Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet

Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet with Spinach & Bacon

That’s right, oatmeal!

OK you guys, here’s the deal. After giving oatmeal a serious trash-talking in this post last month, I felt kind of bad. Because, let’s be honest, is it oatmeal’s fault that I dislike it so much every time I eat it? Or is it maybe mine for not figuring out how to prepare it in a way that I will actually enjoy? As much as I hate to admit it, I think it might be the latter. And so, after acknowledging my own shortcomings, I set out on a mission. A mission to make oatmeal that I would actually enjoy. And I succeeded. Mega big time.

Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet with Spinach & Bacon

I realized that the main problem I was running into was that I was adding too much water. Every recipe for steel cut oats that I’d seen recommended a ratio of 1:3 oats to liquid. I, however, discovered that I prefer 1:2. This leaves the oats with a little bit of texture, and solves the bowl-of-mushness that would upset me, especially when they started to cool down. (Warm mush is always better than cold mush.)

Once I got the texture thing figured out, I started playing around with adding in more savory ingredients. Another problem I had with oatmeal in the past is that I would drown it in a combination of salt and maple syrup. I’d wind up with a bowl of mush that was both too salty and too sweet, and it became nauseating pretty quickly. But when I began leaving out the sweet stuff and instead adding veggies, some salt, and a little bit of cheese, things started to get seriously good.

spinach

After I found my ideal flavor combination, I decided to try one final thing to really take it to the next level: baking. Now, I’ll admit that this wouldn’t be something I’d do on a regular basis. When I’m hungry for breakfast, it needs to be FOOD TIME NOW, and I just barely have the patience to cook steel cut oats and then wait for them to cool so I don’t burn my mouth, let alone bear an additional fifteen minutes of food-not-in-face time. But when you have those extra minutes to spare, this is so, so worth it, especially if you crack a couple eggs in there too. You get a crispy oatmeal top and some serious runny eggy goodness. It’s ridiculously delicious.

spinach

For this particular dish, I used bacon, spinach (sauteed in leftover bacon fat — aw yeah), and corn, with just a little bit of cheddar cheese. Lots of other veggies would be equally great, like kale, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. You can always leave out the bacon to make it vegetarian friendly, and even leave out the cheese and eggs to make it vegan. All in all, it’s a very versatile dish, and a tasty one too. Hurray for oatmeal redemption!

Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet with Spinach & Bacon

Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet

serves: 2

  • 1 cup of steel-cut oats
  • 2 cups of water
  • two pinches of kosher salt
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1 medium bunch of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 450°.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oatmeal and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed. Stir in salt.

While oatmeal is cooking, fry bacon in a skillet, then remove and let cool. Reserve about half of the bacon fat in the pan. Reheat pan on medium-low heat, and add spinach. Saute until wilted, then transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop.

Combine oatmeal, bacon, spinach, and corn in a small cast iron skillet. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over top, then make two wells on each side of the pan. Crack one egg into each well.

Bake for 8–10 minutes, or until whites are just set and yolks are still soft.

Savory Baked Oatmeal Skillet with Spinach & Bacon

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Comments

  1. says

    Confession: I’m one of those people that drown their oatmeal in maple syrup. But, in my defense (and in further support of my total weirdness) I also add booze to it…usually whiskey…and I eat it for dessert instead of breakfast. I know it’s a little…unorthodox, but I’m telling you– it’s super good!

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a savory oatmeal though. Who woulda thunk! I think the closest thing I’ve had to something oatmealish without all the sugary stuff is probably barley…or couscous? And now that you’ve reminded me of it, I did actually love it with sauteed spinach and eggs! It was so nourishing and perfectly filling for breakfast.

    P.S. How do you get your eggs to always look so dang perfect??

    • says

      Oh man, now I want to go back and try maple-booze oatmeal! I mean, how could that not be good, right? I LOVE maple syrup on everything, so maybe my problem is the maple + salt combo, and it’s just too much conflicting flavor. Maple + whiskey, however, they are friends. :D

      Omg, so the short answer to the egg question in this case is: Photoshop! **staring at the ground sheepishly** These eggs…big disaster. I accidentally left the skillet in the oven too long, and when I took it out, the yolks had started to harden. I had to give them a lot of post-production TLC to get them looking respectable again. Usually though, it’s just luck. ;)

  2. says

    Ohhhhhhhh this sounds GOOD. I will readily admit that I have never baked oatmeal and I know that is lame. That being said, I am going to bake oatmeal immediately. You know how you get weird crazy hungry after traveling for a while because your body doesn’t know what time it is and just decides it needs to be fed immediately? That is how I feel right now. And damn if those eggs don’t look perfect. Plus cheddar aaaaand spinach?? That is my favorite veggie-cheese combo. If I can pick myself off the floor of my shower tonight I will make this for dinner. And if not I will try to get Jeremy to make it for me :)

    P.S. CONGRATS ON YOUR AWESOME CAMERA :D I can’t wait to see the amazing photos that result from it!! Did you use it for this post? Because I can’t get over how perfect those eggs look.

    • says

      Oh man, travel exhaustion! I hope you got to enjoy your savory baked dinner oatmeal! (It’s so awesome because it’s a totally justifiable dinner once you make it all savory. I’ve definitely made it as a late lunch on several occasions already!) I’d also love to try making a shakshuka-esque version with tomatoes and spiciness. Mmm mmm.

      I am so glad that the eggs look perfect and not weird, because I totally had to photoshop them after I overcooked the skillet in the oven, and the yolks started to get all hard! It’s probably good that I took these pictures before I got the MKII, because it would have picked up waaay too much detail, and I might not have been able to cover up my mistake. :P

  3. Mya says

    I’m an oatmeal fanatic, and this sounds delicious! Have you also tried April Bloomfield’s porridge recipe?

    • says

      Thank you, Mya! I haven’t, but I’m checking out the recipe on Food52 right now, and it sounds delish. While I don’t seem to do so well with salt + maple in oatmeal, I did discover at a local diner last year that I love salty oatmeal with brown sugar, especially when I can add it in as I please. (The diner gave it to you in a bowl on the side — so awesome.)

  4. says

    So, I’m intrigued. During my high school years, I lived in China and my mom cooked us oatmeal every morning because it was the closest and only thing to whole grains that we could find. I was totally in the same boat with you; between the texture, sweetness/blandness, and quickly decreasing temperature, this developed kind of a gag reflex to oatmeal. I haven’t made it to this day (8 years later). But this actually looks really, REALLY good… And my husband really likes steel cut oats so I may have to try this for him. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • says

      Oh man, I hope you make it, and I really hope you both enjoy it! It’s so hard to shake those ingrained food hatreds, especially from something that you pretty much OD’ed on. The texture of this one is so, so much better though! Especially with the crispy cheesy top and all the bacony bits. :)

  5. says

    After months of eating oatmeal in the mornings with blueberries, pecans, maple syrup, and cinnamon….WHOA. Holy balls, this is mind-blowing. Did I tell you that I had a passionate but brief love affair with your beet wraps? The guy was gone for a week, so I lived it up like a single lady and ate beets for breakfast. How rebellious, right? I made him try them when he got home, but (sigh) he wasn’t into them like I was. He’s an oatmeal addict, so I think he’d like this. Regardless, I’m totally into it, even if 95% of the time I’m a sweet breakfast lady. I’m happy you have found a way to make oatmeal a part of your mornings!

    • says

      Yaayy! The beet wraps are THE BEST. I felt like I was cheating on them when I was work-shopping my oatmeal dishes. ;) I can see how they might not be for everyone though. (I’ve never even tried to feed one to Johnny!)

      It seems strange to me that I’ve never really been a sweet breakfast person. I definitely ate some sugary cereals now and then when I was little, but my favorite was always plain Cheerios. Sometimes I’d sprinkle a little bit of sugar on them if I felt like being CRAZY. I do make it a habit of drowning eggs, bacon, and toast in maple syrup, so I guess I do kinda like some sweet with my breakfast, as long as it’s complemented by a whole lotta salt!

  6. says

    “Food-in-face-time” – Love it! This is brilliant, and it looks amazing – definitely making it. I actually like sweet oatmeal for breakfast (and apparently so does my cat, who is currently trying to help me eat it) but it tends to ware off really fast, leaving me with the sort of “rage hunger” you describe in your breakfast quinoa post. Having a ton of veggies, some cheese and bacon (yeah!!), and an egg baked into it would totally solve this problem – brilliant! Can’t wait to give it a try! Such beautiful photos. I lovelovelove your site. :)

    • says

      Hehe! The brother (Izzy) and sister (Eleanor) cats that reside in my apartment are both addicted to bacon, and go insane whenever they smell it. If I’m snacking on some bacon at my desk (that happens……often), Eleanor will sit on the edge and stare me down. It’s really creepy, and I usually end up giving her a bite or two. :)

      After having tried sweet oatmeal over and over again, I can say that the savory version is way more satisfying! It also still tastes pretty good even at room temp, thanks to cooking it with less water. (I know this, because a couple weekends ago I made myself a big bowl of savory oatmeal because I was starving, and then a friend sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to the farmers’ market. So I covered the bowl and left it on my desk, and then at the whole thing when I came back. Still good!)

      • says

        Kitties! Ours goes the craziest for popcorn (even plain, popped in oil) and almond butter. He’s very unique! Definitely making this for breakfast next week. So freaking brilliant. :)

        It’s hard to imagine your photos being much prettier! I’ll be curious to know whether you think fancy cameras and lenses make a big difference in photo quality. I always hear things like “a truly skilled photographer can take great pictures with a smart phone,” but maybe those are just the pros trying to keep noobs like me from muscling in on their territory? In any case, very excited for your new baby! :D

        • says

          The most of the skill lying in the photographer thing is so totally true. I’m learning a lot from that full frame, mainly that I knew nothing about full frame cameras! I was under the impression that the full frame sensor allowed more light in than the crop frame, and therefore I wouldn’t have to bump the ISO up so much in low light, which is not the case. I still have to bump it up the same amount, but it doesn’t result in as much grain and noise. Also, the pictures I take with the MKII have a lot more subtle detail. It isn’t exactly obvious (i.e., I showed pictures to a few non-photographer friends and they were like, “yeah, that looks nice, but all your photos look nice”), but it makes the pictures feel a lot more real and tangible. Also, I don’t have to do nearly as much post-processing work in Lightroom as I usually would. All in all, I’m super psyched to have it! I’m still using my cheap Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, and it’s working quite well. I’d love to get my hands on a Zeiss lens one day, but I’ll definitely need to wait on that. :)

  7. says

    Love the latest edition of bachelorette food! I agree that sometimes oatmeal needs a serious makeover, because it definitely has the potential to be bland, bland, bland. You just reminded me of a particular ‘porridge’ (as opposed to oatmeal?) recipe I’ve been meaning to try that’s supposedly a “game-changer” in the oatmeal game (in quotes because I’m quoting someone). It incorporates both steel-cut and rolled oats, as well as milk and water. Also, April Bloomfield, who developed this recipe, specifically stipulates that it must be topped with a five-fingered pinch of brown sugar dropped in the middle of the bowl as well as a dribble of milk around the perimeter.

    Part of me is suspicious, because it’s JUST oatmeal after all, but another part of me really wants to go out and buy steel-cut oats first thing tomorrow so I can give the recipe a try. Dilemma! Also, maybe I’d rather have savory oatmeal cooked with bacon and eggs instead? Is there a shrug emoticon?

    • says

      Yes!! Mya (above) mentioned that April Bloomfield porridge too! Now I’m super duper curious about it. If a porridge has developed this much of a rep, it’s probably amazing, right? Or worth trying, at the very least.

      I’m going to vote for you trying the Bloomfield recipe, then telling me all about it so I know if I should try it. :D If you don’t enjoy it all that much, you can follow it up with this one, which I promise is delicious!!

  8. says

    I never realized how many people were nuts about oatmeal until I posted about it last month. But there were still people who didn’t like it all covered in sugar and I had been thinking about ways to make a savory version. This is so far beyond anything I could have come up with. I love this!

    • says

      I know! When I trashed talked oatmeal in that last post, there were definitely some people that weren’t all that happy about it, and I felt bad. :) The savory version is so good!

  9. says

    awww yeah, savoury oatmeal : that’s brilliant.
    I’ve never tried steel cut oats before or baked oatmeal (seriously I am so unadventurous when it comes to cooking oatmeal), but I’m liking the sound of what you got going on all up in that cast iron skillet; especially since there’s bacon and runny eggs involved. As for frying it all in the bacon fat – I AM SO IN. PS this is reminding me of your veggie quinoa egg thingy from before (which I made for myself for supper – woah. so gooood.), but with bacon. and bacon makes all things better.

    Also, I’ve managed to find a way that I realllly like to eat oatmeal for breakfast, I feel like a super hippie: bircher museli. I soak oats, oatbran, grated apple and chia seeds in milk overnight and then in the morning eat it with yogurt, chopped almonds, banana and blueberries. I prefer it so much more than hot oatmeal for some reason, and it even ends up being healthier (from non-presence of 1000 tablespoons of maple syrup that I’d add to hot oats haha). Win – Win.

    • says

      Hehe, the baking definitely turns it into a bit more of a production, which kind of totally goes against oatmeal’s whole function as a quick snack. But OH MAN, is it good!! Especially with all the bacony bits.

      And I am super duper curious about that bircher museli! I ate a lot of museli in college, and then I guess I OD’d on it and that phase kind of died out. But I really love the idea of soaking it overnight, especially with grated apple and all that jazz. (I am literally already contemplating adding bacon and cheese to this, because I love apple + bacon + cheese. I think I have a problem.) :)

  10. says

    I woke up at 3 am this morning followed by insomnia- and was SO HUNGRY. If only I’d thought to get up to enjoy your savory oatmeal. I love it! Eggs and not-too-sweet oats are my usual breakfast, so this combo sounds perfect.

    • says

      Thanks, Karen! :) I’ve been dealing with the 3:00–4:00am wake ups a lot these days too. I blame the spring weather, which makes me crazy, and hungry constantly. (Consequently, I’ve eaten savory oatmeal three times this week as an afternoon snack!)

  11. Faye says

    I had déjà vu when I saw this post! I’m also more of a savory than sweet person, having the same problem with oats. Last week I decided, why not treat them like grits? I cooked mine with chicken stock and black pepper, then stirred in chopped Canadian Bacon, a small chunk of frozen spinach, and “poached” an egg in it! I didn’t add cheese, although some Parmesan or sharp cheddar would be good.

    Baking it sounds great! I love crispy bits!

    Next up, I’m going to try fixing it like jook, or like barley in a pilaf.

  12. says

    This looks incredible. We make steel cut oats in the crockpot once a week, and the rest of the family loves it with honey and cinnamon , oh so sweet. I dislike sweet in the mornings, so I usually slather butter and salt atop mine. But bacon and eggs on top is perfect, kind of treating them like grits. I love it.

    • says

      Thanks, Scott! I actually use natural light for pretty much all of the photos I take. (There are a few flash pictures from way back, but I haven’t used one in ages.) In these photos, my light source (a tall-ish window with diffused light) is back and to the right, about 3 ft away. The majority of my post-processing is done in Adobe Lightroom, with a little bit of Photoshop adjustments for anything that needs cleaning up.

    • Julie says

      I used old-fashioned (regular) oats instead of steel-cut, and it worked wonderfully. I cooked the oatmeal so that it was still a little bit liquidy so that more water could evaporate if it needed to.

      I added brussel sprouts and onion in with the vegetables, along with applewood-smoked salt. This dish seems like it would be versatile and the egg and oatmeal tastes and textures blend together much better than I would have predicted.

  13. heather says

    OH. MY. GOODNESS. That is really all I can say. I love my oatmeal sweet in the morning but was thinking that there had to be some savory recipes for oatmeal so went on a hunt and found this recipe. I have had dreams about eating this, it is so awesome. salt and pepper with oatmeal is now my second favorite meal, second to this complete recipe!!! I am going to try to adapt this to make muffins so I can warm one up in the mornings….mmmmm….. thanks for sharing this!

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