I have become quite the oatmeal fan over the last 3 years. Up until then I despised oatmeal and never understood the reasons people found comfort in bowls of tasteless mush. Looking back, I now know I had it all wrong. I thought the only type of oatmeal available to me were packets of instant oatmeal. Obviously, I was a sheltered person. Now I know there is a whole world of oatmeal at my fingertips.
My first discovery came when I learn about steel cut oats. These are the least processed of the oats. Instant oats can’t even compare to the wholesome deliciousness these hearty oats offer. My favorite steel cut oat recipes are pumpkin pie oats, blueberry lemon, and coconut. They take a long time to make so I often prepare them ahead of time using these instructions or I make them in the slow cooker. No matter how I make them steel cut oats turned me into an oatmeal believer again.
A hot bowl of steel cut oats
Then I discovered baked oatmeal. These are made with rolled or old-fashioned oats, which are more processed than steel cut oats but less processed than instant. The oats are mixed with milk, eggs, and other ingredients then baked in the oven and served warm. Again, these oats are delicious. Here is a basic recipe I love to play around with and my blueberry coconut baked oatmeal that is delicious!
And…just when I thought oatmeal couldn’t get any better I tried overnight oatmeal. Overnight oatmeal or oats in a jar is amazing and has become one of my absolute favorite ways to eat oatmeal. Basically, it is oats soaked in milk or another liquid overnight. There is no cooking or additional preparation needed. In the morning, you just give it a stir, add a little more liquid if needed, and enjoy.
Overnight oats are easy to throw together, can be made ahead of time, and after the oats soak up the liquid overnight they become this delicious pudding like consistency. I made my first overnight oats recipe this past June and since then created 8 more recipes. I will share the recipes, along with overnight oats recipes from other bloggers, at the end of this post.
Since posting my first recipe I get tons of “how to” questions on overnight oats. How do I make them? What liquid can I use? Do I eat them cold? Along, with many more questions. Whenever I get lots of questions on a certain recipe or strategy I share I always put together a tutorial of sorts to help out. For example, my mason jar salad tutorial, green smoothie tutorial, and food prep tutorial were each born from many of the same questions getting asked over and over again.
Below are my answers to the most common overnight oats questions I get. I also provided a visual step-by-step tutorial and recipe round up. I hope you find this helpful. If I did not answer a question, or you need more clarification, then leave me a comment and I will update the post with the information.
What type of container do you use?
I use a pint size glass mason jar for my overnight oats. This gives me enough room for the oats, liquid, and any other add ins. Personally, I love glass containers. However, many of my readers say that plastic containers work just as well. I guess it is more of a preference. You can purchase glass mason jar containers at any grocery store. I have even seen them at Target and Walmart. If you can’t find them or don’t feel like driving around then just purchase mason jar containers from Amazon.
What type of oats do you use?
I use rolled oats for my overnight oats recipes. These are also called old fashion oats. If I can’t find them in the bulk section then I will purchase Bob”s Red Mill Rolled Oats. You can purchase them from Amazon. Like I said earlier, rolled oats are less processed than instant oats but more processed than steel cut oats. They work perfectly in overnight oats recipes. Instant oats turn into gummy mush and steel cut oats stay way too crunchy. Many people ask me if they can use steel cut oats. I tested steel cut oats and even after 2 days they were still very crunchy. So from my experience I would say no. If you have a different experience or tips to offer using steel cut oats I would love to hear from you.
How do you eat them?
Overnight oats are meant to be consumed cold. They get prepped at night so you eat them in the morning without any additional work. The oats process in the liquid so you don’t need to cook them. Some people let the oats sit on the counter for ½ hour or so to take the chill off but I eat straight from the refrigerator. If you want to warm them up you can do so in the microwave or on the stove. I understand that the concept of eating oatmeal cold is very foreign to us but I recommend giving it a try. I think the overnight oats are delicious. Depending on the ingredients sometimes I feel like I am eating dessert. Think pudding. Yum.
What type of liquid do you use?
My preferred liquid is coconut milk. I am referring to the coconut milk in the dairy section not the canned coconut milk. This is my favorite and I always have it on hand for green smoothies. But any liquid will do. You can use dairy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or whatever liquid you prefer in your oatmeal.
I have also seen a lot of overnight oats recipes call for yogurt. As much as I love yogurt I must say I am not a fan of yogurt in my overnight oats. I feel it becomes too thick and I am not crazy about the tang. But again it is all about preference. I recommend giving it a try and see what you think.
The overnight oats formula I prefer is 1/2 cup rolled oats + 1/2 cup liquid. If I am using fruit I use about 1/4 – 1/2 cup fruit. I adjust the liquid, as needed depending on the liquid I use and ingredients I add in. After all the ingredients are mixed together the oats should be covered in liquid. I have a picture below illustrating this.
What spices and other ingredients can I use in overnight oats?
Think of overnight oats as you would any oatmeal recipe. It really is a blank canvas. You can use any kind of fruit, nuts, chocolate, or spice and/or flavors you like. My only suggestion is if you add an ingredient you don’t want to get soft or soggy (ex. nuts) then stir them into the oats in the morning.
I also add chia seeds to most of my overnight oats recipes. They add fiber, omega fatty acids, and protein. Chia seeds soak up the liquid and help with the pudding like texture. You don’t have to use them but I think they are nice nutritional boost.
How long do the oats have to sit in the liquid before I can eat them?
I always prepped overnight oats the night before. So they usually sit in the refrigerator for at least 7-8 hours or a little longer. However, they will be ready to eat in about 4-5 hours so if you want some for lunch or afternoon snack you can prep a jar when you wake up.
How far in advance can I make them?
For best results make these no more than 3 days in advance. That has been my experience. They are so easy to prepare so it hasn’t been a big deal to whip up another batch mid week should I need or want to.
Here is a quick visual step by step to preparing overnight oats.
Step 1. I start with the oats. I always use 1/2 cup of oats. If you think that is too much then reduce the amount of oats.
Step 2: Add the liquid. If I use 1/2 cup of oats then I will use 1/2 cup of liquid. I always use the same amount of liquid as oats. If you are using yogurt then add it in during this step. Adjust the liquid as needed depending on the amount of oats you are using.
Step 3: Add in the chia seeds. Like I said earlier I, more often than not, add chia seeds to my overnight oats recipes. You can also add ground flax seed, hemp seed, or any other nutritional add in. I also use this step to add in the spices, sweetener, ground cocoa powder, PB2, peanut butter or things like that. Adjust the liquid as needed.
Step 4: Add in the fruit. I always use frozen fruit because that is what I have on hand. You certainly can use fresh or even dried fruit. Bananas are awesome in overnight oats.
Step 5: Mix it all together. You want to see all the oats covered in liquid. Once it is mixed if you think it needs a little more liquid to cover the oats then add it at this step. The fruit you use will release juices as the oats soak so keep that in mind as you are adding in more liquid. This is what the oats should look like before you put it into the refrigerator.
Step 6: Put the lid on and store in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4-5 hours.
Step 7: In the morning, the oats will look like this. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of additional liquid to loosen up the oats. If you are using pure maple syrup as a sweetener add that first, stir it up, then add more liquid if needed. Once you get the consistency you want add in the nuts, seeds, or any other crunchy ingredient you are using.
Step 8: Enjoy!
Here are my 8 overnight oats recipes…
Here are additional overnight oats recipes from other food bloggers. Some of these recipes includes yogurt so you can take a look at those if you are interested in using yogurt in your overnight oats recipes.
What are your thoughts and/or tips on overnight oatmeal? Any other questions I can answer?
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