You know what the easiest part of my day is? Mornings. Especially school mornings. Things always go super smooth because my kids always go to bed on time the night before and fall asleep promptly, not keeping each other up or coming out to ask for drinks and Band-Aids (for, you know, all those bedtime injuries) and bathroom trips. I have a dog that lets herself out of the house to take care of business and she definitely does not go bark incessantly at her nemeses, the ugly terrier and the stump-tailed beagle next door. And my baby? He’s always super considerate about feedings and diaper changes and he’s great about waiting until everyone is squared away and awake and happy and dressed and fed so I can take care of his needs.

Yeah, that’s not my life. If it’s your life, I think you and I would lack a fundamental understanding of each other. I need all the help I can get in the mornings.

I found this recipe a few months ago  on The Yummy Life  and it has quickly become my favorite go-to breakfast for busy (and not-so-busy mornings). I have all sorts of variations in the works, so keep your eyes out for other fun overnight oatmeals over the next few months.

You’ll need steel cut oats, milk (I used whole; I’ve been reading some interesting research on implementing whole milk in a healthy diet), water, brown sugar, cinnamon, 2 baking apples (Fujis are sweet, Granny Smiths are tart), and salted butter. You can also add some ground flax seeds for extra nutrition.

Okay, here’s the thing with slow-cooker oatmeal–the first time you make this, I really, really, reeeeeally recommend making this for dinner on a day when you’re going to be around to keep an eye on things. Because every slow cooker cooks a little differently, there’s a possibility it won’t be done after seven hours or, more likely, there’s a possibility it could overcook. And then you’ll be sad and breakfastless. So it is really not the worst idea in the world to figure out how this recipe works in your slow cooker when you can control the situation instead of while you’re sleeping.


Steel-cut oats.

They’re the whole oats, just cut up. This means they’re much heartier, healthier, and more filling than rolled oats. It also means that cooking rolled oats like this will likely end in mushy goopiness.

So spray the slow cooker (well, the removable crock part, not the whole slow cooker–I know 99.9% of you are smart enough to realize that, but that darn .1% ruins it for everyone) with non-stick cooking spray and place the oats, brown sugar, ground flax, and cinnamon in a 3 1/2 quart slow cooker. You can go larger–a slow cooker up to 6 1/2 quart is fine–but don’t use the biggest, baddest slow cookers out there.

Chop up two apples (I love Fuji apples, but Granny Smiths would also work).

and add them along with the milk, water, and butter to the oatmeal mixture.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours (keeping in mind that all slow cookers cook differently). Before serving, stir (or don’t…but I like to stir mine because I’m crazy like that) and serve.

Keep in mind that this is oatmeal and it’s probably not going to be seasoned EXACTLY how everyone at your breakfast table will want it straight out of the pot. It might not be sweet enough or cinamonny enough or creamy enough, so serve with additional milk, brown sugar, chopped walnuts or pecans (if you want ’em), and a sprinkling of cinnamon or apple pie spice. I also sprinkle mine with a little salt rather than cooking it with the salt–I’ve found I use less and notice it more (in a good way) when it’s sprinkled on top of the oatmeal.


  1. This looks great! As it’s the beginning of the school year I’m all fired up about feeding my kids different, healthy things for breakfast…not just cold cereal. Hopefully that will be something that will last longer than just the first few weeks. 🙂

  2. I have a rice cooker that I can set a timer on so I throw it in before bed and it’s all ready in the morning (in fact, I’m eating it right now!). I usually throw in honey and almond milk, but apple cinnamon is yumm-y!

  3. I love the recipes on Yummy Life – yum! I tried this in the crockpot (also for dinner) and it turned out really good but the next time I made it I just did it on the stove and it was just as yummy =) I add a little truvia to make it slightly sweeter. The banana walnut is yummy too =)

  4. But Kate, if this only cooks for 7 hours, how are we supposed to sleep for the usual 8 hours?

    BAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! Just kiddin’! I haven’t slept 8 hours since Jesus was a boy!

  5. That ceramic milk carton is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Sadly, nobody in my family likes oatmeal. Actually we all like it, but we eat it like cold cereal. I know it’s weird. Maybe if our moms had made oatmeal this way instead of the goopy, sticky way they made it, my husband and I would like cooked oatmeal.

  6. This looks soo yummy! Apple cinnamOn is my favorite! I am going to the store now to pick up the ingredients. Quick, off this recipe, question for you. I have been searching for you recipe for colored pop odd (jell-o) and I can’t find it. I know if I could make colored popcorn my 2 1/2 year old would think its pretty cool. Was this recipe taken off the website?

    1. Are you talking about the Fruity Candy Popcorn? I found it in the recipe index, under Desserts, near the bottom under Popcorn and Snack Mixes. I made my first batch recently and it was super tasty!

  7. I tried a very similar recipe I found on Pinterest recently. Like yours, it was 1 cup oats to 3 cups liquid cooked with 2-3 apples in the slow cooker. Mine came out extremely watery and disappointing. I had to fuss with it a lot during cooking and even ended up draining off a bunch of the liquid in the end just to make it edible.

    Then I discovered you can cook the same recipe in a rice cooker. I tried it and it comes out perfectly every single time! This is now my go-to method for cooking steel cut oats. Takes less time than the slow cooker and zero fussing required. The rice cooker also seems to be pretty forgiving as far as changing things up a little (i.e it still works even if you leave the apples out and keep the liquid amount the same).

    1. That sounds awesome! Good to know! Although cooking them in a slow-cooker shouldn’t be fussy at all; it sounds like the one you used night not be heating up to the correct temperature. I’ve made it several times in 2 slow cookers, 1 large and one smaller, and aside from the first time, I’ve never bothered looking at it until it’s done.

    2. I tried it in my rice cooker, with milk, and it bubbled up like crazy and made a mess. Any hints? I love the idea of using my rice cooker more often…

  8. I seriously want to dig into this right now! I do a stove top apple oatmeal but I only have a huge crock-pot and most of the crock-pot oatmeal recipes I see use the smaller ones (as you recommend). I guess a small crock-pot purchase will be in the near future so that I can make this!

  9. Sounds super yummy!! I have seen Irish steel-cut oats at the store, but they seem super pricey. Your picture has Quaker, so I need to search for those kind to try this out. I definitely have mornings like your fantasy….OK, so it’s my fantasy too, and my kids love oatmeal so we’ll have to try this out!!

    1. The ones they sell in the grocery store in the tin cans are SUPER expensive. They sell them at my local wholesale club (BJ’s) much more reasonable (Quaker brand). Also, we have a milling company locally (New Hope Mills) that sells them REALLY cheap. Their shipping is outrageous, so I realize that might not be helpful if you’re not in upstate NY, but maybe there is a similar kind of place near you that sells bulk flours, grains, dried fruits, etc.

    2. The health food store here sells them in their bulk bins for quite a bit cheaper than I have ever found them at the grocery store. I ususally buy them at sunflower market or winco from the bins to refill the quaker can I bought at Target for 4x more.

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