Love the chewy texture and nutty flavor of steel-cut oats, but hate the constant pot-watching so they don't boil over? We took a tip from the geniuses at and tried their no-fuss way to perfectly cooked oats, which you can even start the night before you plan to eat it.

Steel cut oats differ from ordinary rolled oats in that the plump oat grains haven't been flattened between giant rollers. Rolled oats are thinned flat for greater surface area, which cooks faster. Steel-cut oats have been milled so that each plump grain is coarsely cut into broken pieces of varying size. That results in differing textures; the smaller pieces cook up softer, while the larger pieces retain some al dente chewiness.

Before: Untoasted steel-cut oats. After: Toasted.; Credit:

Before: Untoasted steel-cut oats. After: Toasted.; Credit:

Whether you cook steel-cut oats on the stove or in a thermos, the final results taste better if you toast the uncooked grain first. This can be done by tossing them in a dry skillet for 5 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat. When you can smell the aroma of toasted grain and the color changes to a light brown, remove the grains immediately into a dish and allow them to cool. offers detailed instructions, but the basic cooking process is listed below:

  • Start by boiling several cups of water and pre-heat your thermos with it. Empty the thermos after several minutes of preheating.
  • For each serving, measure one cup of toasted steel cut oats.
  • Oats are thirsty grains and absorb 3 to 4 times their own volume in water, depending on how firm or runny you like your oats. For every cup of oats, measure 3.5 cups of water to a boil in a kettle
  • Pour your cooled, toasted oats into the thermos.
  • When your measured water comes to a boil, pour it slowly into the thermos, and allow the oats to cook for at least 20 – 30 minutes. Start your oatmeal the night before, and keep it safely hot until you eat it at work the next morning!

Here's the introduction to thermos cooking fundamentals from

Shuji Sakai writes about breakfast with longshoremen and cooking with thermoses. Follow him on @professorsalt and

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