How to CookBreakfast

The World’s Easiest Make-Ahead Breakfast

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What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.


Regular oatmeal comes together in mere minutes, sure—but when you’re half asleep, halfway out the door, or all the way hungover, the difference between having to cook or microwave something versus just grabbing a jar from the fridge can be huge. (Thank you, last-night me! Really, thank you.) Enter overnight oats.

So, how to make them? Just start making oatmeal, then stop: Combine liquid (usually any milk) and old-fashioned rolled oats. Chill for 8 to 12 hours. And...that’s it! Whereas making hot oatmeal calls for a 2:1 liquid-to-grain ratio, the overnight kind is an easy-to-remember 1:1. Here's how to play around from there:

Oats

Start with ½ cup per serving as a baseline. If you want to flesh that out with a spoonful of toasted wheat germ, chia seeds, or flax meal—watch out, world!

Liquid

If you’re including a lot of mix-ins (see below), you’ll probably want more than ½ cup. First combine your oats, mix-ins, and ½ cup liquid. Then add more, splash by splash, until the result is slightly thinner than you like your oatmeal. Keep in mind, it will thicken as the oats absorb the liquid and release their starches. Some favorite milks: cow, any fat content; soy; almond; cashew; even oat (so meta). If you want to power up, cut the milk with ultra-strong coffee or espresso.

Nut (or Seed) Butter

Peanut, almond, cashew, pecan, sesame, sunflower. The world is your jar of nut (or seed) butter. Preferably unsweetened and salted. Start with a spoonful, then build from there. If you want some texture, incorporate roasted, chopped nuts, too—match with the butter or mix it up, like peanut butter with pecans or tahini with cashews.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Fresh or Dried Fruit

Be careful with fresh fruits. Because we’re soaking here, anything that leans toward mushy will only get mushier. Try firm blueberries, pineapple chunks, or finely chopped pear. With dried fruit, anything goes: raisins or currants, chopped apricots or dates. Just check the ingredients to see if there’s any added sugar. If there is, that’s fine, but you’ll want to cut back on your...

Sweetener

Steer toward liquid sweeteners versus anything grainy that needs to dissolve, like white or brown sugar. Think honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, molasses, pomegranate molasses, even chocolate syrup. Jams and preserves are a great way to sweeten and add flavor, too, from syrupy strawberry to seedy fig.

Bonuses

Customize your oats to taste: Add a pinch of kosher salt, black pepper, citrus zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, or chocolate chunks.

Toppings

In the morning, if you want to treat your overnight oats to a quickie garnish, sprinkle on top: any fresh fruit that wouldn’t have wanted to soak (think blackberries, raspberries, strawberries), chopped nuts, or granola (oats on oats!).

Need some more concrete ideas? A few pairing suggestions:

  • Almond milk + almond butter + strawberry jam, with freeze-dried strawberries on top.
  • Soy milk + pumpkin butter + toasted pecans + crumbled graham crackers.
  • Coffee-milk + chocolate syrup + toasted hazelnuts on top.

Or my most recent creation, which thinks it’s an oatmeal-chocolate chunk cookie, but it’s breakfast. (Actually, what’s the difference?) Get the recipe below, and share any combinations you come up with in the comments!

Tahini-Chocolate Chunk Overnight Oats

Tahini-Chocolate Chunk Overnight Oats

Emma Laperruque Emma Laperruque
Serves 1
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or soy milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 big spoonful well-stirred tahini
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chunks, preferably bittersweet
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
Go to Recipe
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