If this is the first you’re hearing of overnight oats…we’re kind of surprised. But, no worries, we’ll get you up to speed on this super yummy and (generally) super healthy recipe in no time. Read on for the basic formula for overnight oats, as well as few of our favorite flavor combinations and some tips for keeping it braces friendly (naturally).
The Basic Recipe
The basic recipe is incredibly easy to scale and to remember: Use 1 part oats, to one part milk, to one part yogurt.
1-1-1 and done (well, almost)!
Put all of your ingredients for the base (and possibly a few other things–see below) in a sealable container. Canning jars are great for overnight oats. They are just the right size, portable and give a cool layered look to the oats once the toppings are added.
If you don’t have a jar on hand, any sealed storage container will work. Either way, add your ingredients to the container, give them a quick stir and pop them in the fridge. Even if you add those few other things we mentioned earlier (still see below), your prep time is going to clock in right around 5 minutes or less.
They call it overnight oats for a reason—the idea is to make your base before bed and leave it in the fridge overnight so it’s ready to eat in the morning. But the reality is that the ingredients don’t need all night to meld together; a couple of hours should do the trick if you forget to do your prep the night before.
Although the 1-1-1 ratio is the more common one we’ve seen (and the one we use), you can use more or less milk or yogurt depending on the consistency you prefer. Many recipes call for only 1/4 cup yogurt, while others use 3/4 cup milk and no yogurt at all.
There really is no right or wrong here; our 1-1-1 formula is going to give you a pretty creamy, porridge like consistency. If you want it to be thicker, use less milk. If you want it thinner, use more milk (you can always add more milk in the morning just before your toppings).
Any type of raw oats can be used for this recipe whether they be steel-cut, rolled or instant. Some even experiment with other grains such as spelt.
The liquid most typically used in overnight oats is milk. Whether that’s dairy, soy, coconut, rice, hemp or another type of milk is entirely up to you. Keep in mind canned coconut milk will make the final product thicker than other milks; as such, you might want to add more of the milk and use less of the yogurt (or double the amount and omit the yogurt). You could even ditch the milk altogether and try a fruit juice instead. This is the most customizable recipe in the world, after all.
Dairy or vegan, plain or flavored, regular or Greek, sweetened or not—the yogurt you use (as you may have guessed by now) is up to you, too.
Spices, Flavorings and Sweeteners
Now we’ve come to the “see below” items: you’ll want to add any spices, flavorings or sweeteners to your oats before you put them in the fridge. If you’re using dried or frozen fruit instead of (or in addition to) fresh, put that in the fridge with the base mix as well. Fresh fruit and anything else that might get soggy can be quickly added in the morning.
You will see chia seeds in many overnight oat recipes, and for good reason: They’re a great source of fiber, Omega 3s, protein, calcium, magnesium and iron. If you want to add a healthy boost to your oats, add a teaspoon of chia seeds to the base mix. It should be noted that they will add to the thickness of your final product, so you may need to increase the liquid if you want your oatmeal to be thinner. Also, chia seeds can get stuck in the braces (and in-between teeth for that matter) so you may want to grind the seeds for the braces wearers in the family.
Our Favorite Flavors
Okay, now for the fun part! Overnight oats offer countless possibilities in terms of flavor combinations; here are a few of our braces friendly favorites to get you started.
Chocolate (of course!)
Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1-2 tablespoons of honey (depending on how sweet you want it to be) to the base mix. Top with fresh fruit as desired in the morning, or add frozen to the other ingredients the night before.
Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup to the base. Top with 1/2 chopped apple (small pieces for braces wearers) and drizzle with maple syrup in the morning.
Banana Peanut Butter
Add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of honey (optional if you want more sweetness) to the base. Top with banana slices in the morning.
Add 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the base. Nothing to do in the morning but enjoy!
Well, there you have it—a braces friendly, easy peasy, 3-ingredient recipe base with virtually endless possibilities. The only limits are your imagination and personal taste.
Whether you tried one of the variations we shared above or you have a favorite recipe of your own, let us know how you like your overnight oats in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Brooke McClay.