How To Make Crockpot Oatmeal & Hot Cereal In A Thermos

Wake up to a hot, healthy breakfast ready and waiting for you with a simple to make overnight crockpot oatmeal–or try an easy to prepare thermos full that is ready when you get up.

BowlYou can add all sorts of delicious good-for-you things such as dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apple slices and more.

Once you find a recipe that works for you, experiment with adding your favorite fruits, nuts and spices like cinnamon.

Basic Recipe:

8 cups water
2 cups steel-cut oats
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a 5 quart crockpot and turn on low heat.
  • Cover with lid and cook 8 hours.
  • Fruit pieces can be added with the ingredients at the start or right before serving if you prefer (I prefer waiting to add them in the morning).

Troubleshooting Tips:

If you’ve tried making this before and found it to be a disaster, here are a few reasons why that may have happened…

  • The crock was too large and you didn’t have enough ingredients in it to prevent overcooking.
  • Your crockpot heats higher or lower than what the recipe author’s does.
  • You’re not sticking with the steel cut variety and are using instant or quick-cook instead.

Result Is A Burned Mess?

If you’re finding that no matter what you do, it never turns out and is always overcooked or burned, try the Bain-Marie method (scroll down a bit to find the details) which is basically putting all the ingredients in a dish that will fit inside the crock, then filling with water so the level is half-way up the dish. No more burned mess.

If it’s cooking too fast for you, you could try the timer method. Prepare the ingredients in the slowcooker before you go to bed and set the timer with a 4 to 5 hour heating window, adjusting the time as needed (have things start in the middle of the night).


  • When making this for the first time, try doing this during the day when you’re home to monitor it. You’ll be able to test the timing that works best for your appliance.
  • If you prefer a thicker result, play with the water amount a bit or increase the oats. This will take some testing until you achieve the consistency you like.

More To Try:


You need a wide mouth version like those you use for soups and stews.

Directions For One Serving:

  • Fill your thermos with boiling water, seal with cap, leave for 5 minutes. This will warm it up while you prepare the ingredients.
  • On the stove top, bring one cup of water to a boil with 1/4 cup steel cut oats.
  • Empty the thermos, then pour in the contents of the pot.
  • An alternative method is once the thermos has been heated for a few minutes, empty it out and toss in the oats. Cover with water that’s been brought to a rolling boil (using the same amounts as above).
  • Seal and leave it overnight.

You can also prepare this first thing in the morning and bring it to work for a hot, ready-to-eat lunch (and a frugal lunch at that!). I also found this pasted in one of my vintage scrapbooks:

How To Cook Cereals While You Sleep

Before retiring, stir 1/2 cup of your favorite raw cereal–wheat, oats, rye, or buckwheat, preferably cracked–into two cups of salted boiling water. Stir for just three minutes, then pour into a wide-mouth thermos bottle. Cork the bottle tightly. Next morning you will be greeted by a hot cereal, ready to be eaten. Sprinkle with wheat germ and bran. Add milk or cream. Really gets your motor going. Berries of all kinds are good sources of potassium and fairly good sources of calcium and magnesium.

Rule of Thumb:

  • Instructions will vary but a basic guide to follow: Each serving is 1/4 cup steel cut oats to 1 cup of water, a dash of salt added if you wish.
  • If you want to cut the amounts down, make sure you use a smaller crockpot so the oatmeal won’t burn (and the opposite if you’re increasing a recipe–use a larger one).

What To Do With Leftovers:

  • Package the leftovers and refrigerate for a few days. Just microwave to heat.
  • You can also freeze portions to enjoy later.

It Gives Your Body A Healthy Boost:

There probably isn’t a better breakfast food, it lowers cholesterol and is high in fiber. Skip the brown sugar and toss in some tasty, healthy treats such as nuts like walnuts, almonds, fruits like blueberries, apples, bananas and a little cinnamon for more health benefits.

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    • Christine Snow

    I live in a nursing home, assisted living, and this is a wonderful way to have hot oatmeal for breakfast! I wonder if this works for mashed potatoes and other preparations as like?

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