In terms of what I eat in a day, for breakfast, I love overnight oats and I’m also a huge smoothie person – Christina Anstead
In the hustle and bustle and endless rush of the modern world, one of the biggest challenges that most of us face is trying to find enough time to ensure that we don’t subside on a sugar-rich, junk food diet that tastes as bland as it sounds.
It’s almost too easy to grab a pastry or a donut to go along with the coffee that you pick up on your way to work in the morning, and while they might satiate your immediate appetite when that sugar high disappears ninety minutes later, you’ll be left feeling as empty as you were before you took your first sip of java.
The easy, nutritious breakfast conundrum is a problem that we’ve all had to face at some point in our busy lives, and while you might have struggled to find an answer to the riddle of how to eat well in a hurry in the morning up until now, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
The solution to your dilemma is overnight oats, a tasty, healthy breakfast that’ll make your tummy smile and put enough spring in your step to ensure that you can face whatever the day throws at you.
And we’re here to guide you through everything that you’ll need to know to make five different delicious variations of this incredibly versatile, tasty, and easy to prepare breakfast that you can eat on the go, or take as much time to savor as you want before you head out of the door.
Are you ready to change your morning meal-time world for the better and embrace a healthier, happier, and more vibrant version of yourself? In that case, it’s time to meet and embrace overnight oats…
It Isn’t Just A Breakfast Treat
Before we go any further, we feel that we need to stress that overnight oats aren’t just a breakfast delicacy. You can eat them whenever, and wherever you want to, even though their name makes it seem like they were solely designed to be a staple part of your morning diet.
Overnight oats can be eaten for breakfast or lunch and they’re an ideal, light, and easy alternative to a heavy evening meal if you really don’t feel like cooking when you get home after a busier than busy day at the office.
Overnight Oats – The Quick Answer
We’ve spent all this time talking about overnight oats, and we haven’t even explained what they are, and why they’ve suddenly become so popular. Overnight oats use three primary ingredients as their base, yogurt, milk, and rolled oats, which are mixed together and left to chill in a refrigerator overnight.
As the temperature of the mixture gradually lowers, the oats absorb most of the liquid and all of the flavors from the yogurt and the milk, and it becomes rich, thick, and creamy porridge that’s best eaten cold.
One of the best things about overnight oats is how easy they are to make. We know how busy you are and how hectic your life is, and can be, which is why this all-purpose, any time of the day or night treat is ideal and will slide into your schedule no matter how crazy it is without leaving the slightest noticeable imprint.
It literally takes less than five minutes to gather all of the ingredients together, whip your chosen or favorite variation of the recipe into shape and put it in the fridge to chill.
And one of the second-best things about overnight oats is the cost.
We’ve seen the big brands selling their versions of overnight oats in supermarkets for anywhere up to ten dollars a serving, which is insane as you can make your own tastier take on overnight oats (the recipe ideas that we’re going to share with you aren’t definitive, and you can tweak and add to, or subtract from them, as you see fit and according to your individual palate) for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at the till of your local store.
The Easy, Healthy Way To Start The Day
Again, before we plunge headlong into the alternative, delicious world of overnight oats, we need to throw up a red flag, because there’s one school of easy oats thought that you don’t want to subscribe to if you can possibly avoid it. The oats that you should use are the whole rolled kind and not the cheaper instant sort.
Why? Because instant oats usually include salts and additional sugar, which minimizes their nutritional value and reduces the natural mineral, fiber, fatty acid, and protein content of the oats. Organic rolled oats aren’t subjected to the mechanical processes that instant oats are, retain all of the healthy elements, and don’t contain any of unnecessary additives.
And if you use natural yogurt to make your overnight oats, (we prefer to use Greek-style yogurt but we know that it can be an acquired taste, and some people have difficulty with the texture), it’ll not only add to the taste but as the bacterial cultures that it contains are incredibly beneficial to your gut and digestive health, it’ll also make your oats even healthier than they already are.
Some natural yogurts also contain probiotics which are even more beneficial for your digestive system and gut than the cultures found in their less “well equipped” natural brethren. So if you can use one of them, we always recommend that you do.
One of the biggest benefits of overnight oats though is that they’re ready to go when you are in the morning. As long as you’ve mixed, and left your chosen oats to chill in a sealed mason jar overnight, you can just grab a serving and either eat them before you leave for work or enjoy them on your way to the office.
They’re quick, easy, and convenient, and making them in a sealed mason jar, means that if you do eat them on the go, you can just put the lid back on when you’re finished, and not have to think or worry about it until you get home and you’re ready to clean it.
What Do You Need To Make Overnight Oats?
Even though overnight oats only require three base ingredients, in order to make them suit your palette, it’s best to stick to the rule of five as the additional duo of ingredients will give you the room to experiment and allow you to create your own unique take on the recipes that and variations that we’ll get to in due course.
Any and all overnight oats are going to need to include the one thing that gives them their name, as the primary ingredient, and that’s rolled oats. We’ve already discussed the benefits of using organic rolled oats rather than instant oats, so we’re going to trust that you’ll make the right choice.
And why wouldn’t you if you want to follow a healthier and tastier path to being the best version of yourself that you can possibly be?
Whether you prefer dairy or nondairy milk, it’s a necessary component of overnight oats. We’re firm believers in using almond milk as it adds a natural sweetness to the oats and reduces the need for further ingredients, but again it’s all a matter of individual taste.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer natural yogurt or whether you’re a fan of the off-the-shelf variety, as long as you adhere to the simple rule that it needs to be plain and artificial flavor-free, you can’t go wrong. The thicker the yogurt that you use to make your oats, the thicker the final product will be, so bear that in mind when you’re choosing the yogurt that you want to use.
If you’re an adherent of the diary-free philosophy, you can also use dairy-free yogurt. The ingredients you need don’t have to come from animals, the plant-based versions are just as good, if not better.
Adding A Little Sweetness
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, which we do, you’ll also have to use a natural sweetener to add a little sweetness to your oats. A lot of oats folks swear by stevia and maple syrup but an old Navy SEAL buddy of ours told us about using honey to sweeten coffee as an alternative to packet sweeteners and sugar a couple of years ago, and we’ve been using it ever since.
Putting Your Own Spin On Things
The final ingredient in any successful batch of overnight oats is up to you. This is the factor in the final whole that gives you the room to go nuts and follow your heart as well as your head. If you’re a peanut butter fan you can throw some of that in, or if you’re devoted to fruit and like to follow the natural road, add your favorite fruit to your oats.
And if like us, you’re a chocolate devotee, you can add a little bit to the mix to get your cocoa hit. Honestly, the last ingredient on the list is entirely up to you.
Now that you know everything that you’ll need to make overnight oats, we should probably tackle the next stage head-on, and get straight on with telling you how to make them.
Making Overnight Oats
First things first, let’s talk about the ratio of the ingredients that you’ll need to use to make overnight oats. As soon as you know much of each ingredient you’ll need to use, it’ll be plain sailing from there on out.
So, what you’ll need to make enough overnight oats to fill a standard eight-ounce mason jar, is as follows – A third of a cup of yogurt, half a cup of oats, half a cup of milk, one-sixteenth of a teaspoon of salt (or a pinch as our grandmother used to say) a tablespoon of honey (or an alternative natural sweetener) and your own, individually chosen amount of your favorite addition.
Once you’ve measured all of the ingredients, you’ll also need a large enough bowl to mix them in, so make sure you have one to hand before you start making your version of overnight oats.
- Add all of the ingredients into the bowl, including your chosen additional flavor, and start mixing them. It shouldn’t take long and should be ready for the next stage somewhere between sixty and ninety seconds. There’s no fixed rule that’ll let you know how thick or thin the mixture should be, as the oats haven’t started to absorb the liquid from the yogurt and milk, and the thickness of the initial mixture will be entirely dependent on the yogurt that you’ve elected to use and how thick that is. But as we’ve already said, if you mix it for a minute or a minute and a half, it’ll definitely be ready.
- Pour the mixture into a mason jar, making sure that you scoop whatever is left behind in the bowl after you’ve finished pouring, into the jar too. As soon as the mixture is in the jar, fasten the lid and put it in your refrigerator. If your mason jar doesn’t actually have a lid, secure the oats in the jar by covering the rim of the lid in clear plastic wrap, as that will help to keep the contents cool, which in turn will ensure that the oats will soak up as much of the liquid as possible.
- Leave it to cool overnight in the fridge. Like all of the best things in life, it’ll take a little time for the oats, milk, and yogurt to combine into a delicious whole, so once it’s in the fridge, walk away and leave it until morning.
- Congratulations, your oats are ready to eat! Take them out of the fridge, remove the plastic wrap or unscrew the lid of the jar, add any toppings that you think will increase the flavor, and dive straight in. It really is that easy, and quick to make overnight oats.
Patience Is A Virtue – They’ll Be Ready When They’re Ready
One of the questions that we’re most commonly asked is how long it takes for overnight oats to be ready. Our standard response is, “Well, the answer is in their name. You need to leave them overnight”, and while that’s absolutely true, as it provides a crucial seven to eight-hour window for the oats to work their magic, you don’t actually need to wait that long for them to be ready.
Five or six hours should be more than long enough for them to be ready to eat, but if you can’t wait that long and you try to tuck into them before then, they may still be more liquid than oats. Patience is a virtue, and the wait will be worth it. Put them in your fridge and leave them overnight.
The Colder The Better
We know what you’re probably thinking, it’s something along the lines of “Oats was never meant to be eaten cold, they need to be warm”, and while it’s true that traditionally that’s how they’ve always been consumed, sometimes though you need to step out of the box and steer a course away from the predetermined and orthodox way of doing things.
After all, if we’d all stuck to doing things the way they were supposed to be done, we’d never have discovered the joys of iced lattes and ice cream would we?
Trust us, overnight oats were meant to be eaten cold, and if you don’t believe us, just stick a spoon into the first batch that you make and try them. We guarantee that by the time you reach the bottom of that mason jar, you’ll be converted to the overnight oats cause.
A Few More Overnight Oats Tips
Rushing to get everything that you need to make overnight oats ready at the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Take a deep breath and measure everything methodically. Even if you take your time to get the measurements right, because there are so few ingredients, it won’t take more than a couple of minutes. Relax, take it easy and enjoy the process.
Do They Really Have To Be Eaten Cold?
Okay, we give in. If you really can’t imagine eating overnight oats straight out of the fridge, you can pop them in the microwave for a minute before you start eating them. But before you do, make sure that you’ve taken the metallic lid and the plastic film off the top of the jar. While the glass will be fine in a microwave, the film and the metal lid won’t fare so well.
A Little Extra Flavor
Remember earlier when we talked about adding toppings to your oats before you start eating them? It’s always a good idea to figure out what will and won’t work with your chosen recipe and to maybe have whatever you’ve chosen ready to add as soon as you remove them from the fridge.
We’re fans of chocolate shavings, but it’s an incredibly personal thing so you’ll have to make your own mind up, follow your heart, and do what it tells you to.
Your Oats, Your Choice
Because they’re so versatile and it’s simple to add just about anything that you feel like or want to add to the recipe, with overnight oats the only thing that you’re limited by is your own imagination. If you can dream it, you can make it happen.
After all, they’re your oats, and how they’ll taste is entirely up to you. There are no set rules, so once again, it’s all about following your heart and letting your taste buds guide you to overnight oats heaven.
Our Favorite Overnight Oats
When it comes to discovering new and interesting overnight oats recipes to try, the internet really is your best friend. A quick Google search will give you a couple of thousand different options to try, which would keep even the most ardent oats fan busy for a couple of years.
And if you got an hour or two to spare, you can disappear down a multitude of overnight oats-inspired rabbit holes on YouTube, all you need to do is search for them, and then watch them being made.
In the net-centric spirit of sharing, we thought that we’d offer up five of our favorite overnight oats variants, and who knows, maybe your new favorite version of this unassuming delight will be among them. You never know until you try, right?
Chocolate Lovers Overnight Oats
In case you hadn’t already guessed, we’re not-so-secret chocoholics, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that our number one go-to recipe for overnight oats is dedicated to chocolate lovers everywhere.
Look, we know that it isn’t healthy to focus on chocolate, but every once in a while you need to throw caution to the window and enjoy a little bit of what you fancy and indulge in the things that make your toes curl with joy and every atom of your body shudder with excitement.
And if you’re worried that adding chocolate to an overnight oats recipe is more than a little self-defeating, you can stop panicking and use cacao powder rather than traditional chocolate powder, as it’ll give you all the chocolate taste that you crave without having to worry about any of the added sugar.
The Great Pumpkin
It’s that time of year when the evenings start to draw in, Halloween is a fading memory, Thanksgiving is fast approaching and Christmas looms large on the horizon, and the one taste on everyone’s mind is pumpkin.
A sprinkling of pumpkin spice in your overnight oats will help you to embrace the Fall spirit and enjoy your oats a little more. Be careful though, as a dash of pumpkin spice goes a long way, so don’t add too much or you might submerge yourself in the flavor when you only wanted a taste.
Banana-A-Go-Go Overnight Oats
While we’re sure that they do exist we’ve never met anyone who didn’t love the taste of bananas. And it’s incredibly easy to add it to your overnight oats. Just mash a single banana before you mix your recipe and add as little or as much of that banana as you want to.
Then the next morning, when you dive headlong into your overnight oats, they’ll be filled with the banana flavor that you, and just about everybody else, apart from that one person that we’ve never been able to find, on the face of the planet adores.
Apple Pie Overnight Oats
What could be more American than a little taste of the apple pie that grandma used to make? All you need to transform your overnight oats into the sort of mouth-watering breakfast treat that gives you an instant hit of that apple pie taste is some organic puree and cinnamon powder
Mix both into your oats before you leave them in the fridge and come the morning, you’ll be reminded of all of the tastes of home. Again, you’ll need to take care with the cinnamon powder because a little goes a long way, so don’t add more than a pinch. Or if you want to be slightly more scientific, a sixteenth of a teaspoon.
Peanut Butter Delight
Finally, another of our favorite overnight oats recipes of the one that we call peanut butter delight. Just add a couple of teaspoons of peanut butter to your overnight oats and the next morning you’ll be able to hit the day head-on with the breakfast of champions.
Alternately, if you’re not quite as fond of peanut butter as we are, you could substitute the perennial favorite for almond butter instead, which is just as delicious and adds an extra hit of vanilla to the flavor of any overnight oats that it’s mixed into.
Non-Dairy Overnight Oats
We lightly broached this subject a little earlier and if you’re allergic to any dairy products, or are lactose intolerant (a lot of people are, it takes evolution a while to catch up with human ideas and our base biology still isn’t ready to deal with mils from cows and goats) you can use either almond or soya milk instead of full-fat milk.
We actually prefer overnight oats made with almond milk, and as we’ve already said, it gives the oats a natural sweetness that full-fat milk won’t.
But, if you don’t like the taste or consistency of yogurt, can you still enjoy a breakfast of overnight oats? Of course, you can, and instead of using yogurt in the initial mixture, you can just substitute it for chia seeds. Two teaspoons should be enough to provide the thickness that the yogurt would otherwise have imbued the oats with.
Frequently Asked Questions And Overnight Oats Facts
As we’ve just about come to the end of the overnight oats road, we thought we should finish by answering some of the most commonly asked questions about overnight oats so that you’ll have all the knowledge and know-how that you’ll need to prepare and enjoy this increasingly popular, and incredibly healthy breakfast treat.
No, sixty minutes is nowhere near enough time for overnight oats to soak up all the flavors that you add to your mixture, and if you do try to eat them after an hour, you’ll end up sipping a soupy mess off your spoon. They need at least five hours of refrigeration to be ready, so you’ll need to set your timer and be patient. But the wait will be worth it.
This is always a tough question to answer as it usually depends on what you add to your oats to give them a little extra flavor. But when they’re stripped right back to basics, and you’re just counting the calories in the milk, yogurt, oats, and sweetener mixture, each eight-ounce serving contains something like three hundred and fifty calories.
They last as long as their ingredients do so provided that they’re properly refrigerated, they should last for anything up to seven days. That means that you can, if you were so inclined and wanted to, make an entire week’s worth of overnight oats at once, store them in your fridge and eat them as and when you wanted to throughout the week.
We’ve never attempted to do this because we’re always conscious of the fact that our hearts might not be quite as taken with eating the same variety of oats day in and day out for the next seven days. But, you might be, which means that it’s an option that you should probably explore.
No, you don’t have to use rolled oats to make overnight oats, we just recommend that you do because they’re the healthiest option to make them with. You can use instant oats and even though the finished overnight oats will probably taste the same, they won’t be as healthy or as good for you.
Having said that, whichever oats you want to use is entirely up to you.
No, you absolutely don’t need to store your overnight oats in mason jars. We only use them because they’re simple and straightforward, and make an ideal container, but as long as you have a sealed and airtight vessel that you can use to refrigerate and store your overnight oats in, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.
It won’t stop you from enjoying your oats, and when all is said and done, that’s all that really matters isn’t it?