This is a delicious Chinese style slow cooker oatmeal recipe perfect for those who prefer a savory breakfast! Packed with Szechuan flavors and popping with vibrants colors, this is one oatmeal breakfast you will want to add to your meal rotation!

slow cooker Chinese style oatmeal

I love this breakfast so much that I’m drooling over the images as I’m writing this. And I have to give Ben credit for discovering that oatmeal goes with chili oil and chili crisp just as beautifully as a hot bowl of congee. So yummy!

Today I’m going to show you how to make oatmeal using a crockpot. It’s super simple and very convenient for large groups of people. It’s also a great way to save time in the morning since the cooking is done overnight. The texture of the oatmeal is silky and much more rich and hearty than a bowl of quick cooking oatmeal.

The recipe I have is for a Chinese style savory oatmeal but you can make this recipe using the classic sugar, butter, cinnamon, and banana method too. I’m showing you how at the bottom of this post.

What are Steel Cut Oats?

Steel cut oats, also called Irish oatmeal, are husked oat kernels that include the cereal germ, the bran and the endosperm of the grain. They are chopped with steel blades (which is why they are called “steel cut”) into pinhead-sized pieces.

They are higher in fiber than rolled or quick cooking oats, making them a healthier breakfast option. They are also more filling than other types of oats which make them a better option for those watching their weight or their calorie intake.

slow cooker oatmeal ingredients

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Oatmeal

  • Steel Cut Oats: ONLY use steel cut oats when cooking with a slow cooker. Rolled oats and quick cooking oats are not an option here. Steel cut oats are the only type that can cook for a long time without getting mushy.
  • Water: 5 cups of water yields a thick and rich oatmeal. If you prefer it more on the watery side, stir in 1/2 cup of water once the cooking is done.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to season the oatmeal and to pair with the savory toppings (I use about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt).
  • Toppings: Any topping works here but here are my favorites for a Chinese style breakfast: chopped scallions, poached egg, chili crisp, chili oil, fried shallots, slice shiitake mushrooms, and/or youtiao (fried dough bread).

Kitchen Tools Needed

crockpot oatmeal

How to Make Slow Cooker Oatmeal

  1. Gather all of your ingredients for this recipe.
  2. Put the steel cut oatmeal, water, and salt, in the crockpot and stir using a plastic or wooden spoon. You can use a metal spoon if you like but beware that it may scratch the ceramic surface.
  3. Put the lid on and cook the oatmeal on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. When the cooking is done, open the lid and stir well.
  5. Serve the oatmeal in individual bowls and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
slow cooker oatmeal

Tips for Making the Best Slow Cooker Oatmeal

  • To make sure that the oatmeal doesn’t stick to the crockpot, spray the inside with cooking spray or use a slow cooker liner. I used cooking spray and the clean up was fairly easy (my crockpot is in good shape though so I don’t know if an older one will be as easy to clean up).
  • Make sure you don’t overcook the oatmeal. Don’t go over 8 hours as the oatmeal may start to burn. My slow cooker has a “keep warm” function which means it can keep the oatmeal warm without burning it once the cooking is done. If you don’t have that option, make sure to set an alarm so you can turn off your slow cooker at the 8-hour mark.

Cooking for a big family? Just double the recipe!

As you can see in the pictures, 3 cups of cooked oatmeal doesn’t look like much in a crockpot. This means you can double, triple, or quadruple this recipe without having to worry about running out of space! You can also make more than you need and freeze it for later.

slow cooker oatmeal

Don’t Like Savory Oatmeal? Here’s How to Make it Sweet

Here’s how you can make sweet cinnamon slow cooker oatmeal:

  1. Use 4 cups of water and 1 1/2 cup of milk or non-dairy milk such as oat milk.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir and close the lid. Cook on slow for 6-8 hours.
  4. When the cooking is done, open the lid and stir in 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Or you can serve it like that with some pure maple syrup to drizzle on top.

Slow cooker savory oatmeal

How to Save Oatmeal in the Fridge

Let the oatmeal cool to room temperature first and then transfer it to an airtight storage container. Refrigerate for up to 3 to 5 days.

How to Freeze Oatmeal

The best way to freeze oatmeal is to portion it out into individual serving sizes so when it’s time to have breakfast, you only use what you need. Scoop up 1 cup of oatmeal, place it into a plastic food storage bag, and freeze it. Repeat this step until all the oatmeal has been used.

Or another easy – and less messy way – to create individual portions is to spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each muffin mold with oatmeal. Cover the muffin tin with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer until the oatmeal has frozen.

Take the muffin tin out of the freezer and scoop out a serving into a plastic food storage bag. You may need a plastic knife to get the frozen oatmeal to pop out of the mold or let it thaw for a couple of minutes. Place each individual serving into a plastic food storage bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

When it’s time to use, place one bag in the microwave and microwave for 1-2 minutes.

slow cooker oatmeal with chili oil

Did you like this Slow Cooker Oatmeal Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

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Slow Cooker Oatmeal (Chinese Style)

Slow cooker savory oatmeal

This is a delicious Chinese style slow cooker oatmeal recipe perfect for those who prefer a savory breakfast.

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: overnight
  • Total Time: 6-8 hours
  • Yield: about 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Slow cooker
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup steel cut oat
  • 5 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toppings

  • 1 teaspoon dried shrimp (optional)
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chili oil (this is my recipe) or chili crisp
  • Goji berries
  • Poached egg
  • Fried shallots
  • Slice shiitake mushrooms
  • Youtiao (fried dough bread)

Instructions

  1. Place the steel cut oatmeal, water, and salt, in a slow cooker and stir. 
  2. Put the lid on and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Serve with toppings of your choice.

Notes

To refrigerate: Let the oatmeal cool to room temperature first and then transfer it to an airtight storage container. Refrigerate for up to 3 to 5 days.

To freeze:

The best way to freeze oatmeal is to portion it out into individual serving sizes so when it’s time to have breakfast, you only use what you need.

Scoop up 1 cup of oatmeal, place it into a plastic food storage bag, and freeze it. Repeat this step until all the oatmeal has been used.

Or spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each muffin mold with oatmeal. Cover the muffin tin with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer until the oatmeal has frozen.

Take the muffin tin out of the freezer and scoop out a serving into a plastic food storage bag. You may need a plastic knife to get the frozen oatmeal to pop out of the mold or let it thaw for a couple of minutes. Place each individual serving into a plastic food storage bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Reheating frozen oatmeal: Place one bag in the microwave and microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Keywords: crockpot, snack, lunch

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