This steel-cut oats with rhubarb applesauce is our latest incentive to get out of bed in the morning. The sweetly tangy and pale pink applesauce made with rhubarb is going to rock your bowl of breakfast.
Can I make steel-cut oats ahead of time?
This recipe makes enough to generously satisfy a large family or, if you’re the only oats eater in the house, sufficient to stash leftovers in the fridge to nosh on for breakfast all week long.
Steel-Cut Oats With Rhubarb Applesauce
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H
- Serves 6
- For the rhubarb applesauce
- For the steel-cut oats
- For serving
Peel the apples, reserving the peel of 1 apple for cooking and tossing the rest of the peels in the compost. Core the apples and cut them into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks.
Place the apples, apple peel, rhubarb, honey, and salt in a nonreactive 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s broken down into a chunky sauce, 15 to 20 minutes.
Pluck out the apple peel and mash the sauce lightly with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until it’s as chunky or as smooth as you prefer. If desired, let the applesauce cool before serving.
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. (If you like your oats sorta on the chewy side, use 3 cups water; if you like your oats on the silken or porridge-y side, use 4 cups water.) Stir in the oats along with a pinch of salt, if desired. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oats are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Divvy the oatmeal among 6 bowls and top each with 1/2 cup applesauce, 1 tablespoon chopped nuts, and, if desired, a tiny pinch salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Originally published February 11, 2017.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This is the best applesauce I’ve ever had. It was the perfect combo of sweet and tart thanks to the tangy rhubarb. The rosy tint was such an unexpected surprise and made this the perfect morning treat to shake up my usual routine of oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins. It’s the applesauce that makes this recipe a winner.
My family and I especially enjoyed the rhubarb applesauce warm over vanilla bean ice cream with cinnamon and crushed snickerdoodles on top. Amazing! We also snacked on it cold "as is." A drizzle of honey on top of the oatmeal is imperative. I think the hazelnuts overpowered the whole dish. Maybe walnuts or sliced almonds instead? A spice would have been nice, say cinnamon or cardamom.
It turns out that applesauce is a pretty evocative food, recalling memories of babies now grown or loved ones who are gone. As intended by the author, this recipe seems more like a compote than a sauce, but which end of the spectrum you land on depends entirely on the apples you choose.
In New England, we often think about Macintosh apples for sauce, which is what I chose, because Macs break down to a purée on their own. I might also have picked my all-time favorite New England apple, the Macoun, which is juicy, sweet-tart, and holds its shape when cooked. No matter which apple you choose, it will be good, because apples and rhubarb go together like, well, apples and rhubarb.
I’d never had steel-cut oatmeal before and I'm never going back. The chopped nuts add a nice texture and crunch and the sea salt I finished the dish with was exquisite. The cool sauce was a nice contrast to the hot, slightly chewy oats. I needed to add 3 tablespoons water to the sauce so that it wouldn't stick and only added 1 tablespoon honey. The sauce had a nice sweetness with the slight tartness that you want from rhubarb. The recipe yielded a pale rose-colored sauce. A lovely idea for a make-ahead breakfast.
Overnight oats have been a standard breakfast for me this year and, although tasty, they’re becoming a little ho-hum. This recipe takes oatmeal to a whole new level. Steel-cut oats are a revelation! Yes, they take a little while to cook, but if you make a big batch, you can warm up single servings throughout the week. The flavor is the biggest selling point for this recipe—rich, nutty, sweet, and tangy. That said, the texture is a close second. For me, about 3/4 of the way through a bowl of rolled oats, I get tired of the soft texture. However, here, the oats are creamy yet slightly chewy, the rhubarb applesauce is soft, and the hazelnuts are crunchy.
This recipe is delicious warm but I preferred it at room temperature. Any leftover applesauce is delicious spooned over plain Greek yogurt. The addition of the peel of one apple didn't seem to affect the color of the applesauce, and it was an annoyance to have to pick out the peel at the end, so next time I would omit including the peel or make sure to include very long strips of peel that are easier to fish out.
I prepared the oats using half water and half whole milk, according to the package instructions. The warmed oats were topped with rhubarb applesauce and finished with chopped toasted hazelnuts. This kept me full until lunch.