Slow Cooker Savory Oatmeal

Welcome to Slow Cooker Sunday! Plug in and chill out for what’s supposed to be the laziest day of the week.

I put together a set of savory oatmeal toppings a few years ago titled Oatmeal for Dinner. I remember adding sausage as a topping and thinking it would be great to get the sausage flavor into the oats themselves, instead of just sitting on the surface. That's how this recipe was born. The slow cooker is perfect for steel-cut oats—long, patient simmering makes them tender all the way through. (For a more traditional, nonsavory oatmeal option, check out our Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal.)

Start this before you go to bed, and in the morning you'll have nothing to do—just add toppings and make a pot of coffee. Stay away from the computer. Lie in bed. Open the windows. Listen to music. It's Sunday.

Slow Cooker Savory Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Makes 4 to 6 generous servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large Italian sausage links (about 1 pound), mild or hot
2 cups steel-cut oats
8 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, if needed
Optional toppings: sliced hot chiles, vinegary hot sauce, pickled peppers, cilantro, fried eggs, sliced green onions

Step 1: Set a medium skillet over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil, coat the bottom of the pan, and add the sausages. Brown them, turning a few times so they color evenly, until they're nice and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Don't worry about cooking them all the way through.

Step 2: Remove the sausages from the pan, halve them lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Step 3: Turn on your slow cooker. Add the steel-cut oats.

Step 4: Pour in the broth.

Step 5: Add the seared sausages. Stir everything together.

Step 6: Cook 4 to 5 hours on high or 8 to 9 hours on low. When done, taste the oatmeal: Grind in some black pepper and add salt if needed. Serve in warm bowls and throw on one or more of the optional toppings!

Photos and styling by Chris Rochelle