The Secret Way to Prevent Oatmeal (And Almost Any Other Dish) From Burning In the Slow Cooker

Learn the trick to table-ready slow-cooker oatmeal that has less mess and none of that dreaded burning.

A while back, I discovered a whole new reason to love my slow cooker that has nothing to do with soup, chilis or dump-and-go dinners: Overnight oatmeal. It’s simply the best way to make a wholesome, satisfying breakfast as it cooks while you sleep. (I prefer Irish steel-cut oatmeal as it’s nutty, toothsome, great for you, and more rib-sticking than regular oats.) The one issue is that overnight oatmeal can become a mess as burnt-on bits stick to the edges of your slow cooker. However, I found a technique that’s bulletproof to prevent this mess:

Place a ramekin in your slow cooker

My secret to non-scorched oats in the slow cooker starts with a ramekin or other oven-safe dish that fits inside the crock. Next, you’ll need a small dish (or other oven-safe prop) to set the ramekin on as well as 1 cup of water and about 10 hours. It works like this:

  • Take a slow cooker recipe like this Raisin Nut Oatmeal and instead of cooking it right in the crock as most recipes direct, mix the ingredients in a ramekin instead.
  • Place the ramekin on a little dish in the slow cooker (this makes it easier to retrieve after cooking)
  • Add a cup of water to the crock (this creates steam to aid in cooking), cover and cook on low for 10 glorious hours.

Voila! Wake up to gorgeous overnight oats that are ready to serve from a pretty dish.

Pro tip: Storing it in the fridge is a breeze, too. Just cool the leftovers and cover with plastic wrap. I like to eat the leftovers cold with plain yogurt.

Other ways to use this technique

As proud as I am of this genius overnight oats hack, I can’t take full credit. I got the idea at work when I sat in on a taste panel for Slow Cooker Frittata Provencal. I loved how this elegant meatless dinner emerged tender and attractive from the slow cooker—ready to serve with a green salad and glass of rose. We have since adapted the technique to make this gorgeous Denver Omelet Frittata in the slow cooker and even cheesecake!

But my favorite way to cook with a ramekin or pan inside the slow cooker is to extend the cook time on my overnight oats…and to ensure I never wake up to burnt spots again. Here are more great ways to keep your slow cooker in spotless condition.

Get more outrageous oatmeal recipes.
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Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.