How to make overnight oats: Use this recipe for a healthy grab-and-go breakfast (2024)

Clare MulroyUSA TODAY

While many opt to make their oats over the stove, for those who need a grab-and-go breakfast in the mornings there may be an easier option. Overnight oats are the “breakfast for grownups who get things done,” the New Yorker satirized in 2019: “The only rule of overnight oats is that there are no rules, except that you have to use jam jars and arrange banana slices on top in a circle.”

Overnight oats might be the butt of breakfast jokes, but they're seriously convenient, especially if you’re willing to forgo the aesthetics and just throw a bunch of ingredients into a container or jar.

How to make overnight oats

Overnight oats are made with oatmeal that's been softened by soaking in liquid overnight rather than being cooked on the stove. They’re often eaten cold with fruit or nuts as toppings.

The breakfast dish is much older than you might think – Swiss physician Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner created “muesli” in the early 1900s by soaking oats in milk or yogurt with fruit overnight. He intended it to be a cold, nutritious meal for his patients.

The recipe for overnight oats is straightforward – one part oats to two parts liquid. The fun part comes with the customization. You can make overnight oats one at a time or prepare a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use this simple recipe to start:

  • In a mason jar, combine 1 part oats and 2 parts milk
  • Add your desired amount of maple syrup or honey for sweetness
  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly
  • Seal the jar with a lid and refrigerate overnight
  • Customize with toppings like nuts and fruits

Adding a scoop of yogurt can add extra protein and thickness to your oats.

Healthiest oatmeal: What to include in the healthiest bowl

Overnight oats recipes

Using the classic overnight oats recipe, add in any of these topping combinations. Note that any fruit you add to the oats while they sit overnight may get mushy. If that’s not for you, keep the fruit out until the next morning.

  • Apple cinnamon: Cook down apple chunks or leave them raw and add to overnight oats with cinnamon
  • Fruit medley: Add blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
  • Chunky monkey: Add bananas, peanut butter and dark chocolate chips
  • Chocolate PB: Add unsweetened cacao powder, dark chocolate chips and a spoonful of peanut butter
  • Almond joy: Add almonds, shredded coconut and chocolate chips
  • Piña colada: Add pineapple and coconut flakes
  • Peanut butter and jelly: Add peanut butter and any flavor of jam or jelly
  • Carrot cake: Add shredded carrots and walnuts

You can also try one of these USA TODAY-backed recipes:

Pumpkin pie

  • In a mason jar, combine 1 part oats and 2 parts milk.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, depending on your desired pumpkin flavor intensity
  • Sprinkle in a dash of pumpkin spice
  • Add maple syrup to taste for sweetness
  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly
  • Seal the jar with a lid and refrigerate overnight
  • Customize with toppings like walnuts or almonds

Berries and bee pollen

  • Add ½ cup oats, 1 tablespoon hemp hearts, 1 tablespoon nut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon agave and a dash of cinnamon to a container and mix
  • Stir in ¾ cup milk of choice
  • Stir in berries
  • Store in fridge overnight (for 8 hours or up to 7 days)
  • Remove from fridge and top with berries and bee pollen

Are overnight oats healthy?

Yes – oatmeal of any variety is a healthy source of protein, fiber, iron, folate, copper, zinc and B vitamins. It also contains beta-glucan, a soluble fiber with several health benefits. One study found that eating 3 grams of beta-glucan soluble fiber from whole oats daily modestly decreased blood cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan's ability to prevent sharp rises in blood sugar and insulin levels after eating makes it a healthy option for diabetics.

But because it’s a carbohydrate, it might not keep you full for very long on its own, experts previously told USA TODAY. Look to toppings for extra nutrients – greek yogurt can add extra protein, as can nuts and peanut butter, which will also provide healthy fats and fiber. Fruit will boost the meal’s fiber and vitamin content.

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How to make overnight oats: Use this recipe for a healthy grab-and-go breakfast (2024)
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