best natural foods

Cooking steel cut oats

ooking steel cut oats requires a luxury of time that few people can afford.

It takes about 30 minurtes or longer. And considering that oats are most often eaten at breakfast, not many people can afford that time.

It's true, some cooking instructions on the packet says to cook for only about 10 to 15 minutes. But this excludes the time taken for the water to come to a boil.

And it's better - more easily digestible as well as more delicious - to cook it well then to have it barely cooked.

So give yourself at least 30 minutes for cooking steel cut oats.

And don't forget... steel cut oats take longer time to EAT as well because of its more chewy texture. This is one food you would want to savour and enjoy, rather than eat in a hurry and then rush to work.

Fortunately, there are some short cut methods of cooking steel cut oats, or, for that matter, cooking any other type of whole grain porridge.

But before we discuss the pros and cons of various cooking short cuts, let's consider the basic steel cut oats recipe:


  1. In a heavy pot, bring oats and water to the boil.
  2. Add sea salt AFTER the mixture has reached a boil.
  3. Cover the pot, lreduce heat to minimum and simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.
  4. Other ingredients like dried fruits etc may be added at the start or towards the end of the cooking time, or just before serving.

VARIATIONS: There are endless variations to this basic recipe for cooking steel cut oats. I won't claim which are the "best" but here are some personal preferences:

  1. Instead of milk, I prefer to use coconut milk or coconut cream. If it is coconut milk, I would add about 1/2 cup towards the end of the cooking period. Contrary to the advice of many health authorities, coconut milk is actually healthier than cow's milk, which is associated with many health problems. See my article on the Harm of Milk.

  2. Instead of maple syrup, I prefer to sweeten with barley malt syrup, which is again a healthier alternative - and cheaper than good quality, genuine maple syrup as most cheap maple syrups are fakes. Alternatively, I might use unrefined palm sugar made from coconut.

  3. Instead of cookling steel cut oats with usual dried fruits like raisins and cranberries, I sometimes use Chinese wolfberry, also called goji berry. Alternatively, I might use sweet vegetables like squash / pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, etc. Recently, my sister was given some pineapple that wasn't sweet. I decided to cook it with my oats. The pineapple sweetened from the cooking and I had a new variation to the oats recipe.

Slower cooker method - not recommended

One short cut for cooking steel cut oats is to use a crock pot or slow cooker.

This is very simple - just put the oats and liquid into the crock pot before you go to sleep at night. Set the heat to low and allow it to cook overnight for six to eight hours or longer.

Many people recommend a crock pot or slow cooker for cooking steel cut oats. I don't recommend it, however, because my macrobiotic study tells me that cooking with electricity is NOT good for health. I might compromise when it comes to heating bread for two or three minutes in a toaster oven - although never in a microwave!

Cooking steel cut oats, or anything else, in a slow cooker for several hours is not something I would do nor recommend.

Pre-cooked method - okay :)

A far more acceptable short cut for cooking steel cut oats is this:

  1. The night before, bring oats and water to a boil in a heavy pot.
  2. Add a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Cover and allow the oats to "sit" overnight.
  4. Next morning, re-heat and cook for about another 10 minutes. Depending on your room temperature and on how well your pot retains heat, you may find that as little as 7 or 8 minutes of cooking might be sufficient.

Besides cooking steel cut oats click here for how to cook brown rice and other whole grains.

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Barley water
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Steel cut oats
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