Easy Overnight Oats Recipe
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 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 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.
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.
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:
- Strawberry Chia Overnight Oats
- Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
- Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats
- Nectarines and Cream Overnight Oats
- Chia Almond Butter Overnight Oats
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.
Easy Overnight Oats Recipe
- 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.
I love overnight oats! So easy, and so healthy! This simple version is perfect!
I absolutely love overnight oats, which is kind of strange, because I am very picky about regular oatmeal! But there’s just something about the sweeter flavor and texture that keeps me coming back for more. I love your gorgeous pictures, Kristine! This is such a perfect breakfast, especially for the summer!
I’ve been practically living on overnight oats, and typically I just eat my no frills blueberry chia recipe. It would be great to add some red in there for the 4th, however, and vanilla sounds like the perfect addition!
Such festive overnight oats! These individual portions would be perfect for the healthier family members at a Fourth of July brunch 🙂
Delicious overnight oats; Thank you for the recipe! I had mine with banana, and it was wonderful.
Banana is wonderful with overnight oats. I just don’t mixed it in before it sets because you’d shorten the time your batch would stay good in the fridge. I slice it with the spoon I’m going to eat with right into the bowl with the oats just before I eat them.
I love this overnight oats recipe. Delicious!
Thank you, Cherie!
These looks delicious and definitely simple. The perfect combo. So since I haven’t tried over night oats before, I assume I mix everything except the fruit/nuts and then add those items before eating?
Exactly! I hope you enjoy these, Shannon!
Is this supposed to be cooked/heated after refrigeration? Thank you Kristine!
Usually overnight oats are meant to be eaten cold. Sometimes I will warm them up a little in the microwave though. They’re good both ways!
What is the nutritional breakdown for this recipe?
What size jars do you use?
Hi Dolola, I use pint size jars. I’ve linked to them in the post above.
Can you use quick oats?
Hi Lisa, Thanks! You can’t use quick oats- the texture would not be good.
I use quick oats in mine and I love it, it is a softer texture, I don’t like the steal cut oats, the stay hard!
Hi can you tell me the nutritional info like calories and all in this? I log my food. Thank you so much
I just added nutrition information to the post. The nutrition info will vary based on the type of milk you use and which toppings you add.
I was thinking of making a weeks worth ahead of time, have you done this before? Or do you just prepare each day the night before??
I usually just prepare these the night before because they are so fast! You can make them ahead, though. The oats will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to add the berries/any toppings right before serving.
Good morning! Can you use steel cut oats in place of regular?
You can, but the texture will be much chewier. I would recommend making these at least 24 hours ahead if you use steel cut oats.
Do I add the fruit at the same time as all the other ingredients or do I wait until morning and then put them in as toppings. Does it matter?
It’s best to wait and add the fruit in the morning. To save time in the morning you can prep your fruit the night before and keep it in a separate container in the fridge.
Hello! This looks like a great recipe. Could brown sugar be used instead of the maple syrup? I’m planning to make this with my Girl Scout troop. I think they will love it.
Yes, you can use whatever sweetener you prefer. I hope the girls enjoy making and eating these! 🙂
Can you use any kind of oat meal or what kind do you use please. We our cooking for the homeless at our church and this sounds like it might go over well for their breakfast
I usually use old fashioned (rolled) oats. The ones that take 5 minutes to cook, not quick cooking 1 minute oats. Although lately I’ve been using steel cut oats sometimes and I really like the chewier texture! You need to let steel cut oats soak for at least 24 hours.
Do you substitute the greek yogurt in place of the milk or do you also add it in if you want to add yogurt?
I add it in as an addition, and also use the milk.
Thanks for this recipe! For some reason I had such a hard time finding basic overnight oats without bananas (allergy) or Greek yogurt (plant-based). These are perfect! I can’t believe how sweet they they taste with just a little maple syrup. I also add raisins and cinnamon and make it in a big Tupperware with a x6 recipe.
The first time I tried overnight oats I thought I didn’t like it, and almost gave up on it until I found your recipe! Now I can’t get enough of it. I add a teaspoon of chia seeds and then in the morning mix in blueberries, and it’s pure perfection! Thank you so much for sharing this easy and delicious recipe
I sometimes add almond extract instead of vanilla to my overnight oatmeal. Gives it a little flavor kick.
Could we use porridge oats?
Porridge oats can refer to different types of oats. If you’re referring to steel cut oats, then yes, you can use them in this recipe. The texture will be very chewy, and I recommend that you allow the oats to soak for 24 hours and up to 2 days before serving to allow the oats to soften a bit more.
Love the recipe. I had blueberries and pecans for toppings. Can’t wait to try other toppings. Thank tou
Oh shoot, I got ahead of myself and added the blueberries before putting them in the fridge. Can I just wait and see if they turn out or should I scratch them and start over? Would hate to waste them if they’ll still be okay.
They’ll still be ok, at least for a day. The blueberries might get a little mushy if you store them for more than 1 day. Enjoy!
Thank you, you are the first overnight oats recipe I have seen without yogurt. I do not have any yogurt in the house, but wanted overnight oats for breakfast tomorrow. In place of the maple syrup I used date syrup. I am planning on adding a banana and almond butter in the morning.
Hi! I haven’t tried your recipe yet, but it sounds wonderful! I’m trying to switch from homemade oatmeal cookies for breakfast to overnight oats. I was wondering if you could tell me how long to microwave them in the morning? I like warm things to start my day – it calms me. If you could let me know, I’d appreciate it. Thx again for the recipe!!
It shouldn’t take too long and will depend on your microwave. I’d start with 20 seconds and then add more time as needed. Enjoy!