60 delicious additions for overnight oats

overnight oats
© Melissa Breyer

Easy, healthy, and endlessly customizable, here's how to make basic overnight oats and then push them deliciously over the top.

There is something magical that happens when you douse oats with liquid and allow them to soak it all up overnight. They take on all kinds of wonderful flavor and texture, transforming from bland breakfast porridge to more of a pudding-like dessert. Plus, they don't require cooking and are ready to be consumed in the morning with minimal AM prep requirements. All of these facts have not been lost to the hordes on Pinterest and Instagram, but that doesn't mean I can't wax a bit poetic about it as well. When it comes to an easy, healthy, delicious breakfast that doesn't require cooking, I am all in.

While I confess that I love oats as plain as can be, my teen girls and I have a tendency to go over the top with additions. It's a great way to mix it up, add variety to the diet, and to use up any odds and ends in the fridge and pantry.

BASIC OVERNIGHT OATS
The proportions of liquid to oats depends on what texture you like. I go for more of a thick and drier style, so I use one part liquid to one part oats. For a looser, wetter concoction, one can go as high as two parts liquid to one part oats; for really plump and thick, you can go as high as one part liquid to two parts oats.

Mix the ingredients together, stirring to make sure the oats are all moistened, cover, and refrigerate. They can be done in as little as three hours, but eight or more is best. You can make a big batch and let it sit in the fridge; they will become increasingly soft over the next few days.

Stir in sweeteners and any fruit that you want to soften; these flavors will soak into the oats. Like everything with a sweet component, a small pinch of salt makes it all sing. Yogurt, fruit with texture and crunchier toppings can all be added at the end.

We use old-fashioned rolled oats. If you use instant oats they turn to mush; I have tried steel cut oats and they had a lot of texture, but took a lot more soaking time. Next up, what to add – this is the fun part.

LIQUIDS
Oat milk is kind of miraculous and makes for a super creamy, oaty bowl ... but just about any liquid will work. Even water, though it's a bit meh. Kombucha and coffee may not be the most normal choices, but they are pretty good! (Coffee with some maple syrup, cocoa powder, almonds and cocoa nibs is a strange revelation.) Kefir is thick, but when all else fails, it can be watered down a bit and adds a great tang.

  • Coconut milk or water
  • Coffee
  • Fruit juice
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Milk
  • Nut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Whey

SEEDS & BEANS
Black beans? Chickpeas? I know, I know, but both are great additions to sweet dishes. (Proof: Chocolate hummus.) I mash them a bit to make them less obvious; and their flavor blends right in. Chia seeds and flax seeds added before soaking will become gelatinous (in a good, tapioca-like way), so with those it helps to add a little extra liquid. The rest of these are nice on top to add texture at the end.

  • Black beans
  • Chia seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

NUTS & BUTTERS
Swirling in a nut butter before soaking adds protein and a wonderful depth of flavor. (Think peanut butter, bananas, and cocoa powder – so good.) I love tahini, especially when combined with hemp milk, dates, vanilla, and rose. Other nuts are great raw or toasted, and added on top for crunch.

  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia
  • Peanut butter
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower butter
  • Tahini

FRUIT
There is really no limit to what fruits you can add; I just added some of our tried-and-true favorites here. (If you are wincing at avocado, just know that it is a fruit afterall, and loves to be paired with chocolate.)

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Mango
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerine

DRIED FRUIT
Dried fruit is fabulous for its sweetening; you really don't need to use sweetener if you use dried fruit. It is also great for texture. Added when soaking it gets a bit rehydrated, but on top it adds a nice chewiness that the oats like.

  • Banana chips
  • Dates
  • Dried cherries
  • Dried mango
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

SPICES
I am listing spices because sometimes people forget that there is life after cinnamon and oats.

  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Turmeric

SWEETENERS
Overnights don't even really need sweetener, especially if you are adding fruit – but a little splash can definitely perk things up a bit. Maple syrup is my go-to sweetener, but we have tried these and they are all delicious.

  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit preserves
  • Honey
  • Jam
  • Lemon curd
  • Maple syrup

MISCELLANEOUS
Here is where your inner mad scientist can really play around – overnight oats are really such a blank slate, there are all kinds of things that work. None of these are too surprising, but just to give an idea of the breadth. (And really, if you have some leftover quinoa or rice, stir it in!)

  • Almond extract
  • Citrus zest
  • Coconut flakes
  • Cocoa nibs
  • Cocoa powder
  • Crystalized ginger
  • Edible flowers
  • Leftover grains
  • Vanilla extract

So what did I miss? Are there things you love to add that I did not include here? Leave more ideas in the comments.

60 delicious additions for overnight oats
Easy, no-cook, healthy, and endlessly customizable, here's how to make basic overnight oats and then push them deliciously over the top.

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