I love eating oatmeal for breakfast, but I seldom take it to work with me.
Whenever I try, the container the oatmeal is in inevitably leaks, or I don’t have time to heat it up before things get busy, and then I spend my morning hungry (and grumpy).
I started a new job this summer, and that meant heading back into an office for the first time in months and packing meals again.
Thankfully, I remembered overnight oats exist, and my breakfast game has been strong ever since.
If you’re new to the concept of overnight oats, the best way to describe it is cold porridge. You mix a base of oats, milk, yogurt and chia seeds and then let it hang out in your refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, the oats and seeds have soaked up the yogurt and milk, and you’ve got a ready-to-go breakfast.
It’s healthy, it’s filling, it’s portable and it’s completely customizable.
For this Test Kitchen, I decided to try a base recipe and then a few suggested variations.
In each recipe, I used plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt and unsweetened vanilla
almond milk. I always added the vanilla, but I only added a drizzle of maple syrup to the recipes that didn’t have fruit mixed in.
I know some people don’t like chia seeds because they can create a gummy texture. If that’s you, feel free to use fewer seeds or just leave them out. I’ve made overnight oats plenty of times without chia seeds, and they have turned out fine. The better you whisk your oats, however, the less likely you are to end up with gummy clumps of seeds.
I made three versions of overnight oats: classic vanilla (which is the base recipe), banana chocolate and chocolate peanut butter.
My favorite was the original, which I topped with a generous dash of cinnamon before eating. I think throwing some blueberries or strawberries on the oats in the morning also would have been delicious.
The least successful recipe for me was the banana chocolate. Something about a bunch of whole chocolate chips in oats in the morning was too much, and the banana was sort of slimy.
The peanut butter and chocolate oats looked questionable, but they tasted good. Again, this would be another good recipe to add some berries to in the morning if you wanted a more complete breakfast.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with overnight oats, and the vanilla recipe is the perfect base to use to experiment with.
For the classic vanilla oats:
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (heaping) rolled oats
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxmeal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Up to 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional)
For the chocolate chip banana oats:
Add half a ripe banana (chopped or mashed) and 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.
For the chocolate peanut butter oats:
Add 2 tablespoons each of unsweetened cocoa powder and natural peanut butter.
1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl.
2. Spoon into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
3. Close and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight before eating.