Easy Overnight Oats
Published Dec 21, 2023, Updated Feb 07, 2024
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Here’s how to make perfect overnight oats with an easy base recipe, proper ratio, and fun flavor variations. They’re such an easy grab-and-go breakfast and perfect for meal prep.
Overnight oats have held a special place in my heart since I discovered them in 2009 and you can tell I’m obsessed just by looking at how many different overnight oat recipes I have posted over the years.
They’re such an easy and tasty breakfast that you can meal prep for the week. And the prep is so fast as it only takes about 5 minutes to mix your oats together! I’ve experimented with so many flavors, but in this post I’m sharing my basic overnight oats recipe (plus a few fun variations) and answering all your overnight oats questions.
Table of Contents
- What are Overnight Oats?
- Ingredients Needed
- Base Recipe (The Perfect Ratio)
- How to Make Overnight Oats
- Overnight Oat Variations
- Make Overnight Oats More Fun with Add-Ins & Toppings
- How to Store
- What Jars to Use
- Overnight Oats In a Jar
- More Easy Breakfast Recipes
- Easy Overnight Oats Recipe
- Overnight Oat Flavors to Try:
What are Overnight Oats?
Overnight oats are an easy, make-ahead breakfast that combines rolled oats with some sort of liquid, usually milk (it can be dairy based or non-dairy like almond milk, oat milk or coconut milk). They’re usually sweetened and additional flavors are typically added as well.
// ★★★★★ REVIEW //
“My go-to overnight oats recipe! I usually use either cows milk or oat milk (whichever I have on hand) and honey to sweeten. I eat these plain 99% of the time and they are delicious. I don’t have an appetite in the morning but try to eat breakfast to avoid overeating later. These are the perfect, light breakfast. And I love that I can prep them ahead of time.” – Samantha
Rolled oats and milk are really all you need, but I love adding a little yogurt, chia seeds and maple syrup to my base recipe. The oats turn out super creamy and the perfect consistency.
- rolled oats – old-fashioned rolled oats are a must for overnight oats. They soak up the liquid, 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.
- milk – you can make overnight oats with any type of milk you prefer. I personally like non-dairy options and usually use unsweetened almond milk for my overnight oats.
- yogurt – this gives the oats a 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 (I like Siggi’s plant-based or Culina) or skip the yogurt all together and use additional milk.
- chia seeds – while these are optional, I love adding chia seeds to my overnight oats because they add a bit of fiber and protein. Plus they help absorb some of the liquid which gives the oats a thicker consistency.
- Add-ins + toppings – Here’s where you can get creative. Just like with regular stove top oats, 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.
Base Recipe (The Perfect Ratio)
The base “recipe” for overnight oats is so simple! I recommend a 1:1 ratio of rolled oats to milk, plus half as much yogurt. So for 1/2 cup of oats, I use 1/2 cup of milk + 1/4 cup of yogurt (or an additional 1/4 cup of milk). These proportions seem to give the oats the perfect consistency, not too thick, but not soupy.
How to Make Overnight Oats
Add oats, milk, yogurt, maple syrup, chia seeds, vanilla and sea salt into a jar, storage container with a lid or a bowl. Stir ingredients together. Place in the fridge overnight. If you’re in a rush you can shorten the soak time to 2-4 hours.
The next morning (or when ready to eat), remove lid and give oats a big stir. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy. You can eat the oats straight from the jar or pour into a bowl for serving.
Overnight Oat Variations
Like I said, you can mix in different ingredients or add toppings to really take your overnight oats to the next level. Here I’m sharing three fun variations:
I love peanut butter so this is probably my favorite flavor to make. Just mix a little peanut butter into the overnight oats as you make them and then top with another drizzle of peanut butter. I also like adding some chopped peanuts and blueberries.
For a berry version, I love adding fresh berries and a little jam. You can do whatever berries you enjoy most and whatever flavor of jam you have on hand. I love using my strawberry chia jam.
Having a little chocolate with breakfast always feels like a treat and this version is super easy. Just mix a few chocolate chips into the mixture and add a few on top when you’re ready to serve it up. I also like adding a drizzle of nut butter and some banana slices.
Make Overnight Oats More Fun with Add-Ins & Toppings
I love the flavors I shared above, but the flavor options for overnight oats are practically endless. Here are some additional ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Fruit – you can’t go wrong with bananas and berries, but almost any fruit will work. I even have a tropical overnight oats recipe with pineapple, mango and toasted coconut.
- Nut butter – I use peanut butter and almond butter most often, but any and all nut/seed butters will taste amazing drizzled on your overnight oats.
- Nuts and seeds – this goes right along with the nut butter. You can use nuts too! 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 for a little texture. I highly recommend my homemade granola recipe.
- Protein – feel free to add additional Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or protein powder to bump up the protein of your oats. Also see my protein overnight oats if you want a specific recipe.
- Chocolate – I’m all about sneaking a little chocolate into my breakfast. Feel free to use chocolate chips or even a chopped chocolate bar. If you love chocolate, try my brownie batter overnight oats.
How to Store
Store your overnight oats in a covered container in the refrigerator 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 and you can make them on Sunday for the work-week.
What Jars to Use
In terms of what type of container to store your overnight oats in, there are a lot of options. I personally like wide mouth 16 oz Mason jars because they’re relatively inexpensive and they offer plenty of space for stirring everything together and for adding toppings.
I’ve also found that these Le Parfait Jam Pots (photographed here) and 9.8 oz Weck jars are perfect for a single batch of overnight oats. They’re durable glass and practical for other uses in the kitchen too.
Overnight Oats In a Jar
I also love making my overnight oats in an almost empty jar of peanut butter. You just add all your ingredients right to the jar, combine, let soak and then enjoy straight from the jar. It’s the perfect way to use up every last bit of the peanut butter in your jar.
Given the name, you’d assume overnight oats need to soak overnight, but you can actually get by with only letting them soak 2 hours or so. While it does take some time for the oats to absorb the liquid, they don’t necessarily have to be soaked overnight.
I don’t recommend using steel cut oats unless you follow a specific recipe. See my steel cut overnight oats.
I don’t recommend using quick oats as they won’t absorb as much of the milk and will be liquidy as a result.
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 soaked oats in your microwave, cooking in 30 second increments until the oats are warm throughout.
While you can use water instead of milk, I don’t recommend it. It will be virtually flavorless and lack creaminess, similar to eating cereal with water.
You likely didn’t follow the proper ratio or perhaps you added an additional ingredient (like protein powder) which soaks up a lot of the liquid. If this happens you can always add a splash of milk to loosen the oats.
More Easy Breakfast Recipes
- Blended Overnight Oats
- Baked Oatmeal Cups
- Easy Chia Pudding
- Protein Balls
- Protein Oatmeal
- Oatmeal Chia Cookies
- Creamy Steel Cut Oats
- Scrambled Oats
- Gingerbread Overnight Oats
Easy Overnight Oats
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup milk, I like unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, or ¼ cup more milk
- 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey, or your preferred sweetener
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds, optional
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- pinch of sea salt
- toppings of choice: fruit, nut butter, nuts, seeds, etc.
- 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
- 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
- ¼ cup fresh berries, I like sliced strawberries and blueberries best
- 1 Tablespoon strawberry jam or chia jam
- 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.
- 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.
- Overnight oats should last up to 5 days in the fridge in a sealed airtight container.
- Stir 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then sprinkle oats with remaining chocolate chips to serve.
- Stir 1/2 Tablespoon of peanut butter into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then drizzle oats with remaining peanut butter to serve.
- Stir 2 Tablespoons of berries into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then top layer of jam and remaining fresh berries.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.