How To Make Oatmeal in Jars: One Week of Breakfast in 5 Minutes

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

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I know you are always looking for healthy, make-ahead breakfasts, and I keep coming back to my all-time favorite: steel-cut oatmeal. With a little forethought and a few Mason jars, you can make enough steel-cut oats for a whole week in just five minutes.

The result? Monday through Friday, you have a jar of wholesome oatmeal all ready to go. Pop it in the microwave at work and breakfast is served! Here's how I do it.

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Healthy and full of fiber, with a nutty creaminess that puts the mushiness of other porridges to shame, steel-cut oats are simply one of the best breakfasts you can eat. They can take some time to prepare, however. If you prepare them from scratch, they can take up to 45 minutes to cook.

Some people get around this by cooking them in the slow cooker (here is a great recipe with dried fruits and spices).

But personally, I find that the slow cooker makes even steel-cut oats a bit too soft for my taste, and I usually don't want to make a big enough batch to fill my slow cooker. So instead I usually use a quick, easy overnight method:

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Basically you combine oats and water, bring them to a boil, then cover, and turn off the heat. Leave overnight and in the morning simply warm them up. They'll be perfectly cooked — tender, chewy, and creamy.

Big Batch Oatmeal for Breakfast

So here's the logical next step: Do this just once on Sunday night, and divide the oatmeal between five jars. You're immediately set up for a week of breakfasts!

The great thing about steel-cut oats (well, the millionth great thing, I guess) is that they get even better as they are reheated. They stay chewy and creamy, and a few days in the refrigerator only improves their taste and texture.

This is a great project for Sunday afternoon or evening, perhaps while you're making dinner. Just make the oats, put them in your jars, and you're good to go!

Tester's Notes

Every so often there comes a recipe or knock-out tip that totally transforms mealtime. You know, one of those aha moments where you wonder why you never thought of it before. That's what these oats in jars have done for my breakfast routine! They're such a big pay-off for just a little bit of work.

Maybe it's laziness, maybe it's my growling, impatient stomach, but I actually enjoy eating these oats chilled — pulled straight from the fridge, topped with milk (maybe coconut milk if I'm feeling luxurious) and my favorite toppings of the moment. Right now I especially love mixing in raspberries and chia seeds, plus a little drizzle of honey.

- Kelli, March 2015

How To Make a Week of Steel-Cut Oats in 5 Minutes

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups steel-cut oats
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional Mix-Ins

Milk or soy milk
Cinnamon or other spices
Raisins or other dried fruit
Fresh berries
Nuts or seeds
Jam
Honey

Equipment

5 pint-sized Mason jars with lids (Weck jars are pictured above)
Large saucepan
Ladle

Instructions

  1. Collect your jars and other equipment. I like pint-sized jars for this, as they allow a little more room for adding nuts, raisins, and milk later. But you can also use half-pint jars.
  2. Cook the oats for 3 minutes: Bring the oats, water, and salt to a boil. Simmer for about 3 minutes then turn off the heat.
  3. Let the jars stand at room temperature, then refrigerate: Divide the oatmeal among the jars. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for about an hour or until cool to the touch, then cap and refrigerate.
  4. Reheat the oatmeal in the microwave: Take the cap off one jar and stir up the oatmeal inside. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until quite hot. Add milk, raisins, or other mix-ins.

Recipe Notes

  • You can also add your raisins, cinnamon, or other mix-ins to the rest of the jars before putting them away in the refrigerator. Then all you have to do is grab one and go on your way out the door.

Updated from recipe originally published April 2011.

Per serving, based on 5 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
102
Fat
1.8 g (2.7%)
Saturated
0.3 g (1.5%)
Carbs
18.3 g (6.1%)
Fiber
2.7 g (10.9%)
Sugars
0.3 g
Protein
3.6 g (7.1%)
Sodium
125.5 mg (5.2%)

(Image credits: Kelli Dunn)