Learn how to make overnight oats for a convenient and customizable healthy breakfast. Rolled oats soak in your choice of dairy product while in the refrigerator until the grains are softened. Then just top with your favorite combination of fruits, nuts, and sweetener.
The popularity of overnight oats is on the rise
The moment you wake up your body needs nourishment. To quickly energize your morning, have a batch of overnight oats ready to start your day. Oats are a source of healthy carbohydrates that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Typically oats are cooked in either the microwave, boiled, slow cooker, or instant pot and eaten right away.
However, this recipe requires no cooking! Simply pour, stir, and let the whole grains sit until the next morning. Allowing the grains to hydrate over a period of several hours makes the flakes tender enough to eat. You can also mix-in any toppings, spices, and nutritional boosters that you can dream up. Make a batch for the entire week so you can grab and go!
Getting in a healthy breakfast
The health benefits of oats are impressive, and they’re a quick and affordable way to add soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. According to the USDA FoodData Central, a ½ cup serving (40g) of dried rolled oats provides about 150 calories, 5 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of fiber (half soluble) [source].
How to make overnight oats
The main components of this recipe are equal parts oats and liquid, that’s it! The base then just needs to sit for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator until the grains soften, hence the name overnight oats. The longer they hydrate together, the softer the grain will be. A batch can be enjoyed for 3 to 5 days depending on your texture preference.
The best oats to use
I recommend using two types of oats, old-fashioned rolled oats (top choice) or instant/quick oats. The thicker flakes will give more contrast for soft and chewy texture, while the chopped grains will become much softer and porridge-like, especially over several days. You’ll notice that the quick oats will soak up moisture within a few hours, whereas old-fashioned takes at least 8 hours to hydrate.
What to pour
Any type of creamy milk product works great for this recipe. Dairy milk, oat milk, nut milk, hemp milk, soy milk, or coconut milk are great options. I prefer unsweetened types so that I can limit added sugars. Water is also a flavor neutral option, but I enjoy the richness that comes from milk.
Make a big batch or individual portions
This recipe can be scaled up or down for easy meal prep. You can use a small bowl or large container with a lid to feed a family the next day. Alternatively, individual portions can be made. Just place ½ cup oats and ½ cup milk into a glass cup. An eight-ounce mason jar or small plastic containers work great too, providing enough room to also add fruit and nut toppings later.
Eat cold or warm
There’s no cooking required, so you can enjoy overnight oats right away like a muesli breakfast bowl. If you want to warm it up, heat the mixture in a pot over medium-low heat, or simply microwave in 15-second intervals until warmed through. You can also add milk to make the consistency less thick.
- Protein: Greek yogurt, protein powder, or nut butter.
- Fiber: Chia seeds, flaxseeds, or oat fiber.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cardamon.
- Chocolate: Cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, or mini chocolate chips.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, or pecans.
- Fruit: Chopped apples, sliced banana, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or dried fruit in small amounts.
- Sweetener: Pure maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar.
4 delicious recipes to try
Since the base is very neutral in flavor, here’s where I had fun and got creative! To boost the taste and nutrition in each serving I created 4 recipes for you to try. Let me know which one’s your favorite in the comments section below.
An island getaway for your tastebuds! Diced kiwi, pineapple, strawberry, and shredded toasted coconut. Add some diced mango if it’s in season and use coconut milk for the base.
Chocolate lovers, this one’s for you! The oats are topped with blackberries, diced strawberries, raspberries, cocoa nibs, mini-chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. Add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the base for an extra chocolatey flavor.
Peanut butter and jelly
A wholesome twist on a childhood classic! Strawberry jam, creamy peanut butter, and roasted peanuts on top. I recommend using banana milk if you haven’t tried it yet.
Almond extract and chia seeds are added to the oat base. Topped with almond butter, blueberries, bananas, sliced almonds, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. Use almond milk for the base.
When overnight oats absorb water and soften, they do not expand like cooked oats. A 2 cup batch increases to about 2 ½ cups, only about 25% in volume. Cooked oats approximately double in volume as the grains swell when heated, giving a sticky porridge-like consistency. Don’t be tempted to eat double the serving size to match the volume, the calories will certainly increase as well.
Overnight Oats (5 Ways!)
Overnight Oats Base
- 2 cups (185 g) old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 cups (480 ml) milk, dairy, nut, oat, coconut or any plant-based milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) plain greek yogurt
- ¼ cup (64 g) diced kiwi
- ¼ cup (64 g) diced pineapple
- ¼ cup (64 g) diced strawberry
- ¼ cup (12 g) toasted shredded coconut
- ¼ cup (64 g) blackberries
- ¼ cup (64 g) diced strawberries
- ¼ cup (64 g) raspberries
- 4 teaspoon (12 g) cocoa nibs
- 2 teaspoons (9 g) mini chocolate chips
- 4 teaspoons (12 g) chopped pecans
Peanut Butter and Jelly
- ¼ cup (100 g) strawberry jam
- ¼ cup (60 g) peanut butter
- 4 teaspoons (8 g) roasted peanuts
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) chia seeds
- ¼ cup (60 g) almond butter
- 1 cup (120 g) sliced bananas
- ½ cup (60 g) blueberries
- 4 teaspoons (8 g) sliced almonds
- ground cinnamon, to sprinkle on top
- honey, to drizzle on top
Overnight Oats Base
- In a medium bowl, add oats and milk and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Alternatively, evenly divide the oats and milk (¼ cup each) into smaller containers or jars for individual portions.
- Evenly divide overnight oats into bowls. Top with yogurt, kiwi, pineapple, strawberry, and toasted coconut.
- Evenly divide overnight oats into bowls. Top with jam, peanut butter, and peanuts.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
- Evenly divide overnight oats into bowls. Top with blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cocoa nibs, chocolate chips, and pecans.
- Add almond extract and chia seeds to the oats base. Evenly divide overnight oats into bowls. Top with almond butter, bananas, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, and honey.
- The toppings can be added to individual containers or jars right after making the oat base for meal prep.
- Overnight oats can be stored for up to 3 to 5 days covered in the refrigerator. If adding the fruit, nuts, and other toppings in advance, store for 2 to 3 days.