Overnight Oats

Tired of waiting forever for your oatmeal? Highly dislike instant oatmeal? Then this is for you.


Overnight Oats

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For pretty much all of 2010 Betsy and I have been on a serious smoothie kick. We’ve been making this smoothie everyday for awhile now and it’s a fantastic way to kick the day off.

There’s just one problem.

Our new house is a lot colder in the mornings than our old apartment. We used to live on the top floor of a row house and I think the heat would naturally rise up to us. But now we are in this old (but cute) house and the mornings feel like we’re living inside an ice block.

So smoothies are the last thing I want these days.

Instead I’ve been trying a few different oatmeal breakfasts. I usually just buy rolled oats and call it good, but for some reason I decided to try out the steel cut oats the last time I was in the store.

I’m sure I’ve had steel cut oats before, but I don’t remember them completely blowing my mind like these do now. The problem is that steel cut oats take about an hour to cook properly which just isn’t realistic for me or most people on a weekday.

The good news is that with a little pre-planning the night before, you can have a delicious, hot oatmeal breakfast ready for you in the morning in just a few minutes.

Overnight Oats

Serves 2
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Tired of waiting forever for your oatmeal? Highly dislike instant oatmeal? Then this is for you.


3/4 Cups steel cut oats
3 Cups water
Pinch of salt
Optional toppings: Bananas, any fruit you can think of, honey, flax seed, butter, brown sugar, milk, etc.


1) The night before, add water to a medium pan and bring to a simmer.

2) Stir in oats and a pinch of salt.  Stir on the heat for about a minute.

3) Cover the oats, kill the heat, and go to bed.

4) In the morning, put the oats back over medium heat and cook until bubbling.  All the water should be absorbed.  It’ll probably take 5 minutes for the oats to heat up.

5) Add in fruit or any other add-ins during the last minute of cooking.

6) Top with delicious toppings and eat immediately.

Real Deal Oats

The key to making this overnight situation work is to make sure you have steel cut oats. If you use rolled oats then you’ll have a big soggy mess on your hands the next morning.

These guys are what you’re looking for.

steel cut oats
Interesting stuff.

Steel cut oats are a whole different beast from their rolled cousins. Since they aren’t mechanically flattened, they absorb a lot more water and take a lot longer to cook, but the result is an oatmeal that’s much heartier and has a better texture.

I highly recommend trying them out especially since this way of preparing them takes about the same amount of time in the morning as if you were making instant oats.

The Night Before

There’s a tiny amount of planning involved here since it’s an overnight dish, but it’s really not that bad.

Bring your water to a simmer in a medium sized pot and add a pinch of salt. Then, once the water is simmering, toss in your oats. It’ll look like a ridiculous amount of water for the tiny amount of oats.

Stir this over the heat for about a minute. You should have something like this going on.

oats in water
The night before….

Once you stir it all together for a minute, kill the heat, put on the lid, and go to bed!

In The Morning

When you’re ready to break your fast, you’ll find this in your oatmeal pot!

after soak
You’ll wake up to this!

Stick this back on medium heat and stir it until it comes to a simmer. You basically just have to heat it up and it’s done. It usually takes me about five minutes to make. The water should be completely absorbed and the oatmeal should be bubbling big bubbles as it simmers.

The Add-ins

As with any oatmeal dish, the add-ins are pretty much endless. Betsy and I like to stir in some frozen fruit to the oatmeal when it’s almost finished cooking.

Today’s fruit was blackberries.


When they’re stirred in they turn the oatmeal a slight purplish color, but they give the whole dish a nice fruity taste.

This was my finished pot!

oats done
Warms the soul!

I like mine with some banana, flax seed, honey, and occasionally a dollop of butter.

Great way to start the day.

The awesome thing about this dish is that it’s completely filling and energizing. I feel ready to tackle the day after I eat it.

It seems almost too good to be true that you can make this in about 5 minutes. They’re just too good. They should really take longer to make.

It’s like some sort of strange breakfast cosmic cheat code.

But it’s a cheat code that you should definitely take advantage of!

21 Responses to “Overnight Oats” Leave a comment

  1. You should try making steel cut oats in the crock pot overnight. It is really good with a few raisins, coconut, apple. I put a little honey in mine also, sometimes I use a little vanilla other times I use cinnamon!!!

      1. If you made a HUGE amount in your HUGE crockpot, could you freeze individual servings and then just put one (or two) down in the fridge before going to bed and reheat it in the morning?

      2. If you have a large Crock Pot, it’s easy to make it “smaller” by placing a small glass container inside, pour water into the actual Crock Pot container but around the glass container, and then cook whatever you want inside the glass container. Easy. :-)

  2. Great idea! I've also heard of the crock pot trick but haven't tried it. I thought it would just make too much. If you have a trader Joe's where you live, then you might want to try their 7 minute steel cut oats. They're really good and only take, yes, only 7 minutes to cook!


  4. My wife is a school teacher, in the winter she would only want instant oatmeal. I finally convinced her steel cut oats were much better for her. I fix mine the night before as you have done, but make enough that I can put into extra serving size bowls. All she has to do in the morning is add whatever ingredients she wants and microwave. Just put plastic wrap over the remaining bowls, refrigerate and use as needed (until silver threads start growing on them). She is now a convert to steel cut oats.
    I like the idea of the crock pot, what size crock pot are y'all talking about? Do you put the oats and liquid in a container, place the container in the crock pot and then add water to the crock pot around the container?

  5. I have a large crock pot (8 qt) also. I'm wondering if I could use my smaller enamel cast iron cooker and place in the oven at about 200º-250º overnight? I don't know why not.

  6. I am so happy to see this recipe! I love steel cut oatmeal and will definitely be eating some more oatmeal now that you made it so easy for me! Thanks Nick!!

  7. I love steel cut oats and have been turning friends on to them as well. Recently, my favorite toppings are on the savory side. Oats + nutritional yeast + pepper + sunflower seeds = a savory, creamy, protein-packed bonanza. I can only do so much sweet in the am so this is my favorite recipe of late. Also, the other day I didn't have enough oats for a full batch, so did half oats and half cornmeal…equally as tasty! I bet this above method would work as well.

  8. Putting cinnamon in the water when you're boiling the oats versus putting it in once they're cooked and good to go puts a whole new BAM of flavor to the oats. And by BAM I mean delicious flavor explosion in your mouth! (while cutting cholesterol at the same time!)

    1. Hmm… not sure on that one Graziana. I wouldn’t want to leave warm milk just sitting on the counter all night long! You could maybe stash it in the fridge… I haven’t personally tried it though. Report back if you do give it a shot.

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