What are Steel-Cut Oats?

People worldwide eat steel-cut oats because they are cheap and filling. They eat them mostly for breakfast. In some places, they are called porridge. They are easy to make and can be topped with sweet and savoury things once cooked. Steel-cut oats are sold in canisters or boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated and are easy to find in grocery stores and online.

What Are Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats, also called pinhead oats, coarse oatmeal, or Irish oatmeal, are the groats of whole oats that have been cut into two or three pinhead-sized pieces (hence the name; “steel-cut” comes from the steel blades).

What are Steel-Cut Oats?

Steel-cut oats are made from chopped whole oat groats. The kernels inside the grain stalk’s a hard shell that can’t be eaten. They are cut into pieces the size of pinheads by steel blades, which is how they got their name. This makes steel-cut oats chewier when they are cooked than rolled oats. Oats cut into thin slices are Irish oats, coarse oats, or pinhead oats.

Since Quaker Oats didn’t come out with their version of quick oats until 1922, steel-cut oats were probably the only kind of oats available until then. Scotland, Ireland, and Britain are known for their oats and were among the first places to add porridge to their food.

Today, steel-cut oats are still called porridge in these countries and Australia, New Zealand, Finland, and Scandinavia. In the United States and Canada, they are called oatmeal. Remember that this oatmeal is different from Scottish oatmeal, even though it comes from the same plant. This oatmeal is made by grinding it with stones.

Steel-cut oats are still a typical breakfast food, often topped with fresh or dried fruit, cream, brown sugar, or butter. But before it became a standard breakfast, steel-cut oats were eaten at all meals, often with a savoury topping like sausage, sautéed mushrooms, or steamed greens.

Steel-Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats

How these oats are made, how long it takes to cook, how they taste and feel, and how they are used in recipes are all different. Steel-cut oats are the most minor processed type of oats because most of the bran is still there, and this gives them a rough texture. On the other hand, rolled oats are flattened during the manufacturing process, making them soft and flaky, and they can soak up more liquid than steel-cut oats.

Because of these differences in how they are made, the cooking time for each type of oat is different. For example, rolled oats may only take five minutes to cook, but steel-cut oats need almost 30 minutes on the stovetop and taste better when simmered. Because of this, rolled oats are soft and kind of mushy, while steel-cut oats are hard. Compared to rolled oats, steel-cut oats also keep more of their nutty taste.

Even though both kinds of oats are used to make hot breakfast cereal, they are used in different types of cooking and baking recipes. Rolled oats are used in cookies, bread, and other baked goods, as well as in fruit crisps. Steel-cut oats are great for adding to rice dishes or as a binder for meatloaf.

How to Cook with Steel-Cut Oats?

The best way to cook a cup of steel-cut oats is to pour boiling water over them and let them cook for 20 to 30 minutes—one cup of oats to three or four cups of water. How much water you use depends on how thick you want the oatmeal to be. Use less water for more decadent, stickier oats and more water for thinner, easier-to-stir oats.

Once the water boils, add the cup of steel-cut oats, stir, and turn down the heat. Start tasting it after 20 minutes, and cook it for up to 30 minutes, or until it’s the right consistency. The exact texture will depend on how long the oats are cooked and how much liquid is added. It can be firm, a little bit mushy, or lumpy. You can cook steel-cut oats in an oven, a slow cooker, or a pressure cooker.

Once the oats are made into porridge, they can be topped with sweet things like brown sugar, raisins, and fresh berries, or savoury items like cheese, roasted chicken, and spinach. This oat isn’t usually used to make oatmeal cookies because the tough oats won’t cook through if they aren’t first boiled.


  • 3 cups water
  • One cup of milk of choice: almond milk, cow’s milk, coconut milk, etc.
  • One tablespoon of coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (choose certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Optional mix-ins: ground spices like cinnamon, dried fruit like cranberries or chopped dates, toasted nuts like walnuts, lemon or orange zest, etc.


  1. Mix the water and milk in a large pot. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a slow boil. In the meantime, melt the coconut oil (or butter) over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add the oats and cook, stirring every so often, for about 2 minutes, until they are golden and smell good. This step of toasting the oats makes them taste much better.
  2. Mix the water and milk in a large pot. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a slow boil. In the meantime, melt the coconut oil (or butter) over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add the oats and cook, stirring every so often, for about 2 minutes, until they are golden and smell good. This step of toasting the oats makes them taste much better.
  3. Add the salt and stir. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring every so often and lowering the heat as needed to keep the bottom from burning, for about 10 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. (If you doubled the recipe, the oatmeal might need five more minutes to cook.) When it’s done, the oatmeal will be very creamy.
  4. Take it off the heat and add whatever you want. Let the oatmeal sit for 5 minutes before you serve it. This will give it more time to thicken and cool down to a temperature you can eat.
  5. Put oatmeal in bowls and add any toppings you want to the bowls you plan to serve immediately. Let any leftover oatmeal cool completely before covering it and putting it in the fridge to eat for breakfast in the future.

Here are some ways to enjoy steel-cut oats:

  • Substitute steel-cut oats for breadcrumbs in meatloaf and meatball recipes.
  • Cook steel-cut oats in water or milk for 30 minutes and top with almonds.
  • Blend steel-cut oats with low-glycemic index fruits, such as berries to make a thick, satisfying smoothie.

What do they Taste Like?

Overall, steel-cut oats don’t have a lot of flavours, but that’s not bad. There are hints of nuts and a grainy flavour, but the dish tastes much lighter than barley or wheat. Most of the time, the ingredients added to and on top of a bowl of oatmeal are what give it its flavour.

Health Benefits of Steel Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are the inner kernels of whole oats that have been cut into pieces about the size of a pinhead. They are also sometimes called pinhead oats because of how small they are. They are also called coarse oatmeal or Irish oatmeal in the United Kingdom (UK). Steel-cut oats can be turned into oat flakes with more work. Steel-cut oats have a rough texture, so they are chewy and taste a little bit nutty. They can be used in place of other kinds of oats in almost any recipe, or they can be eaten for breakfast as a filling, fibre-filled option.

Steel-cut oats can be good for your health because they have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, fibre helps lower cholesterol and move food quickly through the digestive system, and fibre may also help the immune system work better.

Support Weight Loss

Steel-cut oats have -glucan, a viscous, soluble fibre that slows the movement of food through the digestive tract and makes you feel fuller after eating. People trying to lose weight may benefit from eating foods that make them feel full longer, which could help them avoid overeating. Even though all oats contain -glucan, the larger particles of steel-cut oats may slow digestion even more than oat flakes, giving them a lower glycemic index than many other oats.

Control Diabetes

The glycemic index of steel-cut oats is low. Researchers have found that when people with Type 2 diabetes eat oats regularly, their blood sugar levels and lipid profiles improve.

Oats may help people with Type 2 diabetes lose weight if they eat them as part of a healthy diet. People with Type 2 diabetes who eat oats for a short time or a long time lose weight and have a lot less high blood sugar when they do so.

Manage Cholesterol

Because steel-cut oats have a lot of soluble fibre, they can help lower cholesterol. One study showed that total cholesterol decreases when you eat 3 grammes of soluble fibre from oats every day, which is about a quarter cup.

Celiac Safe

Oats are a safe choice for people with celiac disease because they don’t contain gluten. Many people like oats because they are high in fibre and gluten-free, and many gluten-free foods are low in fibre. People with celiac disease should read labels to ensure their oats are gluten-free because there is a chance of cross-contamination with wheat.

Steel-Cut Oats Recipes 

Once you know how to make the perfect bowl of steel-cut oats, you can add new flavours and textures by adding sweet or savoury toppings and ingredients.

  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal With Raisins, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon
  • Raw Vegan Oatmeal With Cinnamon and Apples
  • Crockpot Oatmeal With Cranberries and Dates

Where to Buy Steel-Cut Oats?

Many large and specialty grocery stores sell steel-cut oats in canisters or boxes. Quaker Oats, McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal, Bob’s Red Mill, and Arrowhead Mills are some of the most well-known packaged brands. You can buy them by the ounce at places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and other stores that sell bulk foods.


Steel-cut oats should be kept in a cool, dry place, like a cupboard or a pantry. Some brands come in easy-to-seal canisters, but if the oats come in a bag, it’s best to move them to a container that won’t let air in after they’ve been opened. When kept this way, steel-cut oats will last for up to two years. You can also put them in the fridge if your kitchen is warm or sunny.