Recipe At-A-Glance

Apple-Date Steel Cut Oatmeal is naturally sweetened, and the perfect hearty way to warm up on a cold winter morning.

Naturally-Sweetened, Gluten-Free

Ready in 35 minutes

It seems like everywhere I turn, people are talking about how sick they are of winter, and how ready they are for spring to get here. Simmer down, folks! I mean, I know we’ve had a nasty little batch of cold and snow lately, but we’ve still got a long way to go before the tulips start blooming and you have to start shaving your legs again.

I’m a big fan of warm weather, too, but I’m definitely still embracing the cabin fever-ness of winter (and the nice, leisurely break from gardening). I’m still digging the cozy flannel jammies and the warm mugs of coffee and the crackling fires. I’m not ready to pack away my sweaters and bring out my swimsuit just yet.

That being said, I totally wouldn’t turn down a free tropical vacation, if you’re offering, universe. A week on the beach is always a good thing.

Apple-Date Steel Cut Oatmeal

In lieu of a week in Bora Bora, I’ve been instead focusing on cozy, warm, comforting food. When you can’t get warm from the weather, the best way is to get warm from toasty food in your belly. Lots of soups, slow-baked casseroles, and warm breakfasts are keeping my belly very happy lately (well, when you’re dealing with morning sickness happy is a relative term—happyish is more like it). I know lots of people eat oatmeal and other breakfast porridges all year round, but I want nothing to do with a big bowl of oatmeal in June. But in January? Bring. It. On.


If you’ve never cooked steel cut oats before, they’re a bit more finicky than their rolled oats cousins. They take longer to cook because they are minimally processed. Steel cut oats are the whole grain groats from the oat plant (the groat is the whole kernel of a grain after it’s been hulled) that have been roughly cut by—you guessed it—a steel disc. Basically, steel cut oats are one of the least processed version of oats you can get, which makes them crazy healthy for you. And if you’re a fan of chewy grains, you’ll love steel cut oats. By using the less processed oat, you’ll never end up with the pasty, goupy, gray stuff that passes for oatmeal on some breakfast buffets.


Because steel cut oats do take a lot longer to cook, I’m a big fan of making the cooking process hands off—30 to 45 minutes of cooktime doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when you aren’t actually doing anything during that time. Lots of folks use a slow cooker and cook steel cut oats overnight, but I like using my beloved rice cooker. I just put all the ingredients in, set it, and when it beeps, breakfast is ready. No stirring, no watching! I can go snuggle up on the couch in front of the fire and not worry if my oats are burning. Of course, you can also make this recipe on the stovetop, too (and I’ve included those directions).

rice cooker oats

I love the combination of apples and dates in this mix because they go a long way to sweeten the oats without any added sugar. I do tend to drizzle a touch of maple syrup (and some half-and-half) on for serving, but if you don’t have a sufficiently-sized sweet tooth like I do, you could easily get by sans-sweetener.

Enjoy! And stay warm.

Apple-Date Steel Cut Oatmeal

Apple-Date Steel Cut Oatmeal

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Apple-Date Steel Cut Oatmeal is naturally sweetened, and the perfect hearty way to warm up on a cold winter morning.


  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large tart apple, cored and diced (like Granny Smith)
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt


Rice Cooker Directions:

  1. In the basin of the rice cooker, add all ingredients (be sure to use a regular measuring cup for the water and oat measurements—not your rice cup). Close lid and set to porridge or brown rice setting. If you have a smaller rice cooker, stirring once or twice during cooking may help to keep it from boiling over.
  2. Serve topped with milk, cream, maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, nuts, or other desired toppings.

Stove Top Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until all water and oats are tender is absorbed—about 30 minutes. You may need to add more water to achieve desired tenderness.
  2. Serve topped with milk, cream, maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, nuts, or other desired toppings.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 78mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 8gSugar: 39gProtein: 7g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


Are you still feeling winter? Or are you ready for spring to hurry on up?

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  1. The secret to cooking steel cut oats is to let them soak in water for 24 hours before you cook them that way you only have to cook them for only about 15-20 minutes every one should do that

  2. I’ve made these oats several times and they’re delicious every time. I usually double the recipe to have enough for my husband and I to eat for breakfast through the week. I use my rice cooker to make them, but it only has one setting for whole grains and doesn’t turn off automatically. I usually cook for 25 minutes, stir and cook another 20 if it is only one batch- if more than one, it may take an additional 15-20 minutes. I’ve also substituted the dates for raisins, dried cranberries, etc. This has become a go to favorite in our house!

  3. I made a batch of these oats yesterday for breakfasts during the week. This was my first time trying Medjool dates, and I loved them in this dish! I made mine on the stove-top and added milk and chopped walnuts to serve. It was nice and quick to reheat this morning. I plan to make this again!

  4. just pinned this to try soon…I’m always a little intimidated to cook steel cut oats, but this sounds so easy. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ve been ready for spring since the clocks went back in September! So far it’s been unseasonally warm but it started to get colder this weekend and it’s been sunnier which helps, although true to form, it’s still raining! I’m not keen on oatmeal and we call it porridge which makes it even less appealing but maybe I should try the steel cut oats and see if they convert me?

  6. I am a slow cooker steel cut oats kind of girl because I don’t have a rice cooker. However, I use one of the little ones that don’t have different settings, like you would use to serve queso. I just put in one cup of steel cut oats and three cups of water and plug it in. It takes about 2 hours for the oats to cook…when all of the water is almost absorbed, I add whatever fun ingredients I have on hand and cook it the rest of the way.

    I just bought dates for the first time, so now I am going to have try this recipe! As soon as I get sick of my bagel-a-day habit, I will be moving on to some oatmeal breakfasts.