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Instant Pot Breakfast: Apple Cranberry Steel Cut Oats

Steel Cut Apple Cranberry Instantpot Oatmeal

I left my Instant Pot in the box for at least 6 months, but not for the reasons everyone else does.

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, and I’ve seen other people talk online about how they let theirs sit unopened because they were afraid of it exploding. Me, I’m just too busy to read the instructions or try something new sometimes – isn’t that silly?

I used my poor Instant Pot once, last summer, for a party when I was in a pinch (and totally overcooked my broccoli and cauliflower because I didn’t take the time to read the instructions, ha!) and then it sat in my basement for another 6 months before I re-discovered it.

And now…it’s been in almost constant use for the past 2 weeks, I’ve figured out how to adapt slow cooker recipes for the Instant Pot, and I’ve even already sent one as a gift to my hard-to-buy-for friend who visited and was smitten with it. She keeps texting me beautiful pictures of her food with notes like “this is a game-changer.”

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Instant Pot recipe for cranberry apple steel cut oats

Discovering Steel Cut Oats

The recipe I get to share today has become a favorite breakfast for my kids – even though we never like steel-cut oats before this! It’s a good idea to prep ahead the night before with all the ingredients, because the “instant” part of the Instant Pot is a bit overblown online in my opinion – it takes about 20 minutes to get up to pressure, so you have to add that amount to all cooking times.

Your kids CAN make their own healthy breakfast!

kids learning to cook

Join the Kids Cook Real Food Weekend Challenge: Kids Master Breakfast and imagine your kids making breakfast independently! This challenge contains pro-filmed video lessons you can do at your own pace and finish in one weekend. Perfect for busy families!!

You CAN set a delay timer on many models, so as long as you’re ok with dairy products sitting out all night (I am) or are using coconut milk, it can still be ready when you need it in the morning. Or if you’re like me, you can try to get up at least an hour before the kids anyway to start working…or do laundry…or sit in silence (which never happens!). Then you can push the on button and walk away, no stirring or watching temps needed, which is a nice change even from the ease of regular stovetop oatmeal.

An easy and delicious breakfast to be sure!

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats Breakfast Recipe

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Instant Pot Breakfast: Apple Cranberry Steel Cut Oats

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x



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  1. Grease the bottom of the Instant Pot container with butter or coconut oil.
  2. Soak all but the maple syrup, salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) and vanilla overnight in the Instant Pot.
  3. In the morning just give it a quick stir and set the Instant Pot to 7 minutes on Manual, high pressure.
  4. Don’t forget to close the valve!
  5. It will take about 15-20 minutes to get up to pressure.
  6. When the timer is done, allow for a natural pressure release of 10 minutes. (Tip: set a timer for 35 minutes when you turn the IP on and that’s about when it should be done.) The oats won’t look done at first, too liquidy, but as you stir it all sort of absorbs the liquid and it’s perfect.
  7. Stir in the salt, maple syrup, and vanilla and serve with milk. (Tip: Put these ingredients next to the IP the night before so you remember!)


The Instant Pot will automatically switch to “warm” and cause the pressure to release slowly when the cook time is over. The oatmeal will hold nicely for you whenever you’re ready to eat – which is great in our home as kids leave for school at two different times and our 4-year-old often sleeps in, so we might have four different times that people are ready to eat!

If you want to do even less in the morning, feel free to include the syrup and salt in the overnight soak and skip the vanilla. It’s a pretty flexible recipe!!

Leaving out the salt, by the way, is just an old-fashioned way to soak that some say can make whole grains more digestible. More on soaking grains here.

I bet you could save on prep time and use a cup or two of applesauce instead of the apples, or just have your kids cut them up like we do since our kids learned how to cook.

Dairy-free with coconut milk should work fine too – just use 3 cups coconut milk and 3 cups water, or one can full-fat coconut milk and 4 cups water. You don’t need the yogurt.

No fresh cranberries? I buy them at the holiday season and freeze right in the bag for later, but you could certainly use dried cranberries or cherries. Yum!

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You can pop this into your Plan to Eat dashboard and add a “prep note” that says “soak oats” the night before, and it will always remind you in your calendar so you don’t miss out on breakfast because you forgot to prep! Woo hoo!

Nighttime and Michigan-winter breakfasts are horrible photography moments, so ignore the lighting on these. You know I really made the recipe, right? Winking smile Your IP will look like this at night with cute floating cranberries:

Instant Pot recipe for cranberry apple steel cut oats

And this in the morning – delicious, creamy, hearty oatmeal with plenty of flavor that will satiate you until lunchtime, no problem:

Instant Pot recipe for cranberry apple steel cut oats

We like to serve with milk!

Hungry for more? Try Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

=Traditional Cooking School Instant Pot Sourdough Cornbread Pressure Cooker Recipe

My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!

She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!

This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.

Steel Cut Apple Cranberry Instant Pot Oatmeal
Have you ever used an Instant Pot or pressure cooker? What questions do you have that I can include in the series?
Cooking Real Food with an Instant Pot Series

While you’re waiting for your Instant pot to arrive, you might check out my Grain-free Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Porridge. Watch for more Instant Pot recipes, tips, and tricks this month – you’ll be able to get to them all by clicking the image above.

Plan to Eat is a current sponsor receiving their complimentary mention.


Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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24 thoughts on “Instant Pot Breakfast: Apple Cranberry Steel Cut Oats”

  1. I left to soak overnight and gave it a stir this morning before turning on. Unfortunately, it went straight to burn. I had to transfer to the stove and still didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, I think the yogurt made it too tart. My family didn’t eat much of it but sure the chickens will enjoy the leftovers :). Next time I may omit to yogurt and use coconut oil instead of butter to see if that helps.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Oh dear! I’m sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you. Glad your chickens are able to benefit though! 😉

  2. I made this recipe to share during a morning Bible study and it was a hit! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Lori Parker-Gurule

    My son is the only one who eats oats, can this recipe be saved and reheated over the course of a week? Would freezing in portion sized containers be better than just the fridge?
    SO glad I found your sight!!

    1. Hi Lori,

      This is Mary, one of Katie’s team members. We save (in fridge or freezer) and reheat oatmeal all the time! It just depends how quickly you’ll be using it. If you’ll use it in a couple days then the fridge is fine. If it’s going to be more than a few days I’d freeze it.

  4. Is there a reason why you can’t add the salt, vanilla & maple syrup when putting everything in the IP? Then you could use the delay feature to perfectly time breakfast without worrying about getting it started in the morning.

    1. Sonya,
      I think you could cheat the recipe. 🙂 The salt is not recommended in “soaked” recipes because it alters the phytate-reducing action of the soak, some say. I think vanilla is often added after cooking, and from what I understand it’s because the alcohol will boil off and with it, the flavor. The maple syrup I’m not sure – it was in a few recipes I was looking at that way I imagine. 🙂 Katie

  5. My “multi-cooker” looks pretty much like your instant pot, and it is my very favorite appliance. If you’re concerned about pressure cooking, know that I have been using the “slow cooker” setting for my steel cut oat recipes for about a year. Toss it all together at bedtime, quick stir, set it at the “slow cooker” and you’ll have the creamiest porridge ready in the morning. I sometimes, in moments of true organization, make little kits in zipper baggies (grains in one and chopped fruit & spices in the freezer), then I only have to measure out half dairy/nut milk & half water. Love my multi-cooker!

  6. So I have been interested in buying one of these for a while… but we recently made a move that gives us more time (so would a slow cooker be the same for most things?!)
    I also wonder about the electricity use. Do they use more? less? when compared to a slow cooker. Our move hasn’t taken us exactly off-grid, but we will be more conscious of our electricity use for sure….

    1. Christina,
      I haven’t done electricity studies, but since the IP is simply on for way less time than a slow cooker, it has to use less electricity, right? A slow cooker is pretty interchangeable as far as recipes go, although sometimes it can overcook stuff (like porridge) if it has to be on overnight or all day or whatever. Because the IP also has a slow cooker feature, it can kind of play both roles. 🙂 Katie

    1. YES, for sure Lindsay, because regular oats don’t take nearly as long to cook. I’ve never made regular rolled oats in the IP though, so I’d start by googling how long to cook it. I bet it would be like a minute, or maybe the rice setting. 🙂 Katie

    1. Brenda,

      I’m sure it depends on the features of your rice cooker. I don’t have it out today to look, but I do believe my rice cooker has a “porridge” setting. All you can do is check your manual or the manufacturer’s website and give it a go. Maybe start with some recipes that don’t contain pricey ingredients just in case you can’t salvage it.

    2. Hi Brenda,
      For other IP recipes that are for meat, no, definitely not. You need a pressure cooker for those, or you have to be willing to allow 1-2 hours of cook time on the stovetop. For this recipe, a rice cooker might do it OR you could just cook it on the stovetop for the amount of time steel cut oats call for (is that 45 minutes? I don’t even know!). Good luck! 🙂 Katie

  7. I love my Instant Pot! I ordered it on Black Friday and got a great deal. I was scared to use it at first too, but there’s a Facebook group for it, and the manufacturer provides a list of good websites.

  8. I remember reading in Nourishing Traditions at the beginning of my traditional foods journey that pressure cookers aren’t recommended because they cook food unnaturally fast. This has been my only hang up in getting one (thanks, Sally Fallon), but I am tempted because it looks pretty amazing for a busy mom. What are your thoughts on this?

    1. SUPER valid question, Lindsey, and definitely another reason I left the ol’ IP in the box. I read that too and promptly stopped using my pressure cooker. A few bloggers I trust (Food Renegade and Wellness Mama) have shared their refutes of that, and I’ve come around. I’ll link to them in future parts of this series, thanks for reminding me!!
      🙂 Katie

      1. I was going to ask the same question as Lindsey. I looked up those bloggers you recommended and it seems like it’s not an issue. Hooray! Thanks, Katie! 🙂

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