While overnight oats are usually soaked in milk, they can just as easily be made with water. This recipe comes in handy when you ran out of milk but still craving a creamy bowl of oatmeal. With only 5 minutes of prep time, they make the perfect healthy breakfast meal-prep recipe.
Overnight oats are one of the easiest meal prep recipes out there. They are most often prepared with milk but overnight oats can easily be made without milk. They do need some sort of liquid though, that's when water comes in as a great alternative to milk. For more overnight oat recipes try our Almond Milk Overnight Oats, Overnight Oats with Frozen Fruit or Overnight Oats without Yogurt.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- 5 minutes of prep time is all you need to make this amazing make-ahead breakfast.
- They are nutritious and packed with fiber making you feeling full for longer.
- It comes together with just 6 simple ingredients.
- The base recipe is nut-free, vegan (if you choose a vegan sogurt) and soy-free and can easily be made gluten-free as well.
Can you make Overnight Oats with Water?
Yes, you can soak oats in water overnight instead of milk. Soaking oats for a longer period of time makes them more easily digestible as well as taste better.
To still achieve a creamy consistency even without milk, we make overnight oats with water and yogurt as well as chia seeds. This combination of ingredients will leave you with a chewy oatmeal.
Ingredients & Substitution Notes
- Oats: For these overnight oats recipe we recommend using old fashioned rolled oats. Instant oats and quick oats are not my favourite to use when it comes to overnight oats because of their texture. They usually soak up less liquid, resulting in a quite mushy consistency. I have not tried this recipe using steel-cut oats.
- Sweetener: We used maple syrup, however any sweetener of choice such as agarve, honey (not vegan) would work here. Because there's no milk included, I would not recommend skipping the sweetener.
- Chia Seeds: Together with the yogurt, they help thicken the overnight oats. Ground flax-seeds could be used instead.
- Yogurt: Is used to create the creamy consistency that we would achieve by soaking the oats in milk overnight. But the combination of water and yogurt creates some nice thick oats as well. Any yogurt of choice would work (plant based, dairy-free or traditional dairy yogurt such as Greek sogurt).
- Sea Salt (optinal): The only thing that salt does to oats is enhancing the flavours even more- include only a tiny pinch tough!
- Toppings: 100% recommended as it adds some amazing flavours and nutrients. We chose to add some muddled strawberries as well as blueberries, nuts and more maple syrup but you can add whichever toppings you like. Below you'll find more suggestions.
How to Make Overnight Oats with Water
Overnight oats are incredibly easy to prepare. Simply through all of the ingredients together in a small bowl or jar, pop it in the fridge over night and add some delicious toppings of choice shortly before eating it.
To end up with the perfect overnight oats concisteny, the oat-liquid ratio is important. The recipe below will leave you with a thick and creamy oatmeal. Feel free to play with the consistency by adding more or less water.
Step 1: Whisk together ingredients
Combine oats, chia seeds, salt, water, yogurt and sweetener of choice in a small bowl and whisk well. If you plan on enjoying the oats as a grab-and-go breakfast, use a mason jar (with a lid) instead. Alternatively, stir the ingredients together in a bowl and transfer the oatmeal to a mason jar the next morning.
Step 2: Refrigerate
Cover the mason jar with a lid or the bowl with a plastic film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
Step 3: Add toppings
Add your toppings of choice such as pieces of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butters or shortly before consuming them. In this case we opted to fill the mason jar with muddled strawberries at the buttom, followed by the overnight oats mixture and topped it off with some fresh strawberries, blueberries, nuts and even more maple syrup.
- !Toppings!: Choosing delicious toppings is crucial when it comes to creating a flavorful oatmeal recipe. Oats themselves taste slighly sweet and nutty but are otherwise quite neutral in their taste, that's when toppings come into play! Choose whatever you like, preferably different ones with different textures and tastes. Below you'll find some ideas.
- Rolled Oats: I prefer using old fashioned oats for overnight oats recipes in general. Using quick or instant oats might work but they usually soak up less liquid, leaving you with a mushy, thinner consistency.
- Batch Cooking: The following recipe makes one single serving of overnight oats. The good thing about overnight oats is that they usually keep in the fridge for up to 4 days, making them a great prep ahead meal. You could make larger batches on Sunday- that way you'll have some delicious breakfast ready for the whole week. I highly recommend add your toppings shortly before consuming it though!
- Warm breakfast: Overnight oats can also be heated- put them into the microwave (using a microwave save bowl) for a minute or so and you'll end up with a warm bowl of porridge.
- Ready-to-go: If you're not a morning person but would like to enjoy a healthy breakfast either in the morning or later on the go, overnight oats are an amazing opiton! Prepare them in a masjon jar or any other jar with a lid. Add your toppings in the morning (or bring them with you in a separate smaller jar) and add them shortly before consuming.
Add-Ins & Topping Ideas
- Fresh Fruit: Fresh fruit is a must for almost any oatmeal recipe. We chose to add some muddle strawberries as well as blueberries, nuts and more maple syrup but you can add whichever toppings you like. Use any fresh fruit of your choice and play around with combining different ones. Fresh berries such as blueberries or raspberries, banana, apples or pears all make incredible oatmeal toppings.
- Dried Fruit: They add even more fiber and sweetness. I prefer dates (maybe cut them in half first), cranberries, raisins or figs.
- Nut Butters: add a geneours scoop of Homemade Almond Butter, peanut butter or any other nut butter of choice.
- Nuts & Seeds: Sprinkle with some flax seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds to add some additional texture.
- Caramel: For any caramel lover out there I hiiighly recommend trying this 2-Ingredient Vegan Caramel Sauce as a topping.
- Apple Puree: adds some nice creaminess as well as cozy apple flavours. Otherwise, you could a mashed banana.
- Cacao Powder: Add in some cacao powder for some chocolatey flavors!
- Protein Powder: Overnight oats with water and protein powder is a great way to add more protein to this healthy breakfast, that otherwise would have been provided by the milk. Add a scoop of your favourite protein powder- vegan or non vegan.
These overnight oats keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Overnight oats is an easy no cook meal that is made by soaking rolled oats in liquid overnight. The soaking process softens them, leaving you with a thick and creamy oatmeal that's more easily digestible. They are an amazing make-ahead breakfast for when you're short on time but want something healthy and nutritious.
Studies have connected oats to numerous health benefits such as the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce CVB risks and inflammation. Other compounds such as phenolic acids have antioxidant properties and provide great health benefits. Oats are also high in vitamins (A, C, D, B6) and copper, iron, selenium and zinc as well as dietary fiber which play a big role in supporting the immune system.
Yes! Put them into the microwave for a minute or so and you'll end up with a warm bowl of oatmeal.
Overnight oats are most often prepared with milk but they can easily be made without milk. They do need some sort of liquid though, that's when water comes in as a great alternative to milk. Together with the chia seeds and yogurt you'll still end up with a nice creamy consistency.
This really depends on the recipe and the other ingredients that are added. Oats soaked in water have a quite neutral (and a little boring and tasteless) taste. But this recipe also includes chia seeds and yogurt to make it thick and chewy, a sweetener to add some sweet taste as well as toppings. Choosing toppings that you like is important to make this a recipe that you'll love preparing.
What soaking oats overnight does is it helps the oats break down their natural starches. It also reduces the phytic acid that occurs naturally in oats. As a result, they become more digestible and your body can absorb the nutrients more easily. Secondly, the oats when soaked overnight also taste much more delicious.
For overnight oats we recommend using old-fashioned rolled oats. You could try using steel-cut oats but they might have a slightly chewier texture which means that you'll need to cook them for a couple of minutes the next day (I have not tried this recipe using steel-cut oats though). Instant oats and quick oats are not my favorite to use when it comes to overnight oats because they often result in a mushy texture. If you don't mind a runnier consistency then you could give it a try. Slightly reduce the amount of liquid then.
Overnight Oats with Water (No Milk)
- ½ cup old fashioned oats *see notes
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 tablespoon plain yogurt of choice (dairy-free, vegan, Greek...)
- tiny pinch of salt (optional)
Muddled Strawberries (optional)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar and thoroughly stir until well combined.
- Cover with a lid or plastic and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Taste and adjust sweetness.
- Serve with toppings of choice (see suggestions below).
- If you choose to add the muddled strawberries from the photo, put 1 cup of fresh strawberries, together with your sweetener of choice into your food processor. Pulse a couple of times until strawberries turn into a puree. Alternatively you could mash them with the back of a fork.
- Types of oats: We recommend using old fashioned rolled oats for the perfect consistency. Instant or quick oats usually soak up less liquid resulting in a thinner less chewy texture. I have not tried this recipe using steel-cut oats.
- Consistency: feel free to add more or less water or yogurt if you prefer a thicker or runnier oatmeal.
- Warm breakfast: These oats can also be heated- simply put them into the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
- Storage: Refrigerate in a sealed container or masjon jar for up to 4 days (though they taste best within the first day or two).
- Topping & add-In suggstions: Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butter, 2-Ingredient Caramel Sauce, protein powder, apple puree, cacao powder...