How to Make Overnight Oats

How to Make Overnight Oats - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo by Lauren Harris-Pincus

I’m a huge breakfast fan! Meal prepping is the key to ensuring you and your family have access to a quick, easy, nutritious and delicious breakfast on busy work and school mornings. Learning how to make overnight oats is so easy and with a little imagination, you can create dozens of different flavor combinations, use seasonal produce and even create some festive holiday concoctions.

Where do I start?

To make overnight oats you need a few basic ingredients, and then you can customize from there:

  • Oats
  • Milk of choice
  • Plain Greek yogurt (or flavored or dairy free)
  • Chia seeds (not critical but adds extra fiber)
  • Fruit (in most recipes)
  • Zero-calorie sweetener such as stevia leaf, monk fruit or allulose (or none if you don’t have a sweet tooth)
  • Protein powder (whey, collagen, plant-based or other, if desired)
  • Extras like nuts, seeds, chocolate chips or shredded coconut

Can I use quick oats, instant oats or old-fashioned oats?

It’s up to you, they all work. Using instant or quick oats will decrease the amount of time you need to let the mixture sit in the fridge, but if you are making it at night for the morning, it doesn’t really matter. The texture will also vary. Using old fashioned oats will result in a thicker and chewier consistency, instant oats will dissolve more in the liquid.

Use any milk you want!

People always ask me, “Which plant-based milk is the healthiest?” The answer depends on your personal needs, but for the most part, they are similar. Overnight oats can be made with any kind of dairy milk or plant-based milk such as almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk, flax milk, hemp milk or whatever else you find. Each will contribute a unique flavor and a slightly different nutrient profile. It’s important to choose an unsweetened variety if you are watching calorie and sugar consumption. These can range from 25-60 calories per cup vs 90-150 calories for dairy milk.

Make sure your choice is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Many organic plant-based milks are NOT fortified and that could be problem if you are not consuming enough dairy sources of these important nutrients.

Are overnight oats raw?

Technically, yes. Which is good because you get some extra benefit from the resistant starch in the oats. No cooking needed, just mix everything together and stick it in the fridge. It couldn’t be easier.

Are overnight oats gluten-free?

If you have Celiac disease, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats. While oats themselves are naturally gluten-free, sometimes there can be cross-contamination in the field if wheat is grown nearby. Of course, what you add to them makes all the difference so check each product like yogurt and nut milks to make sure they are gluten-free before consuming them.

Are overnight oats eaten cold?

That’s entirely up to you. I prefer them cold, but some people like to microwave them for around 30 seconds to take away the chill. As long as you use a microwave-safe jar or bowl, it’s not an issue. Just make sure to take the metal lid off if you prepared the oats in a jar!

Can I make overnight oats vegan and dairy-free?

Of course! Simply substitute your favorite plant-based protein powder and plant-based yogurt. You may have to play with the sweetener or not add it at all depending on how much sugar/non-nutritive sweetener is in the yogurt and protein powder.

How long do overnight oats last?

If you make them complete with fruit and toppings, I wouldn’t let it sit for more than two days for the best consistency. If you want to make a larger batch of just the oats, milk, yogurt, chia, protein powder and sweetener, that can last in a storage container or individual jars for four or five days. Simply add your fruit and toppings when ready to serve it.

Try this Chocolate Pomegranate Overnight OatsHow to Make Overnight Oats - recipe:

Serves: 1


  • ⅓ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons (½ scoop) chocolate whey protein powder (or plant-based if preferred)
  • 1 packet zero-calorie sweetener
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or cashew, coconut, oat milk)
  • ⅓ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate arils


In a jar or glass container add oats, chia, cocoa powder, protein powder and sweetener and stir. Add almond milk and stir to combine. Add yogurt and stir again until no dry ingredients are visible. Add pomegranates, reserving a tablespoon to add to the top later for garnish. Cover and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Top with remaining pomegranate arils and enjoy.

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Lauren Harris-Pincus
Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, is a nutrition communications specialist, author, speaker, spokesperson, corporate consultant and registered dietitian in private practice. She is the founder and owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC where she specializes in weight management and prediabetes. She is also the author of “The Protein Packed Breakfast Club." Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.