Overnight oats are a healthy no-cook breakfast option that you can make the night before or even days ahead if you are organised.
The fabulous thing about overnights oats is that you can literally grab them from your fridge, add some toppings and you have a delicious breakfast ready to eat there and then or take into work.
There is no pre-cooking involved, simply combine the raw ingredients, and slip them into the fridge. You can add whichever flavourings and toppings take your fancy. Popular choices are pieces of fruit, crunchy nuts, and some natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey.
By the morning, the oats miraculously soften up and absorb the liquid and become porridge-like as if you had spent hours cooking them.
Although this breakfast is called ‘overnight oats’ it doesn’t need a whole night to ‘cook’ in the fridge. Two to four hours is ample, but the most convenient time to prepare it is the night before, hence the name.
Usually, you will eat the oats cold, but if you prefer some warmth in your tummy on a nippy winter’s morning, and are tempted to put them in the microwave, then go for it! They will cook very quickly too.
If you have tummy issues, you might find overnight oats a good option as the soaking helps to make them more digestible.
The typical ingredients of a classic overnight oat recipe are the following:
- Old-fashioned rolled oats. Regular rolled oats or jumbo oats are best. These type of oats have been steamed and rolled from the oat ‘groat’. Rolled oats soak up the milky liquids overnight and become creamy without turning mushy.
- Milk. Any kind of milk is fine, be it dairy or unsweetened non-dairy such as almond or soya milk.
- Natural Yogurt. Any type of natural yoghurt such as Greek helps to make the oats even more creamy and filling. Again it can be dairy or non-dairy yoghurt. This is a good opportunity to use up yogurt you have frozen.
- Chia seeds or flax seeds. Seeds are optional but they add more nutrients and fibre content which will help you to feel full for longer. They also help to thicken the liquid by absorbing some of the moisture.
- Flavourings. Now, this is where you can get creative! Add some extra ingredients to make your breakfast even more delicious. For example, cinnamon, dried fruit, maple syrup and honey. Reserve some extra for a topping to add extra crunchiness at the last minute.
What is the best oatmeal to use for overnight oats?
You will want to use a rolled oat, either regular or jumbo oat to make your overnight oats.
Instant, packet or quick-cook oats are not so good for this dish. They tend to go mushy when they are soaked.
You can use steel-cut (or pinhead) oats too, but these need more soaking than rolled oats. You might want to cook them for a bit in the microwave before you put them to bed in the fridge to give them a head start.
How long will overnight oats keep?
If you know you will want to eat your oats over a few days, make a big bowl of the mixture and you can dip in for up to 5 days after. Perfect for working week breakfasts.
How to make the best overnight oats
If you do a Google search you will find a tonne of different recipes.
Essentially recipes are based on a common ratio of ingredients. Once you know this you can get creative as you wish with flavourings and toppings.
Here is the magic ratio:
Equal parts of rolled oats and milk, plus half the amount of yoghurt.
On that basis, you would use 2 cups of oats combined with 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of yoghurt. You get the idea?
I know what you are thinking!
How many oats would you need for one serving? Good question!
1 serving of overnight oats would require 1/2 cup of oats. You would then need 1/2 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of yoghurt for that one serving.
Multiply that by the number of days you want the oats.
The steps to make overnight oats (to serve 4 people)
Step 1 – Mix the ingredients
In a bowl, combine:
- 2 cups of oats
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of chia or flax seeds
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
- A pinch of salt
Step 2 – Cover and refrigerate
Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Step 3 – Stir, divide and top
In the morning or two to four hours later give the mixture another stir and divide into individual serving bowls.
Optionally add toppings such as fruits, nuts and seeds, maple syrup or honey.
Did you know you could also cook porridge in a pressure cooker? Check out my guide – How To Make Porridge In A Pressure Cooker (perfect every time!).
Frequently asked questions
Can you make overnight oats with steel-cut oats?
Steel-cut oats are less processed than rolled oats, which have also been steamed. You can use them instead but you will need to add more liquid or precook them a bit before you soak them overnight.
Can you use instant or quick-cook oats with overnight oats?
Instant or quick-cook oats are best cooked and eaten immediately. If you soak them they will go mushy and won’t be very palatable.
Do you have to use chia or flax seeds in overnight oats?
No. In fact, I don’t use chia because in my supermarket I can buy flax seeds for a 6th of the price of chia seeds! So I use flax instead and it is just as good. You don’t have to use either of these, but if you do it will help to thicken the mixture.
Can you make sugar-free overnight oats?
You are the creator of your oats! Do not add sugar if you prefer it.
Can you heat overnight oats?
Yes put them in the microwave and they will cook much more quickly after you have soaked them.
Can you make overnight oats with just water?
Yes, you can. The oats won’t be so creamy of course.
Do these work for meal-prep?
Yes overnight oats are ideal for meal-prep. Make as many portions ahead as you need. They will keep 5 days in the refrigerator.
How long does it take to make overnight oats?