Caramelized Apple Slow Cooker Oatmeal
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My daughter, who refuses to eat oatmeal, declares this “Inside Out Apple Pie” to be her favorite breakfast. (Her brother calls it “Apple Pudding.”)
It's oatmeal, all right, but with lots of apples and a bit of sweet caramelly goodness, so somehow in her seven-year-old mind, it's not her despised breakfast nemesis and will gobble down two bowls before I can sufficiently cool the servings for her two little brothers.
And really, I shouldn't even call this Caramelized APPLE Slow Cooker Oatmeal, because it works just as well with fresh peaches, cherries, berries, and other fruits that stew well and that you would typically serve with oatmeal.
And of course, it's made with natural sweeteners that are adaptable to your family's tastes.
The only caveat is that it takes 10-15 minutes to pull together in the evening, since you have to cut up all the apples, but if that's okay with you, this recipe certainly is very easy – and DEFINITELY could be taught to the kiddos to make themselves (just dump in blueberries instead of cutting up apples if you don't trust your kiddos with knives quite yet…..). Although we do have a guide to kid-safe knives that actually cut…
So, really, this recipe is one of the best kind: it's a slow-cooker breakfast, it's easily gluten-free, the kids can take ownership of preparing breakfast, and it's just plain delicious.
Here's to easy mornings!
You might also like: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Oatmeal: A Guide to Choosing, Soaking and Cooking
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Caramelized Apple Slow Cooker Oatmeal
- 2 pounds sweet or tart apples, about 5 large or 9 small apples, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces – peeling is optional
- ¾ cup brown sugar, more or less to taste
(see how to make your own brown sugar)
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
- juice from half a lemon, 1–2 tablespoons
- 2 cups rolled oats, or steel cut oats if you want a heartier whole grain
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 eggs, optional
- 1 ½ cups water
- Grease the slow cooker insert. Generously grease the bowl of a slow cooker (a deep 3-quart one works well, but any 3-quart size or larger is fine).
- Mix the apples and dry ingredients. Toss the apples, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice in a large bowl, then add the oats and stir again. Pour into the greased slow cooker insert.
- Add the wet ingredients. Either in the same bowl or a new one, whisk the eggs into the milk until the mixture is very smooth. Add the water and whisk again. Pour over the apple-oat mixture.
- Cook the oatmeal. Cook on low for 6-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Cook time will vary considerably according to brand and size of slow cooker, so if you don't like crispy edges on your oatmeal, make this recipe for the first time during the day when you can gauge the progress of the oatmeal.
Whisk the milk, eggs, and water as described and pour over the layered apples and cook as directed.
Oooo…..this looks amazing!! As someone who is not a morning person yet cannot in good conscience send my children to school having eaten something out of a cereal box, I am ALWAYS looking for good breakfasts that I can make the night before. This looks like just the thing. I’ll have to play around a bit since I have a much larger slow-cooker. Maybe we’ll plan oatmeal for dinner one of these nights so I can get the timing right. 🙂
I find that it reheats well too, so if you make a larger batch, spoon the extra into a greased baking dish and stick in the refrigerator, then you can easily reheat it at 350F for 20-30 minutes (depending on quantity and depth) whenever you need it. I haven’t tried freezing and reheating, but that might work too!
Wondering if you ever figured out the larger measurements and time … I also have bigger slow cooker.
My kids love oatmeal & I never have time before work to make it unless I get up super early, This will be great for the fall. Thanks.
Can it be tweaked to soak the oats? It looks luscious!
Definitely! Just soak the oats earlier in the day, say after lunch, then drain and rinse, and add to the slow cooker with the other ingredients, perhaps reducing the water by 1/2 cup or so.
The only issue I can imagine arising with soaking the oats is that they’ll cook too fast, so by the morning they might be rather burned around the edges. Thus, if you’re going to soak them, perhaps try the recipe with groats / steel-cut oats instead, which cook a bit slower.
We tried this and it was a HIT at our place! All 7 of our children (and my husband and I) decided it will become a part of our regular breakfast rotation!
looks wonderful!!! I cant wait to make it. It’s just my daughter and me. Will it be okay to refrigerate some of it to reheat during the week?
Absolutely. It reheats beautifully! I often save a bit to reheat the next day.
This sounds good enough for a dessert. Yummy
I also like to take whole oats and water, put in the crockpot the night before at bedtime and the next morning, breakfast is mostly ready.. Then I like to add to this some dried fruits, such as raisins, pears, figs and some thawed strawberries, blueberries, or cherries and cook just enough to tenderize the dried fruits, add a little salt and it’s ready.. I like to add some milk when I put it in the bowls.
Mine turned out too mushy, but the taste was outstanding! I bought steal oats and I’m trying again for tomorrow.
This is amazing! I added a tablespoon of flaxseed to the brown sugar & cinnamon which did not alter the taste. Thank you sooo much for sharing!
I’ve made this seven or eight times. It’s like eating dessert for breakfast, except this is actually healthy. I make a big pot on Sunday night and we eat it all week long.
The key to getting the best results is using the right amount of liquid. Too much and it gets mushy; too little and it can be a little dry and burned. I got the best results using firm baking apples (half granny smith and half pink lady, in my case). Other kinds of apples get mushy themselves and they also release too much liquid, which can make the oatmeal mushy, too. With the right apples, the quantities of liquids that you give in the recipe are just right,
For the liquids, I’ve used apple juice instead of water, which gives the oatmeal an even stronger apple taste, which I like. I’ve also tried hard cider, which I like even better = a little more tart and more complex. Raisins are a good addition, too, but then you need to add more liquid. It’s hard to judge how much liquid the raisins will soak up, so now I soak them to plump them before I add them to the mix. I also decrease the brown sugar a little, because the raisins add sweetness themselves.
Can’t wait to try this! It’s going in the crock pot tonight!
I can’t wait to make this recipe for a group of friends. Could you use steel cut oats instead of rolled and if so, would you do anything different.
Yes, I do occasionally make this with steel cut oats and I love it! I use 2 cups milk and 1 cup water per cup of 1 cup of oats, which makes a pretty thick oatmeal.
If I triple or even quadruple this, will I need to adjust anything like liquids or baking times?
The few times I’ve increased it the quantity, yes, I’ve found that it was helpful to reduce the liquid just a bit, maybe a cup or so if you’re tripling it. It also would be good to give it an extra hour or so to cook, but I’ve served a tripled batch that was cooked in the same amount of time as a single batch, so it’s not essential.
Do you think you could a savoury version of this? I was wondering if I could omit the sugar and cinnamon but add some vintage cheddar cheese we have in the fridge; but would I need to further adjust the liquid if I did that?
That sounds lovely! And no, I don’t think you’d need to adjust the liquid except according to taste. If you’re wanting it to be very thick, I would reduce it a bit, but that’s a matter of desire rather than necessity.
Also, it might be advantageous to add the cheese just about half-an-hour before serving. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure it could work either way.
So glad I found this! Breakfast time is so busy with 3 kids so I can’t wait to try this. Do you think I can substitute whole milk with coconut or almond milk?
Absolutely! Use any liquid you’d like. 🙂
Loved this!!! When it came out topped it with dates and almonds! Have enough to last the rest of the week 🙂
When layering, for a more caramelized apple, are you putting apples on bottom or top?
In order to caramelize, the apples need to be against the walls of the slow cooker, so I put them on the bottom. You can certainly put them on the top – they soften up beautifully and are delicious, but the caramelization only happens when they’re in the bottom.
I hope that helps!
Can I cook this in a six quart slow cooker or should I double it? If I need to double, should I reduce the liquid quanitity at all? Thanks, this looks delicious!
Y’know, when I do it in a larger slow cooker, I actually have started making it in a heat-proof mixing bowl (say, a Pyrex bowl) instead of mixing it in the slow cooker insert, and then in the insert I just put an inch or two of water and basically steam the oatmeal. It cooks about as fast, I can make just the amount of the single recipe, and clean-up is seriously easier. The only difference is that the apples don’t caramelize – they just soften. They’re still super-yummy, just not caramelized. 🙂
I hope that helps!
Thanks for the advice! I decided to take a gamble because I wanted the apples carmelized and made it exactly as written and it still turned out PERFECTLY! It only filled my cooker about `1/2 way once it cooked down, but it wasn’t burned or anything. It was super fluffy and flavorful. I even left it on warm for 2 hours before I could serve it and it was still delicious. I served it with a little whipped cream and my co-workers went NUTS over it. It made 9 good size bowl servings. Thank you SO much for such a tasty and easy recipe, this one is definitely going to be added to my routine! 😀
I’m so glad! 🙂
I made this subbing the brown sugar for palm sugar and it was delicious! My 2 year old ate a huge bowl full! Thank you,
Just put a modified version of this in the crock pot for breakfast tomorrow. I’m super excited. It already smells delicious.
Thanks for the idea! 🙂
Do you have to use whole milk or can use 1 or 2%
Any milk will certainly work, including almond milk or rice milk, if you prefer!
excited about this recipe and I am making it tonight! Thanks
How do you keep ingredients from getting mushy while waiting for timer to start cooking at 1 am? I would need to put in pot at 9 pm.
Hi, so excited to try this recipe! I have a 7 quart crockpot… how long will the cooking time be?
It will vary according to your brand, but I would assume about 4-5 hours. If you’re wanting to do it overnight, I might change it up a bit – either double the recipe OR turn it into a steamed oatmeal by mixing the oatmeal in a heatproof bowl that fits inside the slow cooker insert (I use an old Pyrex one), then place about 2 inches of water in the slow cooker insert and cook on either high or low for the amount of time called for in the recipe. It doesn’t caramelize the apples the same way, but it’s a good way to use a larger slow cooker and it’s easier to clean up! 🙂
I hope that helps!
All I have on hand are quick oats. Will they work??
Well, you can use them, but only if you cook them for 2-4 hours. If you do the full overnight recipe, they’ll be completely mushy in the morning. But if that’s what you like, go for it! 🙂
I made this last night for the first time for an in-service, talk about stressful… BUT it turned out great!!! Everybody loved it. Thank you for the recipe, tips, and the easy to follow directions. It really helped a non-cook impress a large group. Thanks again!
You’re so welcome! Thanks for letting us know. 🙂
Can you make this without eggs? What do you think the end product would be?
Definitely! I just add the eggs to up the protein and make it a bit creamier. You can absolutely make it without the eggs. 🙂
Hi- This looks delicious and was exactly what I’ve been searching for! I hate eggs, and mornings, so I’ve been trying to find a recipe now that I have a slow cooker to make my oatmeal with eggs for the protein!
I am just curious if you’ve ever replaced the eggs with egg whites? Or added additional eggs/egg whites in lieu of some of the other liquids?
I’d like to try to up the protein a bit more and was wondering how it would turn out if I used the 2 eggs but replaced a small amount of the water (or milk) with liquid egg whites. I haven’t tried this recipe just yet, but I intend to this week!! Have you tried replacing the brown sugar with maple syrup at all?
Let’s see – last question first – yes, definitely. Maple syrup is fabulous in this recipe!
As for the eggs, I would lean toward adding more egg yolks rather than egg whites if you’d like to up the protein. That’s partially because they’re what lend the creamy texture, but also because they hold the vast majority of the nutrients and protein eggs offer. (I’ve written more about the egg nutritional profile in the following article, but you can ignore the argument about keeping them raw in this case! 🙂 https://nourishingjoy.com/how-to-eat-more-raw-egg-yolks/ )
Also, you can add more (thus getting more protein) without adding so much that they start taking on a scrambled egg texture. So perhaps use 4-5 egg yolks as the egg portion of this recipe in order to really pack in the protein while still keeping it as oatmeal? And if that’s not enough for your liking, you can also experiment with adding more.
I wouldn’t replace liquid with eggs, however, merely because they don’t absorb into the oats the same way, so the oats wouldn’t properly cook.
I hope that helps!
Why are the eggs optional? I’ve never put eggs in my oatmeal before. What does it add?
The eggs merely make the texture creamier and add a bit of protein. And that’s also why they’re optional – they’re certainly not NEEDED to make a tasty oatmeal! 🙂
I am in love with this oatmeal! I was wondering if you think you could try and replace the sugar with chopped dates? If so, any ideas on amount, and should they go in the bottom with the apples as the first layer? Thanks for a fabulous recipe!
I am in love with this oatmeal! Question for you – do you think you could replace the sugar with chopped dates? If so, any ideas on what amount of dates to use? And would you add them to the bottom layer with the apples? Thanks for a fabulous recipe!
That’s a great question! I use dates a lot, but I hadn’t thought to put them in the oatmeal…. but I think it could work. I suspect it would turn out more like stewed dried fruit, though, so you’d need to stir it all together before serving if you want the whole thing to be sweet. But it’s a great idea. Definitely try it!
What size slow cooker is this recipe for? I have a 4 quart – should I half the size of this recipe?
A 4-quart one should work just fine! I’ve listed a 3-quart in the instructions, but I’ve also used a 6-quart at times, so you should be good to go. 🙂
What apples did you use for this recipe? I know you say sweet or tart, but are there any that are best for this?
Nope – you truly can use any apple you’d like. Personally, I prefer a Granny Smith (for its tartness), Pink Lady (for its ability to retain its shape, which offers a nice texture), or Honey Crisp (which is sweet but superbly toothsome), but those merely personal preferences, for sure. There is no right or wrong here!
In fact, the last time I made it, I used apples that had fallen off trees in our recently-inherited orchard, which grow who KNOWS what kind of apples, and it was absolutely delicious, as usual.
I used granny smith apples & also love the Gala apple in this, however I would advise to use a crock pot liner because if the oatmeal overcooks it tends to brown around the outside layer and sticks to the pot really bad, My kids love this but I just spent the last 3 days trying to remove the outside layer of oatmeal from my crock. lol
I’m using steel cut oats instead as that’s what we have on hand. Only had 3 large apples, so I added a 1/4 cup raisins too. Started with a generous half cup sugar and will add some at the table if needed.
Making this for the second time. It was Devine the first time! Using the layers instead. Reduced sugar to scant 1/2 cup. And added a cpl tbsp butter.
What does the egg do? —ah, wait—just saw that question already answered. 😉 Thanks.
I would love to try to make this in my pressure cooker. Donyou have any advice on how to modify this to hahe if work in my pressure cooker? Thank you.
I haven’t done this one in the pressure cooker, but whenever I want to figure out how to make something in the pressure cooker, I head to Hip Pressure Cooking. Here’s her take on how to do oatmeal: https://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-oatmeal-how-to/
I hope that helps!
Please email caramelized apple slow cooker recipe. Thanks!
The recipe is available here on this page. There’s a print button, if you’d like, as well as button to download the entire post as a PDF, which you can e-mail to yourself or simply download.
I hope that helps!
Would like to try.
Can l make this without lemon juice?
Yes, absolutely. 🙂
This recipes is absolutely amazing! Has it ever been tried without the apples and just the oats? I know it kind of defeats the purpose but if I wanted to add a different fruit would it work or change the cooking time?
Oh, yay! I’m so glad you like it. 🙂
And YES, you can absolutely use a different fruit. Most fruits, even dried ones, don’t change the cooking time noticeably, simply because they’re slow cooking for so long anyway. And yes, you can skip the fruit altogether and make just plain oatmeal this way too. The oats might stick to the bottom a bit more, so perhaps either plan to make a bit extra or know that someone who likes crunchy things gets the bottom portion (unless it’s entirely burned, depending on your particular slow cooker and how long it actually cooks 🙂 ).
Have fun experimenting and good luck!