If you’re looking for a stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast for fall, this Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats recipe fits the bill. It’s hearty, cozy, and full of warming chai spices.

Two bowls of Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats on wooden cutting board

Steel cut oats are an entirely different way to experience oatmeal. The chewy grains are infinitely more satisfying than rolled oats, especially on a chilly fall day, and they have a slightly nutty flavor, which makes steel cut oats perfect for pairing with apples and chai spices. This Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats recipe is like the breakfast equivalent of a warm, fuzzy blanket. (It also makes your kitchen smell like fall baking, which is an added bonus.)

Once you’ve got the basic recipe for steel cut oats down pat, you can switch things up with your favorite milks, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, and other add-ins. Or, if you’re more comfortable sticking to recipes, you can try my Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oats next!

What You’ll Need

Here’s everything you’ll need to make Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats:

  • Coconut or almond milk – Or, really, you can use any milk you like, whether dairy or non-dairy.
  • Applesauce – This adds sweetness to the recipe without adding sugar.
  • Salt
  • Chai spice – You can make your own chai spices if you can’t find them at the grocery store, or use strongly brewed chai tea instead of the milk.
  • Steel cut oats – Sometimes you’ll find steel cut oats readymade in the freezer section, but that’s not what you want here. Use the kind sold with the oatmeal in the cereal aisle.
  • Apple

Topping Ideas for Steel Cut Oats

When it comes to topping your Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats, the world is your oyster! Here are some options to try. Mix and match a few or come up with your own!

  • Ground cinnamon
  • Shredded coconut
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Date syrup
  • Chopped almonds
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Pepitas
  • Almond butter
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
Two bowls of Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats on cutting board with small pitcher of milk

How to Make Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are totally doable for a weekday breakfast. They need to simmer for 30 minutes, so get them started, then get yourself ready for the day, returning to the kitchen once in a while to give them a stir. Here’s how to make them:

Start the oats. Bring the milk, applesauce, salt, chai spices, and steel cut oats to a boil in a large saucepan. 

Simmer. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the saucepan. Cook the oats for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Let sit. Once the oats are tender, remove the saucepan from the stovetop and let it sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Serve. Stir in the chopped apple, then divide the steel cut oats into bowls. Garnish as desired.

Tips for Success

Steel cut oats are easy to master, but there are a few tricks to making sure they turn out just right.

  • Play with the texture. If you like a chewy oat, keep the recipe as-is. If you prefer more of a creamy porridge texture, add more liquid just before removing the saucepan from the heat. Want super thick oatmeal? Then boil the oats for longer than 30 minutes, but keep a careful eye on them! They’ll burn once all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Amp up the nuttiness. Have some extra time on your hands? You can bring out the nutty flavor of the oats by toasting them in the pan before adding the other ingredients.
  • Process the oats first. You can reduce the cooking time a bit if you put the steel cut oats in your food processor and pulse them a few times to break them up. Depending on how much you process them, it can shave off 5 minutes or more. This is best for those who like a porridge-y bowl of steel cut oats.
Overhead shot of Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats in two bowls

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Store Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats in airtight storage containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, use the microwave or transfer the oats to a small saucepan and warm them up over low heat, adding more liquid if needed.

Can You Freeze Leftover Steel Cut Oats?

Yes, you can freeze steel cut oats for up to 3 months. Any airtight container will do, but I like freezing them in small freezer bags because they’re perfect for individual portions and they can be frozen flat and stacked to save space. Let them thaw in the fridge, then heat them in the microwave or on the stovetop with a bit of additional liquid.

Closeup of two bowls of Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats
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Closeup of two bowls of Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats

Apple Chai Steel Cut Oats

  • Author: Country Cleaver
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Steel cut oats are hearty, cozy, and the perfect way to start a chilly fall morning—especially when paired with apples and warming chai spices!


Units Scale
  • 2 cups Coconut or Almond Milk, use sweetened or unsweetened (your preference)
  • 1/41/2 cup Applesauce (adjust as desired for added sweetness)
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Chai Spice *see note*
  • 3/4 cup Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 cup Chopped Apple
  • Ground cinnamon, shredded coconut, honey, other toppings as desired.


In a large saucepan, combine coconut milk (or milk of choice), applesauce, salt, and steel cut oats. Bring the mixture to a boil, making sure it does not boil over. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the oats don’t stick to the bottom. Remove the oats from the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Stir in chopped apple, and top with additional ingredients, such as cinnamon, shredded coconut, or honey.   


If you cannot find chai baking spice, brew one strong cup of chai tea, and substitute it for one cup of coconut milk. 

Keywords: healthy breakfast recipes, easy breakfast ideas, steel cut oatmeal