Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time-saving Overnight Oatmeal

I've already mentioned that my go-to breakfast is often steel-cut oats because my heart has great fondness for their chewiness and wholesome heartiness. It is also my go-to breakfast because it takes almost no work on my part to make.

Here's how I do it:

At night, set a fairly large pot with a tightly-fitting lid (but don't put the lid on now, okay?) over medium heat and melt a pat of butter (oh, a tablespoon or so). If you feel like it, go ahead and keep that butter cooking until it's browned (but not burned, because in that case you have to start over). If you don't feel like it, no worries. Either way, then just chuck in your oats (I use 2 c. for that amount of butter) and stir and cook for a minute or tow, until they smell good and toasty.
Pour in 2 parts water to the amount of oats used -- in this case, 4 cups. And add a light pinch of salt. Crank up the heat and bring to a boil.
Give it a stir and turn off the heat. Put the lid on, and slide it to the other side of the stovetop (or take it off the stove and place on a trivet on the countertop; tomayto, tomahto).
Now, walk away.
Better yet, go to sleep. Everyone needs more sleep.

In the morning, stumble into the kitchen (with or without a baby on your hip) and remove the lid from your pot. The oatmeal will have soaked up all of the water. Give it a stir.
What you do from here depends largely on how you like your oatmeal. I do not like mine "pourable", I like it thick, so I add, oh, maybe 1/2 c. of milk. If you like it creamier or runnier, go ahead and add more. Heat it up again over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg (1/4 tsp. if freshly grating, since the freshly grated variety is "fluffier"). Or season as you like. Add raisins or craisins or dried cherries, oh my!
Once it's warm and creamy to your liking, serve it up.

This is a gigantic batch (6 cups, plus a bit more), which I portion out in 1/2 c. servings and freeze for later enjoyment. Simply portion out, let cool, and freeze. I've used a muffin tin in the past, but found that the portions were a bit too small for me unless I heaped them really high. Maybe a jumbo muffin tin... Hmm...

Since it's really a ratio thing, you can easily scale it up or down to fit your needs. Just remember 2 parts water to 1 part oatmeal.
And it's worth mentioning that the butter is completely optional. I like what it brings to the party, but if you don't want to use it, I would toast the oats for a couple of minutes in a dry pan over medium-high heat, until they smell toasty, before adding your water. Proceed from that point as outlined.

If you have a little extra time, feel free to roast up some pears to top it:

Peel and dice up a firm pear. (Bosc is a variety that works well. You know, the not-so-alluring brown ones, as in the picture above.) Melt a Tbsp. of butter in a small pan, and add in your pears along with 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning, until pears are soft.

You could do the same with apple, if that's what you have or like.


  1. This sounds so much better than the boring way I usually cook mine. I can't wait to try this out! What is your preferred method of reheating frozen oats?

    1. Microwave works best for me. I just put it in for a minute or two, stirring halfway through, then eat up! You can also just store it in the fridge and eat off of it throughout the week. Anything you don't use that week you can freeze for later.


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