What Are Steel Cut Oats, and Do They Have Benefits?

What Are Steel Cut Oats, and Do They Have Benefits?

Oats (Avena sativa) make a scrumptious breakfast cereal and are often used in baking. Interestingly, there are multiple types of oats.

Steel cut oats, also known as Scottish or Irish oats, are less common, so you may wonder what differentiates them from other kinds of oats.

raw steel cut oats in a bowl with scoop

What are steel cut oats?

Steel cut oats are one of the least processed oat varieties.

They’re made by chopping hulled oat grains, or groats, into small pieces with a steel blade. This process keeps each part of the grain, including the bran, endosperm, and germ, mostly intact.

On the other hand, rolled and instant oats are steamed and flattened during manufacturing, causing them to lose some or all of the grain’s bran.

Because steel cut oats retain more of the whole grain and have a smaller surface area, they don’t readily absorb water. Thus, they take much longer to cook than other types of oats.

On average, a batch of steel cut oats takes about half an hour to prepare, whereas rolled or instant oats take just a few minutes.

Steel cut oats also have a unique taste and texture. They’re coarser, chewier, and nuttier in flavor than most common oats.


Steel cut oats are minimally processed, require more cooking time than regular oats, and have a different texture and flavor. They’re considered a whole grain.

They’re very nutritious

Steel cut oats boast a variety of important nutrients, making them a healthy addition to almost any diet.

Just 1/4-cup (40 grams) of dry steel cut oats offer (1Trusted Source):

  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Carbs: 27 grams
  • Fiber: 15% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 10% of the DV

Oats also supply small amounts of several other essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, folate, zinc, and selenium (2Trusted Source).

Yet, steel cut oats are probably best known for their fiber content.

Oats boast a rich supply of beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber that plays an important role in heart health and proper digestion (2Trusted Source).

In fact, steel cut oats may have slightly more fiber than other types of oats because more of the whole grain remains intact during processing.

Steel cut oats are also a decent source of plant protein, which may be especially beneficial if you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet.


Steel cut oats contain a variety of important nutrients and are particularly high in beta glucan, a unique type of fiber.

Potential health benefits

Research indicates that eating steel cut oats regularly may contribute to a variety of health benefits, many of which are attributed to this grain’s unique nutrients.

May support improved blood sugar control

Oats are among the richest sources of resistant starch and soluble fiber, both of which play valuable roles in regulating blood sugar.

Resistant starches are carbs that are digested and absorbed very slowly, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable during digestion (2Trusted Source).

Keep in mind that cooking or heating reduces their resistant starch content. Therefore, cooling cooked oats overnight may help increase their resistant starch content, or an uncooked overnight oats recipe is a good option as well.

Furthermore, your body can’t fully digest soluble fiber, which further slows the absorption of carbs into your bloodstream and boosts feelings of fullness.

A review of 16 studies associated oat intake with significant reductions in fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels, as well as elevated insulin levels, in people with type 2 diabetes (3Trusted Source).

Promotes proper digestion

The resistant starch and fibers in steel cut oats function as prebiotics, which support healthy digestive function by encouraging the diversity and growth of beneficial bacteria living in your digestive tract (4Trusted Source).

This community of bacteria is called your gut microbiome.

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is linked to numerous benefits, including reduced constipation, lower inflammation, and the management of symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) like ulcerative colitis (4Trusted Source).

May protect heart health

Research suggests that the fiber in steel cut oats may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

A review of 64 human studies found that regular oat intake contributed to significant reductions in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 19% and 23%, respectively (5Trusted Source).

Moreover, minimally processed oat varieties, such as steel cut oats, may have greater heart-protective effects than processed oats because more of their fiber remains intact. Intact fibers may lower cholesterol more efficiently than fibers that have been broken down (6Trusted Source).

May support weight loss

Including steel cut oats in a balanced diet may encourage weight loss.

Oats’ fiber may contribute to feelings of fullness, which may in turn lead to reduced calorie intake (7Trusted Source).

Studies in both humans and animals further suggest that oat fiber may help reduce fat accumulation, especially belly fat (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

Keep in mind that weight loss is complex. Adding oats to your diet doesn’t guarantee any specific results.


Steel cut oats may support blood sugar control, proper digestion, heart health, and weight loss.

How to cook steel cut oats

There are many ways to prepare steel cut oats, but the most popular choice is to eat them as a hot breakfast cereal or porridge.

Most people cook steel cut oats on the stovetop, but you can use a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker if you prefer.

For every 1 cup (160 grams) of steel cut oats, you’ll need about 3 cups (710 mL) of a cooking liquid like water or milk. You may also want to add a pinch of salt for extra flavor.

For stovetop cooking, simply place the oats and liquid in a pot. Bring to a simmer and allow the oats to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes — or until tender and cooked through.

Add-ins and recipe ideas

For extra protein, mix in egg whites, Greek yogurt, or protein powder. You can also add toppings like berries, sliced apples, chia seeds, nuts, nut butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

You can likewise use steel cut oats in baked oatmeal or overnight oats.

What’s more, they make a great base for a savory risotto-style dish. Simply cook the oats with broth and hearty vegetables like kale, winter squash, and mushrooms. Stir in Parmesan or Gruyère cheese and top with a poached egg before serving.


Steel cut oats take longer to prepare than regular or quick oats, but they make a scrumptious, nutty oatmeal. They’re also appropriate for savory dishes.

The bottom line

Steel cut oats are a minimally processed oat product that takes longer to cook but retains slightly more nutrients than other oat varieties.

Steel cut oats are particularly rich in resistant starch and fiber, both of which may support weight loss, heart health, blood sugar control, and digestion. They’re also a good source of iron and plant protein.

If you want to add them to your diet, steel cut oats make a hearty porridge that you can customize with your favorite toppings.