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How to Make Overnight Oats Without a Recipe

By • February 24, 2014 • 172 Comments

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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. 

How to Make Overnight Oats

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 Overnight Oats

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

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

 

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

How to Make Overnight Oats

 

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

Jump to Comments (172)

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

Comments (172)

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about 1 month ago Lindsey

Potentially a dumb question: I have some blueberries and in the freezer from earlier this summer, so could I mix them in for the overnight part or should they be defrosted first? I can never remember rules about defrosting things.

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2 months ago kelin

Overnight oats are amazing with Greek yogurt instead of milk, a touch of agave or honey, vanilla, blueberries and flax seeds. Yum!!

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2 months ago chefmacgregor

You do not heat it. I mix up enough for 2 mornings the night before, put the mixing bowl in the fridge and cover it with a plate (old world). In the morning, I stir it and divvy it up between containers. When we travel I do the same thing in the hotel mini fridge and then we have a little bit of fuel before we even leave the hotel room. I have not tried steel cut oats but it would certainly have more chew. In Germany when you need to fatten someone up you fold whipped cream in before serving it. Oh my, that's good. Those who do not drink milk use fruit juice or coffee. Zen Monkey is a brand that Whole Foods has on the shelf these days but I found it very sweet.

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2 months ago chefmacgregor

It's Muesli and the Swiss/Germans have been eating it for breakfast for 100+ years. No sweetener is needed but plain yogurt and frozen fruit go in mine. Try it please. It does not taste like thick, pasty, cold cooked oatmeal because it was never cooked. It travels well and I enjoy mine at my desk at the office quite leisurely every morning. I add flax or chia seeds and barely notice them. If you are an athlete with type 2 diabetes, this (skip the sweetener) is an ideal, slow-burning breakfast. Eggs are not going to get you up a hill on a bike, ever.

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2 months ago Darcy

Do you warm it first, or eat cold?

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3 months ago iWantMore

we don't eat enough good old fashioned oats. Nice article!

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5 months ago Ceege

@ Bob

I would think the steel cut oats would work, however, I believe you may need more liquid ratio to oat ratio then stated for regular oats. Possibly 3 liquid to 1 oats as they are so much firmer.

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5 months ago Bob

just ordered the 1Lweck jars, good price!

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5 months ago Bob

will this work with steel-cut oats?

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5 months ago catalinalacruz

Yes.

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6 months ago Kathleen Graas

Thank you for identifying Weck jars!

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6 months ago anne

You're welcome. I love them, too! So cute!

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6 months ago joanne

Anne! I AGREE! I got so tired of the grouchy comments, i was deleting the entire email every time i got one, which is sad! I'm with you. It's a great recipe, i've tweaked it bit, bought the little Weck jars through the Food52 website; Amen.

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6 months ago anne

Why is everyone so bitchy? The woman gave us a nice, FREE, recipe. Geez. Did all of you skip breakfast or something?

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7 months ago Kathleen Graas

Where do I get those jars with glass lids?

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6 months ago anne

Those are Weck jars. Amazon or Crate and Barrel have them. And many other places, I'm sure.

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7 months 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

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7 months ago frederika

iff you eat them raw

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7 months ago Donna

How do you dehydrate yours after soaking them? Thanks.

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7 months ago abe froman

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

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7 months 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.

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7 months ago kitkat

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

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7 months ago Melanie Hausner Marcec

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

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7 months 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.

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7 months ago Melanie Hausner Marcec

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

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7 days ago Jaimi Allers

That's what I was wondering too. I am going to try plastic ware as I saw other recipes done in those instead.

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7 months 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.

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7 months 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.

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7 months 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.