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.
1/2 pint jars are the perfect serving size for storing oatmeal in the fridge.

Overnight, Slow Cooker, Banana & Coconut Milk Steel-Cut Oatmeal

This cooks while you sleep, so you can wake up to the aroma of a delicious, ready-to-eat breakfast. The oats, flax seed, bananas, and coconut milk will give you the fuel to keep going all morning. It's lactose free and vegan, too. 

Last year I shared two recipes for Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats, one was apple-cinnamon and the other was cherry-almond. They are healthy, hearty breakfasts that have been very popular with readers. So I thought it was time to try out a new flavor. Today's recipe turns out to be my favorite so far. Totally yummy, filling, and good for you.

It was Yummy reader, Bella, who got me thinking about using coconut milk when she asked in the apple cinnamon oatmeal comments about substituting coconut milk for the skim milk in that recipe. I had previously only used coconut milk in Thai cooking and was intrigued with the idea of cooking it with oatmeal. Bella was onto something. The coconut milk adds a creamy richness to the oatmeal that is unbelievably delicious. It's naturally sweet and is a perfect complement to bananas. 

Coconut Milk is good for you, too! Although previously believed to be bad for you because of its saturated fat, now it is touted as a super healthy food. That's because it has a kind of saturated fat that quickly turns into energy, instead of being stored as fat like the "bad" saturated fats. Coconut milk is loaded with vitamins and nutrients and can actually boost metabolism and contribute to weight loss. (More information about its health benefits here.)

A power breakfast! Coconut milk is high in calories, so I used a light version in this recipe. The bananas, steel cut oats, cinnamon, and flax seed are also loaded with nutrition, making this a power breakfast!  And just wait 'til you taste it. So good.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 6 points per 3/4 cup serving


Step-by-step photos for making
Slow Cooker, Banana & Coconut Milk Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: ripe bananas*, steel cut oats, light coconut milk**, ground flax seed, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, kosher salt, butter (butter is optional; omit butter for vegan).

*I recommend using very ripe bananas. The ones in the picture below could be even riper with more brown spots. Ripe bananas are sweeter and more flavorful. Also, I have learned that as they ripen their starch content is reduced; and this helps them cook without turning a pinkish/purple color. I have had the most success with flavor and color using well ripened bananas.

*Canned coconut milk is located in the Asian aisle of most groceries stores. There is another kind of coconut milk sold in cartons (often in the health food aisle); this works well, too.


Step 2. Add all of the ingredients to a 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.

click here for Amazon link to my Crock Pot (rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated)


Step 3. 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 4. Go to bed. Wake up to the sweet aroma of bananas and coconut milk.

Don't lift the lid until it's done. If you do, you'll have to add 20-30 minutes to the cooking time for every time the lid is lifted.


Here's how it looks after 7 hours of cooking. Admittedly, not that appealing...YET!


Dig out a spoonful from the bottom to reveal the creamy goodness of the finished oatmeal. It gets caramelized and crusty around the edges of the slow cooker. That's my favorite part. The bananas break apart and distribute as you stir. The coconut milk makes this recipe particularly creamy and rich.


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 the apple-cinnamon 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)


Here are some optional toppings that are great with this oatmeal:

  • additional sliced bananas
  • macadamia nuts or walnuts
  • toasted coconut
  • maple syrup
  • additional brown sugar
  • additional coconut milk
  • additional butter

My favorite toppings are macadamia nuts and a few freshly sliced bananas. It's sweet enough for me as it is, but you may want to add some maple syrup or brown sugar if you like your oatmeal on the sweeter side. 


Is it really possible for breakfast to taste like dessert and still be good for you?


It's a winner, in my book. Love it.

Like the other recipes, it freezes and reheats well.


Make it a yummy day!

In case you missed them, here are links to my other steel cut oatmeal recipes.

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Slow Cooker Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Slow Cooker, Pumpkin Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Slow Cooker, Eggnog Cranberry Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Overnight, Refrigerator, No-Cook Oatmeal in 6 Flavors


Interested in blueberry flavored oatmeal? Check out Marla's gorgeous recipe at Family Fresh Cooking for Blueberry-Coconut Baked Steel-Cut Baked Oatmeal. Her recipe uses a combination of almond and coconut milk. Sounds awesome!

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Slow Cooker, Banana & Coconut Milk Steel-Cut Oatmeal
By Monica              Servings: 7 (3/4-cup) servings
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, sliced (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 (14 oz) cans light coconut milk*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces, optional (omit or substitute margarine for lactose-free, vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: additional sliced bananas, chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts, toasted coconut, maple syrup, additional brown sugar, additional coconut 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 7 hours. 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 milk or water. 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.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 6 pts per 3/4 cup serving

*Find coconut milk in the Asian aisle of your grocery store.
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Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012

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