Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best, and this oatmeal is one of them. I’m on a seasonally-appropriate apple kick, you see. When I was trying an applesauce filling for last week’s apple tart, I wondered if I could cook homemade applesauce and steel-cut oats in the same pot at the same time.

Their cooking methods and timing are similar, so why not? That was a very good question, and the result was so delicious that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.


Why didn’t I think to cook apples in my oatmeal before I added orange zest and a swirl of cranberry sauce? Or carrots?

You really think I would have come up with the concept when I featured my maple cinnamon applesauce on steel-cut oatmeal nearly four years ago. Head smack.

how to make apple steel-cut oats

We finally have apple steel-cut oats on the blog today, in 2016, and I believe they are worth the wait. First, you’ll toast the oats to enhance their flavor (in a little butter, if you want to make them really luscious). Then, add apples (I didn’t peel mine, since the skins get super soft during cooking), water and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mixture is ultra creamy and the apples are so tender that they almost disappear into the oats.

It’s nearly perfect after a 5-minute rest, but I liked mine even more after I added a little maple syrup and a swirl of almond butter. Pecans are great, too. I almost always add cinnamon to apple/oat combos, but I preferred the clean taste of sweet fall apples this time around.

Also read: Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa


  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 3 medium-to-large apples (I used 2 Granny Smiths and 1 Honeycrisp), cored and sliced into 1-to-2″ chunks
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Maple syrup or honey, to taste (optional)
  • Optional toppings: swirl of nut butter (pecan butter, almond butter or peanut butter), toasted pecans or pepitas, chopped fresh apples, dried cranberries, drizzle of additional maple syrup or honey, light sprinkle of ground cinnamon…


  1. In a medium Dutch oven or large saucepan (around 3.5 quarts), melt the butter over medium heat (if you’re not using butter, just warm the pan). Add the steel-cut oats and cook until fragrant, stirring often, about 2 minutes (this step enhances the flavor of the oats).
  2. Add the apple chunks, water and salt. Stir to combine, and raise the heat to high to bring the mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 35 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the oats are nice and creamy. Stir every five minutes in the beginning, and more frequently as time goes on (you might need to dial down the heat as well).
  3. Remove from heat and let the oatmeal rest for 5 minutes before serving so it has more time to thicken up. Carefully taste (it’s hot!) and add maple syrup or honey if you’d like sweeter oatmeal (I used tart apples, so I added 1 tablespoon).
  4. Divide the mixture into individual bowls and serve with any toppings you’d like. If you’re saving extra portions for later, let them cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave, and would likely reheat well on the stove if you add some extra water to loosen them up.


Recipe inspired by my perfect steel-cut oats and maple cinnamon applesauce recipes.
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Be sure to use certified gluten-free steel-cut oats.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE: Omit the butter and dry-toast the oats instead.
SLOW COOKER OPTION: I haven’t tried this, but commenter Kathy says that she uses 1 cup oats to 4 cups water, adds apples and cooks on low overnight.