Steel Cut Oats With Kefir And Berries

Start your morning right with a warm, creamy bowl of steel cut oats with kefir and fresh berries. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe, HERE.

Steel Cut Oats with Kefir and Berries | Will Cook For Friends

I like rolled oats, but I also get tired of them really quickly. After a few breakfasts, I’m ready for something else. Anything else.

But somehow, steel cut oats are different. Maybe it’s a texture thing, but to me, there’s nothing better on a chilly morning than the mild, nutty flavor of steel cut oats mixed with tangy-sweet kefir and berries.

I can eat these for days and days and never get bored. Which is a good thing, because I love making a big batch at the beginning of the week for quick, easy breakfasts. One of my resolutions for the new year is to become more of a morning person. Turns out, the key to waking up earlier? Meal prep.

Because THIS I can get out of bed for:

Steel Cut Oats with Kefir and Berries | Will Cook For Friends
Steel Cut Oats with Kefir and Berries | Will Cook For Friends

When my dad was in the hospital a couple years ago, I stayed there day and night for close to a month. Every morning I woke up to the dusky sky outside the window of the ICU, wandered down to the cafeteria, and got myself a bowl of oats.

You can say what you will about hospital food, but this place had incredible steel cut oats. And the hospital staff knew it. If you weren’t there before nine, the giant batch they made fresh each morning would be gone. I learned that early on and for that month, I became a morning person just so I could get there in time and get my bowl of cozy steel cut oatmeal.

I have actually considered going back JUST FOR THE OATS. Is that crazy? Who goes to a hospital for the food?!

Steel Cut Oats with Kefir and Berries | Will Cook For Friends

The hospital served up it’s steel cut oats simply, with just a packet of brown sugar and some dried cranberries or walnuts if you asked nicely. It was warm, sweet comfort in a styrofoam cup, and for those desolate days in the ICU, it was the glue that held my spirits together.

Now, I make them at home. They’re easy and simple, and still just as comforting as I remember.

I like to dress up my bowl just a little with a handful of fresh or frozen fruit, some nuts or seeds for crunch, and a splash of kefir. Using kefir in place of milk or cream is my current favorite way to enjoy my oats in the morning. It’s rich and creamy, with just a touch of tanginess that I really like. Plus, it’s a great way to get a few probiotics in my belly each morning. (Pills? No thanks.)

Steel Cut Oats with Kefir and Berries | Will Cook For Friends

A few weeks back my friend Joyce gave me some of her kefir grains (the little micro-orgnaisms that make kefir), and it blew my mind how easy it was to make delicious and probiotic rich kefir at home. You can find her directions for doing it yourself right here: Homemade Milk Kefir. 

If you’re not up for that, no worries — you can still make this using store-bought kefir and it will be delicious. I recommend buying plain, unsweetened kefir and sweetening it yourself, according to your tastes. I like mine with a little drizzle of pure maple syrup, but you could also use a few drops of stevia, a touch of honey, or a sprinkling of coconut sugar. Whatever kind of sweetener you like will do.

Steel Cut Oats with Kefir and Berries | Will Cook For Friends

Do you have a favorite way to dress up your morning oats? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

5.0 from 8 reviews
Steel Cut Oats With Kefir And Berries
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: vegetarian, easily made gluten-free (be sure to look for gluten-free steel cut oats)
Serves: 4
For the oats:
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (look for certified gluten-free if you have a gluten intollerance)
  • 3 cups water
  • pinch of salt
For topping (these are all optional, and to-taste):
  • fresh or frozen fruit / berries (I used blueberries and raspberries, but any fruit will work)
  • a handful of sliced almonds, pepitas, hemp seeds, or other nut/seed (you could even use a little of your favorite granola -- I'm a fan of this Honey & Hazelnut Granola)
  • unsweetened kefir, homemade or store-bought
  • drizzle of maple syrup, sprinkling of coconut sugar, a few drops of stevia, or any other sweetener you like, to taste
  1. Add the oats to a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Allow to toast, stirring or shaking the pan frequently, for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for about 25 minutes, or until the oats are tender enough for your liking. (The oats will thicken up as they cool -- if you prefer them a bit more porridgy, add a splash more water, or some milk or dairy-free alternative.)
  3. Serve with berries, nuts/seeds (or a handful of granola), a splash of kefir, and any sweetener you like, to taste. Dig in!
This makes enough oats for about four servings, but I actually like to double this and have cooked oats in the fridge for easy weekday breakfasts for the husband and myself. Leftover oats can be warmed in the microwave (if they've gotten a bit thick, add a splash of water, milk, or dairy-free substitute) and you're good to go!

P.S., my friend Aysegul just shared a post on her blog about making steel cut oats in a slow cooker. She has a genius technique that allows you to get the oats cooking before bed, and then wake up to warm, perfectly creamy porridge in the morning. If that sounds more appealing than cooking it on the stove, you can find her blog post and directions here: Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats | Foolrpoof Living.


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Still hungry? Try these:

19 Responses to Steel Cut Oats With Kefir And Berries

  1. Aysegul Sanford January 27, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    WOW! These photos and this bowl are amazing! It would be a reason for me to want to wake up too.
    I have never used (and even thought of using) kefir to make oatmeal before. For some reason, it is one of those ingredients that I don’t use as much. Though as soon as we move into our new place I am trying this recipe.
    Thank you (1) for the inspiration and (2) for sharing my recipe as well.
    Cheers! <3

    • Willow Arlen January 27, 2017 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks Aysegul! I’m the same way. Normally I just drink kefir, and I don’t really think of other ways to use it. Since I started making it at home, though, I’ve been coming up with other uses and really enjoying it. It goes great in smoothies as well!

      Good luck with your move — I hope it goes smoothly!

  2. Christine January 27, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    The berries, nuts and mint looks so amazing in this comforting bowl! I love starting the day with a nutritious breakfast like this.

  3. Sarah @ Champagne Tastes January 27, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    The hospital my mom was in when she was sick had the best frozen yogurt bar.. I’ve thought about going in for fro-yo since then, but the germ factor freaked me out! This is such a good idea- Kefir in steel cut oats is brilliant!

    • Willow Arlen January 27, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

      Oooh, now I want for-yo. Where did you say this hospital is? ;)

  4. Jovita @ Yummy Addiction January 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    That’s what I call a perfect breakfast. I love kefir but somehow I have never thought about mixing it with oats. In my country we only drink it and put into some soups. Great idea!

    • Willow Arlen January 27, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks Jovita! I usually just drink it, too, but since I started making it from scratch I’ve been trying to find other uses. Love it in my oats, and now I’ll have to try it in soups, too. Thanks!

  5. Mary January 27, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    I love the idea of making my own kefir! I know what you mean about the texture of steel cut oats being different and somehow more satisfying than rolled oats. It takes me a lot longer to get tired of them. This looks bright and beautiful and delicious!

    • Willow Arlen January 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

      Thanks Mary — glad I’m not the only one in favor of steel cut over rolled!

  6. April J Harris January 27, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    Some hospitals really do have good food so I totally get it! I can see why you would get up for your delicious steel cut oats – they look so fresh and tasty, and I’m not really an oatmeal person so that is high praise indeed!! In fact, I’m always trying to enjoy oats more and this recipe looks like a great place to start. Love that you’ve included kefir too!

    • Willow Arlen January 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

      Thanks April, I hope you try these! I really do find steel cut oats so much more pleasant than rolled oats.

  7. marsha August 29, 2018 at 5:42 pm #

    I can’t eat dairy. Can I make this kefir with coconut or almond milk?

    • Willow Arlen September 4, 2018 at 6:45 pm #

      Hi Marsha — I’ve never tried it with almond milk, but you can certainly give it a go! I don’t see why not.

  8. dewitte geneviève September 14, 2018 at 9:36 am #

    Thanks alot for the picture of exactly the SAME breakfeast i take every morning
    Milk kéfir allow me to drink dairy
    i make it with goat milk and a Kéfirko system very usefull
    Sorry i can transfer any picture i take …for the moment
    be happy!

  9. Barbara R June 7, 2019 at 7:08 am #

    I know that the bacteria in kefir is sensitive to heat. WIll the bacteria be killed when the kefir is added to the hot cereal?

  10. Abby April 28, 2020 at 3:03 pm #

    Delish!! Every recipe looks wonderful and all the ingredients are very familiar – have used all of them but some of the recipes are new to me so fantastic. Be so nice if all the nutritional info was included?

  11. Laura October 30, 2020 at 11:10 am #

    It would be helpful to have the nutritional information also included with your recipe.


  1. How Willow Arlen used illness to find her passion – Journey to Self - March 20, 2017

    […] sauteed spinach, and sweet potato hash. I also love making big batches of this porridge or these steel cut oats and eating them with berries and a splash of […]

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.