Overnight Oats - Tips and Tasty Recipes
Overnight Oats - Tips and Tasty Recipes

The alarm clock goes off. It’s 6AM – time to eat breakfast and get ready for work. But, the thought of eggs for breakfast seems like too much work and chugging yet another protein shake sounds utterly repulsive. Cold cereal might do, but you’re not 5 years old anymore and require something a little more substantial to carry you through the day.

If this sounds like your typical morning as of late, it’s about time you gave overnight oats a try. They’ve exploded in popularity in recent years due to their convenience, portability, and versatility. Plus, they’re also packed with great taste and exceptional nutrition.

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If you haven’t caught onto the overnight oats “thing” yet, don’t worry. By the time you finish this article, you’ll be craving overnight oats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Let’s see what’s so great about these oats.

What are Overnight Oats?

Overnight oats are simply oats that are soaked in some form of liquid overnight in the refrigerator. Any kind of liquid?

Theoretically, yes! Any old liquid, juice, soft drink, or even ready-to-drink pre-workout could be used, but there’s no guarantee it’ll taste good, or have much nutritional value. So while you could get away with any type of liquid, there are some more “ideal” options that you’d want to use (i.e. milk, yogurt, rice milk, almond milk, etc.).

How to Make Overnight Oats

Crafting your very first serving of overnight oats could be any simpler. The typical ratio that yields the best results for most people is combining equal parts raw rolled oats and milk (or yogurt). From there, put the mixture in the fridge (covered or uncovered, your choice) and let them meld for overnight (or a minimum 5-6 hours) in order for the oats to absorb the liquid.

The long chill allows the oats to become soft and creamy without getting overly mushy, but you must give it time for this to happen. Pulling your oat mixture out too soon will result in some rather unappealing results.

That’s it!

In the morning, open the fridge and you have your overnight oats ready to go.

What's the Big Deal With Overnight Oats?

Ok, so you’re not impressed by some cold oats soaked in milk. But, that’s just the bare bones, easy-does-it version. The real appeal (and zest) of overnight oats are the endless possibilities of add-ins, mix-ins, toppings, and sprinklings you can add to your overnight oats to take things over the top.

Toppings can be added the night before or in the morning, whatever works for you. A word of warning on the toppings though, your mix-ins/toppings will get soggy if left overnight, so don’t add anything to your overnight oats you don’t mind getting a bit mushy.

Benefits of Overnight Oats

  • NO cooking required
  • Easy to prepare
  • Extremely portable
  • Cost effective for those on a budget
  • Oats remain intact and creamy, not mushy like cooked oats
  • Packed with nutrition
  • Incredibly versatile
  • Enjoyable for all ages and tastes
  • Endless options
  • Can be savory or sweet
Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are your "overnight oats" secret weapon. They add a quality creaminess.

Overnight Oats Tips

Here are a few key tips to ensuring your overnight oats are the best they can possibly be:

Tip #1 - Use rolled (old-fashioned) oats

Any kind will due, but make sure to avoid the instant type of oats. These have been refined too much and won’t thicken up properly to yield satisfying results.

Tip #2 - Include yogurt as part of your liquid

Using any kind of milk (dairy, almond, soy, etc.) will due, but to get your oats super creamy and delicious, use yogurt. If you don’t want to use all yogurt for your liquid base, then use a 2:1 ratio of yogurt to milk. For example, if you’re using one cup of liquid, use ⅔ cup yogurt and ⅓ cup milk.

As for Greek yogurt vs regular yogurt, that’s up to you. Greek yogurt is a good bit thicker than regular yogurt and contains substantially more protein per serving. Using Greek yogurt will make your overnight oats supremely rich and creamy too.

Also, you can use plain or flavored yogurt. If you go with flavored yogurt, you’ll probably need to add less sweetener to the mixture since the flavored yogurt already contains some form of sweetener. Remember that flavored yogurt also contains more calories than unflavored yogurt, which is important for those tracking macros. You are tracking your macros… Right?

Tip #3 - Sweeteners

The vast majority of overnight oat enthusiasts (“purists”) out there use 100% real maple syrup as their de facto sweetener. But if you’re not a maple syrup lover, or looking for a lower calorie option, any old sweetener will do. Brown sugar, regular sugar, Splenda, Equal, stevia, and zero-calorie, sugar-free syrups are all on the table.

If you’re going the savory overnight oat route, then you may not want or need any stinking sweetener at all.

Tip #4 - The Secret Trick is Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The word chia means “strength” and was used by Aztec warriors as their daily energy booster, enabling them to survive the pitfalls of rural living. They’re packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. And they’re your “secret weapon” for insanely delicious and creamy overnight oats.

Add in one tablespoon of chia seeds into oat and liquid mixture and allow it to sit overnight in the fridge. In the morning, you’ll be rewarded with the thickest, creamiest overnight oats imaginable.

Tip #5 - “Tweak” in the morning

After a long slumber in the fridge, your oats will be ready for immediate consumption in the morning, but, they can be “enhanced” a bit to suit your preferences for texture and thickness. If they’re thickened up a bit too much for your liking, simply add a few tablespoons of liquid and stir until you achieve the desired consistency. And from there, it’s onto everyone’s favorite part – mix-ins and toppings.

Tip #6 - Storage

Just about any non-perforated container will work. Food bloggers and overnight oat snobs prefer to display their oats in some form of mason jar, so as to make a photo worthy addition to their website.

But a mason jar is by no means required. You could just as easily use a bowl, tupperware, or an empty pre-workout or protein tub. As long as it has no holes, and you don’t mind eating out of it, any vessel will do.

Tip #7 - Protein Powder

If you’re a fitness savvy individual looking to use overnight oats as your breakfast to power a gains-filled workout, you’ll most certainly want to add some protein powder to your overnight oats. Do everything the same as was outlined above and just toss in a scoop of your favorite protein powder to the mix. In the morning, if it’s too thick, simply add a splash of liquid to slacken the mixture.

Best Overnight Oat Recipes

Excited by the prospect and freedom of overnight oats, but a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities? That’s OK, there are endless options after all.

We’ve got a few ideas ahead that represent guaranteed home runs for your first overnight oat outings. Use these whether you’re first starting to come up with your own overnight oat creations or trying to get out of a rut.

Peanut Butter Cup
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • Sweetener to taste
  • ½-1 tablespoon cocoa powder (optional)
Blueberry Muffin
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ¼ cup mashed blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop blueberry muffin flavored protein powder (or vanilla)
Almond Joy-inspired
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ½-1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Takeaway

Overnight oats offer a quick, delicious, and nutrition option for breakfast that can reignite your love for the first meal of the day. Use it if you hate cooking or need something in a hurry on your way out the door.

Whatever the case, if you haven’t caught onto the overnight oat trend yet, you’re missing out in more way than one. Use the tips and recipes here to get started and after your first bowl, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start eating overnight oats more often.