Autumn Spice Overnight Crockpot Steel Cut Oats

Another thing on the “fall is awesome” list: the slow cooker. This is one of my most beloved kitchen appliances, and something I’ve used frequently since receiving it as a wedding gift, years ago. The slow cooker makes amazing soups, curries, and chills, but some of my favorite uses are more unconventional: cooking butternut squash with a some water, making Mexican hot chocolate, chocolate cake, cornbread, and lasagna. Something I had yet to make successfully in the slow cooker: oatmeal.  

slow cooker steel cut oatmeal

I think the water to oats ratio eluded me, as I was often left with a crusty, burnt, oat-y abomination. I called it quits until a kind readerfriend told me the magic secret. (Thank you again, Sandra!)

Part 1: use steel cut oats. In the past, I’d always used old fashioned, and it didn’t usually turn out well.

Part 2: 4 cups water to 1 cup steel cut oats.

The end.

It actually worked!!

slow cooker steel cut oatmeal

Since I didn’t know what was going to happen, I added some of my favorite fall ingredients so somehow soften the blow if the oats were charbroiled. (Looking back, it makes no sense at all, but totally did in the Mad Frankenstein delirium I felt while putting this together.)

Into the slow cooker


Autumn Spice Overnight Slow Cooker Oats


  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 2 apples, peeled and sliced
  • A few long strands of lemon zest (to remove after cooking)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


  1. Cook overnight in the slow cooker on low for about 8-10 hours.

This is perfect for Sunday meal prep, as you can store portions in the fridge or freezer, ready to go. In the morning, all you have to do is add a little milk if you like, along with some chia seeds, coconut, nut butter or slivered almonds.

For me, it was an awesome breakfast #2 after teaching Bodypump, along with a side of scrambled eggs.

overnight steel cut oats

(Nutrition facts are here)

Let me know if you give it a try! 🙂

Overnight oats made in the slow cooker! Autumn spices like dried cranberries and cinnamon make this the perfect breakfast to wake up to!

Have you made oats in the slow cooker? What’s one of your favorite or more unique slow cooker uses?? I’m always looking for more ideas to enjoy this fall.

I say “fall” but it’s really like 80 degrees here. Just gonna roll with it 😉

Have a lovely night!



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  1. Stephanie on October 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    That looks delish!! Where do you find unsweetened dried cranberries? My WF used to have them, but I haven’t seen any in months. 🙁

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      trader joe’s! or check the bulk bin at one of your health food stores 🙂

  2. LInda @ Fit Fed and Happy on October 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Hey Gina, why don’t you try that in a slow cooker and see how it turns out?? 😉

    • lian on October 7, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Wait, what? Gina’s blog post was all about using the slow cooker for her oats…!

  3. Christabel on October 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I wonder if a half recipe of this would work out? I have one of those smaller sized slow cookers.

    We have an abundance of apples up here in WA and I make apple butter and applesauce in our slow cooker. Honeycrisp make the BEST apple butter. I put it in everything – oatmeal, sandwiches, toast, smoothies.

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      i think it definitely would! let me know what you think 🙂 sounds like apple butter needs to happen over here…

  4. Hannah on October 6, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    I’ve had a bag of steel cut oats for probably a year… Never opened, just sitting in my cabinet… Can’t wait to try this! (certain things I can’t bear to spend time on… Haha 🙂 )

    Now onto google how long steel cut oats last. Ha!

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      let me know what the googles tell you 😉 i was hoping at least til the end of the week, but may freeze a couple of portions

  5. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on October 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I haven’t tried oats in my slow cooker, but it’s on my kitchen bucket list. I’m sure it would be easy to do. Wouldn’t it be glorious to wake up in the morning to the smell of overnight cooked oats? I think yes!

  6. Brynn on October 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Love the fall twist but even more, love the tip!! Thank you!!

  7. Amanda @ Slimplify Life on October 6, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Meatballs in the slow cooker are everything.

    I want to try slow cooker oats or baked oatmeal next!

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      ahhh i need to do meatballs in there more often! do you brown them first?

      • Amanda @ Slimplify Life on October 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

        Nope! I just throw them in there. I leave them a little less compact when forming the balls so that they can slowly absorb the sauces and all the flavors.

        • Fitnessista on October 7, 2014 at 11:07 am


  8. Lindsay on October 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    looks yummy! My fav thing to make in the crockpot is applesauce!

  9. RachelG on October 6, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I can’t wait to make this on Saturday for Sunday morning when my mom visits! I think a hunk o’pumpkin puree might end up in there too. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      necessary 🙂

      • RachelG on October 7, 2014 at 6:58 am

        Lol! 🙂

  10. Holly on October 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    So you’re telling me I shouldn’t throw in the towel on crockpot oats? 🙂 Alright, twist my arm! I love a big bowl of oatmeal this time of year. Will have to give the crockpot one more chance to prove itself with some steel cut oats!

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      yes! don’t quit! haha

  11. Lindsey @ SimplyLindsey on October 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Those oats look delicious! I’ve never made oats in the slow cooker before, but I’ll have to give it a try this fall. 🙂 I’m not sure if this is a unique use for a slow cooker, but I use it to simmer saucy dishes (e.g., butter chicken, spaghetti) once I’ve cooked them while I wait for my husband to come home from work or a dinner party to arrive. This is handy for time intensive recipes that you want to make ahead of time and put somewhere else to clear room on the stove to cook more! 🙂

  12. Carrie (This Fit Chick) on October 6, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Love the fall flavors! I’ve never tried steel cut oats as they take so long, but if its already prepped by the morning, I’m all good!

  13. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on October 6, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Those oats look delicious! Perfect for fall.

  14. Ali on October 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    We are having the same kind of “fall” up here in San Francisco! Gotta love California! <3

  15. Domi @ Eat, Pray, Lift on October 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I’m not normally a “hit it and quit it” kind of girl, but I make exceptions for the slow cooker. And there are steel cut oats and a slow cooker in my kitchen at this very moment, so they may or may not be forced into cohabitation as soon as I’m done commenting. 😉

    My usual favorites to cook in a slow cooker are sweet potatoes and yams (whole or chopped), chicken breasts (easiest meal prep ever), and cinnamon apples.

  16. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on October 6, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Um yum!!

  17. Leah on October 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Yum! I have tried in slow cooker and usually end up with the bottom burnt even with correct portions. But it doesn’t stop me from making them. I like adding pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.
    Lately I like cooking spaghetti with ground turkey, shredded carrots and zucchini in it. Makes for an easy, kid approved dinner on busy activity nights.

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      ohhh i love that idea!

  18. Emily on October 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I’ve made this soo many times and my husband and I eat this up. It’s almost like dessert. The trick is to NOT do it overnight and do it on high for 2-3 hours and watch it. Make it. You’ll thank me later. I promise.

    • Fitnessista on October 6, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      ok this is definitely happening 🙂

  19. haley @Cupcakes and on October 6, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    still haven’t had oats yet this season, so I’ll have to make these FIRST!

  20. Julianna @ Julianna Bananna on October 7, 2014 at 12:17 am

    this looks amazing! and now i want to go buy a slow cooker. haha the never ending quest for kitchen gadgets lives on!

  21. Molly on October 7, 2014 at 2:28 am

    Are steel cut oats GF?

    • Fitnessista on October 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

      yes if you make sure to buy gluten-free steel cut oats (like bob’s red mill brand)

  22. Courtney Violet Bentley on October 7, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Wow! This looks amazing cannot wait to try this 🙂 I have a relationship with my slow cooker, I swear it has improved my cooking skills ten fold and anytime I cook something in my slow cooker my husband talks about how great of a cook I am 😉 Thanks for this awesome recipe! xo C

  23. Tina Muir on October 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Oooh sounds wonderful, and I am trying to have oatmeal every day this week so my stomach is well and truly used to it for sunday. This is a recipe I can try, and I have been searching far and wide for a slow cooker one that does not require only 6 hours….how are we meant to get enough sleep to train properly (or prepare for a marathon) with only 6 hours of sleep!?! THANK YOU!

  24. Deanna on October 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

    This looks great! And maybe I’ve never noticed it before…but I love that you add the nutrition information for this recipe. My 5 year old is diabetic and we count carbs….so its really nice to not have to calculate it all out myself for this recipe. Thanks again!

  25. Alex on October 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Yum!! That oatmeal looks delicious. Love all of the fall spices you incorporated. I’ve been obsessed with using the slow cooker to make beans. Rather than buying cans, I’ve been buying all different varieties in bulk. One cup of beans to 7 cups water and 1/4 tsp. baking soda. Works like a charm. BPA free. Cheap. And easy.

    • Michelle Rae on October 7, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Do you still have to soak the beans when you do them this way? My downfall with beans is I am never prepared enough and always find myself opening a can last minute!

  26. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on October 7, 2014 at 10:18 am

    This sounds really good! The key to not getting the oats crusty is to put everything in a bowl inside of the crockpot and fill the crockpot with water. This is how I’ve done it because I read it in a few different places when looking up recipes and it’s a good trick! I’m glad you found a way that works for you, though.

    • Fitnessista on October 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

      geniussssssss. any type of glass bowl??

      • Laura B @ FitMamaLove on October 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        I can’t remember what kind I used since it’s been more than a year! It may have been small metal bowl.

  27. Nicole @ Fitful Focus on October 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I haven’t tried oats in the slow cooker, but I’m going to now. This looks amazing!

  28. Tracy on October 7, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve always ended up with crusty burnt oats, too, so I’m excited to give steel cut a try! I love the addition of apples…yum.

    I use my slow cooker to cook beans. I seem to always burn them on the stove! I also like to use it to bake potatoes 🙂

  29. Robyn on October 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Overnight oats are my favourite! This recipe looks great, can’t wait to try 🙂

  30. Nicole F. on October 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Do you know what is an awesome trick as well (read it in the blogworld somewhere so I can’t take credit)? Same ratio of water to oats, bring it to a simmer in a pot on the stove for two minutes, then turn it off and leave the lid on overnight. Perfectly cooked steel cut oats every time and it quite literally takes 5 min. to put together. Just heat in the morning and serve!

    • Fitnessista on October 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      whoa!! that is awesome! love that it uses such little energy too

  31. Joanna on October 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I got my slowcooker for Christmas, and when I opened my present hmm i was not over the moon! Now though I used so often I cannot imagine my kitchen without it!

  32. Brenna on October 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Sunday Meal Prep:
    Baked sweet potatoes in the crock pot, chicken and veggies in the oven = lunch all week (boring lunch, but lunch).
    I think Sunday night will be my oatmeal experiments and then both breakfast and lunch will be all taken care of for the week!!! Thanks for the tip on the crockpot – lots of recipes I’ve tried have you throw everything in the morning of for less time and less water. This will make it so much easier. And the house will smell delicious – always a good thing!!!

    Now to get more creative with lunches….

  33. Melodie on October 7, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I’m prepping this breakfast tonight for tomorrow. my boys love just about any variation of oats so I have a feeling they’ll love this one.

    • Fitnessista on October 8, 2014 at 1:53 am

      let me know what you all think!!

      • Melodie on October 8, 2014 at 11:43 pm

        ok. we had our steel cut oats this morning. I cut the recipe in half, unsure if my kiddos would even like it. it cooked on low for 9 hours. about 1/3 of the mixture ended up being stuck to the crock pot. 🙁 and the rest of it just tasted like water down apple cinnamon flavor. it was very soup initially, but after it cooled it thickened a bit. I’m just not sure what I did wrong for the flavor to be so bland and sticking to the sides of the crockpot.

        • Fitnessista on October 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

          awww man! i’m so sorry about that 🙁 maybe it only works with the double recipe…. i feel terrible. i wonder why it was bland, too? the batch i made had a ton of flavor.

          • Lori on October 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm

            I coat the inside of my slow cooker crock with a thin layer of coconut oil. No sticking so far.

  34. Kristina on October 8, 2014 at 12:50 am

    how could one make this paleo? I often make N’oatmeal (oatmeal minus the oats) with ground flax seed, egg, and pumpkin puree…anyone know if this would work?

    • Fitnessista on October 8, 2014 at 1:49 am

      i don’t think slow cooker + egg would work out well :/ wondering if anyone else has ideas!

      • Melissa @ Mango About Town on November 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

        I think you’re right – the egg would just cook to the slow cooker and turn into a huge mess!

  35. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine on October 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Sounds like a great combo of flavors! I shy away from using my slow cooker for things like that because I hate cleaning it out! I think I need to buy a smaller slower cooker, too. I have a huge one which is great for soups and chilis, not so great for oatmeal!

    • Fitnessista on October 9, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      i cheat and put it in the dishwasher 😉

  36. Kelsey on October 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I make mine using TEA instead of water. I work for a loose leaf tea company with tons of sweet yummy flavours, so I make 4 cups worth of tea and throw that in with the oatmeal. Adds some yummy taste without adding tons of sugar/junk. Try it out!

  37. Melissa @ Mango About Town on November 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I made this recipe this afternoon and it turned out great! I did 4 hours on high because I was around to keep an eye on it. My slow cooker is old so I found I needed to stir it often or it started to cook to the bottom. Also, the dried cranberries plumped up to normal cranberry size- they’re so cute haha

  38. Sara on November 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I just put everything in the crock pot for tomorrow! fingers crossed!

    • Fitnessista on November 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

      how’d it turn out?!

      • Sara on November 13, 2014 at 8:49 am

        Good! A little sticking on the edges but it was the perfect tartness! I don’t like sweet oatmeal! Thank you! Will make this again!

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