Recipe template + variations: Overnight oats

I wrote this up because I looked at my breakfast this morning and wanted to give credit where credit is due. While I’ve loved me some muesli since my first bowlful in the Swiss Alps before a day of hiking with my family (my brothers and I were tagging along to a conference), I was recently reminded of the greatness of its cousin, overnight oats, by my lovely Dartmouth teammate (now SMS Elite Nordic Ski Team member and food blogger) Annie Hart. I tried her carrot cake overnight oats a few months ago and went, “Yum! But what if I tried…”

Overnight oats are now my go-to when I’m planning for an early-ish morning in the lab and want something portable and balanced. It’s great to know I have time to go for a run before heading over there, and that I can still enjoy a healthy and tasty breakfast.

I’ve linked to Annie’s recipe above, but lately I’ve been taking advantage of the bounty of summer peaches for my oats. As we move into fall, I’m sure I’ll want more apples and pears in my life, and I’ve found the variations listed below to be good combinations. When I’m out of fresh fruit, chopped up frozen strawberries have also been an excellent addition; they hold up surprisingly well and have always thawed by the morning.

The last of a jar of peach-cinnamon-ginger-cream overnight oats (today’s breakfast in the lab).

Overnight Oats


Yield: 1 serving

1/2 cup rolled oats*
Dash of salt
Dash of spice(s): cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander…
1 tsp-2 Tbsp sweetener (white or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses…)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
1/8 – 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
~1 cup fresh/frozen fruit in small pieces (berries, chopped apple, peach, pear, banana…), or somewhat less dried fruit (craisins, dates, raisins…)

Toppings: chopped nuts, dried coconut, cream…

In a Mason jar or other sturdy container, combine dry ingredients (oats, salt, spices, dry sweetener if using) and stir. Add milk, yogurt, and vanilla (and liquid sweetener, if using) and stir until thoroughly mixed. Stir in fruit. Leave jar in fridge at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. When ready, you can eat it cold or heat in a microwave, stirring at 20-second intervals, for 1-2 minutes (be careful that it doesn’t overflow). Add desired toppings and enjoy with a mug of tea!

My variations so far:

Apple-Cinnamon: 1/2 to 1 chopped apple, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, walnuts or pecans on top

Cardamom Pear: 1/2 to 1 chopped pear, cinnamon, cardamom, maple or honey sweetener, almonds or coconut on top

Berries or Peaches and Cream: 1 c chopped frozen strawberries or frozen blueberries or chopped peach (1/2 if very large, whole one if small), cinnamon, ginger if using peach, cardamom if using berries; top with 1 Tbsp cream or half-and-half as you eat (also good with walnuts, almonds, or coconut)

Other ideas to try (currently untested by me):

Trail Mix: craisins or raisins; nuts and/or coconut and/or chocolate chips on top

Tropical: chopped dried apricots and/or mango, macadamia nuts and/or coconut on top

Pumpkin Pie: add ample pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice) to the oats, reduce milk to 1/3 cup, swap 1/3 c pumpkin puree for the fruit, sweeten with maple syrup or brown sugar; top with pecans or walnuts

Fresh Cranberry + Lemon: chopped fresh cranberries, 2 tsp lemon zest, juice of 1/2 lemon, sweeten with white sugar or honey; top with walnuts (this might end up curdling, but it sounds good…)

*Steel cut oats might also work, but probably need more liquid and/or soaking time. I haven’t tried them yet.

If you have other ideas or tweaks, leave a comment!


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