Cooking steel-cut oats in a rice cooker

I started to put this post together about my winter morning ritual of steel-cut oats last night. This morning I was sitting down to eat a bowl full of warm oats and as usual I opened up my blog reader to catch up on the happenings of other potters. I discovered that Keith Kreeger had blogged this morning about his morning bowl of steel-cut oats. What are the odds?

At least now I know that I’m not the only one who loves waking up on a cold winter’s morning to a warm pot of steel-cut oats. Usually that would require someone else getting up early and spend an hour cooking the oats (they take much longer than rolled or quick oats).  That’s just not going to happen at our house. I used to cook a big pot of oats on Sunday afternoon and then reheat it in the mornings. Still too much work.  Then I discovered something great.  You can cook them in a rice cooker, set the timer and wake up to a fresh warm breakfast. Here’s how I do it…

You’ll need:

  • A rice cooker. One with a timer is best.  If you don’t, I think you can still set it up with a plug in timer. I haven’t actually tried this, but I think it’ll work.
  • A rice cooker measuring cup. All rice cookers come with their own measuring cup. Even the $15 ones. They aren’t equivalent to a cup.
  • Steel-cut oats. They’re really cheap if you buy them in bulk. Even from Whole Foods. But you can also get them at a regular grocery store.
  • Cinnamon. I go through a lot of cinnamon in the winter so I buy a big thing from Costco.
  • Salt & water.


The night before, pour 2 cups (the rice cooker kind) of steel-cut oats into the pot of the rice cooker.


Add cinnamon to taste. I like a lot of cinnamon. I don’t ever measure, so I can’t tell you how much. But it’s probably several tablespoons of cinnamon.
Add salt to taste. Every once in a while I will forget to add the salt and you can really tell it’s missing. Mix up the oats, salt and cinnamon well. Cinnamon is a fat soluble spice so it doesn’t mix well in just the water. If you mix it up and sort of coat the oats before adding water, it works best.


Add water up to the 5 cup mark. On  my cooker, that’s as high as I can go. It gives me a thinner consistency but I usually make enough for a  couple of days, and thinner is better if you’re going to reheat. You can play around with the ratio of oats to water and figure out what works for you. I imagine it’s not the same as mine, but you can use it as a starting point.


I then set it to the “porridge” setting and set the timer for the next morning. If you don’t have a porridge setting, I’m sure it’ll work on the default setting. And again, the timer is something that you could set up if it’s not built into your cooker.  The key is that the oats have to soak overnight. You could also set up the cooker and let it sit overnight and then turn it on manually in the morning if you’re not going to eat it first thing after you wake up.

Our rice cooker is kind of a fancy one, but we use it almost daily between steel-cut oats and brown rice for dinner.  You can also make quinoa, your own pilaf and other types of grains. To make quiona, you do the same proportions of quiona to water as you would do rice to water and press start.


In the morning you’ll wake up to a nice pot of oats that only took a couple of minutes of actual prep time! I like to add raisins, but I usually add them directly into my bowl. If you add them too early, they’ll bloat and lose flavor and texture.  And if I have leftovers, I wait until the oats have cooled down before adding raisins and refrigerating the leftovers.

I have two favorite bowls that I always gravitate towards for my morning oats. They’re a bit over sized, but I like how the size and shape prevent any spillage when I carry a bowl from the kitchen to my computer where I eat my breakfast while reading through everyone’s latest blog posts. What’s your morning ritual?

pottery-bowls-for-oatmealAny guesses on who made these pieces? (There are 2 different makers.) If you’re the maker, it’s ok to guess yourself… oh wait, was that a hint for one of them? I’ll give people some time to guess before revealing the makers in a day or so. Start guessing!

31 thoughts on “Cooking steel-cut oats in a rice cooker

  1. Michael Kline on the left? No idea on the right. Don’t have a morning ritual short of getting the monkey (Rosie) up and fed. After that it’s all doing dishes, making formula for the day, and sneaking peeks at everyone’s blogs. Ah, the life of a stay at home parent…

      1. I have the same rice cooker. Which lid did you use – the one for rice only or the slow cooker one?

        The five cup mark for which, porridge?



  2. I love this blog! Two of my favorite things, oatmeal and rice, but I’ve been doing it the hard way. I have been thinking a lot lately about getting a rice cooker and this has surely convinced me. Being a girl from SC I gotta have rice every day. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Oatmeal and cinnamon are both supposed to lower your cholesterol. I like a little honey on mine. I always add the cinnamon after mine is cooked, I’ll have to try it this way. Sorry about your fall, hope you’re not too sore.

  4. It’s a little like having a mom who has your hot breakfast ready for you when you wake up . . . I love oatmeal, but I eat it at night with apple, dates and kefir – like a late dessert. Beautiful bowls.
    My morning ritual is walking, but I don’t have to contend with ICE!

  5. I believe all rice cooker measuring cups are the same size. I know all the Japanese ones are 180ml. That is just shy of 3/4 cup.

    Great idea, I am going to try it tonight.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this and for posting the link to the type of rice cooker you have. I’m looking for ways to save money and this will definitely keep me from wasting money on breakfast every morning!

  7. I was very interested in what you had to say re:rice cookers and I’ve done pottery for years but I’m actually a R.N. and work in Intensive Care. I started to do Pottery in College. Love throwing on the wheel and have sold my work in the past. Looking to go back to this again.

    Ok, I am on Weight Watchers so whole grains is emphasized as part of the Program and yes it’s working.

    I have a dinky 3 cup rice cooker that was free at Walgreens. You probably are laughing at this but let me tell you something, this little dinky rice cooker makes the most incredibly tasting rices, quinoa,barley,amaranth,spelt and any grains so far be extraordinarily good!

    Today is my first day I’ll be buying some steel cut oats. I make grains one way. First of all I don’t use the rice measuring cup anymore. Someone at work who is a Vegan told me you cook grains this way…
    1 standard cup of grains to 1 1/2 cups liquid. Ok, foolproof!
    If you want more, it’s 2 cups grains to 3 cups liquid. This makes perfect grains. Now I don’t know steel cut oats at all. I haven’t ever tasted them but this is what I’m going to do with them because I want to make them into a side dish… and btw, I’m not a vegetarian so if you want to sub veg broth for chicken broth, try this idea out.

    I’m going to cook those steel cut oats in chicken broth. This is going to be a pilaf dish instead of a breakfast so keep an open mind.

    After the oats are done, I’m going to have a stir in healthy addition to make this into a side dish.
    The stir in is going to be:
    sauteed spinach with olive oil and garlic,golden raisins,mushrooms,and chopped walnuts. Another idea I have planned will have oil packed sun dried tomatoes,walnuts,onion and mushrooms. If this doesn’t work with the steel cut oats, and I hope it does, I’ll toss it and add to brown rice. I have both brown basmati or brown jasmine, not sure which one I’ll try with this.

    Anyways, if interested in more discussion, I’d like to know because I do want to buy a good large rice cooker anyway but my dinky guy so far has been my hero for my new food Program as well as my cooking buddy. I have never had one flop yet. I’ve even made omelettes in this thing. Did you know you can do that? I found that out in a rice cooker group on Yahoo.

  8. Thanks for the blog! I have the same rice cooker! What is the setting you use to cook your steel-cut oats?

  9. Great idea! Thanks for posting this, I will try this! My husband leaves early in the morning for work and this would be a nice breakfast waiting for him in the am.

  10. Ok I Did what you said to do. I hope I wake up to some great oatmeal. I like oatmeal but don’t really have the time to make it in the morning. I will let you know how it went.

  11. Awesome!! Thanks for sharing. I have the same rice cooker, isn’t it awesome? I do have a question though, how long does it take to actually cook, not sure what time to set it to turn on in the morning. Thanks!

  12. You think I would know that after having the “smart” rice cooker for a year. I am can’t wait to try it out. Now I just have to get one of those nice pottery bowls to make eating oats even more fun. Thanks for the tip Emily!

    1. The slow cooking kind. I always get mine in bulk. My local grocery store chain has a bulk section, and you can also get them at whole foods. It’s significantly less expensive than buying the can- even at whole foods.

  13. Thank you so much for this informative page. It so happens we have the same rice cooker and it’s fantastic.

    With the timer, my kids and I come in from an early morning surfing session to piping hot bowls of rich oats!

    The kids love experimenting…dried fruits of all sorts…cranberries, mango, coconut…

    and add honey to the final product.

    Also nice additions are ginger, nutmeg and nuts…

    A friend and shop owner gave me this cooker from his place and it has been the discovery of the year for our family!

  14. I just got the same rice cooker and love it. Great for brown rice. I tryed cooking steel-cut oats last night for breakfast this morning. They turned out great. Put the water and oats in the cooker last night, set the timer for 8:00 this morning and they were done.
    The question I have is they boiled over a little. A bit of a mess to clean-up. Do you have that problem? If so, how do you prevent that.

    1. I have never had a problem with mine boiling over, but I’ve heard that from others.

      I always buy my oats in bulk from Whole Foods. I wonder if other commercial brands (like the Quaker Steel Cut) are a little different. Maybe try rinsing them before cooking?

      1. I’m NO stranger to rice cookers since I lived in Japan for years and dragged my rice cooker home with me when I moved back. I was introduced to Pinhead (Steal Cut) Oats when I was visiting family over in Scotland, yes, in Haggis. Yum! I just figured I could do any grain in it since I had no problems with Quinoa. It was a no-brainer. But this morning I tried Steal Cut Oats – Quaker and the boil over mess was a nightmare. Thank goodness my cooker comes apart to clean, but the slime was all over the place. I didn’t know to wash them or let them soak which would both help in that area, but the ideas for jazzing them up are truly inspirational.

        Thank you very much to everyone that posted. It’s so reassuring to know I’m not the only one that is trying different grains in my rice cooker!


  15. I’m new to rice cookers ….I just bought a Zojirushi NS-LAC05 3 cup cooker. I live alone so anything larger made no sense. For you Zo owners, their website has a recipe for steel cut oatmeal that is great. Can anyone give me some pointers for cooking other grains in a 3 cup cooker? Proportions per grain? Their customer service reps don’t recommend cooking grains but I don’t see why. I always make enough for two different meals. What luck have you had with grains?

    I’m picking up a little here and a little there about cooking grains but does anyone just use the small size? I bought some Wehani and Black Japonica at Whole Foods (Lundberg organic) rices that I’m just dying to cook in my new cooker. Thanks for any tips that steer me in the right direction :)

  16. Do you have the 5 cup rice cooker….or 10? I just got my 5 cup Zo today and have your steel cut oatmeal recipe all loaded and ready to go. (Minus the water) I’m thinking about halving your recipe the first time. My morning will be too busy to have to deal with a mess if it should boil over.

  17. Great tips – I’m going to give the rice cooker a whirl tomorrow with my oatmeal! I love your pottery bowls – I really enjoy having breakfast in a pretty bowl; and my morning routine is pretty similar to yours – eating & checking the internet!

  18. Thank you for the lovely story about oats. I was searching for oats and found your blog.

    That being said, reading about your bowls, I am moved to mention my favorite oats bowl, a hand-thrown pot, blues and greens, very thin and somewhat askew, made by a local potter. I loved it and used it every day for at least two years but one day broke it. I was very sad about this, needless to say. So I searched online for the local woman who made it (I bought it at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market), and to my dismay she had died.

    All you potters, carry the torch.

  19. I have been doing a lot of research on making the nutrients in grains more accessible. You might be interested to know that the soaking grains is a method used to reduce the phytic acid which is inhibits the release of nutrients for our digestion. Soaking activates the phytase enzyme which reduces the phytic acid. Since oats have a very low phytase content, reduction of the phytic acid in oats can be greatly accelerated by adding 2-3 tablespoons of freshly ground rye flour or cracked rye grain. Soaking of brown rice can also be benefitted by adding a little rye to it.

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