If you are wondering how to make overnight oats, this easy tutorial is for you! You will find answers to all of your overnight oats questions, my best tips and variations, and the perfect overnight oats ratio and basic recipe so you can prepare the perfect jar of overnight oatmeal. Make ahead a few jars on Sunday night to have a healthy make-ahead breakfast ready during the busy mornings.
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What are Overnight Oats?
Overnight oats are rolled oats soaked in milk (dairy or non-dairy) or another liquid overnight. There’s no cooking or additional preparation needed. In the morning, stir it, add a little more liquid if needed, and enjoy.
It’s one of my absolute favorite ways to eat oatmeal.
Overnight oatmeal is easy to throw together, can be made ahead of time, and after the oats soak up the liquid, they take on a delicious pudding-like consistency!
Over the years, I’ve made numerous easy overnight oats recipes, so I’ve learned a thing or two about making the perfect jar of oatmeal.
Reasons You’ll Love This Breakfast Recipe.
- Easy to prepare and prep. Breakfast doesn’t get much easier than overnight oats; all you need to do is combine rolled oats with a liquid, chia seeds, and stir in any add-ins. These are designed for meal prep because the jars must be made ahead of time, preferably the night before.
- It’s healthy. Each jar of oats is filled with wholesome rolled oats that contain heart-healthy whole grains and fiber. I use chia seeds in my overnight oat recipes, which adds a nice punch of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein.
- It’s cheap. If you want a cheap healthy breakfast, look further than overnight oats. Depending on the ingredients used, one jar of oats (meaning one breakfast) can cost you less than $.50. And that’s using organic ingredients! You can’t even get a fast-food breakfast sandwich or a donut for that cheap!
- Portion-controlled servings. Want to use overnight oats for weight loss? No problem! Each jar is portioned-controlled, and you control the ingredients. This way, you know exactly what you’re eating, so you can stay within your calories and stick to healthy eating goals.
- Tons of variety. The ideas are endless when it comes to overnight oats recipes. You can eat them plain with a bit of pure maple syrup or dress them up with fresh or frozen fruit or even create a decadent, rich chocolatey breakfast by using cacao powder. See all of the overnight oats recipe variations below.
- Adaptable to dietary needs and restrictions. If you’re trying to eat dairy-free or vegan, it’s super easy to make vegan overnight oats using non-dairy milk. You can also use gluten-free oats if you have gluten sensitivity. You can adapt any overnight oat recipe to meet your needs.
- It’s scrumptious. Overnight oat recipes are delicious, sweet, and creamy. Most of my overnight oat recipes have been inspired by my favorite desserts. So, if you have a morning sweet tooth, put down that donut and instead prepare a few healthy overnight oat recipes to enjoy during the week.
How to Make Overnight Oats
Rolled oats. These are also called old-fashioned oats, and you can find them in the oatmeal section and the bulk section of any grocery store.
Rolled oats are less processed than instant but more processed than steel-cut oats. They work perfectly in overnight oatmeal recipes! Instant oats turn into a gummy mush, and steel-cut oats stay too crunchy.
Many people ask if they can use steel-cut oats. I tested steel-cut oats, and even after two days, they were still very crunchy. So from my experience, I’d say no.
I’ve seen overnight oatmeal made with slightly cooked steel-cut oats, but in my opinion, that takes the easy out of it. So, I’d say if you’re looking for a quick throw-together overnight oatmeal recipe, then stick with rolled oats.
Liquid. My preferred liquid is unsweetened coconut milk, and I’m referring to the coconut milk found in the dairy section, not the canned coconut milk.
You can use dairy milk, almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, rice milk, any non-dairy milk, or whatever liquid you prefer in your oatmeal! You can use water with overnight oats, but the texture won’t be as creamy.
Greek yogurt (optional) is a great way to add protein, creaminess, and a delicious cheesecake-like flavor. I prefer to use a low-sugar Greek yogurt in overnight oats – Sigi’s Greek Yogurt is my favorite, and I use 1-2 tablespoons per jar.
Superfoods (optional). Chia seeds are my preferred superfood to stir into my overnight oats recipes; they add protein, fiber, omega 3’s, and create a creamy pudding-like consistency after the oats sit overnight. Other superfoods to add are ground flaxseed, hemp hearts, or any of your favorite superfoods. I’ll add 1-2 teaspoons of these superfoods.
Sweetener (optional). Pure maple syrup or honey is the sweetener I use most often in oatmeal recipes. You can use your favorite sweetener or leave it out if you prefer a low-sugar oatmeal option.
Spices and extracts (optional). Think of overnight oatmeal as you would any oatmeal recipe. It is a blank canvas. You can use any spice and flavors you like.
My favorite spices and extracts to use in overnight oats:
- Pumpkin spice
- Apple spices
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
- Peppermint extract
I’ll add about 1/8 – 1/4 of a teaspoon of these spices or extract. Remember, this is for one serving, so a little will go a long way.
Fruit (optional). I like using frozen fruit, but you can use fresh fruit too. I’ll add about 1/2 cup of fruit into each jar of oats.
My favorite fruit to add to a jar of oats:
- chopped strawberries
- berries (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
Other ingredients (optional). For chocolatey oatmeal, stir in cacao powder and nibs. Of course, you can use cocoa powder and chocolate chips too. Canned pumpkin or squash is also delicious in overnight oats for warm fall flavor. Or use almond butter or your favorite nut butters for extra protein and flavor.
I’ll add 1-2 tablespoons each of these ingredients, and that amount gives it the perfect amount of flavor.
Nuts (optional) give a delicious crunch to creamy overnight oats; I like to stir them into the oatmeal in the morning rather than the nuts sitting overnight in the liquid. My favorite nuts are pecans and walnuts.
Our favorite place to purchase organic overnight oats ingredients is online at Thrive Market. They offer great prices, and everything gets delivered straight to your door. If you’re already a subscriber, you can view my oatmeal grocery list for easy shopping. Not a subscriber yet? Join here and get 40% off your first purchase. Need more information? Check out my Thrive Market Review.
Overnight Oats Ratio or Formula
I prefer this easy overnight oats ratio:
- 1/2 cup rolled oats + 1/2 cup liquid.
- I use about 1/4 – 1/2 cup fruit if I am using fruit.
- If I’m using Greek yogurt, I’ll use 1-2 tablespoons stirred in with the rest of the ingredients.
I adjust the liquid as needed, depending on the liquid I use and other ingredients. After mixing the ingredients, the oats should be covered in liquid.
Supplies Needed To Prepare Overnight Oats
These are the supplies you will need to prepare overnight oats:
- Rolled oats
- Chia seeds
- 16-ounce mason jars
- Wide mouth plastic mason jar lids
- quart-size freezer bags
Don’t forget the fruits and other spices you will need, depending on which oats recipe you decide to make.
I recommend using a 16-ounce wide-mouth glass mason jar for overnight oats; this size provides enough room for the oats, liquid, and any other add-ins.
I’ve also used 8-ounce mason jars, but those were just a little too small. I suggest picking up some plastic mason jar lids too!
You can purchase glass mason jar containers at any grocery store, and I have even seen them at Target and Walmart. If you can’t find them or don’t feel like driving around, purchase mason jar containers from Amazon.
I love using glass mason jar containers! However, many of my readers say that plastic containers work just as well; it is more of a preference. If you want to learn more about glass meal prep containers, check out this post!
Basic Overnight Oats Recipe
Here is a step-by-step to help you learn how to make an easy overnight oats recipe.
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.
Add the liquid. If I use 1/2 cup of oats, 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. A couple of tablespoons of yogurt will work fine.
Adjust the amount of liquid as needed depending on the amount of oats you’re using.
Add in the chia seeds. To give the oats a little more substance, I add chia seeds. You can also add ground flax seed, hemp hearts, or other nutritional add-ins.
I also use this step to add in some:
- Spices (cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, etc.)
- Ground cocoa powder
- Peanut butter
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!
Mix it all together. You want to make sure all the oats are covered in liquid and mix it. After it’s mixed, add in more liquid if needed.
The fruit you use will release juices as the oats soak, so keep that in mind as you add more liquid.
Refrigerate overnight. Put the lid on and store in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4-5 hours.
Stir. In the morning, the oats will look thick. Stir in about one tablespoon of additional liquid to them up.
If you’re using pure maple syrup as a sweetener, add that first, stir it up, then add more liquid if needed.
Add crunchy toppings. Once you get the consistency you want, add the nuts, seeds, or any other crunchy ingredient you’re using. Give it a taste and if you need more sweetness, stir in additional maple syrup or whatever sweetener you’re using.
Overnight oats are meant to consume cold. They get prepped at night, so you eat them in the morning without any additional work. The oats are processed in the liquid, so you don’t need to cook them.
Some people let the oats sit on the counter for ½ hour to take the chill off, but I eat them straight from the fridge.
If you want to warm the oats up, you can do so in the microwave or stove. I understand that the concept of eating oatmeal cold is foreign, but I recommend giving it a try. I think cold overnight oats are delicious!
Yes! Of course, it depends on the ingredients used but generally speaking; overnight oatmeal is healthy.
Each jar is filled with whole grains and fiber. If you add chia seeds, there are omega fatty acids and protein, and fruit adds fiber and many vitamins.
Also, overnight oats are portion-controlled. I make each serving in its mason jar, so I know the nutritional information for each one. This is super helpful when trying to keep calories under control!
Yup! The oats softened from sitting in the liquid overnight. After mixing all the ingredients, the oats should be covered in liquid. If not, add a little more liquid until the oats are covered.
I always prepare the oats the night before. So the oats 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. If you want some for lunch or an afternoon snack, you can always prepare a jar when you wake up!
For best results, make overnight oatmeal no more than three days in advance. Overnight oats 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.
Yes! If I have enough supplies and want to be one step ahead of my meal prep, I will usually make some overnight oats meal prep freezer kits. I add the dry ingredients into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and pour everything into a mason jar when I am ready to eat (along with some coconut milk).
The Best Overnight Oats Recipes
See all of our healthy oatmeal recipes.
I hope this How to Make Overnight Oats Guide has inspired you to add this healthy breakfast into your weekly meal plan.
Share a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook if you decide to make any of these overnight oats recipes!
Aline Terrell says
Thanks for the basic recipe. I bought a carton of Quaker overnight oats the other day to give this a shot, since I’m trying to eat more oatmeal, but the recipe on the back wasn’t for a basic recipe, but for some variant. This is a big help.
I much prefer using real milk to milk substitutes as a rule, as I don’t get on well with substitutes (literally, almond milk makes me throw up and I’m allergic to soy) and while I don’t mind coconut milk in a smoothie, I don’t think it will work for me here, based upon the comments. I’m also not a fan of plain yogurt in any form, although I LOVE Noosa’s Greek yogurt. Chia/flax/any kind of trendy super seeds, ditto not a fan, so not going to go with those.
So, I’m going to give this a shot with Quaker overnight oats, real milk, and a small carton of Noosa blueberry, since that’s what’s hanging around the refrigerator ATM. Here’s hoping.
Thanks again for the information.
EJ Garcia says
If I want to use a little honey to sweeten when should I put in??
Tammy Kresge says
honey can go in with the liquid.
It would be helpful if you specified the type of coconut milk on all your recipes. I nearly made a 1,000-calorie smoothie.
Tammy Kresge says
Thanks for the feedback. I will make sure that’s clear. it is the coconut milk found in the dairy section.
Regina Zeyzus says
Holy cow! Tried your tutorial as a jumping off point and used ingredients I had on hand. Wow, this was every bit as good as you said! I never would have thought cold oats could be so good. Second batch is already in the fridge and I can’t wait till it is done. Thank you for such great instructions.