Here’s everything you need to know to make healthy and delicious overnight oats. It’s the perfect make-ahead breakfast for babies and kids, and I’ve included a base recipe PLUS 6 recipes to help get you started!
With just a little bit of prep work, you’ll have jars of nutritious and filling breakfast that your entire family can enjoy even on your busiest mornings. And of course, you can also enjoy these as a wholesome snack!
For those of you guys who are new to this AH-MAZING make-ahead breakfast (or snack) option, please puh-lease allow me to explain!
Overnight oats are basically no-cook method of making oatmeal. Instead of cooking the oats, simply soak them with milk of choice (and/or yogurt) and let them sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight - hence the name.
As they rest, the oats and seeds will absorb the liquid, making the uncooked oats soft enough to eat. Texturally, it's also denser and creamier than the stove-top oats. We've been enjoying these for years - Can't believe I wrote this post back in 2015!
Overnight quinoa is something we've been enjoying ever since my son started solids (two years ago). The idea for swapping oats with quinoa came from the fact that I always seem to cook wayyy more quinoa than I need at the time.
I also NEEDED to find a way to serve this nutritious grain to my baby without me losing my sanity. We did baby led weaning, and it’s not so fun to see tiny grains flying everywhere. Although my son would tell you otherwise.
Think of overnight quinoa as a cross between overnight oats and chia pudding. Unlike overnight oats, you do have to cook the quinoa first.
So the next time quinoa is on the menu, be sure to make extra! If you've been enjoying overnight oats for some time now, this will be a simple way to invite variety into your routine.
Here's How to cook quinoa perfectly
It can be offered to babies as soon as they’re ready to start solids, usually around 6 months. It's important to remember that your baby is unique and that rather than going by the calendar, you need to make sure your baby is DEVELOPMENTALLY ready to start solids.
If you're unsure, be sure to grab my FREE handout!
Overnight oats for babies and toddlers
Why you're going to love these make-ahead breakfast! They are such a great way to
- introduce flavor and texture to babies regardless of which feeding method you chose.
- make every bite count when not much is being eaten - especially during the first weeks of starting solids or during an illness.
- incorporate a variety of foods into their meal/snack with ease. There are endless possibilities when it comes to flavor combinations and toppings. I'm sharing 6 here but you really can add whatever you fancy!
- offer choking hazards (e.g. nuts, dried fruits) in a safe way, as they will soften up along with the rest of the ingredients. Just be sure to ground or finely chop them before adding.
- offer key nutrients that are particularly important during the first years of life - iron, zinc, omega-3, healthy fats, calcium, and vitamin D, etc.
- introduce the top allergens early and often.
- practice eating with a spoon. Because the texture is pretty thick, it will make it easier to scoop.
Is your baby 6 months old and up?
Learn all the secrets to starting solids safely while optimizing nutrition!
Ingredients you need
I generally like a
- Oats: old-fashioned rolled oats will work best. You'll get that creamy and smooth texture with just the right amount of chew. You can also use steel cut oats but the process will be slightly different.
- Quinoa: Be sure to cook and chill prior to adding to the jar/container. Can't emphasize this enough. White and red quinoa are the two types I recommend for this -
whiteif you want a milder, lighter texture and red for a richer, nuttier, slightly chewier texture.
- Chia seeds: gives the overnight oats/quinoa the pudding-like texture. You can leave them out if you wish, but I highly recommend that you give it a try first. I find that 1 teaspoon is plenty for the little ones. But you can certainly add more for yourself - up to 1 tablespoon.
- Milk: can use your favorite milk.
- Yogurt: makes it rich and creamy. It's also a great source of probiotics and protein. Leaving it overnight does enhance the tanginess as it absorbs into the oats. So if you'd like to lessen the flavor, you can
- a.) add something sweet to create a balance or
- b.) leave it out completely and add it in the morning
- Sweetener (for sweet versions): fruit, applesauce, maple syrup, honey, date syrup, chopped dried fruits. They will all work. You can also top with more when you're ready to eat
- Spices: again, feel free to use whatever you fancy!
Toppings for Overnight Oats
Pro Tip: It is best to add the toppings after the overnight oats/quinoa have chilled, so right before eating.
That way, you get a mixture of textures and the toppings don't get mushy. As you can see, there are endless options! And if you tend to gravitate towards sweet oatmeal, try flipping the switch to savory concoctions!
- Nuts: finely grind them for babies to make them safe. I use my coffee grinder for this and make a big batch to keep in the fridge. That way, I can easily add to yogurt, cereal, baked goods, etc. It's a great way to add more fat into their diet, which is super important during this stage for brain development.
- Raw veggies: an awesome way to introduce texture to toddlers. Start with finely grated veggies (using a lemon zester works well), like carrots, and once you see your child handling well, you can start offering finely chopped ones. Here's how to offer raw veggies in a safe and fun way.
Tips and Tricks
- Stir, Stir, Stir! It's really important that you give everything a good stir before placing it in the fridge AND right before eating. This will ensure that you'll get all those yummy flavors and textures in every bite.
- As mentioned earlier, you can leave
chia seeds if you wish. However, you do have to cut back on liquid as they play a key role in helping the overnight oats/quinoa to thicken. It also won't be as creamy. out the
- They don't have to be refrigerated overnight, but I do recommend at least 4 hours in the fridge.
- Store chia seeds in the freezer to keep them fresh longer and prevent them from going rancid.
Common Cooking Questions
Feel free to use almond, coconut, cashew, pea, soy. All of these will work. Although I recommend these two for maximum nutrition. You can also use water, but I don't recommend it. You'll definitely be missing the rich, creamy factor.
Once assembled, store in a bowl or any containers. Will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. If you add fresh fruits, enjoy within 2 days or so.
Sweet Overnight oats/quinoa
A classic, oh-so-comforting dessert that is totally appropriate to enjoy first thing in the morning! Freshly chopped apple, walnuts, and the warm flavor of cinnamon make for the perfect accompaniment to the creamy oat/quinoa base.
PB and Raspberries
Super straightforward but is one of my personal favorites! It hits the spot every.singe.time. Simply mash a banana and stir it into the oat/quinoa mixture along with a tablespoon of peanut butter. You can also swap it out with any nut butter of choice and fruit.
Eat dessert for breakfast while getting whole grains and protein? Sign me up! Thick and creamy, it truly tastes like fall in a jar. I more often than not use canned pumpkin for convenience but you can certainly make your own. We honestly enjoy this
This is one of my son's favorite. It's creamy, crunchy, chewy, and sweet, and is packed with all the good-for-you nutrients. Oh! and may I draw attention to the fact that you get ¼ cup of carrots per serving? You're welcome ;). Ooh, and a dollop of cream cheese will be a lovely touch too!
Savory Overnight oats/quinoa
Simply add scrambled eggs and avocado right before eating. I personally like to add some Everything bagel seasoning ;).
Roasted vegetables and tahini
Such a great way to repurpose leftover veggies!
More breakfast/snack ideas
- Single Serve Chia Puddings
- Microwave Egg Oatmeals
- Toast Toppings
- Breakfast ideas for babies
- Baby and Toddler Muffins
Overnight Oats or Quinoa
The Basic Recipe
- ⅓ cup uncooked rolled oats or cooked quinoa
- ⅓ cup unsweetened milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- sweetener of choice
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or dairy-free alternatives (optional)
- Place all the ingredients (minus the toppings) into a glass container and give them a good stir.
- Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours
- If you'd like, add additional liquid in the morning. Once you achieve the desired consistency, enjoy with toppings.
- to oats/quinoa, milk, and chia seeds, add: ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce, ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- toppings: chopped (or grated) apples, pecans, maple syrup
- to oats/quinoa, milk, and chia seeds, add: 1 tablespoon pb, ½ medium banana, mashed
- toppings: more pb, fresh raspberries
- to oats/quinoa, milk, chia seeds, add: ¼ cup pumpkin puree, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon maple syrup/date syrup
- toppings: pecans
- to oats/quinoa, milk, chia seeds, add: ¼ cup finely grated carrots, 1 tablespoon chopped dates, 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- toppings: walnuts, unsweetened coconut
- to oats/quinoa, milk, and chia seeds, add: ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt, ⅛ teaspoon curry powder
- toppings: scrambled egg, avocado
- to oats/quinoa, milk, and chia seeds, add: ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
- toppings: roasted vegetables, a drizzle of tahini
- Best to add the toppings after the overnight oats/quinoa have chilled
- Nuts: finely grind for babies
- Stir, before placing it in the fridge AND right before eating
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours in the fridge
- Keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. If adding fresh fruits, enjoy within 2 days
- Hot or cold? Meant to be enjoyed straight from the fridge. But if craving something warm, briefly microwave (45-60 sec) or transfer to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until warmed through