What Are Overnight Oats, Really?

Everywhere I turn, people are talking about overnight oats! All my social streams are a deluge of overnight oat recipes. I can hardly go get a coffee any more without seeing some cold, lumpy oats staring at me from the cold case. What are overnight oats? How do you make overnight oats? What do overnight oats taste like? We’re about to get to the bottom of this bowl of questions about overnight oats!

What are overnight oats?

Overnight oats is basically oatmeal that’s been soaking in liquid (usually some sort of milk) overnight. The idea of soggy, cold oatmeal may not exactly sound like the tastiest thing in the world, but it can be a great, quick breakfast to have on the go. 

Do you eat overnight oats cold? Or do you heat up overnight oats?

Overnight oats are usually eaten cold. They’re a great way to enjoy oatmeal in warm weather months. Can you warm up overnight oats? Of course, you can warm them up if you want to. But if you’re taking the time to heat up your overnight oats in the morning, you may as well just make a fresh bowl of hot oatmeal! 

What do overnight oats taste like?

They can taste as basic as cold oatmeal, but those oats will absorb whatever you put with them. So they can taste creamy and fruity if you add those ingredients.

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How do you make overnight oats?

To make overnight oats, take some oats and then pour some liquid over them and leave them in the fridge overnight. They’re super simple to make. Most folks use milk or a dairy-free milk alternative, but you can even use water if that’s how you roll. You can make them all fancy, too. So, what to put in overnight oats? Popular ingredients are sliced fresh fruit, whole berries, chia seeds, yogurt, honey, nuts, maple syrup, and whatever else you can think of that sounds like it might taste good.

What kind of oats do you use for overnight oats?

Just like with the milk and toppings, the choice of oats that you put into your overnight oats can be pretty personalized. The most popular type of oat to use in overnight oats is old-fashioned rolled oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats have minimal processing; they’re just whole oat groats that have been rolled flat. That means these highly healthy oats will maintain a good bite without turning into gloppy mush. If you want a little bit more of that mushy texture, then you can use quick oats. Those are more processed and will absorb more of the liquid. Avoid using instant oats though—those will turn into a thin soup. Can you use steel cut oats to make overnight oats? Steel cut oats are even hardier than rolled oats and probably won’t absorb enough liquid to make a satisfying overnight oat. If you simply love steel cut oats and want to use them, then you should boil them first to tenderize them. I, personally, don’t use any oats. I just drink the milk.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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