Photos by Joe Lingeman

How To Make the Best Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are the easy, healthy breakfast you’ll always feel good about eating — and they’re perfect for taking on the go

BDC News

Kelli Foster

Warm weather and the summer month means it’s time to change up my breakfast routine. I make the switch from hot coffee to iced, and I swap my warm bowl of oatmeal for a pre-packed jar of refreshingly creamy overnight oats. I highly suggest you do the same.

Overnight oats are the easy, healthy breakfast you’ll always feel good about eating. They’re high in protein and fiber — which will keep you full throughout the morning — and they’re perfect for taking on the go. Here’s our foolproof formula for making the very best overnight oats every time.

What’s the Difference Between Oatmeal and Overnight Oats?

Unlike a bowl of warm oatmeal, overnight oats are meant to be eaten cold, straight from the refrigerator (no reheating necessary). To make them, you’ll soak rolled oats in milk and yogurt overnight, which gives them a soft, slightly toothsome texture that’s ultra-creamy and subtly sweet. In the morning, you’ll add your favorite toppings — fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and nut butters are all fair game.

Don’t let that overnight soak fool you — overnight oats are incredibly simple to make. They take no more than five minutes to prep, and then the breakfast makes itself while you sleep. If you stir together a batch during your weekend meal prep, you’ll be left with four grab-and-go breakfasts to eat throughout the week (the oats last about four days in the fridge). You can also scale the recipe down and make single servings instead.

What Ingredients Do I Need for Overnight Oats?

  1. Old-fashioned rolled oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats are the best choice for overnight oats. They soak up the liquid overnight, leaving you with a creamy (but not mushy) texture. Save steel-cut and quick-cooking oats for another time.
  2. Milk: You can make overnight oats with any kind of milk — dairy or non-dairy. If using non-dairy milk, it’s best to stick with unsweetened.
  3. Greek yogurt: Not only does Greek yogurt make overnight oats more filling, but it also gives the oats a super-creamy texture. To make the oats vegan, swap in an equal amount of your favorite dairy-free yogurt.
  4. Chia seeds: While chia seeds are an optional ingredient, they add a boost of fiber, protein, and omega-3’s. They plump as they soak, giving the oats a thicker consistency.
  5. Flavorings: This is what makes your oats taste really good. Ground cinnamon is a classic add-in, maple syrup or honey add a hint of sweetness, and a pinch of kosher salt is necessary for a balanced flavor.

What’s the Best Ratio for Overnight Oats?

Making overnight oats is actually as easy as memorizing a simple ratio: Use equal parts old-fashioned rolled oats and milk, plus half as much yogurt. For example, the recipe below calls for 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 2 cups milk, and 1 cup yogurt. From there, you can add whatever toppings you prefer (more on those below).

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How Do I Serve Overnight Oats?

While you can certainly eat them as is (just give the bowl a good stir, first), overnight oats are even better with toppings. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and nut butter are all fair game.

While nut butter, dried fruit, some fresh fruit (like blueberries, apples, and citrus) can be added in advance, you’ll want to wait to add delicate or crunchy toppings, such as nuts, seeds, and toasted coconut, until the morning you plan to eat them. When mixed with the oats upfront, the long soak leaves nuts and seeds with a soft, chewy texture. The same goes for most berries, which can get mushy when soaked for too long.

Overnight Oats Recipe

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups dairy milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup plain Greek or non-dairy yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional toppings: fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butter

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to a large bowl. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl.

  2. Stir together. Stir together until well combined.

  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You can divide the oats into individual jars at this point if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

  4. Stir before serving. Stir again before serving with desired toppings.

Kelli is the Food Editor for Plan & Prep content for Kitchn. She’s a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and author of the cookbooks, The Probiotic Kitchen, Buddha Bowls, and Everyday Freekeh Meals.


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