Easy Basic Overnight Oats

Here’s everything you need to know about overnight oats — the best basic recipe, the proper ratio, plus 20 different variations. Overnight oats are delicious, so easy to make and perfect for meal prep.   

Do you love oatmeal, but swear it off during the hot summer months because the thought of eating a steamy bowl of oatmeal makes you sweat just thinking about it! I feel ya and I have a solution… overnight oats!

I am a HUGE fan of warm oatmeal (especially baked oatmeal), but overnight oats have held a special place in my heart since I discovered them in 2009. They’re so easy to prepare and the combinations of flavors are truly endless. I love that I can prep everything the night before and wake up to a delicious breakfast. I’ve experimented with so many different flavors, but in this post I want to answer all your overnight oats questions and share my basic recipe.

Overhead shot with 6 jars of overnight oats, each with different toppings.

Ingredients Needed Overnight Oats

  1. Old-fashioned rolled oats – Old-fashioned rolled oats are a must for overnight oats. They soak up the liquid overnight, which gives you a lovely creamy texture. Instant, quick-cooking and steel cut oats don’t work because they don’t absorb the liquid in the same way that rolled oats do.
  2. Milk – You can make overnight oats with any type of milk you prefer. I personally like non-diary options and usually use unsweetened almond milk for my overnight oats.
  3. Yogurt – Yogurt gives overnight oats an extra creamy texture while adding a bit of protein. I personally like using plain Greek yogurt since it’s the highest in protein and lowest in sugar. To make vegan or dairy-free overnight oats you can use a non-dairy yogurt or skip the yogurt all together and use additional milk.
  4. Chia seeds – Chia seeds are optional, but I love them because they add a bit of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids and they help absorb some of the liquid which gives the oats a thicker consistency.
  5. Add-ins + toppings – Here’s where you can get creative. Just like with regular oatmeal, there are some classic add-ins like vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, maple syrup (or honey) and a pinch of sea salt that really elevate the flavor and make overnight oats super tasty.

Ingredients for easy overnight oats in a white bowl before mixing.

Overnight Oats Ratio

The base “recipe” for overnight oats is so simple! The hardest part is getting the right ratio of oats to liquid, but if you follow my recipes you’ll be set!

I aim for a 1:1 ratio of rolled oats to milk, plus half as much yogurt. So for 1 cup of oats, I use 1 cup of milk + 1/2 cup of yogurt (or an additional 1/2 cup of milk). For this recipe, I’m skipping the yogurt and using the extra milk. This seems to give the oats the perfect consistency, not too thick, but not soupy. For the liquid, I usually go for non-dairy milk like almond milk, but you can use whatever milk you have on hand and if you really want to experiment you can try using different liquids like fruit juice.

Basic overnight oats in a mason jar with a gold spoon. Several more jars behind the open jar with lids for meal prep.

Get Creative!

Like I said, you can mix in different ingredients or add toppings to really take your overnight oats to the next level. Below I’m sharing my basic overnight oats recipe, plus variations for chocolate chip overnight oats, peanut butter overnight oats and berry overnight oats. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg… scroll down to the bottom of this post to find links to over 20 different recipes!

And just to get your creative juices flowing… here are some fun mix-ins and toppings to add to your base overnight oats recipe:

  • Fruit – you can’t go wrong with bananas and berries, but almost any fruit will work
  • Nut butter – I use peanut butter and almond butter most often, but any and all nut/seed butters are great including coconut butter
  • Nuts and seeds – almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds… you’re options here are endless
  • Granola – I’m a granola girl and love adding crunchy granola on my overnight oats. If you’re looking for homemade granola recipes, I highly recommend my hemp granola or this coconut granola
  • Protein –  a dollop of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese will add a good amount of protein
  • Chocolate – I’m all about sneaking a little chocolate into my breakfast. I like to use Lily’s chocolate chips because they’re low in sugar and carbs, but any chocolate chips or even a chopped chocolate bar will work

Mix, Soak Overnight and Enjoy!

Once you have all your ingredients mixed together, simply cover and put in the fridge the oats in the fridge to soak overnight. I personally like to use wide mouth 16 oz mason jars for storing my overnight oats but any airtight container will work.

The next morning, grab your overnight oats from the fridge, give the mixture a big stir and top with your favorite toppings. At this point you can simply dig right in as overnight oats are meant to be eaten cold. See my note below if you’re not keen on eating cold oats.

 

WATCH HOW TO MAKE OVERNIGHT OATS:

 

Summer Dessert Overnight Oats In the Video:

How Long Do Overnight Oats Need to Soak?

Given the name, you’d assume overnight oats need to soak overnight, but you can actually make them in 2-4 hours if you’re in a rush. While it does take some time for the oats to absorb the liquid, they don’t necessarily have to be soaked overnight.

I recommend at least 8 hours for true overnight oats, but there have been mornings where I decide I want overnight oats for breakfast even though I didn’t prep them the night before. When this happens I’ll make them the morning of and let the oats soak for just 2-4 hours. With this quick soak, they’re not as soft as overnight oats that have soaked longer and they’re a bit more liquidy, but they’re still delicious.

Overhead shot with 7 jars of overnight oats, each with different toppings.

How Long Do Overnight Oats Stay Fresh?

When stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight oats should last for up to 5 days. They will soften more the longer they sit so I find they’re best on days 1-3, but they’re still safe to eat on days 4 and 5. With this said, overnight oats are great for meal prep. Feel free to make a whole batch for the week on Sunday. I like prepping them in wide mouth 16 oz mason jars.

Can You Eat Them Hot?

Short answer, yes! You can definitely warm up overnight oats, but the whole point of overnight oats is to eat them cold like muesli. Even if you think cold oats sound strange, I recommend giving it shot before you write them off. Of course, if you simply can’t do the cold oats you can always heat them up. Just pop the overnights oats in your microwave, cooking in 30 second increments until the oats are warm throughout and enjoy.

Overhead shot with 7 jars of overnight oats, each with different toppings.

Can Overnight Oats Help You Lose Weight?

Let me start by saying, oats are not the key to weight loss, but oatmeal is a great option when you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight! It is packed with fiber, but I recommend pairing it with protein to prevent blood sugar spikes. I love mixing in protein powder or Greek yogurt right to my overnight oats.

If you’re looking to keep your sugar consumption down you can always omit the maple syrup/honey from the overnight oats recipes or use a sugar alternative like stevia or monkfruit to sweeten the oats. You’ll just have to play around with how much to add based on your preference.

Overhead shot of basic overnight oats with berries and peanut butter on top.

More Easy Healthy Recipes Like This:

If you try this overnight oats recipe be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers. 

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Basic overnight oats in a mason jar with berries and peanut butter on top.

Easy Overnight Oats


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours
  • Yield: 1
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s the basic recipe for overnight oats with rolled oats, milk, yogurt and chia seeds. They’re delicious, so easy to make and perfect for meal prep.   


Ingredients

Basic Overnight Oats

  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk (any milk will work, but I like unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt or 1/4 cup more milk (I like using Greek yogurt)
  • 12 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (or your preferred sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • toppings of choice: fruit, nut butter, nuts, seeds, etc.

Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats

  • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter

Berry Overnight Oats

  • 1/4 cup fresh berries (I like sliced strawberries and blueberries best)

Instructions

Basic Overnight Oats

  1. Add oats, milk, yogurt, maple syrup, chia seeds, vanilla and sea salt into a jar or storage container with a lid. Stir ingredients together. Place in the fridge overnight. If you’re in a rush you can shorten the soak time to 2-4 hours.

  2. The next morning (or when ready to eat), remove lid and give oats a big stir. If they seem too thick you can add a little more milk to loosen the mixture. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy. You can eat the oats straight from the jar or pour into a bowl for serving.

  3. Overnight oats should last up to 5 days in the fridge in a sealed airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats

  1. Stir 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then sprinkle oats with remaining chocolate chips to serve.

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

  1. Stir 1/2 Tablespoon of peanut butter into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then drizzle oats with remaining peanut butter to serve.

Berry Overnight Oats 

  1. Stir 2 Tablespoons of berries into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then top oats with remaining berries to serve.
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Soak
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 208
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 31g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 8g

Keywords: overnight oats

Over 20 Overnight Oats Recipes:

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    22 comments
  1. I’ve made this twice now and quadruple the batch to last enough for a few mornings. I’m addicted!!! Such a nice change from regular hot oats. Perfect for summertime. I add in cinnamon, chia seeds and ground flax too! Then in the mornings I top with banana, blueberries, and nut butter.

  2. I made the basic recipe of the overnight oats and they turned out amazing!! I made them and ate them the same day after letting them sit in the fridge for about 4 hours, the oats turned so soft and can’t get over how creamy they tasted! I topped mine with sliced banana, peanut butter and a little jelly. I will be making again ASAP, thank you Brittany for this easy delicious recipe 😊

  3. I’ve been making overnight oats for about two years now and wanted to try some different combinations. I absolutely loved your strawberry shortcake, the almond extract really pops the flavor! I have always been wary of using peaches but I did try your peach recipe and we really enjoyed it so I will make it again sometime. I haven’t had a chance to make the cherry yet. I also made the blueberry but cheated and used granola since I already had that and didn’t have the ingredients to make the crumble topping. I’m happy to have found new flavors to add into our oat rotation.

  4. How many days in advance could you make these? I.e could I make 5 sets on a Sunday night ready for each morning?

    • Can you sub the almond milk for regular 1%, sour cream or regular yogurt for the greek and flax seed for chia? I’m interested in trying the strawberry one first. I have heard good things about chia seeds though, but right now we have flax so I’d be interested in learning how they differ in their health benefits.

      • You can totally use these swaps and I think they will work just fine, but I think sour cream is going taste a little more sour than yogurt so you might need to add more sweetness. Let me know if you try it!

    • Vanilla you find in the baking section of the grocery store. It’s a Flavoring. Also known as Vanilla Extract. Hope this helps.

  5. Have you tried this with steel-cut oats? I don’t know if it would work–I’m not any kind of cook, so I have no idea.

  6. I wish I didn’t have to click out of feedly now to read your posts. It makes me much less likely to read your content.

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