You don't have to miss out on a healthy breakfast just because you have a busy morning. Learn how to make overnight oats and you won't have to worry about grabbing those expensive breakfast bars again!

Various overnight oats on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

If you're anything like us, then your weekday mornings are busy and you don't always have time to cook a hot and healthy breakfast for your family before the day begins. You're probably running around trying to get everybody ready for school. Or you're taking care of your pets before you leave for the day. Or you just really like to sleep as long as you can before you have to get up and go!

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Regardless of your situation, we can promise that once you know how to make overnight oats, you won't worry quite so much about what you're going to feed your family (or yourself!) in the mornings. They're quick, healthy, and there are SO MANY different combinations!

You can have these oats multiple times a week, but you won't feel like you're eating the same thing every morning. And bonus? They're shelf cooking-friendly! Not only will you learn how to make them, but we're also giving you TEN overnight oats recipes to try. You can thank us later!


Overnight oats in a jar, from Shelf Cooking

These are just the BASIC ingredients to get you started. As long as you have these, then you'll be an overnight oats-making champ!

  • Oats – This is obviously a given! You can use any type of uncooked oat, such as old-fashioned oats, quick-cooking oats, instant oats, and steel-cut oats.
  • Liquid – You can really use any type of liquid here! Milk, a milk substitute (such as almond or coconut milk), yogurt, or greek yogurt.
  • Sweetener – It doesn't necessarily have to be sugar, but you will probably want to add a little something to your overnight oats. Maple syrup (or a substitute), honey, brown sugar (or a substitute), Truvia, Splenda, or even jam or preserves.

After you have a base… The sky's the limit and you can create any flavor combo your heart desires!


There are so many different things you can add to overnight oats. Once you get the basics down, experiment with different flavor combinations to see what you like.


  • Cinnamon – This is a great base to add just a little bit extra flavor to the basic ingredients. It also goes great with other add-ins.
  • Nutmeg – Add a dash of fall to your oats!
  • Salt – A pinch of salt can do wonders as it brings out all the other flavors. Just don't overdo it!


  • Nut Butter – This is a great way to add in some extra protein to help fill you up. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunbutter are all great options.
  • Protein Powder – Here is another good way to add in some extra protein and flavor to your overnight oats!
  • Chia Seeds – These are jam-packed with all kinds of nutrients, so they're a great way to make your overnight oats extra healthy.
  • Flaxseeds – These are another great way to pack a lot of good nutrients into your overnight oats!
  • Yogurt – Greek yogurt especially adds some protein and a little tangy flavor to your overnight oats!


  • Fruit – Pretty much any fruit will go well in overnight oats! If you're going to use fresh fruit, we suggest waiting to add it until right before you eat it in the morning, since it can get soggy if it soaks overnight. If you're using frozen fruit, add it in when you make it in the evening so it'll have plenty of time to thaw before you eat it in the morning. Dried fruit is also an option!
  • Vegetables – Yep, you read that right! Try adding in something like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or even cauliflower.
  • Granola – You really can't go wrong by adding granola to anything! Whether it's store-bought or homemade, give it a try.
  • Chocolate – Any chocolate will work here! Dark chocolate is healthy because of all the antioxidants, right?!
  • Nuts – If you're a nut lover, then it's a given that you'll be adding nuts to your overnight oats. Pecans, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, the options are endless!

Are you starting to see why overnight oats are shelf cooking-friendly? You can add so many different things to them to both use up what you have on hand AND experiment with new flavors.


Now you know all of the different ingredients you can add in, let's discuss how to make overnight oats. This recipe is just a base to start out with! Then you can add in all the flavor and toppings you want in the morning right before you eat it. Grab your jar and let's get started!

Various overnight oats on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

Overnight Oats

A delicious overnight oatmeal base recipe that you can customize to your own liking!!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 1 serving


  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt, optional
  • ½ cup liquid (milk or milk alternative)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds or flaxseed, optional
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener (honey, syrup, sugar, brown sugar, stevia, etc.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Toppings & additional flavor


  • Add oats, yogurt, liquid, chia or flax seed and sweetener to a jar. Mix well. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Add in additional toppings and flavor and mix it all up right before you eat it up!


These will last a few days in the fridge, so they're the perfect breakfast to meal prep on the weekend and eat on during the week!
Keyword easy, make-ahead

These amounts are just a starting point. Feel free to experiment and see what gives you the best consistency. Then tweak it to your liking.

You really won't regret learning how to make overnight oats! They're so easy, delicious and have endless possibilities. Now that you know how to make overnight oats, let's try some recipe combinations!


Apple Pie Overnight Oats from Shelf Cooking

This is such a delicious way to eat apples with your breakfast. It's great for any time of the year, but it'll definitely have you pretending like it's fall when you're eating it!

Add-Ins – A dash of cinnamon, 1-2 tsp brown sugar or homemade caramel, and ⅓ cup diced apple

Doesn't that sound so delicious? Try it and you won't be sorry!


If you love banana bread, then you're going to love this! The bonus? You don't have to heat up your kitchen to make it!

Add-Ins – 2 tsp pecans, ½ tsp cinnamon, a dash of sea salt, ½ cup mashed banana, and 2 tsp maple syrup

A healthier version of banana bread? Yes, please!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats from Shelf Cooking

If you can eat a whole bag of Reeses Peanut Butter cups in one sitting, then this is for you! This is a slightly healthier option to get those same great flavors.

Add-Ins – 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1-2 Tbsp chocolate chips, and 1 tsp honey

This would be a great one to add a little extra vanilla, chocolate, or peanut butter protein powder for an energy boost!


Here's a kid-friendly option!

Add-Ins – ⅓ cup chopped strawberries, 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter, 2 tsp strawberry jam, and 1 Tbsp chopped peanuts

Honestly, you don't have to be a kid to enjoy this version! 😉


Mango Coconut Overnight Oats from Shelf Cooking

Want to be whisked away to a tropical location?? Us too! But if that's not a possibility for you, try this tropical flavor combo for breakfast as the next best thing.

Add-Ins – ⅓ cup diced mango, ¼ cup coconut flakes, 1-2 Tbsp nut butter, and 1 tsp honey

Mmmmm. Now that should put a little pep in your step!


Don't worry about making a batch of cookie dough. Add these toppings to your oats and they'll have you thinking of fresh-baked cookies in no time!

Add-Ins – ¼ cup chocolate chips, 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter, dash of cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Is your mouth watering? It should be. 😉


Banana Nutella breakfast in a jar, from Shelf Cooking

This is a family favorite! The Nutella just takes these oats over the edge almost pushing it into dessert territory. True story!

Add-Ins – 1-2 Tbsp Nutella, ⅓ cup sliced bananas, 1 tsp honey, and 1-2 Tbsp mixed nuts (we love the kind that include cashews and hazelnuts for a special treat!)

Nutella just makes anything better!


This is a tried and true combo that we serve up all the time at our house!

Add-Ins – ⅓ cup sliced banana, 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter, 2 tsp chocolate chips (melt them if you want to swirl the chocolate in), and 1 tsp maple syrup

Yes, please! You really can't go wrong with banana, peanut butter, and chocolate.


Nuts and berries breakfast in a jar, from Shelf Cooking

You've gotta try these classic flavors and toppings for oatmeal in the overnight version. You'll be impressed!

Add-Ins – ⅓ cup strawberries and blueberries, 1-2 tsp brown sugar or honey, and 2 Tbsp mixed nuts

And last but not least…


Almond Joy breakfast in a jar from Shelf Cooking

We might be a little bit nutty, but we're obsessed with these sweet toppings that make breakfast a little more like dessert… A healthy dessert! Go ahead and add dark chocolate chunks instead if that makes you feel better!

Add-Ins – ⅓ cup coconut flakes, ¼ cup chocolate chips, 2 Tbsp chopped almonds, and 1 tsp honey

Well, that should be enough inspiration for you! What other overnight oats flavor combos have you tried before? Share them with us in the comments below!

Easy make-ahead breakfast on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

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