Healthy no-cook overnight oats are the perfect oatmeal solution for meal preppers and busy mornings. Our four varieties overnight oatmeal mixes are made in batches- you just add water- everyday easy oats, protein, superfood or grain-free. No more worrying if you have the ingredients on hand. Add your own flavors for the perfect combination.
Please read the entire post for tips and tricks to ensure a perfect recipe every time. And don't forget to tag @peelwithzeal on Instagram so we can admire your creation!
This post may include affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Easy make-ahead breakfasts are essential for busy weekday mornings. We regularly make overnight oats or chia seed pudding in jars for a quick grab and go breakfast. But often when I go to make these tasty breakfasts, I realize I am out of an ingredient. Ahhhh! So frustrating! That is when I came up with the idea for an instant mix that just needs water.
Every recipe for overnight oats contains milk (regular or nondairy) and often contains yogurt as well. So we had to experiment. A lot.
We found the perfect DIY instant overnight oatmeal mix that just needs water! You get the same creamy texture without the extra grocery shopping. Holla!
Let’s start with the basics.
Overnight Oats Common Questions
Overnight oatmeal is a method of cold soaking oats in a liquid, usually milk, to soften the oats. Unlike traditional oatmeal, no cooking is required. And while you can eat overnight oats warm most people enjoy them chilled right out of the fridge. Making them a great alternative to a breakfast bar or other on the go breakfast option. tart the morning.
Overnight oats usually include the addition of fruit, nuts or other mix-ins to add flavor and texture.
Overnight oats are meant to be eaten cold, however, if you prefer warm oats you always have the option to heat them up on the stovetop or in the microwave for one and half to two minutes.
Stove top oatmeal and instant oatmeal packets are pretty easy to make so you may be wondering why bother with cold soaking oats.
We think overnight oats have some advantages over these other methods:
*No prep or wait time in the morning
*Takes less than 5 minutes to make
*No extra dirty dishes, no pot, no stirring
*You can customize the serving size
*Additional protein or superfoods can be added without getting gummy
*None of the chemical additives that instant oatmeal packs contain
*A cold breakfast is perfect for a warm day
*You can make multiple days at once, no extra prep needed
*Each jar can be flavored differently so everyone in the family can have their own favorite without the extra work
Dry mixed oats are easier because you can make a large batch and only scoop out what you need. No extra ingredients like milk, non-dairy milk or yogurt make these overnight oats easier to prep.
Additionally, there is no need to refrigerate. Overnight oats made without milk or yogurt can be left out to soak at room temperature. Making them perfect for dorm rooms or camping.
Not only are cold soaked oats full of healthy carbs and fiber, they also have more protein and good fats than other grains.
Here are some other health benefits:
*Oats are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, promotes healthy gut bacteria and increases feelings of fullness.
*Due to the soluble fiber beta-glucan, oats may improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar levels.
* Studies indicate that the fiber in oats helps relieves constipation.
*Oats contain many powerful antioxidants, including avenanthramides. These compounds may help reduce blood pressure and provide other benefits.
*Oats are gluten-free making them a great option for anyone with celiac or gluten sensitivities.
*Because oats are whole grain they aid in regulation and will keep you fuller longer.
Our superfood overnight oats and protein overnight oats allow you to further amp up the health benefits. And don’t worry, we have our low-carb, grain -free Keto friends covered too!
Typically, overnight oats are made with old-fashion oats. Quick cook oats can be used but it is not recommended to make them more than one day ahead. Quick cook oats are flattened to help them cook faster and we find they tend to totally breakdown when left to soak more than a day or two.
While you can use steel cut oats, they are not recommended for overnight oats. The chewy texture is great when cooked but they remain too firm for a cold soak method.
Those with celiac or gluten sensitivities should always use oats that are specifically marked “gluten-free” to avoid cross contamination with wheat and other gluten containing products.
Our instant overnight mixes can be stored up to 3 months. We recommend no more than 4 to 6 weeks for our grain-free overnight oats due to the oils in the nuts.
Store prepared overnight oats in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If you used quick cook oats in your mix it is recommended that you don’t keep them longer than 1-2 days to ensure the texture stays appetizing.
Not our recipes! That is what is so great about our instant dry mix method. No milk or yogurt required, just add water.
Typical overnight oat recipes require milk (regular or non-dairy) and sometimes yogurt as well. And while you can use water in most recipes, the results aren't stellar. You can expect bland watery oats.
Instead, we use
non-dairy powdered coconut milk, or regular milk powder, to keep the oats shelf-stable and delicious.
First off, you don’t need special jars to make overnight oats. Just because Pinterest shows gorgeous pictures of fancy overnight oatmeal recipes it doesn’t mean that is required.
Overnights are meant to be a simple meal. We make them our jelly mason jars, regular mason jars or our favorite glass to-go containers. A simple bowl is fine as long as you can cover it.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO MAKE THE OVERNIGHT OATMEAL
First up, we’re going to start with our Everyday Oats recipe for the easiest overnight oats:
- Oats: Old-fashioned rolled oats. Use gluten free, if needed. See above for a break down of which old-fashion oats are the best option.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds give overnight oats that thick pudding-like texture and add extra nutrients but feel free to leave them out if you aren’t a fan.
- Coconut Sugar: We use coconut sugar over cane sugar because it has a lower glycemic index. You can substitute cane sugar but you will want to reduce the quantity as cane sugar is sweeter than coconut sugar. Alternatively, you can use honey or maple syrup but they can’t be added to our dry ix so we still clear for simplicity.
- Coconut Milk Powder: We chose a non-dairy option but dry milk powder works as well. This ingredient is needed to get the same creamy texture as regular overnight oats but without the hassle of remembering to pick up milk at the store.
- Kosher Salt: A little salt is needed to help bring out the nutty flavor in the oats and helps your flavor mix-ins shine.
- Mix Ins: Whatever mix-ins work for you! See our troubleshooting section for figuring out when to add what.
Our other overnight oats recipes add things like coconut, maca, hemp hearts and protein powder. Please check out each recipe card:
WHICH TYPE OF OVERNIGHT OATS IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Each recipe for our instant overnight oats mix was made with a different eater in mind.
- Everyday Overnight Oats- This recipe is my go-to day to day combo. It is kid-friendly and the ingredients are easy to find. Most people find this recipe works for them.
- Protein Overnight Oats- The added protein in this recipe is perfect for someone who either doesn’t get enough protein in their diet from other sources, for example, vegans might want to try this version. It is also great for those working to increase muscle mass.
- Superfood Overnight Oats- If you are trying to amp up your intake of micronutrients than this version is for you. Note that some of the ingredients can be harder to find, like maca powder, and do have more savory flavors. If you are new to the world of superfoods you might want to reduce the quantities until you get used to the different tastes.
- Grain-Free Overnight Oats- Perfect for those embracing a Paleo or Keto diet. We love this recipe when we need a break from our everyday overnight oats. Note that this recipe is not AIP -friendly due to the nuts.
HOW TO MAKE OVERNIGHT OATS
This is one the easiest recipes you can possibly make. Here’s how to prepare our instant overnight oats for breakfast:
Prep the instant overnight oat mix up to 3 months in advanced, depending on what version you choose. To make the oats:
- Add a Scoop of Oat Mixture to your Container: Scoop out ½ cup of your instant oat mix and add ¾ cup of water to your jar or other container.
- Flavor with Spices and Dried Fruit: Overnight oats are super versatile so feel free to add any sweetener or spices you like. And spices should be added the night before for maximum flavor. Dried fruits can be added now or right before eating.
- Chill in Fridge: Seal or cover with a lid and let rest for at least 4 hours or overnight. Because we are just adding water these, the oats do not need to be refrigerated but I prefer them chilled.
- Add Your Mix-Ins: Right before eating add any nuts, seeds, nut butter, fresh fruit or dried fruits.
TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR OVERNIGHT OATS
You tackled the overnight oats craze but things didn’t turn out as planned. Let’s review the most common overnight oats mistakes so that yours turn out perfectly every time.
WHY ARE MY OVERNIGHT OATS SO THICK/ SOUPY?
Simply put, not adding enough liquid. At their most basic, overnight oats are raw rolled oats. Meaning, they need the right amount of liquid to break down and soften to the perfect spoonable consistency. If the oats to liquid ratio is off you either get something akin to freshly mixed concrete or oatmeal soup.
Not stirring before eating is the most common mistake. Oatmeal mixes can separate overnight, it is a good idea to always stir before chowing down. Typically, this will resolve any consistency issues.
If your mix is still too thick, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of water until you get the right consistency.
If your mixture if too thin, you can add oats or chia seeds to absorb the liquid. But that takes a few hours. For a quick fix I add a nut butter, like almond or peanut, to quickly thicken the soupy oats.
WHY ARE MY OVERNIGHT OATS SO CHEWY?
This happens for two reasons, either you used steel-cut oats or you didn’t allow the overnight oats to soak for long enough. Steel cut oats are thicker than old fashion oats so they are not recommended for overnight oats.
And while you don’t actually have to soak overnight oats overnight, it is recommended that you let them soak at least 4 hours. Anything less will result in an overly chewy texture. Which not only doesn’t taste great, but also makes them harder to digest.
MY OATS DISINTEGRATED!
This typically happens for three reasons:
- Using the wrong kind of oats. Instant oats will break down after sitting in the fridge overnight. Stick with old-fashioned regular or thick rolled oats for the best results.
- They were left in the fridge too long. No more than 1-2 days for quick cooking oats and 5 days for old fashion oats.
- You used a protein powder that was too strong or too much protein powder and it broke down the oats. We love our protein oats but they can be finicky. We don’t recommend adding more than one tablespoon or powder or making them more than one day ahead.
HELP! I CAN’T GET MY MIX INS RIGHT!
The best part of overnight oats is that there are an endless variety of flavors. Let’s break down the common mistakes when flavoring your overnight oats.
- You didn’t add salt. All overnight oats need a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor. Otherwise they can just taste like school paste. Yuck! Cold food needs to be salted.
- You waited too long to added your spices. Flavors like vanilla extract, cinnamon or citrus peel need to be added the night before to ensure they have time to open up.
- Under or over sweetening is a matter of preference. But if you don’t add some type of fruit it is recommended that you sweeten your overnight oats with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup. Our instant overnight oats recipes all rely on coconut sugar to make them easy to store and to quickly make without extra steps. If you find they are under sweetened you can always drizzle a little honey on top.
- Nuts and seeds should be added right before eating. You don’t want them to break down or soften. There is a reason you soak nuts before making nut milk. Soaking nuts definitely will soften them. And overnight oats with nuts are no exception so save adding nuts and seeds until right before eating. The exceptions to this rule are chia seeds and flax seeds which need time to absorb the liquid to make them more digestible.
- Fresh fruits should be added right before eating as well. As the acid fruits can break down the oats resulting in a soupy texture. The one exception to this rule is mashed banana, which can be added in advanced.
- Dried fruits can be added right before eating or the night before. It really a matter of preference. Dried fruit will absorb some of the liquid which reduces the chewiness. I prefer to add dates, figs and cranberries in the night before because of their chewiness. Dried berries, apricots and other fruits I add right before eating.
So what mix ins make the best overnight oats?
THE BEST OVERNIGHT OAT FLAVOR COMBINATIONS
There are no shortage of great ideas for overnight oats. We put together a list of favorite top 10 flavors.
Note: quantities are for one serving of oats.
- Chunky Monkey- ½ banana sliced, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, and 1 tablespoon Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips
- Mexican Chocolate- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of cayenne (if you dare!)
- Mixed Berry- 1/3 cup each of sliced strawberries and blueberries, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pumpkin Pie- 1/3 cup of pureed pumpkin (I use canned but fresh works), ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pina Colada- ½ cup diced pineapple, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (I really like this version for the grain-free)
- Peanut Butter and Jelly- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or sub almond butter) and 2 tablespoons of your favorite jam (we like strawberry)
- Fall Harvest- 1/3 cup sliced apple, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Carrot Cake- ¼ cup shredded carrots, 1 tablespoon chopped pecans, 1 tablespoon raisins, ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Blueberry Cardamom- ½ cup fresh blueberries, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, pinch of lemon zest (optional but really good!)
- Cherry Almond- 1/3 cup dried cherries (or ½ dried cherries, halved), ¼ teaspoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
Flavor combinations are endless. Tell us in the comments what are your favorite flavors of overnight oats?
Instant Overnight Oats
- 4 cups Old Fashion Oats certified gluten-free if needed
- 1 cup Chia Seeds
- 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar*
- 1/2 cup Dry Milk Powder, regular or coconut
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
Prepare Dry Mix
- Mix together all dry ingredients. Store in an airtight container until use.
Prepare Overnight Oats
- Combine 1/2 cup of the instant overnight oats mix with 3/4 cup water in a bowl or jar. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Please check out our three other flavors!