September 29, 2021
Pumpkin and warm spices complement a short list of kitchen staples in this hearty breakfast that may be enjoyed hot from the oven or prepped in advance and reheated throughout the week. The baked oatmeal is muffin-like, and the crunchy topping adds a hint of decadence that appeals to kids and adults alike.
As a quick pumpkin fix, I’ve long enjoyed stirring a quarter cup of pumpkin puree and a hearty sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice into a serving of basic stovetop oatmeal, finishing with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a spoonful of chopped nuts.
For a muffin-like variation on the stovetop approach that my whole family enjoys, I turn to the following baked oatmeal recipe.
Warm, fall flavors form a delicious base
Homemade baked oatmeal is an easy, economical and wholesome way to start the day. Store-bought versions can be delicious but sometimes contain more sugar and oil than oats. Making it yourself allows you to control the ingredients and accommodate most dietary restrictions, such as dairy, gluten, soy or nut allergies. In fact, this recipe can be modified in a myriad of ways.
Along with the pumpkin, this baked oatmeal cleverly incorporates the natural sweetness and moisture of a freshly grated apple. You can grate a small apple quickly with the aid of a handheld grater—no need to peel it first. Or, if you’re in a hurry, simply use a half cup of applesauce. (Tip: keep shelf-stable, single-serve 4-ounce cups in your pantry.)
The brown sugar topping balances the modest use of sweetener in the body of the oatmeal. The topping may be omitted altogether, though I give it credit for winning my kids over to oatmeal when they were young. If you’d like to keep the crunch but prefer less sweetness, you may cut the brown sugar to 2–3 tablespoons. You may also reduce the maple syrup that’s mixed into the oatmeal and keep the crunchy topping sweet.
Crunchy Top Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup maple syrup (may substitute honey)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup melted butter (may also use coconut** or vegetable oil of choice)
- ½ cup 100% pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 small apple, grated (I leave skin on; can substitute ½ cup applesauce)
- 1¼ cups milk of choice
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free, if necessary)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Butter a 2-quart baking dish or muffin tins. I like a 9-inch square pan or 10-inch cast iron skillet. (A 9-inch deep-dish pie plate or 8-inch square pan works, too, if you prefer a thicker baked oatmeal. These pans will require a few extra minutes of cook time.)
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the oats and brown sugar. Then add the oats and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking dish or muffin tins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours.***
- In the morning or when ready to bake, set the uncooked oatmeal on counter while the oven preheats to 375℉. Bake for 25 minutes (give or take 5, depending on oven and pan dimensions) or about 20 minutes for a muffin pan, or until the oatmeal is just cooked through the center. Remove the pan from oven, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over top of oatmeal and broil for one minute, watching very closely, or until the sugar melts and begins to caramelize.
- Serve warm with milk, a dollop of yogurt, fruit and/or nuts, although plain is good, too. Leftovers may be covered and refrigerated. Gently reheat or enjoy cold. Baked oatmeal freezes well, too.
*Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, use any combination of these that you like, or simply use cinnamon. You could also make this homemade blend.
**When using melted coconut oil, it is helpful to bring the cold ingredients to room temperature before mixing so the oil doesn’t immediately re-solidify upon contact. If little bits harden throughout when chilled, don’t worry. They will melt and redistribute when baked.
***When baking as muffins, I refrigerate the uncooked oatmeal in the mixing bowl and transfer it to the muffin tin once the liquid has been absorbed by the oats. You can make 8 regular muffins or 6 jumbo. In a time pinch, you may bake the oatmeal right away. However, the rest gives the oats time to absorb the liquid and plump up, which slightly enhances the finished baked oatmeal.
A few more things…
- For those who like a little extra texture, mix 2 tablespoons of steel cut oats into the batter and proceed as usual.
- Try adding ¼ to ½ cup of chopped nuts, raisins, and/or shredded coconut. Because this recipe is so forgiving, you can feel confident in the outcome no matter what kind of milk you use, if you substitute honey for maple syrup, or if you mix in other ingredients.
- When not watching closely, I have burned the brown sugar topping under the broiler. If it happens to you, simply scrape off the burned flecks. Now I stand beside the oven, watching attentively, until the sugar is caramelized. It doesn’t take long.
- Diehard pumpkin spice fans may wish to increase the pumpkin pie spice to 2 teaspoons, or shore up the warm flavors with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and/or ginger. A small pinch of cloves would also add nice warmth.
From sweet pies, muffins, cookies, and cakes to savory soups, vinaigrettes, and even pumpkin butter, there are so many ways to enjoy pumpkin. Click for a print-friendly version of the pumpkin baked oatmeal recipe.