Creamy, wholesome Overnight Oats are as simple as refrigerating oats, milk, yogurt, and your favorite flavors overnight for an instant, no-cook breakfast!
Have you tried Overnight Oats before? Over the past few years, we’ve become obsessed at our house!
One of the best things about Overnight Oats is that they are completely effortless. If you can throw a few ingredients in a jar, you can make these! Plus, they are healthy and they taste good, to boot. As if this wasn’t enough, you can jazz them up with just about any toppings or mix-ins you desire. Dress them up, down, sweet, savory…the possibilities are endless.
What Are Overnight Oats?
Overnight Oats are basically a spin on healthy, no-cook oatmeal. In their simplest form, they’re a combination of rolled oats, milk (your favorite kind), and yogurt (plain or flavored). Of course, the ultimate flavor of your oats will depend upon the extra ingredients you decide to add!
As far as texture, the closest thing to which I can compare Overnight Oats would be a thick, luxurious pudding. The oats soften and swell up and the whole mixture becomes thick and creamy. It’s almost like eating dessert for breakfast, really. 😉
How to Make Overnight Oats
Before heading to bed, simply combine regular rolled oats with your choice of yogurt and milk…it really is that easy! You can stop there and anticipate a delicious breakfast as-is. But if you want to get a little fancy, start with that basic mixture and add to it. Some peanut butter or Nutella here, dried or fresh fruit or nuts there…you get the picture. Cover your concoction and pop it in the fridge. In the morning, your creamy, filling, wholesome breakfast will be ready and waiting!
Once you make Overnight Oats a time or two, you’ll get a sense for whether you prefer your oats creamier or drier (necessitating more or less milk/yogurt). And of course, it’s easy to tweak the sweetness of the recipe by using plain versus vanilla yogurt, or you can always add a splash of vanilla or a little honey, maple syrup, or agave as a natural sweetener.
With some experimentation, you’ll figure out which ingredient combos really hit the spot! Everyone in your family might end up having a different favorite flavor, so let them all in on the fun. Kids will enjoy “cooking” these breakfasts as well!
Do You Eat Them Hot or Cold?
Since you’ll be popping your Overnight Oats in the fridge the night before, for the quickest breakfast, you’re going to be eating them cold. However, you can totally heat them up in the microwave if you prefer warm oatmeal. Just be sure you’re heating them up in a microwave-safe container.
But Is It Really Safe to Eat Them Cold?
It sure is. Don’t be put off by the use of “raw” oats in this recipe. Soaking your oats overnight actually helps break down the starches and makes them easier to digest. They are also quite filling — you won’t find yourself buried in the pantry looking for a snack an hour after you eat Overnight Oats for breakfast! If you are truly worried about eating raw oats, however, go ahead and microwave these in the morning to cook them through.
Are Overnight Oats Healthy?
Overnight Oats contain a multitude of nutrients as well as plenty of protein and fiber, both of which will keep you fuller, longer. Oats can also combat bloating. When combined with other healthy ingredients such as fruit, low-fat milk, nuts, and yogurt, they make up a balanced breakfast that keeps you satisfied all morning long…you know, to help you resist the temptation of coffee cake and donuts that may have been left on the break room table at work.
That being said, there are always ways to make just about anything unhealthy. For example, if you were to load up your oats with tons of refined sugars, spoonfuls of chocolate, caramel, or to basically treat the oats like a sundae…then no, they’re not going to fill you up with nutrition or help you lose weight. It’s all about moderation, after all.
And in case it matters to you, you can ensure that your Overnight Oats are gluten-free by starting with gluten-free rolled oats (and obviously, by not adding any gluten-containing flavorings or add-ins). You can even make Overnight Oats dairy-free by making them with dairy-free milk and yogurt (such as almond milk and coconut yogurt).
Tips for Making Overnight Oats
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- You’ve probably noticed that every photo you see for overnight oats has them in a glass jar. There’s a reason for that (besides looking pretty). Jars are big enough and tall enough to not only allow the oats to soak properly, but also for you to be able to dig a spoon in in the morning and eat them right out of the container with ease. Plus, they have lids, meaning they stack and fit well in your fridge. And they are microwave-safe! All of this adds up to less dishes to wash, and more grab-and-go convenience.
- You certainly don’t have to leave these overnight to enjoy them. Three to four hours will do the trick. That way you can enjoy them anytime, day or night. (They also travel well for those of you with kids that need to eat breakfast or a hearty snack the car.)
- Mix your flavorings (yogurts, sweeteners, fruits, spices, etc.) with your oats and milk before refrigerating. Keep your toppings (nuts, garnishes) for the morning (or when you’re ready to eat). That way, you have a mixture of textures, some wetter and drier ingredients, and can keep some toppings from becoming mushy.
- Measure out your ingredients…at least until you get familiar with the ratios. Sure, you can guesstimate how many raspberries you want to put on top, but you’ll want to measure out the oats, milk, and yogurt. You could end up with either runny or crunchy oatmeal otherwise.
- Don’t skip the salt. I know, it sounds weird. But most baked goods call for salt (even desserts). It really enhances just about any flavor, and you only need a tiny bit. It won’t taste salty — promise.
- Use traditional, old-fashioned oats rather than quick oats. Quick oats soak up moisture too…quickly. 🙂 The old-fashioned rolled oats just hold up better. You’ll want a little texture in your oats and not just a bowl of mush.
I admit, the first time I made Overnight Oats, I went pretty “vanilla” with my recipe (as I tend to do with most new recipes I’m just trying out). And those…well, they were great!
But soon enough, I decided to embark upon a little experimentation. I tried three combos: Peanut Butter Banana, Raspberry Nutella, and Coconut Almond. Then in the morning, my family and I had a nice little taste-test in an attempt to decide our favorite flavor. But we honestly couldn’t agree on which one we liked the best, so I figured…why not give you all three options and let you choose?
Option A is Peanut Butter Banana, and it’s as easy as it sounds. Simply mash a banana and stir it into your oat mixture along with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. Mix in a sprinkle of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of honey, and you’re good to go. As you can see, I topped my jar of oats with an additional dollop of PB, some sliced bananas, and a few chopped peanuts, but you don’t have to go to the trouble unless you want to…that was mainly for the photo op. Rumor has it that a few mini chocolate chips might be decadently delicious on this variation as well.
Next up, we have a Raspberry Nutella flavor! Again, it’s perfectly straightforward with additions of (wait for it!) raspberries and Nutella. In the morning, I added extra raspberries on top as well as some toasted, sliced almonds for crunch, but just about any nut would be tasty.
My final Overnight Oats inspiration to get you started is Coconut Almond. This variation actually gets a bit thicker than the others thanks to the coconut, so feel free to thin it out with a splash of extra milk, if you wish. I chose to use coconut milk in this one to make it even more coconutty, as well as vanilla yogurt instead of plain. Then I topped it with more coconut and a handful of crunchy almonds. And by the way, if you decide to add chocolate chips to this one, you could just go ahead and call it Almond Joy Overnight Oats. Mmm-mmm-MMMM!
So have I convinced you to give Overnight Oats a spin? They’re my favorite grab-and-go breakfast, and the kids love having a variety of flavors from which to choose. They’re easy and make-ahead, they’re healthy and filling, and even picky kids love ’em…what more can you ask of a way to start your morning?
Overnight Oats, 3 Ways ~ PB Banana, Raspberry Nutella, & Coconut Almond
Peanut Butter Banana
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
- 1 teaspoon honey, more or less to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Optional Toppings: banana slices, dollop of PB, chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Nutella
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- Optional Toppings: additional raspberries, drizzle of Nutella, toasted almond slices or other nuts
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Optional Toppings: additional shredded coconut, 1/4 cup toasted almond slices, mini chocolate chips
- In a bowl or a jar, mix together oats, milk, and yogurt. Stir in any additional ingredients and flavorings (but not the toppings). Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to overnight. Before serving, garnish with desired toppings.
- The Nutrition Facts below have been calculated for one serving of plain Overnight Oats without add-ins or toppings.
- You may use your favorite type of milk in Overnight Oats. You may use regular or Greek yogurt, but if using Greek, it might be necessary to add a bit more milk to thin it out. You may use plain or vanilla yogurt. Honey or maple syrup may be used to sweeten the oats to taste, if you wish.
- For the Coconut Almond variation, I use the type of coconut milk that is sold in a carton in the refrigerated section (near the soy milk, etc.). Canned coconut milk would also work but will make for richer/more decadent oatmeal.
- For the Raspberry Nutella version, I don't stir in the raspberries at the same time as the the oats and other ingredients, so as not to break them up. Rather, I just pile them on top of the oats and then gently stir them in before serving.
- To boost the nutrition even more, you may add a teaspoon or two of chia seeds or flaxseeds to your oat mixture.
- I don't recommend using quick oats as they will get too mushy. Steel cut oats are not recommended either, as they won't soften adequately.
Post originally published on April 9, 2015.
More Wholesome Breakfast Recipes with Oats
- Eggnog Overnight Oats
- Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- Healthy Oat Smoothies ~ Blueberry Muffin & Peach Cobbler Flavors
- Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars