Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats are the ultimate make ahead breakfast. Whole-grain and low sugar, this slow cooker oatmeal tastes just like apple pie.
Why You’ll Love these Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
Between their creaminess, warming spice, nutty texture, and perfect dose of sweetness, this is the kind of breakfast you can enjoy on repeat.
I always prefer the texture of steel cut oats to rolled oats, but rarely have time to prepare them on busy mornings. The beauty of this recipe is that it makes four servings, which can easily be reheated without altering the texture of the hearty oats. They taste just as creamy and decadent 1, 2 or even 3 days later with a quick nook in the microwave.
Alternatively, you can enjoy them cold right out of the fridge, overnight oats style. You could even freeze leftovers if you’re doing major meal prep and prepping more than one batch.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions
- Steel Cut Oats: Steel cut oats are a less processed version of rolled or quick oats. Instead of being straight up pulverized like the latter two varieties, steel cut oats are cut with steel blades (hence the name “steel-cut”). This leaves the oat more closely resembling its original state, and gives it heartier texture. This is also why steel cut oats take longer to cook–but trust me, the final product is well worth the wait!
- Milk: You can use your milk of choice in this recipe: 2%, whole, cashew, almond, oat, etc. If using alt milk, I suggest using an unsweetened variety so that you have better control over the sweetness of the oats. My personal favorite is unsweetened cashew milk, which adds luscious creaminess.
- Apple: One whole apple gets cored, diced, and cooked right in the oatmeal. As the apple softens up in the oats, it becomes similar in texture to that of apple pie filling. (Yes, please!) You can use any variety of apple you like: Fuji for sweetness or Granny Smith for more tart flavor.
- Apple Pie Spice: Apple Pie Spice is a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cardamom. It’s very similar to pumpkin pie spice, so you can use whichever one you have on hand. Alternatively, just use a mix of any of the before mentioned spices.
- Maple Syrup: I love my oats with a touch of sweetness from pure maple syrup. The maple flavor also complements the apple and spices deliciously. Alternatively, you can use honey, date syrup, or brown rice syrup. Also, feel free to add more or less to taste, or omit it if you prefer to top individual bowls instead.
- Apple Sauce: For even more apple pie flavor and creamy texture, break out the good ol’ applesauce! I prefer using an unsweetened variety, however sweetened or cinnamon varieties are fine, too.
How to Make Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats:
First, grease a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray or add a liner. Next, add the oats, milk, water, apple, applesauce, maple syrup, apple pie spice, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Stir all components until they are well-combined.
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours (overnight) or on high for 4 hours, until the oats are soft but maintain a bit of chew. Remove cover and stir to evenly combine the ingredients. Enjoy warm with desired toppings!
Experts Tips for Making Slow Cooker Oatmeal
- Steel cut oats love to stick to the sides of slow cookers, so be sure to generously grease the pot or use a crockpot liner. The latter makes for SUPER easy cleanup!
- Use traditional steel cut oats ONLY. Any kind of other oatmeal, such as quick-cooking steel cut oats or rolled oats, will become too mushy during this long of a cook time. I love this variety from Bob’s Red Mill.
- Crockpots can vary in terms of functionality. If your crockpot has the function to switch to “off” or “keep warm” after the time is through, you’ll be better set up for success. If not, I suggest making the oats during a time when you’re home and can keep an eye out when they finish. The last thing you want is for them to continue cooking past the suggested time and become scorched.
Ok, this is the fun part (and my personal favorite thing about bowls of oats). Here are my go-to slow cooker oatmeal toppers that will elevate your breakfast:
- Nut butter: I love Justin’s vanilla or maple almond butter for their creamy texture and mild sweetness. Though you really can’t go wrong with a drizzle of peanut or cashew butter, too.
- Fresh fruit: Add sliced banana, fresh berries, or extra sliced or diced apple to further up the nutrient ante.
- Nuts/Seeds: Crumbled walnuts or pecans complement the flavor profile of the oats deliciously. I also love sprinkling some chia or hemp seeds overtop for extra heart-healthy fats.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Steel Cut Oats
This recipe makes four servings, which are great to have on hand during busy work weeks. Here’s how to store and reheat leftovers for best results:
- STORE: Wait until the oats completely cool before transferring them to an airtight container. You can keep leftover slow cooker steel cut oats in the refrigerator for 5 days, and in the freezer for 3 months.
- REHEAT: To reheat, simply mix your desired portion of with an extra splash of milk (this helps rehydrate and plump up the oats) and heat in the microwave until warm.
- FREEZE: You can also get ahead on meal prep by freezing leftover steel cut oats. I like to freeze mine in portioned containers so I can take one out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. This way, all my breakfast requires is some reheating (and maybe extra toppings).
Recommended Tools for Crockpot Oats
- 6 quart Programmable Slow Cooker: I’ve been using this one by Hamilton Beach for years and absolutely love it. It’s programmable with a lock lid and temperature probe, if you ever need it!
- Crockpot liners: Not totally necessary, but certainly makes for easier cleanup.
More Oatmeal Recipes to Try:
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats
- 6 quart Slow Cooker
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 2 cups milk of choice (I use unsweetened cashew milk)
- 2 cups water
- 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. apple pie spice (sub pumpkin pie spice)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- Optional toppings: sliced apple, pecans or walnuts, chia or flax seeds, a drizzle of maple syrup or honey
- Spray the bottom and sides of slow cooker with non-stick spray, or add liner for ease of cleaning.
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and stir well. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours, or HIGH for 4 hours, until the oats are soft but maintain a bit of chew. Remove cover and stir again to combine the ingredients. Enjoy warm with desired toppings.