Gluten free overnight oats are made with just rolled oats, some seeds and any sort of milk, and take less than 5 minutes of prep time. A fast, nutritious and filling breakfast, with endless flavor variations!
Before we get down to brass tacks with this recipe for overnight oats (which is really more a concept than a recipe, to be honest), let’s get one thing out of the way: If you’re asking yourself, is oatmeal gluten free, the answer is … it depends. If you’re using certified gluten free oats, at least in the U.S., then yes, they’re gluten free. Oats are not a gluten-containing grain, although they are frequently contaminated with gluten. For more information, please see my Ultimate Guide To Going Gluten Free.
Overnight oats are sort of a phenomenon that I resisted for far too long. I have an oatmeal-loving family. But making oatmeal that has the perfect creamy consistency (not too wet, not too dry) and is ready on a busy weekday morning has been a challenge. Overnight oats are the answer. Even my fussiest eater is pleased with the consistency, overnight oats are just about as nutritious as a whole grain gluten free breakfast can be, and it’s super easy to create different flavor variations. Plus, they’re more filling than even traditional oatmeal, thanks to the addition of ground chia seeds or flaxmeal. The basic idea is a simple one: old fashioned rolled oats soak overnight in an approximately equal mount of your favorite milk, with a pinch of salt and about 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds or flaxmeal (you can buy chia seeds whole and grind them yourself in a blender or coffee grinder easily). I buy my certified gluten free oats, plus my chia seeds (and milk!) at Trader Joe’s. Overnight, the oats absorb the moisture from the milk and the chia or flax helps to gel the mixture. The result is creamy, but never mushy, oatmeal.
I find that the texture and flavor are best when you don’t add any fruit, whether dried or fresh, until soon before serving—with one notable exception. The banana flavor variety is made with a mashed banana that helps thicken and flavor the oats as they soak.
One of my favorite flavors is chocolate peanut butter, made with smooth peanut butter and cocoa powder. Serve it with extra peanut butter, topped with some chopped peanuts and miniature chocolate chips. One combination I haven’t tried yet, though, is peanut butter banana overnight oats. I think it would work with 3/4 cup milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground chia seeds, 1 large ripe mashed banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 3/4 cup oats, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey or pure maple syrup. Try it!
Ultimately, my go-to flavor variation is the yogurt variation below, with a strawberry syrup used to replace at least 2 tablespoons of the milk and plain whole milk yogurt. It’s very lightly sweet, with a really pleasant sour flavor from the plain yogurt. I serve it (to myself) with extra strawberry syrup and less than a tablespoon of maple syrup.
Oh, did I forget to mention my super easy recipe for strawberry syrup? Just hulled fresh or frozen strawberries, a splash of water, a pinch of salt and a bit of sugar, cooked until the strawberries begin to break down. It takes about 5 minutes to make, and keeps in the refrigerator for at least a week (details in the recipe below).
Do you have your own ideas for flavor variations? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Nuts, seeds, small pieces of dried fruit, miniature chocolate chips
Toasted coconut chips
More sugar, of any kind (maple syrup, honey, granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, sugar in the raw, etc.)
*To make strawberry syrup, place hulled frozen or fresh strawberries in a medium-size, heavy bottom saucepan with 1/8-inch of water, about 1 tablespoon granulated sugar per 1/2 pound of strawberries (or more to taste) and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook until the strawberries are soft and beginning to break down. Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender, in a standard blender (be careful blending hot liquids as they expand during blending) or in a food mill. Store cooled syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
For the basic recipe, in a container that holds at least 8 ounces, place the milk and chia seeds or flaxmeal, and mix to combine well. Add the oats, salt and optional sugar, and mix to combine well. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
To make the banana flavor, in a container that holds at least 8 ounces, place the milk, mashed banana and chia seeds or flaxmeal, and mix to combine well. Add the cinnamon, oats, salt and optional sugar, and mix to combine well. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
To make the chocolate peanut butter flavor, in a container that holds at least 8 ounces, place the milk, chia seeds or flaxmeal, cocoa powder and peanut butter, and mix to combine well. Add the oats, salt and optional honey or maple syrup, and mix to combine well. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
To make the yogurt variation, in a container that holds at least 8 ounces, place the milk, yogurt, and chia seeds or flaxmeal (note that this variation uses less chia/flax), and mix to combine well. Add the oats, salt and optional sugar, and mix to combine well. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
Serve cold, or remove the container from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. Add toppings before serving.