This vegan Overnight Cranberry Oatmeal uses heart-healthy steel-cut oats, and cooks overnight in a slow cooker.
Do you wander down the produce aisle at the grocery store in late fall, gaze at the gorgeous bags of cranberries, and think, “Those MUST be good for something other than cranberry sauce.” Well, my friend, you are correct. Cranberries, unlike blackberries or raspberries, are a little too tart to eat raw, but become sweeter when cooked. My favorite thing to use them in is oatmeal– the berries sweeten and burst into the creamy oats, leaving you with a deliciously seasonal bowl of berries and grains. This Overnight Cranberry Oatmeal cooks in a slow cooker while you sleep, and is made with fresh cranberries, steel-cut oats, and whatever milk or milk-substitute you prefer.
Making Overnight Cranberry Oatmeal
To make these oats, spray a slow cooker with oil. Don’t forget the oil– it’ll help keep the oats from sticking to the basin. Next, pour all the oatmeal ingredients into your slow cooker. Let it all cook for 6-8 hours. When you wake up, you’ll smell the lovely aroma of a warm breakfast waiting on you, ready to go. Taste your oats, and add sweetener if needed.
If you’re feeling ambitious (i.e.– if you didn’t oversleep), take ten minutes and make a fruit topping. Put cranberries and a little orange juice into a small saucepan, cover it, and cook it on medium-low until the berries burst. Taste the topping, and sweeten it if you need to.
When you’ve finished scooping out your breakfast, take a minute and fill the basin with hot soapy water. Go ahead and clean it out, or leave it to soak. Whatever you do– don’t leave it sitting out for the oats to dry onto it. You’ll be sad later. You know this– you, like me, have probably forgotten to rinse out a bowl of oatmeal and moaned when you found it later. Don’t let this happen to your slow cooker– there’s a lot more surface area. Just in case you’ve forgotten, however, you’ve now been forewarned about the dangers of oatmeal stickiness.
Freeze the cranberries!
As you devour this delicious oatmeal, and admire the pretty pink berries, you may be filled with sadness. Why? It won’t take long to realize that cranberries are incredibly seasonal. Where I live in the Appalachian foothills, I can only find fresh cranberries for about 2 months. If you are cranberry-crazed, and I’ve just made you a little berry-depressed– don’t despair!!! These little winter berries freeze perfectly, and are good for 10-12 months in the freezer. That’s right– if you have a freezer and plan ahead, you can have cranberries all year long. So sleep in, let the slow cooker work for you, and have a wonderful breakfast!
Note: Please don’t try to use quick cook oats, rolled oats, or any kind of instant oats for this. It won’t work, and you’ll just end up with mush. This needs to be made with steel cut oats.
If you’re looking for more overnight breakfast recipes, check out:
Overnight Cranberry Oatmeal
- 1 cup steel cut oats (don't use rolled or quick oats)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups milk OR milk subsitute
- ~2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/4 - 1 cup sugar, sorghum, molasses, honey, or agave-- sweeten to taste
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup orange juice
Spray or brush oil into slow cooker basin. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!
Pour all ingredients into slow cooker except reserved berries. Stir and cook on low 6-8 hours.
Sometimes oats will stick to the side while cooking. To help with this, stir the oats about an hour into cooking. If you're doing this overnight, don't worry about it.
If making topping-- put topping cranberries in a small saucepan with orange juice and cover, cooking on medium low for about 10 minutes until berries burst. Taste topping and sweeten more with sugar (or other preferred sweetener) if desired.
Serve oats with toppings while hot.
After you scoop all the oats out of the slow cooker basin, either clean it immediately or pour hot soapy water inside above the oatmeal line.