Minimum Wage Oatmeal Recipe | Breakfast Recipes | PBS Food

Minimum Wage Oatmeal

Recipe By Daniel McLaughlin

As with almost every recipe I post on here, the dairy involved can be easily substituted for an alterna-milk of your choice. I find almond milk delicious, especially with some fresh grated cinnamon and nutmeg over the top. If you're feeling indulgent, use heavy cream, or for a little twang, a mix of ½ buttermilk and ½ regular. Also, the roasting in the beginning can be done without the butter opting for olive oil or just a dry roast in your oven or in a dry pan for a lower fat option. Don't skip this step though, it makes the nutty oaty flavors stand out that much more, even after they’re boiled.



  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • honey or brown sugar or brown rice syrup to garnish


  1. Start the water to a boil.
  2. Melt butter in a medium size heavy-bottomed stock pot. Once it’s melted, add the dry oats, stirring to coat them in the butter. Leave them to sit for 2-3 minutes doing the sniff test to test for doneness. You’re looking for roasted peanuts, not roasted coffee.
  3. When sufficiently toasty, lower the heat to low (I mean low, not 2 or 3), then pour the 3 cups of water into the pot with the oats. There’s gonna be some pop and hiss. Show it who’s boss. Coddle the oats with a rubber spatula til they settle down, and then top the pot with a lid. Then set your kitchen timer to 30 minutes and set your measured cup of milk on the stove while the oats are cooking. Then, use some of that leftover water to make yourself a cup of tea.
  4. Right about the time you’re done with your Earl Grey, those oats should’ve absorbed all of that water. Go remove the lid and give it a stir. If it’s still especially watery, replace the lid and let it cook a while longer, if they’re looking like oatmeal already then it’s time to add the milk. I asked you to warm it on the stove top so that you’re not adding cold milk to hot oats, requiring a reboil and prolonging an already long cook time for a breakfast dish. Stir in the milk and cook for approximately 10 more minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  5. When it’s reached the creamy consistency you’re looking for, add the salt. You don’t want to do this any sooner because oats have the remarkable ability to absorb 4 times their volume in liquid (hence the 4 cup liquid to 1 cup oat ratio). If you add salt (another absorbent ingredient) it’ll fight the oats for the water and likely win, leaving you with salty al dente oats. This is not delicious.
  6. Garnish with honey, fruit, brown sugar, buttermilk, jam, whatever you want. I make this recipe in a double batch during the colder months and reheat it quickly in the mornings with a touch more milk and find a double batch easily lasts me all week.
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