Steel-Cut Oats with Rhubarb Applesauce

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.

A white bowl filled with steel cut oats with rhubarb applesauce and chopped pistachios on top.

This steel-cut oats with rhubarb applesauce recipe just became our latest and greatest incentive to get out of bed in the morning. Sweet, tangy, pale pink applesauce made with rhubarb (yep, frozen works perfectly fine) is swirled into piping hot steel-cut oats and then the entire shebang is strewn with hazelnuts.–Angie Zoobkoff

Steel-Cut Oats with Rhubarb Applesauce FAQs

Can I make steel-cut oats ahead of time?

Yes, definitely. We encourage you to make a full batch. Since this steel-cut oats recipe makes enough to generously satisfy a large family or, if you’re the only oats eater in the house, it’s sufficient to stash leftovers in the fridge to nosh on for breakfast all week long.

Should you soak steel-cut oats before cooking?

You can, but you don’t have to. Soaked oats will cook a little more quickly, and they tend to be creamier and easier to digest. That said, tossing them into the pot unsoaked, as suggested here, still makes a wonderful bowl of hearty, healthy goodness.

Steel-Cut Oats With Rhubarb Applesauce

A white bowl filled with steel cut oats with rhubarb applesauce and chopped pistachios on top.
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.
Sara Dickerman

Prep 20 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 1 hr
6 servings
303 kcal
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the Bon Appétit: The Food Lover's Cleanse cookbook

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For the rhubarb applesauce

  • 4 large (2 lbs) apples such as Gala or Fuji
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb stalks cut into 1-inch (25-mm) pieces (3 to 4 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup honey or less to taste
  • Pinch fine sea salt

For the steel-cut oats

  • 3 to 4 cups cold water
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • Pinch fine sea salt (optional)

For serving

  • 6 tablespoons hazelnuts toasted
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt (optional)


Make the rhubarb applesauce

  • 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.

Make the steel-cut oats

  • 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.

Serve the steel-cut oats with rhubarb applesauce

  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the Bon Appétit: The Food Lover's Cleanse cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 303kcal (15%)Carbohydrates: 55g (18%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 8g (12%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 205mg (9%)Potassium: 469mg (13%)Fiber: 9g (38%)Sugar: 28g (31%)Vitamin A: 165IU (3%)Vitamin C: 14mg (17%)Calcium: 108mg (11%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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 rhubarb 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.

Originally published February 11, 2017


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    1. Abigail, you could cover and refrigerate the rhubarb applesauce for up to a couple days. The oats you could do the same with although they’re going to soak up more of the liquid as they sit and so the consistency will be somewhat compromised. If you do chill the oats, you’ll want to add a little more liquid as you rewarm it. Or you could try the overnight oats trick and before you go to bed one night bring the oats, water, and salt to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and let it sit out overnight at room temperature. Then in the morning stash it in the fridge. When ready to serve, simply reheat with a little more liquid. Kindly let us know how it goes!

  1. Great idea, I’ve made various steel-cut oat recipes and sometimes I’ve started oats in a preheated pan for a minute on their own, then added the liquid. Makes ’em taste a little nutty. I enjoy this site, lots of good ideas, thanks.

    1. Thank you so much, j, for your kind words! We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know! And I love your spirit of innovation! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site arouses your curiosity next!

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