Overnight Oats

This overnight oats recipe is the epitome of a healthy, easy breakfast! Here’s how to make it, with lots of tips and topping ideas.

Overnight oats

Looking for the epitome of an easy breakfast idea? Try this overnight oats recipe! There’s no cooking involved here: in fact, you can mix up a jar in just 2 minutes! Leave rolled oats in the fridge overnight with milk, and it magically makes them into a sort of porridge. Eat them cold topped with berries or nut butter and they’re absolutely fantastic! This easy breakfast has been trendy for years now. But it wasn’t until recently that Alex and I found a recipe that we actually like (more on that below). Here are lots of tips and topping ideas for how to make the best overnight oats ever!

How to make overnight oats

This overnight oats recipe has just 4 ingredients, plus salt. That’s less than most recipes you’ll find! Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll need (or jump to the recipe below):

  • Rolled Old Fashioned oats*
  • Milk of choice (2%, oat milk, or almond milk or other)
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla

That’s it! Throw them into a jar and leave the in the refrigerator overnight. Instant breakfast! Here’s the thing though: there are a few tips to keep in mind about this process. Let’s run through them quickly!

Overnight oats recipe

Use Old Fashioned rolled oats, not steel cut

This overnight oats recipe is for Old Fashioned rolled oats, the kind that you use to make your standard oatmeal that look like flat discs. Do not use steel cut oats here! Why? Well, steel cut oats are whole grain oats that are cut into nubs instead of rolled out: the grains look like brown rice or barley. They take much longer to cook than rolled oats. We tested the overnight process with steel cut oats, but it turned out terribly. The texture of the oats tasted soaked grains of rice (yuck!), even after several days in the refrigerator.

Some people think that steel cut oats are healthier than rolled oats. That’s actually not true! Both varieties have very similar nutritional profiles: lots of protein and fiber to start your day. So opt for rolled oats here and you’re losing nothing. (Read more at Steel Cut vs Rolled Oats.)

Chia seeds aren’t required!

Many overnight oats recipes out there have chia seeds in them. Confession: we tried an overnight oats with chia seeds recipe a few years ago, and it turned us off on the concept for years. Chia seeds form a gel when they’re wetted, so they give overnight oats a jelly-like quality. To us, this wasn’t appetizing!

If this has happened to you before: never fear! Chia seeds aren’t essential for overnight oats. Overnight oats are simply oats soaked with milk and seasonings. So the texture here is just softened oats: not jelly-like at all!

How to make overnight oats

Best eaten the next day, but you can store

Speaking of texture…let’s chat about that briefly. Make sure to note this, if you’ve never had them before: The texture of overnight oats is not like normal oatmeal. It’s softer and a little more…gooey. But it’s very delicious, once you get used to it.

This overnight oats recipe is best eaten the day after you make it. Why? We found that the texture of oats can get very soggy and gooey after a few days in the refrigerator. If you don’t mind that, you can store it 2 to 3 days. We like it best eaten the next day.

Overnight oats recipe is eaten cold (but you can warm them)

Another thing: overnight oats are typically eaten cold right from the refrigerator. This again makes it a little different from normal oats, so you have to get used to it. Think of it more like a combination between breakfast cereal and oatmeal.

Want to heat it up instead? You can do that too! Microwave it for about 40 to 60 seconds, stopping about halfway through to stir. Make sure you have enough room in your jar for overflow. You also can heat it on the stovetop, though that’s kind of defeating the purpose of these oats! In that case, you might as well just make oatmeal (it takes only a few minutes).

Overnight oats

Healthy overnight oats topping ideas!

Once you’ve got your tasty overnight oats, you can decide on your toppings! Here’s the thing: many overnight oats recipes have loads of sugar in the toppings. For us, we prefer not to overload on sugar for the first meal of the day! So here are some ideas for healthy overnight oats topping ideas:

What’s our favorite? Personally, I love my oatmeal with a pinch of salt and a swirl of cashew or almond butter. Alex likes to load it with fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

More oatmeal recipes

Confession: we love this overnight oats recipe, but we’re partial to regular oatmeal and our extremely delicious baked oatmeal. This overnight oats is a close second. Here are a few more of our favorite oatmeal recipes:

Best overnight oats

This overnight oats recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Overnight oats

Overnight Oats (The Best Easy Recipe!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This overnight oats recipe is the epitome of a healthy, easy breakfast! Here’s how to make it, with lots of tips and topping ideas.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup rolled Old Fashioned oats*
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice (2%, oat milk, or almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Topping ideas: berries, banana slices, diced apple, peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter,  toasted nuts, dried fruit, maple syrup, etc. 

Instructions

  1. Place the oats, milk, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a small jar with a cover and stir or shake to combine.
  2. Leave in the refrigerator or overnight. The oats are best the next day, but you can store 2 to 3 days (the texture becomes more sticky). This oatmeal is meant to be enjoyed cold straight from the refrigerator. Add toppings and enjoy! If you’d like, you also can microwave the jar for about 40 to 60 seconds.

Notes

*Do not use steel cut oats. 

  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Overnight oats, overnight oats recipe, how to make overnight oats

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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