There’s nothing like waking up to a piping hot breakfast. A steamy, creamy bowl of oatmeal is the ultimate comfort food, and preparing it in the slow cooker is a great way to take care of your breakfast crew without having to wake up before everyone else. Just stir everything up in the slow cooker, set it on low, then sleep for a solid eight hours and wake up to your morning meal.
Steel cut oats are a classic choice for porridge, and I love them combined with quinoa. The chewy oats release lots of starch as they cook, creating that familiar, creamy porridge base, while the quinoa adds pops of texture and a mild aroma.
You can use other grains in your porridge, too — amaranth, millet, farro, or whatever you have on hand — as long as you use at least half steel cut oats. Less than this and you loose that creamy, porridge-y texture in the finished dish.
Chopped, dried apricots hydrate overnight, becoming jammy and soft. They’ll rise to the top of the porridge as it cooks — just stir them in to distribute them throughout the porridge before ladling into serving bowls. Top things off with crunchy hazelnuts and a drizzle of honey, and you’re good to go.
This is a dish best served family style. Once the porridge is done cooking, just flip the slow cooker to its "warm" setting and let everyone serve themselves throughout the morning.
If there are any leftovers, they'll keep well in the fridge (or in the freezer, scooped into individual portions). Don't worry if the chilled porridge becomes gummy and thick — a splash of milk and a minute or two in the microwave will loosen up the texture right away. It'll keep for up to a week, so make a double batch if you want an easy breakfast option all week long.
Slow Cooker Quinoa Oatmeal with Apricots and Hazelnuts
(1-cup servings). Recipe can be doubled.
3/4 cup steel cut oats
3/4 cup quinoa (red, white, or tri-color variety), rinsed
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
3/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and chopped
Extra roasted, chopped hazelnuts
Combine the oats, quinoa, dried apricots, honey, vanilla, salt, and water in the bowl of a slow cooker (2 1/2- to 3 1/2-quart size; if your slow cooker is larger, double the recipe). Stir to dissolve the honey and mix everything evenly.
Set the slow cooker on its lowest setting (LOW or 8-10 hours), cover, and leave overnight.
In the morning or after about 8 hours, remove the lid and stir to re-incorporate all the ingredients. Also stir in any film that has formed on top of the porridge.
Ladle porridge into bowls and top with about 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts. Serve with extra toppings.
- Rinsing the quinoa before cooking it helps remove some of its bitter outer coating, making it more pleasant to eat. Read more about it here: How To Cook Fluffy, Tasty Quinoa.
- Just like our Mid-Winter Spiced Porridge, the leftovers of this recipe take well to being reheated in the microwave with a splash of milk. The porridge will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- You can also freeze scoops of the porridge in a muffin tin for a pre-portioned breakfast option. Transferred to a freezer bag, the scoops will keep well for up to two months. Place as many scoops as you like in a serving bowl and microwave on high for about two minutes, stirring once during cooking.
- If you like, you can cook this recipe in half the time with less water. The grains will be slightly firmer, but still well cooked through. Just reduce the amount of water to 4 cups instead of 6, and the porridge will be done in approximately 4 hours on the “Low” setting.
(Image credits: Coco Morante)