How to Make Overnight Oats (plus recipes!)

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by Sil Pancho

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09.13.2021


Who’s ready for a go-to breakfast recipe you can make in your sleep? No, seriously! We’re talkin’ overnight oats today, baby. If you’ve never made overnight oats before, it’s time to get on the train and experience this magical breakfast.

I’ve been making oats this way for years because it’s so quick to prep and SO much fun to experiment with different flavors and toppings. Pretty much like a sundae but filled with nutritious ingredients you can feel good about.

In today’s Back to Basics post, we’ll walk you through exactly how to make overnight oats so that they’re thick, creamy, and absolutely delicious. We’ve included step-by-step instructions, plus tons of amazing flavor ideas to experiment with. Be sure to check out our best overnight oats recipes at the bottom and enjoy!

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peanut butter banana overnight oats in a jar

What are overnight oats?

Overnight oats are simply oats soaked in a liquid overnight until they expand and ‘cook.’ The oats are usually soaked in milk and yogurt to give them a wonderful, creamy texture. There’s no real “cooking” or heating required, so overnight oats are the perfect no-fuss breakfast for any day of the week!

Say good morning to your new fav breakfast

If you’ve never had overnight oats before, you’re in for a real treat. Overnight oats are:

  • Easy to customize. You can add any of your favorite flavors and mix-ins to truly make them your own. Berries, banana, cozy spices, nut butter, maple syrup — you name it!
  • Quick to prep. These little jars take just about 10 minutes to prep and you’ll get to enjoy them the next morning. They’re amazing for kids too!
  • Packed with nutrients. You’ll get a boost of whole grains and fiber (just like in regular oatmeal) plus plenty of ways to add healthy fats and protein to keep you full and satisfied.

two jars of overnight oats next to two containers of yogurt

Everything you’ll need to make overnight oats

Basic overnight oats require just a handful of simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. With a base, you’ll be able to add your fav mix-ins and toppings to really make them your own. Here’s what you’ll need for the base:

  • Yogurt: adding yogurt to the base gives overnight oats a creamy texture along with a boost of protein. Feel free to use plain, flavored or even dairy free yogurt.
  • Milk: you’ll also want to add milk, which is what the oats will soak up to expand. Any milk will work!
  • Chia seeds: we love to add a tablespoon of chia seeds because they also expand in the liquid and give the overnight oats a creamy texture.
  • Oats: feel free to use regular or gluten free rolled oats. Do not use steel cut oats as the texture won’t be as creamy and fluffy.

Add an extra boost of nutrition

Looking to up the protein or healthy fats? Along with chia seeds we love to add:

Naturally sweeten your overnight oats

While your overnight oats will likely be sweet enough if you use mashed banana, here are some other great ways to add flavor and sweetness that are still natural:

  • Use a flavored yogurt like vanilla in the base.
  • Add cozy spices like cinnamon or even pumpkin pie spice.
  • Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of honey or pure maple syrup.

top-down view of overnight oats with bananas and strawberries

Delicious flavor combinations to try

Along with our go-to overnight oats recipes listed below, try out any of these easy and delicious flavor combos!

  • Tropical coconut: use canned coconut milk and add some unsweetened shredded coconut. This flavor would be delicious with pineapple!
  • Chocolate lovers: try making your oats with our homemade chocolate hazelnut milk, add a little cocoa or cacao powder and top with cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips. A little espresso powder or brewed coffee would be a wonderful mocha flavor, too!
  • Apple pie: celebrate fall flavors with diced, sauteed apples, cinnamon and some pure maple syrup.

Don’t forget these easy mix-ins & toppings

Have fun with delicious mix-ins and topping on your jars of overnight oats! Here are some of our favorite ingredients to add:

  • Fruit: berries, apples, peaches, bananas and pretty much any fruits you can think of.
  • Nut & seed butter: we’re huge peanut butter fans, but almond butter, cashew butter and even flavored nut and seed butters and perfect for creating layers in the overnight oats and drizzling on top. Use the code ‘AMBITIOUS15’ to get 15% off of our favorite brand, Wild Friends!
  • Fun toppings: our homemade granola recipe is perfect for adding on top, and we love shredded coconut, chopped nuts and even some mini chocolate chips for a little treat!

mixing ingredients for overnight oats in a bowl

Perfect overnight oats in 4 simple steps

Overnight oats are seriously one of the easiest, most satisfying breakfast recipes around. You’ll just need about 10 minutes to prep them!

  1. Mix the wet ingredients. Add the “wet ingredients” like yogurt and milk to a bowl and mix them well. If you’re using mashed banana or a sweetener like maple syrup you can also add that here.
  2. Stir in the dry. Add in the “dry ingredients,” like the oats and chia seeds. Add any nutrition boosters like flaxseed meal, hempseeds or protein powder here, too, plus any diced fruit. Stir well to combine.
  3. Let the oats sit. Cover the overnight oats mixture and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight to let it all thicken up.
  4. Divide, top & enjoy! Divide the mixture into two 12oz mason jars or bowls and either save them for later or add your favorite toppings and enjoy immediately with a friend or family member!

Yes, you can eat them warm!

If you’re not a fan of cold overnight oats, they’re actually delicious warmed up, too. Just heat them in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or two before enjoying. Be sure to give them a good stir and feel free to add more milk if you’d like.

pumpkin overnight oats in a jar

How to store overnight oats

Overnight oats will stay good in the refrigerator in an airtight container or mason jars for up to 5 days. This makes them portable and easy to enjoy on the go during busy weekdays. Just be sure to give them a good stir if they’ve been sitting for a couple of days and/or add another splash of milk.

The best overnight oats recipes

Put your skills to the test with one of these amazing recipes.

I hope you loved learning how to make overnight oats! If you use the tutorial or try any of the recipes be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

How to Make Perfect Overnight Oats (plus recipes!)

Learn how to make overnight oats that are perfectly thick, creamy, packed with nutrients, and absolutely delicious! With this step-by-step tutorial and a few key tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make the best overnight oats for the perfect meal prep breakfast. Flavor ideas and our best recipes included!

  • 1/2
    cup
    greek yogurt or dairy free yogurt (vanilla or plain)
  • 1 1/4
    cup
    milk of choice
  • 1
    tablespoon
    chia seeds
  • 1
    cup
    rolled oats, gluten free if desired
  • Optional to sweeten:
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey**
  • Optional add ins:
  • 1
    large banana, mashed
  • 1/4
    cup
    berries
  • Optional toppings:
  • 2
    tablespoons
    nut butter
  • Banana slices
  • Fresh berries
  • Shredded coconut
  • Homemade granola
  1. Add yogurt, milk and mashed banana (if using) to a large bowl and stir together until well combined and creamy. Stir in oats and chia seeds. Then cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

  2. Once ready to serve, divide between two 12 ounce mason jars, layering nut butter and fruit in the middle, if you’d like.

  3. Top each overnight oat serving with more nut butter and fruit, if desired. If you like crunch, add extra chia seeds, granola and/or chopped nuts on top. Serves 2. See the full post for all of our recipes and flavor ideas!

**You likely won’t need to sweeten much if you are using banana and/or a flavored yogurt, such as vanilla.

Put your skills to the test with one of these amazing recipes.





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