Simple Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are the perfect solution if you’re seeking a healthy grab-and-go breakfast, or if you prefer to keep things easy in the morning. The technique is customizable based on personal preference, takes only minutes to prepare, and will keep you satisfied and energized!

This simple overnight oatmeal recipe can be adjusted according to your personal taste preferences, and it comes together in 5 minutes!

I’m not great about eating breakfast in a timely manner. For me, it’s not about being rushed or not wanting to cook anything. My issue is that I’m not usually hungry in the morning.

I’ve been seeing a dietician to work on a few issues such as maintaining a more steady energy level throughout the day, and she feels strongly that I should eat something within an hour after waking up (sadly, lattes don’t count).

 

A photo of overnight oatmeal in individual serving jars, topped with strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and granola.

This has required some creativity on my part, because I’ve been taught for so long that we shouldn’t eat when we’re not hungry. In this case, I think it’s probably a matter of retraining my body.

Overnight oats have become a lifesaver for me, since I don’t have to put any thought into them.

A close up of overnight oats in a jar mixed with strawberries and bananas.

Overnight oatmeal is a good option if you don’t have much time in the morning, need a grab-and-go option, or want to put as little thought into weekday breakfasts as possible.

It’s also nice if you get bored quickly (like me), because there are plenty of different ways you can enjoy them.

You can even take them in a savory direction, which is something I plan to start experimenting with soon. I’ve previously shared two savory oatmeal recipes on the blog, Baked Oatmeal with Bacon, Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions, and Oatmeal with Eggs, Mushrooms and Parmesan.

I feel like there’s a lot of potential here if I can keep some of those ingredients prepped and ready to stir in. For now, I’m focusing on more traditional options.

Overnight Oats Tips and Tricks

  • For gluten-free overnight oatmeal, make sure to use certified gluten-free rolled oats.
  • Do not use instant oats! Those will turn to mush. You want old-fashioned rolled oats.
  • Store-bought muesli is another great option if you want some additions already swirled in and ready to go. I’m partial to the gluten-free muesli from Bob’s Red Mill (I like the taste and texture better than their regular muesli).
  • You can also use steel-cut oats to make a steel-cut overnight oatmeal, but you’ll need to adjust the recipe ratio. It should be around 2 parts liquid to 1 part steel-cut oats. While they’ll be perfectly chewy and edible in the morning, there will be more liquid remaining in the container. You can give them a stir and enjoy cold, but I recommend microwaving this version for around 1 minute 15 seconds.
  • These only technically need 4-5 hours in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for up to 5 days, so if you scale up the recipe, you can have breakfasts for the entire week.
  • You can use water instead of milk, but the results will be less creamy. I only recommend this if you’re taking the oatmeal in a savory direction.
  • I love the creaminess that the yogurt adds, but leaving it in there overnight really enhances the tanginess as it absorbs into the oats. You may choose to add it in the next morning to lessen the flavor, but adding something sweet like maple syrup or fruit will also create a nice balance.
  • I recently discovered a protein powder that’s flavorless and dissolves easily into both hot and cold liquids (note: it is NOT vegetarian). I sometimes like adding it in as well. I’m not confident about recommending other protein powders, however; they might add an off-putting flavor or texture.

Optional Toppings & Additions

  • Pure vanilla extract (just a splash)
  • Chopped nuts (I recommend toasting them first)
  • Chia or flax seeds (chia seeds add a fun texture)
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Jam or jelly
  • Nut butters
  • Granola
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Ground cinnamon

An overhead view of overnight oats, highlighting blueberries and granola.

Overnight oats with a variety of toppings.
Print Pin Recipe

Simple Overnight Oats

5 from 7 votes
This overnight oats recipe is easy to customize, and perfect if you’re looking for a fast breakfast option!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword overnight oats
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 113

Ingredients

Version 1: (Neutral-Flavored)

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (homemade or store-bought muesli may be substituted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup milk (whole, low-fat, skim, or non-dairy)

Version 2: (More Creamy and Tangy)

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (homemade or store-bought muesli may be substituted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole, low-fat, skim, or non-dairy)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (I use plain yogurt)

Instructions

  • In a jar with a tight fitting lid, stir together the oats, salt, and milk (plus the yogurt if making Version 2).
  • Secure the lid and refrigerate overnight (at least 4-5 hours).
  • In the morning, give the ingredients a final stir. Add additional milk or yogurt to thin out the consistency if desired. You can either enjoy the oats cold, or microwave until hot. (I recommend covering and microwaving for around 1 minute 15 seconds). 
  • Add additional toppings if using (see notes). Overnight oats will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Notes

Do not use instant oats with this recipe. Water can be technically substituted for the milk, but the results will be much less creamy so I don't recommend it unless maybe you're going for a savory version. For gluten-free overnight oats, make sure to purchase certified gluten-free rolled oats.
Some optional topping ideas:
  • Pure vanilla extract (Just a splash)
  • Chopped nuts (I recommend toasting them)
  • Chia or flax seeds (chia seeds add a fun texture)
  • Toasted coconut
  • Maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Jam or jelly
  • Nut butters
  • Granola 
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Ground cinnamon

Nutrition

Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 206mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3.5% | Calcium: 12.1% | Iron: 4.8%

Recipe Troubleshooting

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About Jennifer Farley

Jennifer graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine, and has worked professionally as a line cook, pastry chef, and cooking instructor. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster.

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