This is our favorite overnight oats recipe, made with just 4 ingredients and a touch of vanilla. This easy overnight oatmeal is a healthy breakfast that you can make ahead for busy mornings.

overnight oats in a jar with with fresh berries and almonds.

Overnight oats are a staple in our house, and while I love trying out different flavor variations, this recipe is our go-to favorite. Because it is THE BEST and THE EASIEST. And when it’s 10pm and we’re exhausted from the day, we need easy, right?

If you know me well, then you know that oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. At least once a week you’ll find me making a batch of Instant Pot steel cut oats for us to eat throughout the week. And this strawberry banana baked oatmeal is a kid-friendly breakfast that’s perfect for fresh berry season.

If make-ahead grab and go breakfasts are your thing, then you have to try this basic overnight oats recipe. I’ve only made this recipe about one hundred times. Really!

It is so delicious and, like this Chia Seed Pudding, takes less than five minutes of prep time.

I usually don’t even measure when I make these overnight oats. You can just pour everything into a mason jar (these are my favorite jars, along with these lids), shake, and refrigerate until morning.

Side view of overnight oatmeal in a mason jar refrigerated overnight with strawberries, blueberries and almond topping

What are Overnight Oats?

Overnight oats are made by combining old fashioned rolled oats and milk and then letting the mixture sit overnight in your refrigerator. The oats soak up some of the milk and soften a bit, yet also retain some of their chewy texture.

Do you cook overnight oats?

Overnight oatmeal is not cooked. The oats are soaked in your milk of choice in the refrigerator. It’s not necessary to cook old fashioned oats before eating them.

Do you eat overnight oats cold or warm them up?

It’s up to you! Cold oatmeal might sound strange if you’ve never tried it, but trust me, cold overnight oats are delicious! I especially like to make this overnight oats recipe in the summer when it’s already warm out at breakfast time. In the winter, I’ll sometimes warm this overnight oatmeal in the microwave, but most often I enjoy it cold.

overhead view of overnight oatmeal in jar with toppings, strawberries, blueberries and almonds

How to Make Overnight Oats

Making this quick breakfast is as simple as combining four ingredients in a jar or bowl and letting the mixture sit overnight in your fridge. Here’s a quick rundown of the ingredients you’ll need:

Oats: Traditionally, overnight oats are made with old-fashioned (rolled) oats. Do not substitute quick oats or instant oats, as the texture would be less than pleasant. You may use steel cut oats in this recipe. With steel cut oats you can expect a much chewier texture. I recommend soaking your steel cut overnight oats for at least 24 hours.

Milk: Use your milk of choice in this recipe. Dairy, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, pea milk, cashew milk… they will all work well! I don’t recommend using water because you need the milk for flavor and creaminess.

Sweetener: I use pure maple syrup to sweeten my overnight oats. You can also use honey, brown sugar or coconut sugar. Adjust the amount of sweetener to your tastes, or leave it out for a sugar-free breakfast.

Vanilla Extract: This is my secret ingredient, and I urge you not to skip it! Adding just a tiny splash of vanilla extract to your overnight oats before soaking them overnight makes a huge difference in the flavor. The vanilla adds a subtle sweetness and a hint of… vanilla!

Optional Add-Ins: You can stop at just the four ingredients above, or add other mix-ins to your jar of oats. Try stirring in some high protein Greek yogurt to make overnight oats with yogurt. Almond butter or peanut butter are other great ways to add protein. Stir in chia seeds, flax seeds or hemp seeds for a nutritional boost. Add some cinnamon for flavor. Turn it into a cool afternoon treat with some cocoa powder or chocolate chips and banana. See my list of more overnight oats recipes below for my favorite flavor combinations.

Toppings: In the morning, add your favorite toppings and enjoy! Try fresh berries, sliced banana or peaches. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, chia seeds or sunflower seeds add a delicious crunch. Toasted coconut is one of my favorite toppings.

Tips for the Best Overnight Oatmeal

  • Refrigerate overnight and wait and add your toppings, such as nuts, berries or other fresh fruit, right before serving. If you are using frozen berries such as blueberries or raspberries, you can add those on top of the oats the night before and they will defrost overnight.
  • Overnight oats will last for 4 days in the refrigerator, so they are a great option for make ahead meal prep breakfasts. You can make individual portions of oats in individual serving containers (such as mason jars). The oats in a jar are perfect for grab and go breakfasts to take to work or school.
  • If you’re making a big batch of oats to eat at home, you can mix the ingredients in a large bowl or container to serve from throughout the week.

More Overnight Oats Recipes:

Why we love this basic overnight oats recipe:

  • It doesn’t get much easier than 4 ingredients and 5 minutes (or less) prep time!
  • Oats are whole grains.
  • These oats are the perfect make-ahead breakfast for busy mornings!
  • You can make it gluten-free by using certified gluten-free oats.
  • You can make this recipe dairy-free with almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or other nondairy milk.
  • On a cold morning, warm your overnight oats up in the microwave.
  • Customize your overnight oats with any combination of toppings like peanut butter, blueberries, dried fruit, banana, nuts, cinnamon, apples, protein powder, cocoa powder etc.

How to make overnight oats in a jar. Oatmeal on a spoon with berries and almonds ready to eat.

overnight oats served in a jar with berries and almonds
4.91 from 10 ratings

Easy Overnight Oats Recipe

Servings: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
This is our favorite overnight oats recipe, made with just 4 ingredients and a touch of vanilla. This simple overnight oatmeal is a delicious breakfast that you can make ahead for busy mornings.


  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats*
  • 1/2 cup milk, whichever type you prefer
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For serving, optional: fresh fruit, sliced or slivered almonds, other nuts or nut butters, etc.


  • Combine oats, milk, maple syrup and vanilla in a mason jar or bowl. Seal with a lid and shake to mix, or stir if using a bowl. (If making a larger batch, you can stir the ingredients together in a bowl.)
  • Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours and up to 4 days. Stir and add toppings right before serving.
  • Before serving stir and add any preferred toppings such as peanut butter, chia seeds, blueberries, yogurt, dried fruit, honey, almonds, banana, nuts, etc.


  • Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if necessary for dietary needs.
  • Nutrition information calculated for recipe made with 2% dairy milk and does not include toppings.
Serving: 1recipe, Calories: 226kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 60mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g
Nutrition information is an estimate.
Cuisine: American
Course: Breakfast
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