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Hurry Up Vegan: How to Make Steel Cut Oats in the Pressure Cooker

Posted Jan 31 2013 12:00pm

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I know I said I’d have a giveaway for you today, folks, but I lied. I’m ironing out the last few details of that (it’ll be good, I promise), but in the meantime, I have yet another fun tutorial for you today! Somehow, this ended up being the week of CR tutorials.

A week or two ago, my friend Melanie mentioned to me that she’d been gifted with a pressure cooker over Christmas, and that she’d been experimenting with using it to make steel cut oats. I use my pressure cooker a lot (more often than not to make rice, beans or bean soups quickly), but I had never thought to use it for steel cut oats. A light bulb went off.

I love steel cut oats. I didn’t always love them: when I first made them, I remember thinking to myself that I far preferred the taste and texture of regular rolled oats. Steel cut oats are sometimes said to be preferable to rolled or flaked oats because they retain more protein and fiber from minimal processing and no flash steaming. In fact, a lot of steel cut oats have exactly the same amount of protein and/or fiber as some rolled oats, and the two have been shown to have comparable benefits (cholesterol lowering, soluble fiber, etc.). But that doesn’t change the fact that steel cut oats have an irresistible chew and creamy texture that rolled oats, for all of their convenience, never quite mimic. And it is precisely that chew that I’ve come to appreciate over time.


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The only disadvantage of steel cut oats remains the fact that they take quite a bit longer to prepare than regular oats. It’s about a 15-25 minute process, depending on how much chew you want them to retain. For this reason, they are not the first choice of busy students or people who need to scurry to the office early in the morning. I make steel cut oats when I’m home at my Mom’s or on the weekends, and that’s about it. I’ve tried to make them in my rice cooker, but this always resulted in a lot of bubbling and a very messy rice cooker.

So you can imagine my delight upon realizing that the pressure cooker works beautifully for them, and demands only ten minutes or so, depending on your cooking method. Today, I’ll share my method of choice. Naturally, this is a post for those of you who have pressure cookers and like to use them. But for those of you who have yet to invest in these (very awesome and healthy) appliances, I’ll give a standard stovetop method at the end.

To start, add 1 cup of steel cut oats and 3 cups of liquid to your pressure cooker, along with a pinch of salt and some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or vanilla if desired. You can use any combination of water and almond/soy/oat/rice milk. I personally like two cups of water and one cup of almond milk per 1 cup of oats.


I personally like to heat the water or the milk before adding it. This is a great way to save time when you use the pressure cooker: bring liquids to a boil before you add them to the appliance. You’ll reach full pressure much faster.

Next, cover the pressure cooker and bring it to high pressure (on a Kuhn Rikon machine, this is around the 1 red stripe mark on the button/pressure gauge) over high heat. Immediately reduce the flame to medium/low.


Continue to cook the oats for 6 minutes. Remove them from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. When the pressure has mostly released, you can start to release it with the “quick release” method (by pressing down on the button/pressure gauge).

Stir your oats and check their consistency. If you want them a little chewier, add some almond milk and simmer for a few more moments. If they’re ready, simply serve them with your toppings of choice. I love goji berries and almond butter at the moment!


The nicest thing about this process is that you can make a giant batch of steel cut oats on a weekend and then reheat portions for the next few days. What I just described—1 cup of oats and 3 cups liquid—makes 3 servings for me. You can certainly double this.



Sometimes when I use my pressure cooker, it seems that the total time it takes (including the pressure release) ultimately fails to save me the time I need. The benefits of the appliance are biggest when you’re cooking something that would take a good hour or more (like a lot of soups with legumes and/or rice). But the pressure cooker also saves me having to check a pot or watch things as they simmer. For steel cut oats, it’s hardly necessary, but it can streamline the process.

That said, if you choose to make stovetop oats, you can simply bring 3 cups of liquid to boil, add your cup of oats, and reduce to a simmer. Cover the oats with a lid, but leave it ajar. Cook for 20-25 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, you’ll want to consider adding some more liquid, as the oats should have absorbed a lot of liquid, but still be quite chewy. Use your intuition about when they’re “done.”

However you cook them, I hope you make time to enjoy these high fiber, delicious grains soon. They may not feel appropriate in our bizarre, East coast heat wave, but I hear the cooler temperatures are rolling in soon.


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