Easy overnight oats – a step by step guide with photos to show you exactly how to make healthy overnight oatmeal. I’ve also included my favorite overnight oats recipes.
Overnight oats have become one of my absolute favorite ways to eat oatmeal. Basically, its rolled oats soaked in milk or another liquid overnight. There’s 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 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.
Below are answers to the most common overnight oatmeal questions I get. I also provided a visual step-by-step guide and a list of my favorite easy overnight oats recipes.
What type of container should I use?
I recommend using 16 ounce wide mouth glass mason jar for overnight oatmeal. This 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 of these plastic mason jar lids too.
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.
Personally, I love glass mason jar containers. However, many of my readers say that plastic containers work just as well. I guess it is more of a preference. If you want to learn more about glass meal prep containers, check out this post.
Which oats are best for overnight oats?
I use rolled oats for my overnight oatmeal recipes. These are also called old fashion oats. You can find them in the oatmeal section and/or in the bulk section of any grocery store.
If you can’t find them then you can get rolled oats on Amazon or Thrive Market.
Rolled oats are less processed than instant oats but more processed than steel cut oats. They work perfectly in overnight oatmeal recipes. Instant oats turn into gummy mush and steel cut oats stay way too crunchy.
Many people ask 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’d say no. Some bloggers have made overnight oatmeal 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.
Do you eat overnight oats hot or cold?
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 them straight from the refrigerator.
If you want to warm the oats up you can do so in the microwave or on the stove. I understand that the concept of eating oatmeal cold is foreign but I recommend giving it a try. I think overnight oats are delicious. Depending on the ingredients sometimes I feel like I am eating dessert. Think pudding. Yum.
Are overnight oats healthy?
Yes! Of course, it depends on the ingredients used but generally speaking overnight oatmeal is healthy. They are filled with whole grains and fiber. If you add chia seeds then there’s omega fatty acids and protein. Fruit adds fiber and lots of vitamins.
Also, overnight oats are portion-controlled. I make each serving in its own mason jar so I know the nutritional information for each one. This is super helpful when trying to keep calories under control.
What type of liquid do you use?
My preferred liquid is coconut milk. I’m referring to the coconut milk found in the dairy section not the canned coconut milk. This is my favorite but any liquid will do. You can use dairy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or whatever liquid you prefer in your oatmeal.
Can I use yogurt?
Yes, many overnight oatmeal recipes call for yogurt. However, as much as I love yogurt I don’t use it often in overnight oats. I feel it becomes too thick and I am not crazy about the tang. But again it’s all about preference. I recommend giving it a try and see what you think.
The easy 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 other ingredients. After all the ingredients are mixed together the oats should be covered in liquid. I have a picture below illustrating this.
Do you mix overnight oats?
Yes. The oats softened from sitting in the liquid overnight. After you mix all the ingredients together the oats should be covered in liquid. If not, add a little more liquid until oats are covered.
What spices and other ingredients can I use?
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, 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 my recipes. Chia seeds add fiber, omega fatty acids, and protein. They also soak up the liquid and help with the pudding like texture. You don’t have to use them but I think they add a nice nutritional boost. You can purchase chia seeds in the nature food section or bulk section at your grocery store. I also get big bags of chia seeds from BJs Wholesale. If you can’t find chia seeds then you can purchase bags online from Amazon or Thrive Market.
How long do the oats have to sit in the liquid before I can eat them?
I always prepped 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 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 overnight oatmeal no more than 3 days in advance. That has been my experience. 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.
Supplies to prepare easy overnight oats
Here’s a quick video I put together.
Easy Overnight Oats Step by Step Guide
Step 1. 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. A couple tablespoons of yogurt will work fine. Adjust the liquid as needed depending on the amount of oats you’re using.
Step 3: Add in the chia seeds. Like I said earlier I add chia seeds. You can also add ground flax seed, hemp seed, or any other nutritional add ins. 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. After it’s mixed together add in more liquid if needed. 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 overnight oats should look like before you put them 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 overnight oatmeal. If you’re 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’re using.
Easy Overnight Oats Recipes
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