How to Make Overnight Oatmeal

This recipe makes one single serving. You can prepare several single-serving batches in canning jars and refrigerate them for quick breakfasts through the week. The oats soaking in their liquid will keep for up to 5 days, refrigerated.

To make a big batch of overnight oats: Scale up the ingredients to the number of servings you'd like to make and combine in a large container. Refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times whenever you remember. The next morning, transfer the oats and liquid to a saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and simmer until creamy and cooked through.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving (about 1 cup of oatmeal)


  • 1/4 cup steel-cut oats or old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant oats; use gluten-free oats if needed)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water, non-dairy milk, or milk
  • Pinch salt

To serve - choose a few!

  • Brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or other sweetener
  • Dried fruit, like dried cherries, cranberries, or figs
  • Fresh fruit, like raspberries, blue berries, bananas, apples, or pears
  • Chopped nuts, like pecans, pistachios, walnuts, or almonds
  • Splash of milk, creme fraiche, or yogurt

Special equipment:


1 Combine the oats, water, and salt in a container. Use 1/2 cup of water for thick, spoonable oatmeal, or 3/4 cup for a softer, more porridge-like oatmeal. (You can also stir in additional liquid later on to thin it out, so no need to add too much here.) Secure the lid and swirl the contents a few times so that the oats are soaked.

How To Make Overnight Oatmeal How To Make Overnight Oatmeal How To Make Overnight Oatmeal How To Make Overnight Oatmeal

2 Pack up your toppings: Combine a handful of chosen oatmeal toppings in a small container. (If you're making multiple servings for breakfasts during the week, wait to assemble the toppings until the night before you plan to eat the oatmeal.)

How To Make Overnight Oatmeal How To Make Overnight Oatmeal

3 Refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days. 

4 Microwave the oatmeal: Remove the lid from the container and set aside. If desired, transfer the oats and their soaking liquid to a separate microwave-safe bowl. Place the container on a microwave-safe plate (to catch any accidental spills), and place in the microwave.

Microwave on high power for 30 seconds, then remove the oatmeal and stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds, then remove and stir again. If the liquid is not quite piping hot, microwave for another 15 to 30 seconds, or as needed until the liquid is very hot. Cooking time may vary from microwave to microwave; in my microwave, 1 minute and 20 seconds total cooking time was perfect.

Be very watchful when microwaving longer than 1 minute. The liquid will start to foam up and out of the container if it starts to boil. Be especially careful with smaller containers.

At this point, the oats probably won't quite look like oatmeal yet; there will still be a thin layer of foamy liquid on top of the oats. This is ok.

How To Make Overnight Oatmeal

5 Let the oats stand for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken. After letting them stand a few minutes, give the oats a stir. The oatmeal should become thick and creamy as you stir. If it still seems more liquidy than you'd like, microwave for another 15 to 30 seconds, but be very watchful for foaming liquid.

If the oats seem too stiff and thick, stir in splash of milk, water, or other liquid to loosen them up again.

How To Make Overnight Oatmeal How To Make Overnight Oatmeal How To Make Overnight Oatmeal

6 Stir in toppings and serve. Enjoy!

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  • Doug

    I’m not a fan of sweet oatmeal so I do mine a little differently.
    1. browned onion
    2. beef bouillon in water
    3. sliced mushrooms
    3. Salt, Pepper, Thyme
    4. wide neck Thermos

    Like having beef barley soup for breakfast.

  • Werry Adnan

    I will try this recipe for my breakfast

    sometimes I feel boring make oatmeal everyday but this recipe look delicious and new for me. so i will try this

  • Chamila

    I want to try these cold. Is it still delicious? I have frozen berries as fresh ones aren’t available on the market. How do I proceed? And can we stir yoghurts to it or just milk if we wish to loosen it or to add taste?

    • Emma Christensen

      Yes! The oats are chewier than they are when you cook them, but I love them cold like this, too. I don’t usually use quite as much liquid when I know I’m going to eat them cold — you really only need enough liquid to cover the oats. You could also mix in some yogurt or milk to make it creamier. I’d add the thawed berries just before serving.

  • Helena

    I always leave the oats with whey protein and water overnight in the refrigerator in the morning as without putting in the microwave is a delight, excellent for gaining mass, but also liked his tip I will test, I think it will look very good too. Oats are excellent for health.

  • Miguel

    Thanks for sharing your recipe! Would you know if I can simply replace the butter with oil? I’ve replaced it for other recipes before but never in this part of the recipe (melting butter with chocolate).

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi Miguel! I don’t use any butter in my overnight oats recipe, so I’m not sure! Let me know you you meant something different?!

  • Kay

    It works! It really works! Lol, not that the authors had any doubts:) I’d tried a different oatmeal in a jar recipe and quickly abandoned it. But the concept of soaking the oats before cooking was new to me and I gave it try, with the different liquid measurements (soupy vs. more sturdy–I ended up preferring the porridge consistency). I tried cooking the oats both on the stove (1 serving) and in the microwave, and while the microwave version came out better, either way I was raving to others about this new way of doing oatmeal. Thanks so much for posting!


  • Lyn

    Oh! Don’t murder the oats with Water…!! PLEASE soak them in MILK/NonDairy Milk overnight. Then follow these same instruction…They are ‘to Die For!’
    Personally I prefer stove top slower to Microwave ‘Flash Gordon’ But Yeah… Mornings, Time, Hurry, – Microwave works! :-)
    By the way I LOVE water… just not oats soaking!

  • Megan at Lush to Blush

    This sounds yummy! I’m usually one to go for a more savory breakfast, but a good bowl of oatmeal every now and then is a classic :)

  • Izzy | pinch of delight

    This looks delicious! x

  • Mike Attree

    I have used a very similar method for many years – using a 2-1 liquid to dry mix. I find that equal amounts of water and milk suit me.
    Additionally, here in the UK, one of the favourite additions to porridge is Golden Syrup!

  • Markque

    FWIW, I make my steel cut oats in the microwave nearly every morning, 1/4 cup oats 3/4 cup water per serving. Our serving bowls are microwave proof, to that I add the oats and water …then in the microwave for 14 minutes on setting number 4. Generally, I will add a handful of Blueberries after complete.

  • Sara @ Last Night's Feast

    These are super cute! Great idea =)

  • Mark Anderson

    I’m a big fan of Scotch oats, but I take them down a different path, with soy sauce, sunflower seeds, and hot sauce–no mik, no sugar. They’re hearty and satisfying.

  • Alida @My Little Italian Kitchen

    I have always found this ever so interesting. Now that you have shared this lovely recipe (love the step by step instructions) I might as well give it a go. Not only is this healthy, it looks delicious too! Thank you!

  • Monica

    Thanks to blogs that I have found a lot of recipes for good health.
    I will continue to follow the blog

  • Lilian B

    Oh. My. Word. Of all the coincidences – I recently moved to Northfield! I fell in love with steel cut oats thanks to nearly every food place here serving it on their breakfast menu. I was already an old-fashioned oatmeal fan, but had only had too-chewy steel cut oats, so creamy ones were a revelation. In fact, Brick Oven Bakery was my first taste – went there for breakfast before the interview for the job that brought me out here! Last week I finally decided to try making a pot to reheat throughout the week, but the results were not as consistently creamy as I’d hoped (I think more liquid absorbed as it sat longer), so I took to the internet for tips and this was literally the first link I clicked. My eyes about bugged out when you mentioned Brick Oven!!! And then again when you said your dad owned it! (I recognize you from The Kitchn, too.) Now I’m *definitely* going to have to try your suggestions. :) I’ve often soaked old fashioned rolled oats overnight for a quicker cook, but didn’t think it would work for steel-cut. Now I know!

    • Emma Christensen

      Lilian, that’s SO crazy that you just moved to Northfield. I hope you like the town — cows, colleges, and contentment! I hope you like the oatmeal recipe, too!

  • Aleeha

    I like to avoid using the microwave so would a quick heat up in a pan work just as well?
    Aleeha xXx

  • Tristan

    Cold overnight oats are my new favorite breakfast, or snack or even dessert. I love being able to mix and match different ingredients and liquids. One addition that I really like that makes it a little more puddingy/desserty is chia seeds, I add a tablespoons with the oats and they add a fun gooey texture :)

    • Emma Christensen

      Yes! I love a tablespoon or two of flax seeds mixed in with the oats, which also helps thicken and make a more pudding-like bowl of oatmeal! I need to try chia seeds next.