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Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats (Pot-In-Pot Method)

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats are easy enough for even busy weekday mornings! Put everything in the Instant Pot, set it to cook, go get ready for the day, and then sit down to a warm and hearty breakfast!

When I have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, I really feel like I’m starting the day off right. Steel-cut oats are my favorite because they have such a great chewy texture and nutty flavor – but they take a lot longer to cook than regular oats.

On most mornings, standing at the stove babysitting a pot of oatmeal for 30 minutes isn’t usually an option, so I used to only make steel-cut oats on the weekend.

BUT, thanks to my handy-dandy, trusty Instant Pot, now I can have steel-cut oats just about any day of the week!

First, full disclosure: In terms of total time, it takes just as long to cook steel-cut oats in the Instant Pot as it does on the stove (maybe even a tad longer). HOWEVER – don’t run away – when you use the Instant Pot, it’s a completely hands-off process!

Just put everything in the Instant Pot, set it to cook, and go about your morning routine. Your steel-cut oats will be waiting for you when you’re ready!

This recipe is also great for meal prep. It’ll last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge, so you can make a batch of this oatmeal to use throughout the week. Refrigerate once it’s cooled. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top, adding a little milk or water to thin it out. Easy!

bowl of steel cut oats with a napkin and spoon on the side

Steel-Cut vs. Rolled Oats

How are steel-cut oats different from rolled oats? It’s simply how much the oat groats have been processed (groats are the oat kernels that have had their tough outer shells removed).

Steel-cut oats are less processed and are the closest thing to the unprocessed oat groat. They are simply oat groats that have been cut/chopped up with steel blades. They have a firm, chewy texture and nutty flavor.

Rolled oats are more processed (they steam and flatten the oat groats). They have a much softer texture and, because they have been partially cooked during processing, they cook much quicker than steel-cut oats.

plate with dry steel cut oats and dry rolled oats

Pot-In-Pot Method

I use the pot-in-pot method to cook oatmeal in the Instant Pot, which means you cook the oatmeal in a pot that is placed on the trivet over water inside the Instant Pot rather than cooking it directly in the Instant Pot pot.

The oatmeal turns out perfect every single time. Plus, there’s no worries about sticking or burning, and clean-up is so much easier!

There’s also no fear of getting a burn warning on the Instant Pot, which can sometimes happen when cooking the oatmeal in just the Instant Pot pot, especially if you are making a smaller batch. With the pot-in-pot method, you can even cook one serving without worry!

A Few Rules for Using the Pot-In-Pot Method

  • Always use a bowl that is oven-safe and approved for pressure cooking (I recommend using stainless steel).
    • Update (2/9/23): When this post was originally published, I used an oven-safe Pyrex bowl. Subsequently, Pyrex apparently came out with a statement saying you should not use it in the Instant Pot.
      • However, as of the date of this update, the Pyrex website FAQ now states, “Many Pyrex storage containers and baking dishes can be used in your Instant Pot brand product” (although it does not specify which ones).
      • I have never had any issues (i.e. cracking or breaking) using Pyrex or other oven-safe glass bowls in my Instant Pot. Nevertheless, I now use and recommend using only stainless steel to avoid any confusion or potential issues.
      • Feel free to do your own research on this topic and use your best judgement.
  • Make sure the bowl is large enough to hold the food without touching the sides of the Instant Pot or preventing the lid from closing properly.
  • Always place the bowl on the raised trivet over water (never put the bowl directly in the pot without the trivet).
instant pot with trivet and bowl inside showing the pot in pot method

Ingredients You Need

  • Steel cut oats
  • Whole milk (or almond milk)
  • Water
  • Salt (optional but recommended)

Special Equipment Needed

  • Instant Pot (6 or 8-quart)
  • Trivet (comes with Instant Pot)
  • Oven-safe bowl (recommended: 7-cup stainless steel)

HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT STEEL CUT OATS (POT-IN-POT METHOD):

images of 3 steps to make instant pot steel cut oats, the first is an image of an instant pot with a bowl inside with text overlay that says place water, trivet and oven safe bowl in instant pot, the second is an image of the filled bowl inside the instant pot with text overlay that says add milk, water, oats and a pinch of salt, stir, the third is an image of an instant pot with text overlay that says cook for 15 minutes at high pressure
images of 3 steps to make instant pot steel cut oats, the first is an image of an instant pot with text overlay that says let pressure naturally release for 15 minutes, the second is an image of steam being release from an instant pot with text overlay that says quick release any remaining pressure, and the third is of the open instant pot with the bowl of cooked oats inside with text overlay that says remove lid
images of 3 steps to make instant pot steel cut oats, the first is an image of an instant pot with a bowl inside with text overlay that says place water, trivet and oven safe bowl in instant pot, the second is an image of the filled bowl inside the instant pot with text overlay that says add milk or water, oats and salt to the bowl, stir, the third is an image of an instant pot with text overlay that says cook for 15 minutes at high pressure

An Easy Way to Lift the Bowl Out of the Instant Pot

If your Instant Pot trivet doesn’t have handles that allow you to lift the bowl out of the pot, and you don’t have one of those fancy inserts with the handles, just make a sling with aluminum foil. It works like a charm!

a stainless steel bowl with a sling made of aluminum foil

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • Don’t skip the step of letting the pressure naturally release, as the oatmeal is still cooking during this time. If you skip this step, your oatmeal will likely be undercooked.
  • When you first take the oats out of the Instant Pot, you might think they are not cooked because they might be a bit thin. Just give them a good stir and let them chill out for a minute or two. They will thicken up nicely as they cool a bit.
  • I have always used whole milk to make my oatmeal because it makes the oatmeal creamier, and I think it just tastes so much better. To me, oatmeal made with water is very bland, but you can use water if you’d like (or use half milk and half water).
    • Recently, I’ve started making this with unsweetened almond milk to cut down on the calories a bit, and it works great too!
  • Adjusting the amount of servings is simple. All you have to remember is that it’s a 3:1 ratio of liquid to oats.
    • So, if you are using 1 cup oats, you need 3 cups liquid. If you are using ½ cup oats, you need 1½ cups liquid, etc. That’s it! The cooking time will stay the same.

Storage & Reheating

Store any leftover oatmeal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days (you can definitely use this for meal prepping!).

Reheat the oatmeal in the microwave or in a pot on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add milk or water, as needed, to thin it out (it will thicken up significantly after being stored in the fridge).

bowl of steel cut oats with bananas, cinnamon, maple syrup, and almonds with a spoonful being taken out

Your beautifully-cooked steel-cut oats are a blank canvas for flavoring them however you like!

My favorite way to eat them is to mix in a little pat of butter, some maple syrup, a splash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Then I top it with sliced bananas and sliced almonds. YUM! What a great way to start the day!

I hope you try this recipe for Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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a bowl of steel cut oats topped with syrup, almonds and bananas

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

These Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats are easy enough for even busy weekday mornings! Set it to cook, go get ready for the day, and then sit down to a warm and hearty breakfast!
5 from 5 votes
Print Recipe Rate/Comment Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Natural Pressure Release: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 263
Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups whole milk, or water (or half water and half milk; almond milk can also be used)
  • pinch salt, optional

Special Equipment

  • Instant Pot (6 or 8-quart)
  • trivet (comes with the Instant Pot)
  • oven-safe bowl (recommended: 7-cup stainless steel)

Instructions

  • Pour 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot and place the trivet in the pot.
  • Place an oven-safe bowl on the trivet that is large enough to hold the oats and liquid with extra room so that it is not filled right to the top (I use and recommend a 7-cup stainless steel bowl/insert).
    The bowl must not touch the sides of the Instant Pot or prevent the lid from closing.
  • Place the oats and milk (or water) into the bowl. Add a pinch of salt, if desired. Stir.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the steam release knob to SEALING.
  • Press MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (depending on the model you have) and set the time to 15 minutes at high pressure.
    It will take approximately 7 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure before the cooking time will begin to count down.
  • When the cooking time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes (it's okay if you let it go longer).
    Don't skip this step; the oatmeal continues to cook during this time.
  • Turn the steam release knob to VENTING to quick-release any remaining pressure, then remove the lid.
  • Carefully remove the bowl from the Instant Pot and stir well.
    If the oatmeal looks thin when you first take it out, let it sit for a few minutes; it will thicken up as it cools.
  • Add your favorite mix-ins and toppings, and ENJOY!

Notes

  • To adjust the number of servings, just remember that you need a 3:1 ratio of liquid to oats (for example, for 2 servings, use ½ cup oats and 1½ cups liquid). Cooking time and natural release time remains the same. 
  • If your Instant Pot trivet doesn’t have handles that will allow you to easily remove the bowl and you don’t have an insert with handles, make a sling using a long folded-up piece of aluminum foil. 
  • Estimated calories have been computed using whole milk. If you use unsweetened almond milk, estimated calories would be 173. If you use water, 150.
  • I used an 8-quart Instant Pot for this recipe; a 6-quart pot could also be used (you can reduce the water that you put inside the pot from 2 cups to 1½ cups).
    • For a 3-quart Instant Pot: I could not find a bowl that was small enough to properly fit inside that would also hold the amount of oats and liquid in this recipe. Therefore, I would recommend halving the recipe.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Mention @nowcookthis or tag #nowcookthisrecipes!

This post was updated on 2/9/23 (updated images; revised recipe card and post to reflect using a stainless steel bowl rather than a Pyrex bowl).

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Recipe Rating




Eileen M. Murphy

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

most straightforward recipe I have found, excellent! I add 2 tsp vanilla 2 tsp flakey sea salt cinnamon and 1/2 coconut milk 1/2 easy to double the recipe also thanks for not having to think that early in the am, eileen

Michelle

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Thank you, Eileen! So glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment and rate the recipe!

Kay

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

How much water is put in the actual instant pot when cooking with pot in pot method. Have I missed something when reading the recipe?

Michelle

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

Hi, Kay! The first step of the recipe states to put 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot and then place the trivet in the pot. Then the 3 cups of milk (or water if you choose to use water instead), along with the oats and salt, go into the bowl that you put on the trivet inside the Instant Pot.

Maggie

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

turned out perfectly in the instant pot

Michelle

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

Thanks so much, Maggie!

Katherine Pointon

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Great site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

Lisa

Sunday 19th of July 2020

Thank you for posting this detailed recipe! I used your recipe with almond milk which turned out delicious, however I would prefer to use milk, preferably 1%, because I want the added protein boost. Could I use 3 cups of 1% milk instead of the whole milk? I also tried the recipe with almond milk and added whey protein powder, but I much prefer the taste of the steel cut oatmeal without protein powder! (In searching the web for oatmeal recipes, yours was the first one I found that lists all milk for the 3:1 ratio instead of half milk and half water. As I am new to Instant Pot and pot in pot cooking, I was not sure if the higher fat content in whole milk was an important component for pressure cooking oatmeal.)

Michelle

Sunday 19th of July 2020

Hey, Lisa! Yes, you could absolutely use 3 cups of 1% milk instead of the whole milk. I use all whole milk simply because I like the flavor/creaminess that whole milk provides. The type of milk isn't important to the pressure cooking process (you could even use water if you wanted), so go ahead and use whatever milk you like!