Not Recipes

How to Make Overnight Oats Without a Recipe

By • February 24, 2014 • 155 Comments

1,112 Save

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Calling all multitaskers! While you sleep, you can cook your oatmeal overnight in the refrigerator. There's no actual cooking -- and no actual recipe -- required. 

Multi-tasking always seems like a better idea than it is. It's just an innocent, time-saving technique until one day, as you're texting, listening to music, and writing an essay at the same time, you end up texting your mom about how annoying your mom is. Whoops!

And when it comes to cooking and baking, some of the most egregious offenses occur when you don't give a recipe the attention it deserves (in my house: sugarless rice pudding is, unfortunately, a true story). 

Luckily, there is a way to cook and sleep at the same time. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that you can cook your oatmeal overnight in the refrigerator with no actual cooking -- and no actual recipe -- required. This hands-off oatmeal is an endlessly customizable grab-and-go breakfast that will be waiting for you when you wake up.

How to Make No-Cook Overnight Oats Without a Recipe

1. The only ratio you need to remember is 1:1. You'll soak 1 part rolled oats with 1 part liquid overnight. Use less liquid if you want thicker oatmeal, more if you like it runny. You can use water or any type of milk -- almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk -- and feel free to add a splash of cream, half and half, or even orange juice.

How to Make Overnight Oats on Food52

More: Our 10 exciting oatmeal recipes prove that oats are good for so much more than porridge.

2. Sweeten and flavor the oatmeal with whatever appeals to you: honey, agave, jam, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, citrus zest ... the list goes on. Then get creative: Add nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, seeds (chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin), fruit, jam, or even nut butter.

How to Make Overnight Oats on Food52

 

3. Give it a stir, pack it into a jar, then let the jar sit overnight in the refrigerator. 

How to Make Overnight Oats on Food52

 

4. In the morning, top with fresh ingredients -- fruits, granola, honey, a dollop of peanut butter -- or simply take the whole jar for the road.

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you could make in your sleep, without a recipe. Check out what we've already covered.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: oatmeal, no-bake, no-cook, overnight oats, overnight oatmeal, breakfast, how-to & diy, everyday cooking, special diets

Comments (155)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

10 days ago Kathleen Graas

Where do I get those jars with glass lids?

Stringio

24 days ago frederika

i soak them first for 24 ours and then dehydrate them grains have a layer that is not good to digest like nuts they are yummie that way

Stringio

24 days ago frederika

iff you eat them raw

Default-small

24 days ago Donna

How do you dehydrate yours after soaking them? Thanks.

Default-small

28 days ago abe froman

awesome idea!!! I can't wait to try this!!!

Open-uri20140321-6282-1k8mici

28 days ago George George

My favorite oatmeal recipe is to mix it with my morning coffee. It's hot (unlike this recipe) and requires no heating, so you don't need a microwave or other cooking source. I use black coffee, and add a dash of cinnamon, that makes a very tasty, low-cal, low-carb nutritious concoction, but you can use whatever your favorite cup O' Joe.

Default-small

28 days ago kitkat

This is genius! Can't wait to try it.

Stringio

28 days ago Melanie Hausner Marcec

Why a jar? Can't you put it in any container?

Open-uri20140321-6282-1k8mici

28 days ago George George

Having done something similar for years, it's been my experience that after a while, paper cups leak and Styrofoam cups are very fragile and don't store or travel well. I guess that's why they suggest a jar.

Stringio

28 days ago Melanie Hausner Marcec

I mean, maybe a plastic container like Rubbermaid or Tupperware?

Stringio

28 days ago Michele Santos Carlisle Strachan

Great idea! Does the jar need to be glass? Can it soak in any container? Does it need a lid? Is Melissa retarded - Soy, almond and coconut milk is not juice, it's a milk alternative. Coconut juice is coconut water which is completely different than coconut milk.

Default-small

28 days ago jackie

My god! "Mix these ingredients up at night and by morning you'll have full-blown Type 2 Diabetes." Jeez, just make an egg and veggie omelet and believe me, your body will thank you for years to come.

Default-small

28 days ago Melissa

Just as a note to your recipe. Almond, soy and coconut are not types of milk - they are just juice beverages. Milk only comes from animals such as buffalo, goats or cows for human consumption.

Stringio

28 days ago Pete Sloan

I add tabasco to my oatmeal
for a little kick to a sometimes bland breakfast..

Default-small

28 days ago Cobranut

Cold oatmeal??? That sounds disgusting.
And just how hard is it to make nice, hot, fresh oatmeal in the microwave anyway?

Stringio

29 days ago Sarah Bailey

and if you add a little kefir or acv you'll put the oats in a better form to digest. Sally Fallon has a great article about soaking your grains that I am trying to incorporate more often http://www.westonaprice...

Default-small

28 days ago jackie

Good point and I agree. However an egg and vegetable omelet would be much better for one's health. Your body really knows no difference between this oatmeal breakfast and a slice of pound cake.

Default-small

28 days ago kitkat

That's not true. Your body needs whole grains, and oats in particular are a great source of fiber and a way to lower your cholesterol. Those with pre-diabetes or diabetics need more fiber than anyone else to lower glucose absorption into the bloodstream.

Default-small

29 days ago Mike

Does one need to put a lid on the jar while it is in the fridge overnight? The article does not mention it.

Default-small

29 days ago Neal

What do you mean no recipe? If it has more than one ingredient, it is a 'recipe'.

Default-small

29 days ago catalinalacruz

Boy, this is a contentious group here this week. I didn't mean it's not a recipe. Just that Jenn doesn't have to print it out (i.e., "have a recipe")because it is so simple to make and has a lot of leeway in the ingredient amounts.

Default-small

29 days ago bonnie

I like the jar used in the photos. Anyone know where I can find one like it?

Geese

28 days ago BrindaA

HAHA! That's exactly why I was reading the comments! I'd like to know where to get those jars as well, please!

Geese

28 days ago BrindaA

Found 'em! http://weckjars.com/

Default-small

27 days ago nifi

Thanks!

Default-small

29 days ago Jenn

This sounds great. I dont see an option to print this recipe from this page without all the pics and comments. I even emailed it to myself. Did I miss the icon that allows us to print things? thanks

Default-small

29 days ago catalinalacruz

You don't really have to have a recipe for this. Just use equal amounts by volume of oats and liquid. Add a generous spoonful of yogurt. Then add whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruit that strike your fancy. I have been making this for over a year without measuring anything. Just don't let the oat police know you are using rolled oats to make oatmeal. :)

Default-small

29 days ago Istanbul cook

For vegetarian people I do similar oatmeal preparations while
adding sesame paste, hazelnut paste, peanut butter, olive oil
and some other salty style ingredients for dieters.

Default-small

30 days ago GENE COLE

CObotanist: Just LOOK! at them!
Compare them.
Try it!
"Rolled Oats" are a "WHOLE" Grain.
"Whole" Rolled Oats do not resemble "Oatmeal".

Too bad about your overly tender sensibilities...
And that your comfortable serenity is so easily disturbed.

Default-small

about 1 month ago CObotanist

Wow, Gene Cole, those lectures are not what I call civil discourse. What is your source for your definition?

Default-small

19 days ago Dulcinea

Okay,in case anyone else is now as thoroughly befuddled as I am, here is a credible source to explain 'rolled oats' vs. 'steel-cut oats': http://berkeley.ext.wvu... [you'll have to copy and paste]. And, in case anyone else, like me, prefers peer-reviewed sources than anecdotal discussion, just google "rolled oats vs steel cut oats site:.edu" [paste the words between quotes] and you'll find a list of other sources explaining the difference. (But this one was one of the best.) You can also repeat substituting ".gov" to get a bunch of other credible sources. The parts they all repeat, probably valid; the parts they don't, well, more reliable than anecdote but you should probably hold your 100% belief in abeyance.

If you don't want to google all that, the quick answer at those sites is that whole grain oats have had the outer hull removed, (the part not digestible by humans) and consists of the rest of the oat (the bran, endosperm and the germ -- and wikipedia provides a perfectly adequate picture to illustrate this). And the best way to tell whether you're eating 'a whole grain' vs. something else is to just read the label or google whether the product contains all three parts mentioned above.

Default-small

about 1 month ago GENE COLE

WHY? are you using the word "Oatmeal" (ground-up Oats) -8 times - in your article specifying "Rolled Oats" (Whole Oats) in a recipe?

Don't you know that when people see the word "OATMEAL" in an article recommending "Whole" grain, they are likely to purchase ground-up "OATMEAL", instead of purchasing "Whole" Oats.
And those people, confused by improper terminology, will make a serving of ground-up "OATMEAL" while thinking they are using the recommended "Whole" grain (Rolled Oats).

Don't you know that you don't get "Oatmeal" (Ground-Up-Oat-Meal) simply by making "Whole" Oats.
You get a bowl of "Whole" Oats.
And "Whole" Oats are still a "Whole" grain, even if cooked.
Which is the "Whole" point!

Far too many people confuse "Whole" Oats and "Oatmeal".
When discussing "Whole" grains, don't mention any grains which are either steel cut or ground-up into a Meal.

Default-small

about 1 month ago catalinalacruz

From Wiki: "Oatmeal, also known as white oats, is ground oat groats (i.e., grains, as in oat-meal, cf. cornmeal, peasemeal, etc.), or a porridge made from oats (also called oatmeal cereal or stirabout). Oatmeal can also be ground oats, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats."

Default-small

about 1 month ago GENE COLE

Catalina: This is why you should not believe 100% of everything you read on Wiki (Wikipedia).
Whoever stated Rolled Oats are the same as Oatmeal does not live in the "REAL!" world, but resides in fantasy-land.

"Rolled Oats" are a "WHOLE" Grain - Just look at them! (Duh?)
"Whole" Rolled Oats do not resemble "Oatmeal".
Compare a sample of uncooked "Whole" Rolled Oats with a sample of uncooked "Oatmeal".
Then, cook each of them, and compare them again.
The "Whole" Rolled Oats remain "WHOLE" after cooking.
Which is the "Whole" point!
While "Oatmeal" is for making cookies, breads and muffins.

And, "Whole" Oats that are not "Rolled" are fed raw to horses.
Don't try to eat cooked "Whole" Oats that are not "Rolled", unless you imagine that you can enjoy suffering severe intestinal blockage - Like when you have eaten far too much bran in one day.

"SOUNDS LIKE YOU'VE BEEN ON WIKIPEDIA, AGAIN!"
For many years, whenever our children or teenagers spout some worthless drivel posing, falsely, as a fact...
We accuse them of having those silly and foolish notions because they accessed Wikipedia, again.

Default-small

29 days ago df

WHOLEY smokes you care wayyyy to much about oatmeal

Default-small

29 days ago GENE COLE

df: If you were enabled to follow the thread, you might have comprehended...
I don't give a fig about "Oatmeal".
I advocate "Whole" grains, including Rolled Oats.
"Oatmeal" (ground-up Oats -or- steel-cut Oats) is NOT! a "Whole" grain.
Which is the "Whole" point!
Do you get-it now?

Default-small

29 days ago Ginger

Okay so now I care wayyyy too much about oatmeal also. When I use a box of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats - which one am I using? Oatmeal or Whole Rolled Oats? Which one should I be using for this particular recipe?

Default-small

29 days ago GENE COLE

Ginger: First, check the ingredients list to see if your box of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats says "Whole Rolled Oats" (or, maybe, just "Rolled Oats").
Whereas "Oatmeal" (ground-up Oats -or- steel-cut Oats) is usually labeled as Oatmeal (Not as "Whole" Oats) even though "Whole" Oats (the Source grain) are what was Ground-Up into a meal to make the finished product, "Oatmeal".

The recipe specifies Rolled Oats in step #1, even though the recipe text uses the word "Oatmeal" (ground-up Oats) - 8 times - in the article.
The author, Sarah Jampel, has no understanding that cooking Whole Rolled Oats does NOT! produce "Oatmeal".
Sarah doesn't realize that you don't get "Oatmeal" (Ground-Up-Oat-Meal) simply by making "Whole" Oats.
You get a bowl of cooked "Whole" Oats.
And "Whole" Oats are still a "Whole" grain, even if cooked.
Which is the "Whole" point!
This improper terminology is confusing, and the misuse of the word "Oatmeal" is the reason I responded by posting a comment despite a Blog-Troll like "df", who just doesn't Get-It!

And, Ginger, if you look at the images which accompany the recipe article, they all show Whole Rolled Oats rather clearly.
Whole Rolled Oats simply do not look like ground-up Oats "Oatmeal" -or- steel-cut Oats "Oatmeal".

Default-small

28 days ago jackie

Tomato / Tomahto. Either way, grains are bad for your system. Don't fall for the ridiculous "healthy whole grain" nonsense.

Default-small

about 1 month ago riv

I was surprised at how tasty this was. It had a pleasant gummy texture but not too gluey and the yogurt gave it a nice tang. I used flavored greek yogurt and skim milk and just a touch of brown sugar and it was delicious.

Default-small

about 1 month ago riv

Oh, and chia seeds!