spiced Irish oatmeal

Every morning when I get the NY Times newsbrief (or whatever you call it) in my inbox, I scroll straight through the headlines down to the bottom where they always post a single recipe, usually something from the NYT Cooking archives. Most of the time it’s a recipe I’m not interested in, like the latest iteration of pan-fried chicken breasts or yet another version of brothy noodles, but every now and then the recipe jumps straight off the screen, grabs me by the shoulders, and screams “MAKE ME.”

As was the case with the Spiced Irish Oatmeal with Cream and Crunchy Sugar.

I’ve made them twice now and then I (almost) ran out of steel-cut oats so, in a mild panic, I bought them in an expensive little tin from the chain grocery store because I didn’t want to wait until the next time my mom made a run to the bulk food store.   

The first time there were some issues: 1) the pan was over full even though it was the correct size, and 2) the oats looked disgusting, all gluey and gray and blech — nothing at all like the glorious staged photo in the NYTimes. 

But they tasted amazing. “Now this is an oatmeal I could eat every day,” my husband said, and if any of you 1) know my husband, and 2) understand his relationship to oatmeal (the two are barely on speaking terms), you will understand what a profoundly moving statement that is. 

So I made them a second time with tweaks and, while they weren’t twinning with the fancy NYTimes oatmeal in the photo, they were definitely kissing kin, the sort of relatives who know what each other does for work and share the same dangling earlobes and hooded eyelids. Family, obviously.

partially baked

giving it a stir

These oats require a long bake time, so either mix them up the night before and then bake them in the morning while you’re out milking the cow or going for a run (as one does), or simply bake them the night before along with the supper’s baked potatoes, then store them in the fridge and reheat individual servings in the microwave the next morning. 

before the last spin in the oven: a flurry of sugar and dots of butter

Although with the latter option, there is one problem: a fresh pan of these oats is irresistible — every time I walked by the pan cooling on top of the stove, I took a bite or three, utterly helpless against their buttery, spicy, caramelly, nubbly charm. 

terrible nighttime lighting, but still: that caramelly goodness!

Wicked good is what they are.

accidentally unshaken milk is NOT a problem

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Spiced Irish Oatmeal
Adapted from the New York Times.

I cut the recipe in half (if doubling, bake it in a 9×13 pan), reduced the sugar, upped the spices, dialed back the water, and stirred multiple times while baking. 

1 cup steel-cut oats
3 tablespoons butter, divided
¼ cup cream
3 cups boiling water
½ rounded teaspoon cinnamon
½ rounded teaspoon cardamon
¼-½ teaspoon salt 
2-4 tablespoons demerara sugar
flaky sea salt, for garnish

Melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the oats and stir for 3-5 minutes until toasty and golden brown. Add the salt and spices and stir another minute. Transfer the oats to a buttered 9-inch pie pan or a square baking dish. Add the cream and boiling water and give it a stir. (If baking later, now’s the time to cover it with plastic and refrigerate.)

Bake the oats at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Stir after 15 minutes, and then again about 10 minutes later. One the oats are fairly tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, give them one more stir and then dot the top with the remaining tablespoon of butter, sprinkle with the raw sugar, and bake for another 10-20 minutes. (I haven’t tried this yet, but I imagine that a brief run under the broiler at the very end might seriously boost the caramelization factor.)

Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve with milk.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (1.30.23), eight fun things, all things Thursday, the quotidian (1.30.17), crispy pan pizzas, when dreams speak, lemon creams, mornings, peanut butter and honey granola.


  • Becky

    Can you use quick cook steel cut oats? From what I’ve read, they are just cut up into smaller pieces, they aren’t processed differently or anything.

  • Linda

    We recently enjoyed steel cut oats and bought a new container of it to try this recipe. Yum! Will be used alternately with our regular Sunday baked oatmeal breakfast. Thanks for sharing!

  • Susan

    I just made your version of this tonight and it is mighty tasty! The cardamom is perfect, and that sprinkle of flaky salt sends it over the top. Yum and thanks!

  • Lalliship

    My favorite steel cut oats are made in a water bath in the crockpot overnight. I love the texture! I’m going to try browning the oats in butter first, using these spices and then putting them in the broiler for a bit with the raw sugar to finish them off.

  • Becky R.

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing! This sounds right down my alley. I have whole grain porridge every morning, but I may try to riff it with this recipe.

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