Overnight oats takes on a new meaning with this slow cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal recipe. A delicious breakfast with flavors reminiscent of apple pie, wake up to a warm bowl of steel-cut oatmeal on busy mornings with minimal effort.
I'm definitely a morning person. But a cold morning person? That's a different story.
When it's dark and snowy and cold outside, well, I'd rather just stay curled up in my flannel sheets. Wake me when summer returns.
But apparently, I still have obligations and commitments and this thing called a job that I have to get up for.
So one of my favorite ways to make getting out of bed more enticing is to have a warm, ready-made breakfast to look forward to which is where this easy slow cooker oatmeal recipe comes in.
A warm bowl of oatmeal is just such a great way to start the day and I especially love a bowl of steel cut oats for their hearty texture.
The problem is that cooking steel cut oats can take about a half an hour. Which is a half an hour in which I would rather be curled up in a blanket.
And so this healthy breakfast idea solves the problem because the cook time happens while you sleep.
The only thing you have to do is stir it all together and turn it on low right before you go to bed and then you'll wake up to warm apple and cinnamon spice the next day.
While this quick breakfast with little effort can't bring summer here faster, it certainly makes winter mornings just a little more tolerable.
- Steel Cut Oats- Steel-cut oats provide hearty texture and maintain their shape during slow cooking. DO NOT use rolled oats (instant oats, quick oats or old fashioned oats) as they will not hold up to the long cooking time and will become very mushy.
- Water- You can adjust the amount to achieve your desired oatmeal consistency. More water will result in a creamier oatmeal, while less water will make it thicker.
- OPTIONAL: Milk of Choice- In place of some of the water, a little milk adds creaminess and richness to the apple oatmeal. You can use dairy milk or a dairy-free alternative like unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
- Applesauce- Provides natural sweetness and the apple flavor. Opt for unsweetened applesauce or reduce the maple syrup.
- Pure Maple Syrup- You can adjust the amount to suit your taste or omit it if you prefer less sweetness. Another sweetener such as brown sugar or honey can be used instead. Check out this post on Maple Syrup Substitutes for more options.
- Pure Vanilla Extract- Adds some warm, sweet flavor.
- Ground Cinnamon- Adds great flavor that complements the apple in this hearty breakfast.
- Fine Sea Salt- A pinch of salt enhances the flavors in the oatmeal. You can leave it out if you need to lower the sodium.
1. Combine. In a 4-to-6-quart slow cooker, combine steel cut oats, water, milk of choice, unsweetened applesauce, pure maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.
Mix everything together until well combined.
2. Cook Low. Cover the slow cooker and let the oatmeal cook on low for 6-8 hours for overnight preparation, or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
3. Stir. Give the oatmeal a gentle stir and scrape any oats from the bottom and sides of the slow cooker, mixing them evenly into the oatmeal.
4. Serve. Ladle your warm and fragrant apple cinnamon oatmeal into bowls and add your favorite toppings.
To Store: Transfer leftover crockpot oatmeal to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The leftovers are still quite good so it is a great recipe for meal prep.
To Freeze: You can freeze leftover oatmeal for up to 3 months. I like to portion it into individual servings to freeze.
To Reheat: Reheat your chilled or frozen oatmeal in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of milk or a little water. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until heated though. On the stovetop, use a small saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.
Make it Your Own
- Add Fruit- Stir 1 cup of chopped apples or ½ cup fresh cranberries into the slow cooker at the same time as the other ingredients.
- Pumpkin- Embrace the fall season with this easy recipe by replacing the applesauce with pumpkin puree and use pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon. You may also need to add a bit more sweetener, to taste.
- Banana- For a banana bread inspired twist on this delicious recipe, use mashed bananas instead of applesauce.
- Plain- If you're looking for a recipe to make unflavored slow cooker steel cut oats, simply skip the applesauce and cinnamon and add an extra cup and a half of water.
- Adjust the Consistency- Add more liquid for a thinner texture or less for a heartier bowl.
- Add Seeds- Incorporate up to ¼ cup of flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp hearts for added nutrition along with an additional ¼ cup of water.
- Fresh Fruit: Top your warm bowl of oatmeal with sliced fresh apples or berries.
- Nuts and Seeds: Add a satisfying crunch to your comforting breakfast with chopped nuts (like almonds or walnuts) or a sprinkle of seeds (such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds).
- Greek Yogurt: A couple dollops add creaminess and protein to your hot cereal.
- Granola: I like to sprinkle on some maple or honey granola for added crunch (it reminds me of eating apple crisp).
- An Extra Drizzle of Maple Syrup
What to Serve Alongside:
Pair your crockpot apple cinnamon oatmeal with these tasty sides to round out your breakfast:
Tips for the Slow Cooker Oatmeal
- Choose the Right Type of Oats: Use for steel cut oatmeal for the best texture. They hold up well during long cooking times while rolled oats would end up mushy.
- Know Your Slow Cooker: Different slow cookers tend to run at slightly different temperatures. If you know your slow cooker tends to run hot, reduce the cooking time slightly (the 6-7 hour range) and if yours tends to take longer, cook your oatmeal a bit longer (around 7-8 hours).
- Use the Keep Warm Setting: If your slow cooker has a keep warm setting, set it to switch to that at the end of the cooking time. That way, your healthy oatmeal will be ready for you at breakfast time no matter when you wake up.
- Adjust the Consistency: If you like thicker oatmeal, use less liquid and for a creamier texture, add a bit more.
- Consider a Slow Cooker Liner: Using a slow cooker liner can make clean up easier and prevents the oatmeal from sticking to the sides.
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And if you liked this recipe...
...you might also like:
Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
- 6 cups water or 4 cups water + 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups applesauce
- 1 and ½ cups steel-cut oats
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (overnight) or on high for 3 to 4 hours, until the oats are soft but maintain a bit of chew.
- Remove the cover and stir to evenly combine the ingredients, scraping the oats off the bottom and away from the sides.
- .Enjoy warm with desired toppings.