My favorite overnight oatmeal
ingredients and supplies
These have a hearty, nutty flavor and are loaded with fiber & nutrition.
This is preferred over whole flaxseed for better nutrient absorption.
It's easy to use and big enough for a double batch of overnight oatmeal. #1 pick of Cooks Illustrated.
Quickly removes the apple core in one motion.
Also available: apple/vegetable peeler
I place the largest bowl (2-1/2 qts) in this set inside my slow cooker for cooking oatmeal longer with no burned edges.
1/2 pint jars are the perfect serving size for storing oatmeal in the fridge.

Overnight, Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal

This is one of my favorite breakfasts. I put it in the Crock Pot before I go to bed at night and wake up the next morning to the scrumptious aroma of cinnamon and apples. A hearty, nutritious breakfast is ready to eat right away. I make this for myself and have enough leftover for 4 to 5 breakfasts. I especially like making this when we have overnight guests. It's so warm and welcoming for everyone to wake up to a fragrant, yummy breakfast.

My friend, Sandy, first shared this recipe with me several years ago. I believe the original version was a Weight Watcher's recipe. I've tweaked it just a bit--added some ground flaxseed and doubled the cinnamon for a nutrition and flavor boost. But, the basic ingredients and cooking procedure is true to the original recipe.  It's incredibly easy to make, and it would be hard to find a breakfast with more nutrition. I love the nutty taste and texture of steel-cut oats. This is hearty, filling food.

Why are steel cut oats good for you? Old fashioned rolled oats are steamed, rolled, and dried before packaging--this process makes them cook and digest faster. Although rolled oats are good for you, too, steel cut oats are even better. They are whole oats that have been chopped into pieces--no other processing at all. It takes a bit longer for them to cook; but because it takes longer to digest them, they make you feel full longer. They also have a lower glycemic index. Oats are a high-fiber, complex carbohydrate that can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and help prevent heart disease. Studies have shown that eating oats regularly can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
(Read more about the benefits of steel-cut oats here.)

Nutritional Info (per 3/4 cup serving): 149 calories, 3.6g fat, 27.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 4.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts


Step-by-step photos for making

Overnight, Slow Cooker, Apple & Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: apples, skim milk, steel-cut oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ground flaxseed, butter, nuts (for optional garnish). You may substitute non-dairy milk (like almond), another preferred sweetener, and gluten free steel cut oats--use whatever suits you. I also sometimes substitute chia seeds for the ground flax seed.

view on Amazon:   steel cut oats, gluten-free steel cut oatsground flaxseed


Step 2. Peel and core the apples; cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. You can leave the peel on for added fiber and nutrition. I don't care for the texture of cooked apple skin, so I peel mine; but that's a personal preference.

peel apples  chopped apples

Step 3. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Don't skip this step, or you will really regret it. You'll need a hammer and chisel to get the slow cooker clean if it's not sprayed with oil first. (I speak from experience here.)

Step 4. Throw everything in the slow cooker. I have a 6-1/2 quart slow cooker, but 3-1/2 quarts is big enough for this recipe. I can double the recipe in my slow cooker when I'm feeding more than 4 or 5 people.

view my Crock Pot on Amazon

in slow cooker

Step 5. Stir it. Put on the lid. Set it to cook on low for 7 hours. That's how long it takes in my slow cooker, anyway. The cooking time can vary greatly from one slow cooker to another, so read my tips below for How To Avoid Overcooking Your Oatmeal.

Step 6. Go to bed. Wake up to the sweet aroma of cinnamon and apples.

mixed in slow cooker

Here's how it looks after 7 hours of cooking. 

cooked close up

It gets crusty around the edges. That's my favorite part. Great flavor right there.

spoon w. crust

The finished dish tastes kind of like a combination of apple pie and oatmeal. Those brown bits mixed in are so yummy. You can top it with maple syrup, raisins, nuts, and more milk and butter, if you like.  I added walnuts to mine.

bowl full

Here's a lovin' spoonful for you!

apple steel cut oats

How To Avoid Overcooking Your Oatmeal. My overnight oatmeal was perfect after 7 hours of cooking, and I was lucky that it turned out perfectly with the first try. Although many have had the same success, some readers have commented that their oatmeal was burnt and ruined after 7 hours--that was too long in their slow cookers. There can be some trial-and-error in figuring out exactly how long to cook this in your slow cooker--they can vary a lot in temperature and cooking time. Here are some tips to try:

  • The first time you try this recipe, make it sometime during the day when you are at home and can keep an eye on it and determine when it is done. (A tip from Kate at Our Best Bites when she made a version of this recipe.) You want the edges slightly browned, but not burnt. Start checking it after 5 hours of cook time. Assuming your lid is clear, eyeball the oats through the lid without lifting it. Everytime you lift the lid, it adds 30 more minutes to the cooking time.
  • Plug your slow cooker into an on-off light timer, if you normally sleep longer than the time required for your oats to cook and you don't have a programmable slow cooker. You can assemble the ingredients in the slow cooker before you go to bed and set the timer to turn on later. That way your oats won't overcook and you don't have to get up in the wee hours to turn off your slow cooker. (A tip from my friend Sheri of The Loopy Ewe)

view on Amazon:  on-off lamp timer (for auto shut-off)

  • Or, set up a double boiler in your slower cooker. (see my Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Oatmeal for photos of this method) This allows you to extend the cooking time in your slow cooker without burning the edges of the oatmeal. Insert a heat-proof bowl inside the slow cooker that is large enough to hold the oatmeal ingredients. Spray or grease the bowl. Add the oatmeal ingredients. Add water to the slow cooker, pouring it between the outside of the bowl and the inside of the slow cooker until the water is approx. half way up the sides of the bowl. Put the lid on the slow cooker, turn it on low, and let it cook for up to 8 hours (maybe longer). You won't have any browned edges, but they don't burn either. Another bonus--clean up is a breeze!

view on Amazon:  heat-proof bowls for double boiling in slow cooker
(The largest bowl in this set fits inside my slower cooker)

Make it ahead and reheat leftovers. I make a batch of this, refrigerate leftovers, and reheat individual servings in the microwave. Spoon a 1-cup serving of cooked oatmeal into a microwave proof bowl, add 1/3 cup milk, cook on high for 1 minute. Stir and microwave approx. 1 more minute until hot. Breakfast is ready!

If you're looking for an easy, nutritious, delicious breakfast, you can't go wrong with this.

You might also be interested in these. Same idea, different flavors:

Slow Cooker, Pumpkin Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Slow Cooker, Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Slow Cooker, Banana & Coconut Milk Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Slow Cooker, Eggnog Cranberry Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Overnight, Refrigerator, No-Cook Oatmeal in 6 Flavors



Make it a yummy day!

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal
By Monica              Servings: 7 (3/4-cup) servings
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk (or substitute non-diary alternative like almond milk)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute maple syrup or other desired sweetener)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk or butter
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup fat-free milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.

Nutritional Info (per 3/4 cup serving): 149 calories, 3.6g fat, 27.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 4.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts
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This post was updated 9/3/2012

Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2011

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