Looking for the best way to cook steel cut oats? Try your slow cooker! My cinnamon apple steel cut oats crockpot recipe is truly set it and forget it. Simply add your apples, milk, spices, steel cut oatmeal, and other ingredients to the crockpot and cook overnight. In the morning, you'll have a hot breakfast that smells like apple pie but with no sugar added!
Some beige food can be a healthy option! Though this apple cinnamon steel cut oats crockpot recipe isn't as colorful as some of my dishes, it's packed with fiber and phytonutrients. But that is not all.
Steel-cut oatmeal cooks up creamy in the slow cooker while still maintaining a bit of texture. Meanwhile, an abundance of sweet apples and cinnamon flavor things up, so no added sugar is needed.
Plus, when you wake up in the morning, your house is going to smell like apple crisp. I tend to be more of a morning person, but there's an incentive for my night owls to get out of bed! Rise and shine to this hearty bowl of fragrant apple oats. YUM.
Slow cookers and steel-cut oatmeal are best friends. Set it at night, and you'll have the creamy oats with a toothsome texture in the morning. No stirring is required, and you won't have to get up early to cook.
It's simple recipes like this apple cinnamon oatmeal that sustain us when we are too tired, ill, or busy to use more effort. Shopping for and chopping many types of fruits and vegetables doesn't always fit into the schedule. Having a repertoire of easy, healthy breakfast ideas to fall back on may help decrease your stress.
Benefits of Making Cinnamon Apple Steel Cut Oats
Why should you make cinnamon apple steel cut oats in your crockpot? We chatted a bit about my love of steel cut oats in the crockpot above. Let me outline in more detail why I think you'll love them!
- No laborious stirring: Using a crockpot is the perfect way to enjoy steel cut oats without stirring. I typically choose rolled oats because I find steel-cut oats on the stovetop takes too long. I don't want to stir oatmeal for 30-45 minutes on a busy morning to keep it from sticking. The slow cooker solves the stirring issue!
- Pleasing texture: Let's face it, oatmeal is a bit notorious for having a texture akin to wallpaper paste. Steel-cut oatmeal is awesome because it has a great texture, more similar to chewy barley than instant oats.
- Pantry staple recipe with fresh fruit: Apples are one of the fresh fruits that last a long time without having to freeze or dry them. Since I usually have some on hand, I can easily whip this recipe up whenever I crave it.
- Easy recipe: Just pop everything in the slow cooker in the evening, and in the morning, it's ready to eat. No additional preparation is needed.
- Vegetarian and gluten free: If you use gluten free steel cut oats, this recipe is naturally gluten free and vegetarian. To make it dairy free and vegan, use avocado or coconut oil in place of the butter and calcium fortified soy milk in place of dairy milk. Almond milk and oat milk typically do not provide comparable protein to dairy.
Ingredients for Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats (Slow Cooker)
As promised, few ingredients are needed to make this apple spice oatmeal recipe. Here is the roundup:
- Steel cut oatmeal
- 2% milk
- Peeled apples
- Cinnamon stick
- Oatmeal toppings (fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, or seeds)
I highly recommend Cortland apples for this recipe, as they are my favorite apple variety and I am unabashedly biased towards them. Haha Seriously though, just about any apple would work here that you'd use to make a baked apple.
The cinnamon apple flavor here is on the mild side, so an assortment of toppings will work well. I have been digging fresh pomegranate arils, Medjool dates, and walnuts on my oatmeal lately. For a while, I was mostly topping oatmeal with (more budget conscious!) banana slices and peanut butter.
If you're completely nuts about apples, you could even throw some sauteed apples on top of this oatmeal! It's a great way to use up any extra apples you have kicking around, so why not?
Of course, food ingredients aren't the only things you need to make this recipe. Here are the main pieces of kitchen equipment that you need:
- Peeler for the apples
- Slow cooker
I own a Crock-Pot oval slow cooker. While I love that my crockpot has a large capacity, I knew from previous experience that oatmeal tends to burn to its sides.
Greasing the sides and bottom of the cooker before adding the rest of the ingredients can help prevent sticking. The butter (or another cooking fat) is not optional here!
I also recommend using a round-bottom cooker rather than an oval-bottomed one if you have one. My Crock-Pot express crock programmable multi-cooker has a slow cooker function and is perfect for this recipe. It makes evenly cooked oatmeal, with no burning. (Yay!)
How to Make Apple Spice Oatmeal
It's time to learn to make cinnamon apple steel cut oats! Make sure to start this recipe the night before you want oatmeal for breakfast.
First up, peel, core, and chop your apples. You can see in the recipe video the size of the apple pieces that I used.
Each medium sized apple was cut into about 16 pieces. If you want the apples to break down more into a sauce, cut them smaller.
Next, grease the bottom and sides of your slow cooker with butter. Leave the rest of the butter in the bottom of the crockpot.
Add the apples and cinnamon stick to the pot, then add the liquids (water and milk), and finally the oats. Be sure to add the oats last. They are more likely to stick to the bottom of the pot if you put them in first.
Gently stir the oats so that they are below the liquid line. Cover your slow cooker and let it cook on low for nine hours. Good night!
In the morning, remove the cinnamon stick and stir some additional milk. Divide the oatmeal between four bowls and sprinkle with any additional toppings that you wish.
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The calorie count on this dish does not include any optional toppers. For the record, I don't think these apple cinnamon steel cut oats need any toppings to taste great.
Including toppings is more photogenic, but it is also much higher in calories. Adding some healthy toppings, as shown, is a good idea if you have higher energy needs (as some do in my household).
The one thing I would be sure to add to this dish, especially if you have a weight loss goal, is protein. Since oatmeal and apples are both relatively low in protein, I recommend adding a side of plain Greek yogurt to your meal. With a 5.3-ounce cup of plain, low fat Greek yogurt, this meal remains under 500 calories and is more likely to leave you feeling satiated.
Some other ideas to add more protein to your meal include cottage cheese, plain skyr, hard-boiled eggs, or an egg white omelet. Low fat and non-fat dairy options are more protein dense than whole milk dairy products. That means you get more protein per calorie.
What are some other hot oatmeal recipes?
When the weather turns chilly, it's so nice to have a warm meal to start the day. Try these comfort food recipes for hot oatmeal after you've made this apple oatmeal recipe:
- Hummingbird Cake Oatmeal
- Baked Protein Oatmeal (with a Secret Ingredient!)
- Healthy Baked Oatmeal Recipe – No Added Sugar!
- Proats Recipe: Egg White Oatmeal
- Savory Oatmeal Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros with Avocado
- Savory Oats Recipe – Simple and Delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
How are steel cut oats made?
Steel cut oats are simply whole oat groats that have been chopped into 2-3 pieces. They take less time to cook than oat groats since they were chopped. Another name for steel cut oats is Irish oatmeal.
Which oats are the most nutritious: steel cut, rolled, or instant?
Steel-cut, rolled oats, and instant oats all count as whole grains. They are all actually the same grain, prepared in different ways. Though the preparation changes the texture of the finished oatmeal, the nutrients stay the same.
Steel cut oats have been chopped. Rolled oats (AKA old fashioned rolled oats) were steamed and rolled into thin flakes. Instant oats have been steamed longer and rolled thinner than old fashioned oatmeal.
Steel cut oats do have a slightly lower glycemic index than rolled oats. That means that the steel cut oats may be a better choice than rolled if you want to include oats in your diet but have trouble managing your blood sugar due to diabetes.
What spices go well in oatmeal?
The cinnamon in this cinnamon apple steel cut oats recipe is fairly mild. If you like your oats with more zing, don't be afraid to really spice things up. Here are some suggestions for spices to put in oats (other than cinnamon):
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Ground ginger
- Chili powder (for savory oats dishes)
- Cayenne powder
Also, don't forget items such as vanilla extract, cocoa powder, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and peanut powder. You could also add maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey for sweetness (though those are all added sugars). You can easily take a boring dish of plain oatmeal to something delicious and flavorful with a visit to your spice rack.
Is it bad to eat oatmeal every day?
For most people, it is fine to eat a reasonable portion of oatmeal every day. Oatmeal is probably the grain group food that I eat most often. I credit my excellent blood cholesterol levels at least in part to the soluble fiber that oatmeal provides.
That said, it's always possible to get too much of a good thing. If you're eating so much oatmeal that it is crowding out the foods (and nutrients) from other food groups, it's probably time to cut back.
Additionally, some people with diabetes might fare better with a lower carb breakfast if the oatmeal is making it challenging to control their blood sugar. I'd love to see everyone with diabetes provided with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in the future. This is one of the best ways for these individuals to get information on how specific foods impact them.
Why am I hungry after eating oatmeal?
If you're a regular reader here, you know the three food elements that may help you most with satiety (i.e., long-lasting feelings of fullness):
- Fluid volume
Oatmeal is rich in fiber and contains some fluid. However, steel cut oats are a rather energy dense food, with ¼ cup of dry oats providing 150-170 calories. If you are still feeling hungry after eating oatmeal, try including more protein and fluid with your meal.
Fruits, vegetables, and water are some of your best bets for (high volume and low calorie) fluid sources. This apple spice oatmeal recipe contains more apples than oats, so you should be all set there! I've provided suggestions for protein add-ons in the recipe notes below. Don't skip them!
Other Spiced Apple Recipes That You May Enjoy
If you like simple recipes with apples and spices, you've come to the right place! After you make this apples and oatmeal dish, check out these other ways to use apples:
- Slow Cooker Applesauce Recipe (No Sugar Added!)
- Applesauce Overnight Oats | High Protein, No Added Sugar!)
- Sugar Free Apple Crisp
- Apple Strawberry Smoothie (No Added Sugar!)
- Apple Pie Chunky Granola Recipe
- Pumpkin Spice Baked Apple Chips Recipe (pieces of dried apples make a great oatmeal topping too!)
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Cinnamon Apple Steel Cut Oats (Crockpot) | Apple Spice Oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal, dry
- 1 cup water
- 2¾ cups milk, 2% (divided)
- 4 cups baking apples (I used 4 medium Cortland apples)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds (for topping, optional)
- Start this recipe the night before you would like to have it for breakfast.
- Grease the bottom and sides of your slow cooker with the butter. Leave the rest of the butter in the bottom of the pot.
- Peel, core, and chop your apples. I chopped each medium apple into about 16 pieces.
- Add the apples and cinnamon stick to the pot, then add the water, 2 cups of milk, and the oats.
- Gently stir the oats so that they are below the liquid line. (They are more likely to stick to the bottom of the pot if you put them in first. That is why I am having you put them in last and then gently stir.)
- Cover your slow cooker and let it cook on low for nine hours.
- In the morning, remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the last ¾ cup of milk. Divide the oatmeal between four bowls and top with optional toppings of your choosing.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The calorie count on this dish does not include any optional toppers. For the record, I don't think these apple cinnamon steel cut oats need any toppings to taste great. Including toppings is more photogenic, but it is also much higher in calories. Adding some healthy toppings, as shown, is a good idea if you have higher energy needs (as some do in my household). The one thing I would be sure to add to this dish, especially if you have a weight loss goal, is protein. Since oatmeal and apples are both relatively low in protein, I recommend adding a side of plain Greek yogurt to your meal. With a 5.3-ounce cup of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt, this meal remains under 500 calories and is more likely to leave you feeling satiated. Some other ideas to add more protein to your meal include cottage cheese, plain skyr, hard-boiled eggs, or an egg white omelet. Low fat and non-fat dairy options are more protein dense than whole milk dairy products. That means you get more protein per calorie. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe without additional toppings.