Overnight Steel Cut Oats – the cold cereal method

4.67 from 3 votes

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For those who don’t want the hassle of preparing breakfast in the morning, this amazing overnight steel cut oats recipe is just for you. This oatmeal recipe is so quick to put together and super easy!

It’s easy to dress up with fruit, nuts, or other additions and also tastes great as it is — you’ll love it for fast and busy mornings.

closeup of overnight steel cut oats with blueberries in white bowl
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My Favorite Way to Make Overnight Steel Cut Oats

Raise your hand if sometimes you don’t want to get up and get breakfast going in the morning *raising hand.* Now raise your hand if you get up and do it anyways *still raising hand.* Great job, momma! It’s not always easy, but we do it. Ok, ok, enough of that. We all know that before-school is not always the calmest part of the day. Not only do people need nourishment that will last them until lunch (because there are no snacks in first grade, folks), but they also need shoes relocated (for the millionth time), hair brushed, and homework signed.

My go-to meals are eggs and toast (backyard chickens are the best), whole wheat waffles (because they need less babysitting than pancakes), or oatmeal. I try my best to avoid cold cereal on school mornings because it just doesn’t keep my kids full, but sometimes I totally give in to the ease of cold cereal. That stuff is a million dollar (billion, even) market for a reason; it’s easy. So in an effort to have a cold cereal-type option, I started playing around with soaking steel cut oats overnight in the fridge. I figured out a great ratio after a few tries, and we totally love it. I’ll make up a batch of these the night before bed, stick them in the fridge, and they are ready to eat in the morning.

The overnight steel cut oats soak up a lot of the milk during the night, but still have a nice light chewiness to them. Mmmm! You can see in the picture below how much the oats swell overnight. Neat huh!

before and after image of steel cut oats soaking overnight

What Are Steel Cut Oats?

Steel cut oats are groats of whole oats that have been split into two to three smaller, pinhead-sized pieces. It creates a chewier, coarser texture than other oatmeals.

Are Steel Cut Oats Healthy?

Yes! Absolutely. They are full of protein, fiber, and minerals that help to keep you full and energized for a busy day ahead.

Recipe Ingredients:

Overnight steel cut oats are SO EASY. You only truly need 2 ingredients; the rest are optional!

Steel cut oats: This is the star of the show! Make sure you get steel cut oats, not old fashioned or quick oats.

Milk: You can use any kind of milk you like, including dairy milk, coconut, or almond milk!

Chia seeds: Chia seeds are optional and add more fiber, minerals, and protein!

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is also optional but adds the nicest warmth to the oats.

Maple syrup or honey: Another optional ingredient, using syrup or honey adds a little sweetness to the oats.

steel cut oats with fruit in white bowls

How to Make Overnight Steel Cut Oats:

Overnight oats are the easiest make-ahead breakfast ever!

  1. Add the oats to the bottom of a quart mason jar.
  2. Add the milk to the jar.
  3. Add cinnamon, chia seeds, and syrup/honey if you prefer.
  4. Stir to combine.
  5. Fit the jar with the lid; stick in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours.
  6. Place half of the oats in a bowl; serve like you would cold cereal.
  7. Add additional mix-ins to taste.
  8. Store remaining oats in the fridge for up to 4 days.

How to Eat Overnight Steel Cut Oats:

You can eat these cold like cold cereal, straight from the fridge, or warm them up in a pot over medium heat or in the microwave if you prefer hot oatmeal. (This just takes some more time.) Serve with any mix-ins you love!

Mix-In Ideas:

You can mix in so many fun flavors to boost the health benefits and flavors of overnight oats! Try some of these:

  • Fresh or frozen fruit — berries, banana or mango are great!
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (like chia or flaxseed)
  • Coconut flakes
  • Blueberry sauce or another fruit jam or preserves
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Spoonful of yogurt for extra creaminess
  • More honey or maple syrup for sweetness
two white bowls of steel cut oats with fruit on red and white striped towel

Flavor Variations:

To make this vegan, use coconut or almond milk.

For added flavor, mix in some cinnamon and honey or maple syrup before refrigerating overnight.

If you have a milk preference (dairy, almond, soy, coconut, etc.), I’ve had success using any and all!

Meal Prep and Overnight Oats:

This stores well for up to 4 days, so you could make a bunch of batches on a Sunday night to get you all the way to Friday! Each jar has two servings in it.

I make them in glass jars and screw on the lid for the fridge, and we don’t even dump it in a bowl. We just eat it right out of the jar in the morning (yay for fewer dishes). And because these are in a glass jar with a lid, they are really easy to take on the go and eat in the car if you need to. Convenient real food at it’s best!


Other Oatmeal Recipes You’ll Love

two white bowls of steel cut oats with fruit on red and white striped towel
4.67 from 3 votes

Overnight Steel Cut Oats – the cold cereal method

For those who don’t want the hassle of preparing breakfast in the morning, this amazing overnight steel cut oats recipe is just for you. This oatmeal recipe is so quick to put together and super easy!
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 8 minutes
Servings: 1 serving


  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups milk, (such as dairy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, optional


  • Add the oats to the bottom of a quart mason jar.
  • Add the milk to the jar.
  • Add any extras you might like such as chia seeds, honey/maple syrup, or cinnamon.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Fit the jar with the lid (the flat and the screw on band), and stick in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours.
  • In the morning, place half of the oats in a bowl and serve like you would cold cereal. You can also warm up a serving and eat it warm.
  • Add additional mix-ins to taste, such as frozen or fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, additional sweetener, or coconut flakes.
  • Store remaining oats in the fridge for up to 4 days.


  • I used Bob’s Red Mill steel cut Irish oats, and they always soften up great for me. If you are finding your oats are too hard, look for quick cooking steel cut oats for this recipe.
  • You can also microwave the oat and milk mixture for one minute before adding any extras and sticking it in the fridge for the night. This will also encourage the oats to soften up by morning.


Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 910kcal, Carbohydrates: 128g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 59mg, Sodium: 185mg, Potassium: 732mg, Fiber: 18g, Sugar: 23g, Vitamin A: 791IU, Calcium: 680mg, Iron: 7mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!
overnight steel cut oats in glass canning jar recipe pin

You will love Overnight Steel Cut Oats because they are quick, easy and filling. Enjoy!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Delish! I added some chopped walnuts and blueberries. The extra liquid doesn’t bother me, as with oatmeal I add milk anyway.

  2. I have been diagnosed with prediabetes and have been searching for recipes that are low in carbs yet filling and delicious. I have enjoyed a number of Melissa’s recipes in the past and I recently came upon her recipe for overnight steel cut oats. I already had steel cut oats on hand but didn’t make them very often due to the lengthy cooking time. Thought I’d give Melissa’s recipe a try and so I made it yesterday after noon and ate it this morning. I warmed the recipe in the microwave and it was delicious! Thank you Melissa.

  3. I made this too. The oats were saturated and soft with still a bit of chewy ness to them but there was too much milk. I added some chia seeds but it wasn’t enough. I will make again just using less milk.

  4. I followed you directions and the oats have been sitting in my fridge two days now and they haven’t soaked up any of the milk.

    1. That is so odd, but you aren’t the first person who has said this. I’d love to know what brand you are using so that I can do some testing!

  5. These are really great! I actually prefer a little longer soak……24-36 hours is great, less is fine….more I fear they might start sprouting! Vanilla almond milk is yummy…..2% is not a problem either. The secret is the spice. I started with cinnamon as you suggested, but graduated to pie spice….oh my oh my….no sweetening needed. I also throw the jar into the microwave to knock off the chill, 40 seconds or so….. Definitely keeps me feeling more energized and fuller than Tony Tiger in the morning……but I will never give up Tony Tiger completely!

    1. My are pleasantly chewy and “toothsome” I would say. They are about like eating other whole cooked grains, so not hard but still chewy if that makes sense.

  6. What am I doing wrong? Got up in the morning and the steel cut oats were the same consistency as they were when I put them in the previous evening. Solid on the bottom of the jar with the almond milk on top.

    1. Sad! I have no idea… most grains, no matter what just love to soak up moisture. I make them about once a week with this method and have had no issues. I’m going to have to think about this. What milk did you use and do you know the percent of milk fat it was??

    2. I bought a whole almond milk 2.5 grams. Tried this 2 more times, heated it up for 10 minutes before going to bed and stirred it around. Same hard consistency with the milk on the top. I then microwaved it for another several minutes to be able to even eat it. Normally love steel cut oats and the flavor with the almond milk is delicious. Such a disappointment. Thanks for your help, do you thin it’s the steel cut oats? Unfortunately I have thrown the container away and have it in another glass jar. Purchased through Whole Foods.

    3. 4 stars
      I tried this 1:4 ratio and after 12 hours, the steel cut oats were still at the bottom of half water. I had to place on the stove in a pot for a half hour to get them right.

    4. Same thing happened here. Seems steel cut oats must, in fact, be cooked? I’ve deduced overnight/rolled/steel cut are all quite different.

    5. I made this with Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut oats and it worked great! I wonder if it’s an issue with different brands of oats?

  7. AuntSue
    Hot oatmeal needs a dash of salt to keep it from tasting flat. Do you ever add salt to your oats? We never add the amount of salt it says on the package, that much salt makes the oatmeal inedible.