Brownie Batter Oatmeal

Cocoa powder is just the best. It’s really one of the few ingredients that can turn anything into a decadent treat without harming its nutritional profile. I think I’ve put cocoa powder in all my breakfasts for the last week and a half. I used to save that only for weekends (so it felt special), but now I’m just throwing it in everything with reckless abandon.


This is a porridge that’s been ruling my mornings (and a couple dinners…) lately. It actually began when I was making my favorite Fudgy Banana and Peanut Butter Oatmeal, but I used Country Choice Organic quick-cooking steel-cut oats instead. I noticed the consistency and flavor was highly reminiscent of brownie batter. Thus, the idea was born.


If you look at this recipe, it seems like it’s just a chocolate banana oatmeal. Wrong! The steel-cut oats MAKE this porridge what it is. If you used rolled oats, it just wouldn’t be the same, and yes, it probably would just taste like chocolate banana. I’m not sure what it is, but with the steel-cut texture, this oatmeal takes on an entirely new persona and the banana taste is almost completely absent. (If you are against the banana idea, you could use dates or liquid sweeteners instead. As always, I highly endorse the banana.)

Quick-cooking steel-cut oats are probably my new favorite thing. They work beautifully in overnight oatmeal. Like, really beautifully. Like, I’ll-never-use-rolled-oats-in-overnight-oatmeal-again beautifully. Just like how “instant” oatmeal is just “old-fashioned” oatmeal that’s been ground up a little bit more, quick-cooking steel-cut oats have been chopped up into slightly smaller pieces so they can cook in just 5 minutes instead of the traditional 30 (although, like I said before, it never takes me that long).


If you try a quick-cooking steel-cut oatmeal and you dislike it, try again with another brand. I used Trader Joe’s quick-cooking steel-cut oats once and absolutely hated them. They wouldn’t get soft. When I used them for overnight oats, they would still be unpleasantly hard in the morning. I’m so glad I tried it again in another brand because it has become my favorite “cut” of oats to cook with. (You could definitely adapt this recipe to use actual steel-cut oats! All the more power to you.)

On another note, today marks my second-to-last day as a New Jersey resident. All I have to say is…DEUCES. I am really looking forward to living in Manhattan next year. (Actually, that’s an understatement. Maybe caps will help: I’M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO LIVING IN MANHATTAN NEXT YEAR!!!! …Nah, that was just obnoxious. ^_^) I will not miss sniffing the aroma of urine in Newark Penn Station, enjoying bouts of nausea on the PATH train, or rambling through the fluttering litter and dazzling shards of glass on Broad Street or on the sidewalks of Washington Park. I willΒ miss Elbow Room, and…no, that’s pretty much it. πŸ™‚


Anyway, I am returning to hell South Dakota in a few days to visit friends and family for the month of July. You will notice a drastic change in photography for the blog. It seems like whenever I get used to taking pictures in a location, I move. I guess that’s the life I chose for myself. No complaints here. πŸ™‚

Brownie Batter Oatmeal

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: serves 1

What you'll need:

  • 1 cup milk of choice, or water
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking steel-cut oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
  • 1 banana, mashed thoroughly
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt

How to make it:

  1. Bring milk (I use 1/2 c almond milk and 1/2 c water) to a boil, add oats, and reduce heat to medium. (If you'd like to add flax or chia seeds, do so now.)
  2. Add mashed banana and stir into the cooking oats.
  3. Once more of the liquid has absorbed, add vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir.
  4. If you'd like to add any extra ingredients (coconut oil, almond or peppermint extract, dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds), do so now.
  5. When you're pleased with the consistency of the oatmeal, transfer to a bowl. Add a splash of your milk of choice and any other additional toppings (chocolate chips, shredded coconut, nuts, etc.).

Just an FYI:

*You could also use regular steel-cut oats and increase your cooking time to 15-25 minutes. To replace the banana, use either 1-3 finely chopped dates or 2-3 tsps of liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave, or honey).

About Lauren Smith

Lauren is a herbivore, Slytherin, and connoisseur of oats. She is a former teacher who is currently studying to earn a master's degree in curriculum development. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

50 Responses to Brownie Batter Oatmeal

  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s so funny – I was JUST thinking about how I’ve had chocolate in my oatmeal 3 times this week. (I used to wait until the weekends too!) Thanks for the post – I’ll have to try this!

  2. Rachel F says:

    When you live in NYC we should do a meetup at Oatmeals

  3. Anonymous says:

    This looks amazing! Enjoy Manhattan!

  4. imanashhole says:

    I moved to NYC from Long Island a month ago and love it. I’m also a teacher and also got sick of the commute! Love your blog and am looking forward to trying more of your recipes. πŸ™‚

  5. Alex says:

    can you make these overnight oats?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have the exact same steel cut oats and have always cooked them with 3/4 cup liquid as it says in the directions. Does it change the consistency much when adding the last 1/4 cup liquid? Sometimes it does get a little thick and I need more water to thin it out but other times it turns out perfectly.

    • Lauren Smith says:

      Ha! Good thing I read the directions…not! πŸ™‚ I read it enough to learn I was only supposed to use 1/4 cup of oats, but I guess I missed the 3/4 cup of liquid detail. Oops! Well, it’s probably ideal to only use 3/4 cup, but I’ve honestly been using a full cup all this time and haven’t had a problem. I think it’s just not getting as thick as it’s supposed to, but not in a bad way. πŸ™‚

  7. Anonymous says:

    I just recently discovered your blog and have been trying lots of recipes, I look forward to breakfast every day now! (this coming from someone who’s definitely not a morning person). Could I use Dutch cocoa powder for this? I’m not being snobby, but here in Holland we only really have the Dutch kind..

    • Lauren Smith says:

      Yep! Any kind of cocoa powder works. And I know exactly what you mean about looking forward to breakfast. Oatmeal made ME a morning person, too! Sometimes I wake up at 6 AM on the weekends and I literally jump out of bed and get to work on breakfast. It’s a problem of mine. πŸ˜›

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have a question regarding an “overnight oats” version of this: does the amount of quick-cooking steel cut oats, 1/4 cup, remain the same or do I need to increase it to 1/2 cup? Thanks!

    • Lauren Smith says:

      Well, technically you would keep it at 1/4 cup. However, most people (including myself) have noticed that overnight oatmeal creates less oatmeal in volume than stovetop oatmeal, so if you want, you could increase the oats to 1/2 a cup. πŸ™‚

  9. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely love your blog! Am a college student looking to make cheap, nutritious meals. Used to think instant oatmeal was the way to go.

    I repent.

    One thing, and I know you touched on this in your FAQ, but: rolled oats vs. quick-cooking steel-cut oats. Can you make any recipe with either? Or should I just buy both kinds?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m new to your blog and it looks fantastic! I don’t know if you know this, but if you don’t have quick cooking steel cut oats, you can grind regular steel cut oats in a blender before you cook them. When you do that it shortens the cook time by over 80% and the oats only take 4-5 minutes to cook on the stove. The ground oats aren’t chewy (they have the same consistency as porridge), but they are still delicious! I imagine the gooey texture of the ground oats would be heavenly with cocoa powder.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Do you use milk or water in your oatmeal? Personally I use all water and a dash of milk at the end but am wondering if using milk makes a huge difference

    • Lauren Smith says:

      I use half almond milk and half water. Using any type of milk will make it creamier and add a more pleasant flavor (depending on the recipe, it can taste a little bland if it’s made with just water).

  12. “I think I’ve put cocoa powder in all my breakfasts for the last week and a half. I used to save that only for weekends (so it felt special), but now I’m just throwing it in everything with reckless abandon.”

    story of my life, lol. I just can’t resist using it daily.

  13. oatmeallover14 says:

    Wow! This is one of my favorite recipes on your blog! The steel cut oats really made a difference. I seriously felt like I was eating warm, gooey brownie batter for breakfast. And it was HEALTHY! Thank you so much for this(and all of your other) delicious recipes! πŸ™‚

  14. nice receipt, thats one of my favorite food and the receipt has publised on your blog, one again thankyou jasa konsultan seo indonesia

  15. Laura Smith says:

    Is the key to this being like brownie batter the splash of milk at the end? I made this and it’s definitely the best oatmeal I’ve had but it was a little dry.

  16. megan wild says:

    Can you eat this as overnight oats as well?
    so skip the cooking, just put everything together and eat in the morning?

  17. Noora says:

    Can I use rolled oats instead??

  18. Linus says:

    Hey, i got an recipe you might wanna try:

    Chocolate-PB-Caramel-Swirl Oatmeal
    -1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
    -1Tbsp Peanut Butter (Topping)
    -1 Tbsp Dulce de leche (Topping)

    Sooooo amazing

  19. Christine says:

    Did you ever try making any of your recipes with oat bran cereal? Oat bran has a thick and creamy consistency. I wonder how oat bran would work in the place of steel cut oats?

  20. Christine says:

    I made this with Hodgson Mill oat bran, which has a similar consistency to steel cut oats when cooked. The oatmeal really did taste like brownie batter! Amazing.

  21. Lyndsey B says:

    I love how deceivingly plain this recipe seems. It’s just a normal oatmeal with cocoa powder but the steel cut oats make it so thick and brownie-like! Some variations I’ve tried- topping it with peanut butter for a Reese’s brownie, and stirring in peppermint extract for a mint brownie. The latter is perfect for Christmas time!

  22. Christine says:

    I’ve tried your Thin Mints Oatmeal and your Peppermint Brownie Baked Oatmeal. They were all right, but not among my favorite recipes. The peppermint extract made them taste too toothpastey for me. This morning, I followed your recipe for Brownie Batter Oatmeal, but replaced the vanilla extract with 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. The result was delicious! I think that the extra cocoa powder (2 tablespoons instead of 4 teaspoons) helped soften the peppermint taste. The smoother taste of the porridge also made it more reminiscent of Thin Mints. If you’re going to try this variation (“Peppermint Brownie Batter Oatmeal”), I highly recommend using Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, instead of the regular kind.

    • Lauren Smith says:

      Interesting. I think I have a high tolerance for mint flavors! My best friend and I used to argue all the time because I loved Thin Mints and mint chocolate chip ice cream and she insisted all of it tasted like toothpaste.

      • Christine says:

        I like mint chocolate chip ice cream too, but maybe it’s because the mint flavor is muted by the cream, sugar, and chocolate chips. I don’t really care for peppermint candies because they have a stronger taste. Thin Mints are good, but Peppermint Patties are too minty. It’s all about balance, I suppose!

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