Easy Overnight Oats

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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 I’m sharing my basic recipe (plus a few fun variations) and answering all your overnight oats questions.

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

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.

Ingredients Needed

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-diary 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.

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

How to Make 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. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy. You can eat the oats straight from the jar or pour into a bowl for serving.
Overhead shot with 7 jars of overnight oats, each with different toppings.

Make Your Oats More Fun with Add-Ins & Toppings

Like I said, you can mix in different ingredients or add toppings to really take your overnight oats to the next level. 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 will work. Try my peanut butter overnight oats.
  • 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 for a little texture. I highly recommend my hemp granola or this coconut granola.
  • Protein – feel free to add additional Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or protein powder to bump up the protein. Also see my protein overnight oats.
  • 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.
Overhead shot with 7 jars of overnight oats, each with different toppings.

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 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.

Of course, regular meal prep containers work great or you can get jars made specifically for overnight oats like these with cute colored screw tops or this one from Williams Sonoma.

Oh, 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 little bit of peanut butter in your jar.

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

FAQ

How long do the oats need to soak?

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.

Can I use steel cut oats?

I don’t recommend using steel cut oats unless you follow a specific recipe. See my steel cut overnight oats.

Can I use quick 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.

Can you warm them up?

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.

Can I make overnight oats with water?

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.

Why did my overnight oats turn out so thick?

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

4.59 from 381 votes

Easy Overnight Oats

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.
Prep Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours
Servings: 1

Ingredients  

Base Recipe

  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk, 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

  • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips

Peanut Butter

  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter

Berry

  • ¼ cup fresh berries, I like sliced strawberries and blueberries best

Instructions 

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Stir 2 Tablespoons of berries into the overnight oat mixture when prepping and then top oats with remaining berries to serve.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving w/o toppings | Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 257mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: overnight oats
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

Overnight Oat Flavors to Try:

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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Recipe Rating




315 Comments

    1. Yum! Love adding flavored yogurt too, Kate. Sounds absolutely delicious. Thank you for your review + star rating, I so appreciate it.

  1. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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!

  2. 5 stars
    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… 🙂

    1. 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!

  3. I’ve made your banana bread overnight oats more times than I could count, it’s my go to! I am looking to switch it up a little and wondering if frozen berries can be used for overnight oats? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jackie – Yes, frozen blueberries should work, they might turn your oats a bit blue, but other than that it should work. Enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    Just made my first one using one of those little packages of trail mix that Aldi sells. Being a Scott it reminds me of my childhood breakfasts at Mums.

    1. Yum, that sounds absolutely delicious! I am so glad this recipe turned out great for you. Thank you for sharing your review & star rating, I really appreciate it!

  5. 5 stars
    So easy, fun, and delicious! When I tried overnight oats years ago, I admittedly hated it. It was weird, pasty, and an odd texture. Clearly, the recipe I used was bad, because I just made your recipe and it is DELICIOUS! In all honesty, it does take some getting used to, but going into it not expecting it to be like other warm oatmeals, it was a quick adjustment. I personally love to make baked oatmeal, and it’s always a hit with everyone, but this is a wonderful quick option, especially for this on-the-go single gal. (Plus, no chance of it turning out dry like baked oatmeal can if you’re not careful.) I’m officially a convert, which is wonderful because this is a healthy, filling choice. It honestly doesn’t get much easier than this. I’m excited to try some of your unique flavor ideas too – esp the cherry cheesecake one! Just for the record I did use the yogurt because I eat a vegetarian diet. The protein is essential for me, and I love the texture it added. I agree with a prior reviewer that it keeps you full longer than some other options for breakfast. Love, love love! I will be sharing this with all my friends and sisters.

    1. Ahh, this is the absolute best, Kirstin! I am so glad you found this recipe and are loving it. Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your review & star rating, I really appreciate it!

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve been vegetarian all my life and never have had such an all around tasty and healthy breakfast (meal) that is nearly as quick and easy to prepare; and the innumerable possibilities for flavor are what I love most about such a recipe!

    1. Aw I am so glad you found this recipe and are loving it, Jennifer. I have tons of variations on my site and I can’t wait to hear which one is your favorite. Thank you for your review + star rating, I appreciate it!

  7. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I have been craving Overnight Oats for days, and I’m so glad I found this recipe. I added multiple add-ins to my jar, and I looked forward to eating breakfast the following morning. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you love this recipe, Roxanne! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

  8. 5 stars
    “WOW” Your first cookbook is AWESOME!! Thank You… I’m a big fan of overnight oats & you have so many delicious recipes & ideas to share, keep feeding us birds! Stay Strong, Healthy & Happy.