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Steel-Cut Oats Nutritional Information

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Kim is a holistic health coach and a toxic-free lifestyle consultant. She obtained her studies from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel Cut Oats

Steel-Cut Oats Versus Rolled Oats

My family and friends always ask me the typical question, “What is the difference between steel-cut oats and regular rolled oats?” I will give you a quick rundown of the two types of oats.

Read on to learn about steel-cut oats' nutrition and explore the truth about the difference between the processing method of steel-cut oats and rolled oats.

People who eat steel-cut oats will tell you that they are more nutritious than rolled oats. People who eat rolled oats probably haven’t even heard of or paid any attention to steel-cut oats. After learning the real difference between the two, you can decide which one is worth eating.

Different Terms for Oats

Steel-cut oats

Irish oats, Scottish oats, pin head oats, coarse-cut oats, porridge oats

Rolled oats

old-fashioned oats, rolled oats, flaked oats, oatflakes

Quick oats

Quick-cooking oats, instant oats, easy oats

Differences in Processing

Traditionally grown in Ireland, steel-cut oats are processed from whole grain groats, the inner portion of the oat kernel. They are often called Irish or Scottish Oats.

  • Old fashioned rolled oats are made by steaming the groats, rolled, re-steamed and finally toasted. With all the extra processing steps, they have lost some of their natural taste, texture, and fiber.
  • Steel-cut oats are the least processed, made simply by removing the outer layers and cutting into pieces.
  • Steel-cut oats still contain more of its fiber content, which requires your body more time to digest. Steel-cut oats have a lower glycemic load index, aiding in the stabilization of blood sugar levels.

Note: Instant oatmeal (packaged) are the most heavily processed among all the oats. The groats are chopped, flattened, pre-cooked, dehydrated, with added sugar and salt.

Steel cut oats (left) VS Rolled oats (right)

Steel cut oats (left) VS Rolled oats (right)

Difference in Taste

When it comes to the taste and texture, there is a huge difference between steel-cut oats and rolled oats.

  • If you’ve eaten regular oats, particularly the instant oatmeal packages, you’re familiar with the soft, mushy texture. Steel cuts to rolled oats are like the "al-dente" version. It has a nuttier taste to it, as well as a firm consistency.
  • Depending on how long you cook the oats, the softer it becomes. I like the firm texture, so I cut the cooking time by 10 minutes.
  • Some people prefer steel cuts over rolled oats simply because of the more palatable taste and texture. I’ve introduced this oatmeal to friends who hate oatmeal, and surprisingly they prefer to eat this!
  • My aunt has diabetes and high cholesterol, yet she hates the mushy texture of regular oatmeal. She now eats steel-cut oatmeal every morning to control her diabetes and cholesterol.

Steel Cut Oats Nutrition

This whole grain is not only hearty, but it also packs fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates which don’t raise blood sugar. Even Oprah mentioned on her show that steel-cut oatmeal is her favorite whole grain.

You can find the following nutrients in 1/4 cup of steel-cut oatmeal:

  • High in protein
  • High in fiber
  • Low sodium and fat
  • Low Glycemic load index
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins (all B vitamins, folate)
  • Minerals (Calcium, magnesium, fluoride, mineral, copper, phosphorus)

According to the USDA, here the benefits of steel-cut oats:

  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Helps prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
Top your steel cut oatmeal with fruits, nuts, and honey.

Top your steel cut oatmeal with fruits, nuts, and honey.

How to Cook Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats take a much longer time to cook compared to regular oats. I usually cook a pot full on Sunday and divide the servings into individual bowls. In the morning, all I have to do is heat it in the microwave for 1 minute, add my favorite toppings, and voila I have a nutritious breakfast.

  • Put a ratio of 1 cup steel cut oats to 4 cups water in a large pot. Wait until it boils and then lower the heat to medium, cover with a lid and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching! Scoop off the top layer of bubbles.
  • If you prefer runnier oatmeal, add 1 extra cup of water.
  • Cook it in a crockpot! Some people like to use this method. Just set it on low heat at night and wake up to the smell of a delicious wholesome breakfast.
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My favorite brand of steel cut oats.

My favorite brand of steel cut oats.

Steel-Cut Oats Recipe

If you want to eat more oatmeal using steel cut oats, you'd be surprised at how many options you have. It's quite easy to incorporate this type of oatmeal into your health plan. The simplest way to eat it is by mixing in your favorite topping! Some of my suggestions are:

  • Peanut butter, almond butter
  • Dried fruits
  • Fresh fruits
  • Sweetener (honey, maple syrup,
  • Spice (cinnamon, sea salt)
  • Milk, almond milk, half and half, organic butter
  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds, flaxseed
  • Egg whites (yes, extra protein!)

To sum it up, steel-cut oats are a less processed version of regular rolled oats. Both versions are similar when it comes to nutrition. Steel-cut oats do have more fiber and a lower glycemic load index. It really comes down to a matter of preference in taste and texture. I prefer steel-cut oats since they are easier to eat and I prefer a nuttier and chewier texture. I can eat steel-cut oatmeal every day, yet can't seem to do the same with regular rolled oats.

What about you? What type of oatmeal do you prefer?


Georgie on March 29, 2019:

My husband and I stayed in a B&B in Dingle, Ireland last year. Our hostess prepared hot Irish oats for breakfast topped with cream and a we dram of Baileys. My favorite breakfast cereal now!

Eva on June 27, 2017:

I like to eat mine cold in the summer, almost like a granola. Do I put the in a jar in the fridge w/vanilla almond mild & cinnamon. After a day or two of soaking I'll pour some into a bowl & top w/fresh fruit. I usually try to make enough to get me through 2 or 3 days at a time.

Kim Lam (author) from California on September 02, 2014:

Yummmm! That smells like Fall flavored :-)

Preston and Kate from the Midwest on September 02, 2014:

Informative article! I just made a great apple and cinnamon crock pot version last week for breakfast. We enjoy steel cut oats in our family! -Kate

Kim Lam (author) from California on September 02, 2014:

Thanks! I agree - porridge is so good, especially with fruits and nuts!!

eatingright on September 01, 2014:

Whole oats "porridge is my favourite breakfast food. I have yet to try steel cut oats. Great hub, well-written.

Kim Lam (author) from California on November 05, 2012:

Hello Pedro,

When you're referring to GI of food, heat does change the starch content of certain foods. Also, you're breaking it down further. It's similar to steel cut oats being less processed compared to rolled oats. Your body doesn't have to process it as much. However, I honestly don't think the number of GI is raised enough for it to make a huge difference. Oats in general have a low GI compared to other grains, due to the soluble fiber it contains. It's quite negligible. So whether you eat them raw or cooked, you will still reap the benefits. I eat oats in its raw form when I make granola. :-)

And to be honest...I am not sure about the milk theory.

Pedro on October 20, 2012:

Hi from Spain!

I read sometime in a fitness forum that oats in general have a low gi as they are, raw. But when you cook them (heat), they get a high gi. Some people in the forums in fact state that they eat them without cooking, and some of them even said that they avoid eating them with milk. What's your opinion about this? Thanks

sonatherun on July 10, 2012:

I've tried steel cut several times, and I guess I'm the oddball, I just don't like them as much as rolled oats. More frankly, I don't like the taste. In either case, it's not the oats I'm tasting anyway, it's the cinammon, honey, blueberries, walnuts, vanilla extract and fresh ground nutmeg, so maybe it's just the texture I don't like. What interests me as I compare all the articles is those championing Irish oats is that they talk mostly about taste, which is fine if they really do taste better to you, but don't really establish any real nutritional benefit, while usually also serving as a place for product placement, read that, brand advertising. Until I see scientific evidence steel cut are sufficiently more nutritious to make the much greater hastle worth it, I'll stick with the old standby, 3 minutes in the micrwave, mix in all the goodies, and eat. What matters most, I think, is whatever has more people eating oats, which are no doubt good food.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 31, 2012:

Hi Sally! I appreciate your kind comments...and thank you for reading. My mom never liked the regular oatmeal either- said the texture is too mushy for her. She now eats steel cut oatmeal every other day and enjoys putting random toppings on it. So hopefully this type of oat will work better for you. :-)

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 31, 2012:

Thanks Pam, I don't eat the flavored packages either. To much sugar for me.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on May 30, 2012:

Very helpful and interesting article. I'm not a huge oatmeal fan, although I do eat it, but I've had only the instant and rolled types and don't care for the taste all that much. Steel cut oats are definitely going on my shopping list. You did a great job explaining the differences in taste and texture and actually made the steel cut oats sound very appealing. And thanks for the info on the terms used. I didn't know there were so many names for the different types of oats. Interesting and useful!

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on May 29, 2012:

Great article! I have always preferred the old fashioned to the 3 minute oats and never buy the flavored packages. I've seen it in bulk at the health food store but didn't know how it was cooked.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 29, 2012:

Hmm...they are labeled differently depending on your region. They might have a different name in the Philippines. Let me know when you find out! Hope you like them.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on May 29, 2012:

I have not tried steel cut oats before. In fact, I have not seen it in the grocery - perhaps I'm not looking hard enough. it's worth the try especially the extra fibers.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 23, 2012:

Nettlemere- rolled oats are commonly found in cereal and they do taste good with cold milk!

vespa- you reminded me of my aunt. She has diabetes...and sometimes I send steel-cut oats back with my relatives when they visit Vietnam.

Marcy- thanks for the kind comment!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on May 23, 2012:

This hub is incredibly useful, and at the same time beautifully presented! I've wondered about steel-cut oats for a long while (I have heard they're the Gold Standard of that grain). Thanks for letting us know the differences, and the nutritional values!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on May 23, 2012:

I've always preferred steel cut oats and now I understand why! Anything less processed is more healthful and the texture is so much better. We can't find them in Peru, but I always bring back a big back of steel cut oats from the States when we return from vacations. I learned a lot from this hub...thank you, Turtlewoman!

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on May 22, 2012:

That was really interesting. I eat oats every day and had to go out and check the packet to find out that mine are rolled oats. Sometimes I make porridge but I usually just eat the oats as they come with some cold milk. I'm inspired to look for steel oats next time I shop.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 22, 2012:

Hi moonlake, thanks for stopping by and voting. Sometimes they go by a different name. Have you tried looking online?

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 22, 2012:

That's so cute- "me oat oat!"

Here's a secret- sometimes I add some of the regular oats at the very end to "bulk" it up and make the dollar stretch a bit further without changing the texture of my oatmeal. It is a bit more expensive than regular oats, but I think the benefits outweigh it. Either way, both types of oatmeal is still good for you. ;-)

moonlake from America on May 21, 2012:

I love oatmeal but I can't find steel cut oats. Great hub good information. Voted.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 21, 2012:

Hi Turtlewoman - this is a great hub! I have always wondered about the steel oats but have never tried them. I love oatmeal and always have. I could not pronounce it when I was really little - my mom said I always asked for "me-oat oat" lol lol

I am going to try it. I see it all the time but it's a little pricey so I was afraid I wouldn't like it. After reading this and all the comments I bet I will!

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 13, 2012:

Hi Melovy and Allie...ay, I've forgotten to include my Scottish friends! "Steel cut" is the same as Scottish oats, pin head oats, Irish oats, coarse-cut oats, and also porridge oats. They're not known as pin head oats here in the US and I've only heard that term being used once. Melovy, is your oatmeal a lot smaller than the ones in the picture?

Either way, it's the processing technique that matters, which is cut up, instead of being steamed and rolled several times. :-)

I'm going to include that in the hub...thanks so much for bringing that up! :-)

alliemacb from Scotland on May 13, 2012:

Like Melovy, I'm from Scotland and had never heard of steel cut oats. Thanks for introducing me to something new. Very useful hub

Yvonne Spence from UK on May 12, 2012:

I don’t think we get steel cut oats here in good old Scotland, land of porridge oats! We have pinhead oatmeal (the size of a pinhead, surprisingly!) and jumbo oats and ordinary rolled oats, but nothing I’ve seen looks like your photo of steel cut. We must have sent all our steel cut oats to the USA! :-)

I’m intrigued now and will be keeping a look out for steel cut.

Thanks for an interesting hub.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 11, 2012:

You're welcome, Faith!

Brett- I put just about everything you can think of in my oatmeal, esp toasted nuts too! Thanks for sharing!

Brett C from Asia on May 11, 2012:

I've definitely learned something new here. I try to eat something healthy for breakfast now and often have oats with fruit mixed in and preferable a lot of nuts too.

Shared, up and useful.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on May 11, 2012:

Wow, I've never had steel cut oats either, but I am going to try them. Very informative hub.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 11, 2012:

Thanks for your vote summerberrie, I'm glad you can help your friend! :-) What's WW again?

summerberrie on May 11, 2012:

Turtlewoman, thanks for the great info! I friend of mine who attends WW said they were talking about the benefits of steel cut oats and she asked me what they were. I really did not know, but now I do! Thanks, voted useful.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 10, 2012:

Thanks Michael, hope you like either one...both are healthy!

Michael J Rapp from United States on May 10, 2012:

I've always wondered about the difference between steel cut oat and rolled oats. Now I know! I'm not much on an oatmeal person, but they might be worth a try.

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 09, 2012:

Hi BJC- I hope you like them!

Skear- Me neither! I don't use the regular rolled oats anymore, with the exception of baking. Thanks for stopping by!

Kim Lam (author) from California on May 09, 2012:

Hi Cheryl- That is a great technique! I don't really mind the length of time it takes to cook them. I usually go run a quick errand around the house while they're cooking. Thanks so much for sharing! And you're right- it's hard going back to regular oats.

Sam Kear from Kansas City on May 09, 2012:

Steel cut oats are great! I cook mine in advance for convenience and reheat a serving in the morning. I don't know if I'll ever go back to rolled oats.

TahoeDoc from Lake Tahoe, California on May 09, 2012:

My favorite way to cook steel cut oats (which I LOVE, LOVE, btw & so do my kids, but they won't touch the slimy stuff) is to start it the night before.

The night before...

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup steel cut oats (McCann's is our fave brand) and turn the water off.

Leave this on the stove overnight to 'soak'.

In the AM...

turn it back on, simmer for 10-15 mins or until desired consistency over low heat (add a little more water if needed). Some people say 5 minutes is enough.

There- steel cut oats in less than 15 minutes of 'morning time'.

:) If there is a short-cut, I will find it.

Great hub & few people will ever go back to instant once they eat steel-cut oats. No one I know has.

BJC from Florida on May 09, 2012:

Never had steel cut oats but I am going to look for them now. Thanks for the input and sharing.

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