve been crunch and not that great. Anyway I soaked them this morning for about 4 hours and wow, what a difference!!!!!! So creamy yet a little but creamy. Anyway, I will Always Be Soaking forever now. Oh, and I added a little earth balance, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg, soy milk and maple. A veganised version of a school morning favourite my dad use to make us. Anyways, thanks again as always Dana!!

  18. DH says

    I’d never made steel cut oats because I thought they took forever to cook! I’ve made these twice now and they are SO GOOD. The first time I made them on a Saturday afternoon but I forgot this weekend, threw them in to soak Sunday night and whipped them up before work on Monday. Steel cut has a way better texture – wow! Ps I am eating them as I write this!!

  19. Cici says

    These oats are amazing. I made them a few weeks ago and my husband went crazy for them. He talked about them all week so I took the hint and made them again. Our mornings have become a bit hectic with a baby so I double the recipe and throw them in the slow cooker, viola breakfast for the week! The texture is super creamy and hearty. So simple and seriously one of the best oat recipes ever!

  20. Eduard says

    Before soaking, wash them off repeadetly with water.

    Soaking the oats can be done 1/1 with water. When you cook them the next day in the same water let them go op to boiling and afger reduce heat to a minimum and check with your ear if it’s still boiling.
    No need for salt as they’re so tastefull already.
    Go minimal with this recipe, try to avoid adding sugars, just add mild and fruis as you like, no cinnamon as it’s to overwelming.
    Just enjoy the ceunch of each oat.

  21. Allison Miera says

    This was so good!! So filling as well. I added some
    Berry chia seed jam and also some vanilla coconut milk ice cream. Yum!

  22. Andrea says

    Delish! I added only vanilla flavoured coconut milk to the finished product. Very good.
    I’ll try adding sun or peanut butter next time and/or maybe some nuts & seeds.
    Love that it makes enough to stash in the fridge for next time.
    Love your recipes…thanks for another great one!

  23. Sophie says

    Hi, I’m new to oats and looking forward to trying this recipe as my first, do you know if there is a difference between pre-soaking the oats or slow cooking the oats overnight? We have an Aga so it would be economical to slow cook them. Thank you

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I’ve heard that both can work! A friend of mine slow cooks hers overnight. I think digestion wise both are good. Soaking ahead of time probably isn’t necessary if slow cooking. Hope that helps!

      • Sophie says

        Thank you Dana, I checked with her and she slow cooks them for an hour, stirring ever ten mins. I guess I will have to experiment! Thanks for the inspiration.

  24. Jannie says

    I add a little fresh nutmeg grated,walnuts,pecans,raisins or prunes in the final stage of cooking.
    Variety of fruits,spices,honey to add.
    Each time is different.

  25. Logan M Gelowitz says

    I love the peanut butter, really makes the recipe come together! Do you have an alternative though for a peanut allergy? As I want to pack this for my daughters lunch but they have a strict no nut rule!

  26. Maria says

    How come you use steel cut oats in stead of oatmeal? Isn’t the latter faster, easier, and creamier? I’ve never tried steel cut, but I guess I just don’t see the point of it…

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Great question! The benefits of steel cut oats exceed the benefits of rolled oats due to the way they are processed and they retain more fiber and protein. Hope this helps!

  27. Cassie Thuvan Tran says

    Nothing screams “perfect breakfast in a bowl” more than oats do! Your recipe looks incredible! I normally don’t eat steel cut oats though. I might have to change that, do I? ;) But in all seriousness, would this recipe work with rolled oats

  28. Patricia E Blakeslee says

    I like that you are soaking the oats which I do regularly. I always rinse the oats to rid of the phytates and then use fresh water. Any reason you are skipping this step? Perhaps the oats are creamier, but the phytates are still present, yes?

    Do you use this method with old fashioned oats as well?

    Thanks, love your recipes and your sharing

    • Milt says

      Do you rinse then soak or soak then rinse?

      I have just soaked my oats and there doesn’t seem to be much water remaining so wondering if more water needs to be added to cook.

      I’m using a rice cooker – if that makes any difference…

  29. Mary Anne says

    I LOVE good gooey oatmeal and found out I can make it in my rice cooker. Talk about easy, I just dump in oats and water, seal the lid and set the timer. I also add maple syrup and cinnamon before cooking. YUMMY. Never considered topping with banana or jam. Will try this next time.

  30. Dana V. says

    Great recipe. But one could also use SPROUTED oats, which allows you to skip the soaking process since they’ve already been soaked. Just make sure they’re coming from a company who sprouts in clean/filtered/sturctured water because a company called To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. sprouts in regular municipal city water (believe or not). Cheers. :)

  31. Diana says

    I haven’t tried soaking overnight, though I do soak for an hour or two in the morning. I’m looking forward to trying the longer soak. However, I always use FOUR times the water as oats (for the two of us I use 1/2 cup oats and 2 cups water). Does this really work with just twice as much water as oats?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I suppose it’s preference, but I like using less water so they’re a bit more toothsome and less watery. Then I add dairy-free milk at the end of cooking to amp up the creaminess factor.

    • Shyla says

      Right — I’ve gone my whole life leaving them to soak on the counter overnight, regardless of the season. Just oats and water :)

  32. Abigail says

    Mmm, yum! I mostly prepare rolled oats in the morning for convenience, but I do acknowledge the superior texture of steel-cut. When I do make steel-cut, I cook them overnight in a slow cooker, but I would love to try making them fresh on the stove-top one morning. The main inhibitor to this breakfast is the time it takes to cook steel-cut oats, about 30-40 minutes according to the package instructions. Soaking is a fantastic idea to speed cooking time. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Katherine Day says

    When I remember the night before I soak the oats, it does make a world of difference. Your suggestions of toppings and sweeteners look great and are begging to be tried for breakfast tomorrow morning. Now – I’m off to soak my oats!

  34. green says

    Beautiful! These look so yummy. And there’s no need to drain the soak water or rinse the soaked oats? Just cook directly in the soak water? This is often why I skip the soaking, the extra step of rinsing, unscrewing the screen on the jar with my arthritic joints, another container to clean . . . not worth it in a rush. If it’s not necessary, soaked oats are in my very near future!

  35. Cierra says

    My favorite creamy steel cut oat recipe advises to toast the oats before cooking. With that, and this soaking method… I’ll be UNSTOPPABLE! I usually don’t mind spending 30+ minutes cooking them because I’m cleaning the kitchen as they cook, plus I make a big batch cause the freeze AMAZINGLY. Oats are so great! Thanks for this recipe and topping ideas!

    • Hannah DeCamp says

      Ive made steel cut oats before and i love them. I soak them also…. I add bananas.. Chopped dates… Flax and chia seeds…..cinnamon… Dash of salt… Slicded almonds…. In almond milk or water. Blueberries are delicious in them also. Next Im going to try pear or apple I have no doubt it will taste wonderful!