Overnight oats are a refreshing, ultra-creamy version of oatmeal that is served chilled. Best of all, you can whip up a batch IN MINUTES on Sunday evening and have breakfast ready to go in the refrigerator nearly all week long!
Since this recipe for overnight oats is simply flavored with vanilla extract and ground cinnamon, it makes a great backdrop for fresh fruit, nuts, coconut flakes....you name it! These oats go with practically everything.
Why This Recipe Works
- This recipe takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and is entirely make ahead. Easy and nutritious breakfasts are in your future!
- No cooking required! The oats simply soak for a minimum of 3 hours and they are ready to enjoy.
- These overnight oats are SIMPLY flavored with vanilla extract and ground cinnamon so they are perfect for topping with your favorite fruits, nuts, nut butter, granola or coconut. SO incredibly versatile!
- Old-fashioned rolled oats form the base of this recipe. It's important to seek out old-fashioned rolled oats as opposed to steel cut oats (which won't soften properly without cooking) or quick cooking oats (which will create an overly mushy texture in this recipe).
- Milk (any kind will do) brings moisture and richness. My personal favorite for this recipe is unsweetened almond milk.
- Greek yogurt adds body and creaminess.
- Chia seeds plump up during the soaking process and help the oatmeal set up to a delightfully thick and satisfying texture.
- Pure maple syrup is our sweetener here, but honey would also be delicious!
- A bit of salt helps highlight the sweetness and other flavors in this recipe.
- Vanilla extract and ground cinnamon bring their delicious, comforting flavors to round out this recipe.
How to Make This Recipe
Making overnight oats couldn't be simpler. No need to turn on the stove or even pop anything into the microwave! Simply combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Allow the oats to soak for at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge and top as desired. DONE!
Be sure to seek out old-fashioned oats (rather than steel cut or quick cooking) for the best texture in this dish.
Overnight oats are essentially a modernized version of muesli, a Swiss oatmeal dish that is traditionally served cold. The recipe was developed by a Swiss doctor, Maximilian Bircher-Benner, in the early twentieth century as a "health food" to serve to his patients as part of their strict vegetarian diet regimen. The original version contained diced apple, nuts, rolled oats that had been soaked for 12 hours, lemon juice and either milk or cream. Interestingly, muesli was originally served as an appetizer course before dinner and not as a breakfast food.
Overnight oats are not cooked. Instead, they are soaked overnight in a mixture of milk (regular or plant-based), possibly some yogurt or skyr (Icelandic yogurt), sweetener (usually pure maple syrup or honey) and chia seeds which help thicken the mixture and give it a hearty, substantial texture.
Overnight oats are almost always made with old-fashioned rolled oats as opposed to quick-cooking or steel cut oats. Quick-cooking or instant oats create an overly mushy texture to the final product, and steel cut oats don't soften enough during the soaking process to be pleasantly edible. But not to worry! All oats, regardless of their processing, contain the same amount of desirable nutrients, including fiber, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron.
I will often portion my overnight oats into individual servings in small glass containers prior to placing them into the refrigerator (be sure to cover each container with a lid or plastic wrap). This saves me a step in the morning...all I have to do is top my oats and enjoy!
Overnight oats will keep for 4 days covered tightly in the fridge. Almost a week's worth of nourishing breakfasts at your fingertips!
Overnight Oat Topping Ideas
There are MANY options for topping your overnight oats! Here are a just a few ideas to get you started:
- Fresh berries
- Your favorite jam or preserves
- Sliced banana
- Chopped apple, mango or pineapple
- Coconut flakes
- Shaved dark chocolate or cacao nibs
- Nuts and seeds of all kinds
- Nut butter (roasted almond butter and diced apple are wonderful together)
- Shredded carrots and warm spices (think carrot cake vibes)
- Roasted Strawberries
- Any seasonal compote (Blueberry Cardamom Compote, Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, Pear Compote, or Peach Compote are all AMAZING!)
Looking for more delicious breakfast recipes featuring oats? Check these out!
I hope you give these Vanilla Overnight Oats with Cinnamon a try! Please drop me a line or leave a comment below and let me know if you do. And I'd love to hear how you mix it up with your own topping combinations!
Vanilla Overnight Oats with Cinnamon
For the Oats:
- Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover and transfer to the fridge. Let sit overnight or for at least 3 hours. If you want to store the oats in individual portions, simply divide the mixture between 4 small containers and cover. Overnight oats will keep well-covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- When you are ready to serve, top each portion of oats with any optional toppings as desired. Enjoy!
If you loved this recipe, give it a star review! Also, snap a picture of your Vanilla Overnight Oats with Cinnamon and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #truenorthkitchen and tagging me @true_north_kitchen.