It's hard not to love the convenience of overnight oats. Stir oats and milk together in a bowl or a jar, let them hang out together while you sleep, and come morning you have a hearty, satisfying breakfast waiting for you. Yes, it's as simple as it sounds, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your morning oats are as creamy and comforting as possible before you run out the door. Here are five mistakes to avoid.
1. Guessing on the liquid-to-oat ratio.
Getting the liquid-to-oat ratio down is one major key to success when it comes to overnight oats. Since overnight oats are really just oats that have been left to soften for hours in liquid — usually milk of some sort — to break down and become porridge-like, if you use too much liquid, the oats won't be able to soften enough and get that creamy consistency. Instead you'll have something more like cement. Yet, use too much liquid and you'll end up with soup.
Follow this tip: Stick with a 2:1 ratio of liquid to oats when making overnight oats to achieve a spoonable, porridge-like consistency.
2. Not adding a pinch of salt.
As much as oats love maple syrup and brown sugar, they also love (and need) salt. Just like any other food, overnight oats needs to be seasoned properly and will frankly taste like cardboard without that pinch of salt, regardless of how much syrup you drizzle on.
Follow this tip: Stir in a pinch of salt to your liquid and oat mixture at night, in addition to whatever sweetener you use, and know you'll have a well-seasoned breakfast in the morning
3. Reaching for instant oats.
Leave instant oats behind when making overnight oats. Since they are so small, they'll actually just end up almost dissolving in the liquid. Steel-cuts oats can be used but expect them to very chewy and fairly dense.
Follow this tip: Old-fashioned rolled oats are the best when it comes to the variety to use for overnight oats. They'll give you that creamy, smooth texture with just the right amount of chew.
4. Tossing all the nuts and fruits in at once.
It may be tempting to stir nuts and fruit into the oats before you go to bed to make it extra easy on yourself in the morning, but try to hold back. Just like the oats, anything you add to the liquid is going to soak and soften so you'll be left with chewy nuts and mushy fruit.
Follow this tip: Reserve mix-ins like nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, granola, and coconut flakes for the morning. Chia seeds and dried fruit can be adding at night, as chia seeds do need time to absorb liquid and dried fruit will plump up overnight.
5. Forgetting to stir before digging in.
You already stirred the oats into the liquid last night, so no need to stir them again in the morning, right? The bottom of the oats might be pretty mushy while the top still could have a little crunch left in it, which means you'll be digging through all sorts of different textures.
Follow this tip: Give your overnight oats one final stir after taking them out of the fridge to ensure all that chewy, crunchy, mushy goodness is well-combined and you've got all those great textures in each bite.