Easy Basic Overnight Oats
Published Mar 15, 2023
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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.
Ingredients Needed Overnight Oats
- 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. Try my overnight steel cut oats recipe if you prefer!
- 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.
- 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 (I like Siggi’s plant-based or Culina) or skip the yogurt all together and use additional milk.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
- Strawberry Shortcake Overnight Oats
- Blueberry Crumble Overnight Oats
- Peach Pie Overnight Oats
- Cherry Cheesecake Overnight Oats
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.
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 overnight oats in your microwave, cooking in 30 second increments until the oats are warm throughout and enjoy.
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 monk fruit to sweeten the oats. You’ll just have to play around with how much to add based on your preference.
More Easy Recipes Like This
- Blended Overnight Oats
- Baked Oatmeal Cups
- Easy Chia Pudding
- Protein Balls
- Protein Oatmeal
- Oatmeal Chia Cookies
- Creamy Steel Cut Oats
- Low Calorie Overnight Oats
Easy Overnight Oats
Basic Overnight Oats
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup milk any milk will work, but I like unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup plain yogurt or ¼ cup more milk I like using Greek yogurt
- 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.
Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats
- 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
- 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
Berry Overnight Oats
- ¼ cup fresh berries I like sliced strawberries and blueberries best
Basic Overnight Oats
- 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.
Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats
- 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
- 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
- Stir 2 Tablespoons of berries into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then top oats with remaining berries to serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Love it! The different varieties are awesome! I enjoy using flavored yogurt. Thank you!
Yum! Love adding flavored yogurt too, Kate. Sounds absolutely delicious. Thank you for your review + star rating, I so appreciate it.
so far I am loving this recipe. it can be dressed up or left plain and simple and I love that! I love how filling they are too! it has definitely helped me stop snacking at work which makes me even more happy.
WOO! I am so glad that you are loving this recipe, Ashley. Thank you for your review + star rating, it means so much to me!
hi brittany, i recently found your website and cannot wait to try some of your recipes, especially some of these variations as i LOVE overnight oats! i just had one question: it says 1 to 1 ration up on top, and in the actual recipe section it is closer to what it actually says on the cooking of the oatmeal on the box, which is 1/2 cup oatmeal to 1 cup liquid. was that an error or do you use extra liquid? just curious before i try it and find it too watery for me… 🙂
Hi Carmen – I will only use extra liquid if I am not using yogurt. So for example, if you are using yogurt, you will us 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup yogurt or if you choose not to use the yogurt, you will want to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more liquid. Hope this helps!
How much is a serving? One cup? I’m counting my calories so I need to know. Thanks
Hi Veronica – Yes, one serving is one cup. Hope you enjoy this recipe!