The first time I heard about them, overnight oats completely confused me. You added oats and milk to a mason jar, left it in the fridge overnight, and then… Unscrewed the lid and stuck in a spoon the following morning?
I tilted my head as my mind tried to process. I pictured a bowl of bran flakes or my childhood favorite Fruity Pebbles. “After eight hours, wouldn’t that turn out like cold, soggy, practically disintegrating breakfast cereal?” I silently wondered.
Although very skeptical and on a tight graduate student budget, I finally caved and decided to give it a try one weekend. After my morning run and hopping out of the shower the following day, I reached for a spoon and the container in the fridge. My eyes widened in shock.
The oats were plump and soft — as if I had cooked them the traditional way on the stove!
For my next jar, I added in some yogurt. Being thicker than milk, I crossed my fingers and hoped it’d give my overnight oats an even thicker and creamier texture… And I almost squealed in delight the following morning.
That’s exactly what happened — and my oatmeal had an almost pudding-like consistency!
And this is my basic healthy protein overnight oats recipe. It requires less than five minutes to whip up, and it’s easily customizable too. I’ve created and shared lots of different flavor variations!
Because “pudding” for breakfast is hard to beat — especially when it’s this simple and full of protein!
QUICK OVERVIEW – HEALTHY PROTEIN OVERNIGHT OATS
Difficulty: Very easy!
Taste: Comforting oats against a backdrop of lightly sweetened yogurt.
Texture: Soft, luxuriously thick, and extra creamy.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY PROTEIN OVERNIGHT OATS
Let’s talk about what you’ll need to make these high protein overnight oats! You only need four ingredients (maybe an optional fifth!), and there’s a very good chance you already have all of them in your kitchen.
Oats. No surprises here… It’s virtually impossible to make oatmeal without oats! For these overnight oats, both regular old-fashioned rolled oats and instant oats work really well. Feel free to use whichever you normally buy at the grocery store!
Hint: Instant oats are also called “quick cooking” or “one minute” oats. They’re not the ones that come in individual packets with flavors like maple brown sugar or apple cinnamon! Just like old-fashioned rolled oats, instant oats only contain one ingredient (oats!). They’re simply smaller and thinner, so they soften faster and give your overnight oats an even creamier consistency.
I don’t recommend substituting steel-cut oats, whether the regular or instant variety. Because they’re generally thicker, steel-cut oats don’t soften the same way, and your overnight oats end up with a very toothsome and borderline dry texture. For the best consistency, stick with regular oats instead!
Greek yogurt. If you’ve browsed through my recipes before, then you already know how much I adore Greek yogurt. I’ve used it to make everything from muffins and scones to brownies and cake to quick breads and granola bars… Even frosting and whipped cream!
I love incorporating Greek yogurt into my overnight oats because it’s naturally really thick and creamy, which yields a beautiful consistency, and it’s also full of protein. Greek yogurt has around 21g per cup, compared to regular yogurt with only 8g. That gives your healthy oatmeal a huge protein boost — without any protein powder!
Tip: Check the label of your Greek yogurt! For the best results, use one that only lists (a) milk and (b) live or active cultures. Some brands include more ingredients, such as milk protein concentrate or corn starch, and those tend to be more liquidy and runny. FAGE plain nonfat Greek yogurt is currently my personal favorite! It’s thicker than some other brands, and it also has less of a yogurt “tang” to its flavor.
Milk. Just about any type will work, so use whatever is sitting in your fridge! No need for a special trip to the grocery store. I generally use nonfat milk, unsweetened cashew milk, or unsweetened almond milk.
Sweetener. Like with the milk, you’re welcome to use whatever you prefer! I opted for liquid stevia. Stevia is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that contains nothing overly refined or artificial (aka it’s clean eating friendly!), and it’s also highly concentrated. A little goes a long way! The ¼ teaspoon that I included in the recipe is the sweetness equivalent of 3-4 teaspoons of granulated sugar.
Hint: Many stevia brands and products have different sweetness levels, so they’re not necessarily 1-for-1 substitutes for each other. I buy the one I use online here because that’s the best price I’ve found, but you can also find it in many health-oriented grocery stores. (You’ll use in all of these recipes of mine too — it’s not a “one-time use” ingredient!) If you decide to use a different stevia, then you may need to adjust the amount to suit your tastes.
If you’re not a stevia fan, that’s fine too! This high protein overnight oats recipe is very forgiving, so substitute whatever you’d like. I’ve found liquid sweeteners are slightly easier to stir in (like honey, pure maple syrup, agave, etc), but granular ones still work too (such as monk fruit, sucralose, coconut sugar, etc).
Vanilla. This is entirely optional! These healthy protein overnight oats still taste delicious without it, but I’ve recently started stirring a touch of vanilla extract into my jars. I love the way it adds another layer of flavor, cuts through any lingering yogurt “tang,” and boosts the sweetness of these overnight oats. So if you don’t mind pulling out a fifth ingredient, then I highly recommend using vanilla too!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY PROTEIN OVERNIGHT OATS
Now that you’ve gathered your four (or five!) ingredients, let’s briefly cover how to make the best high protein overnight oats. This will be quick — I promise!
Stir. Add all of your ingredients to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Tupperware, mason jars, jam jars… It doesn’t matter! The 12-ounce jars I use are no longer sold in stores, but these jars are really similar. Then stir-stir-stir until everything is thoroughly combined.
Yes, you must stir. I know my very first photo in this blog post looks really pretty with its crisp, nicely defined layers of oats and yogurt, but… If you left your jar like that overnight, the oats wouldn’t soften at all. They’d still be firm and dry in the morning! They need to swim in that yummy milk and yogurt bath for 8+ hours in order to soak up moisture and soften.
Once you’ve mixed everything together, seal the lid on tight, and…
Refrigerate. Plan for at least 8 hours. Longer is fine too! I’ve left overnight oats in the fridge for about five or six days, and they’re still beautifully creamy and soft. That makes them perfect for meal prepping! Whip up a big batch over the weekend, divide it up into individual portions, and simply slip one out each morning to…
Eat. An easy final step! Since someone always asks… Yes, overnight oats are meant to be eaten cold and straight from the refrigerator. Just grab a spoon — no need to heat them up! Because you let the oats soak up moisture from the yogurt and milk for hours, they turn out just as soft as if you had cooked them the traditional way on the stove or in the microwave.
FLAVOR VARIATION IDEAS FOR HEALTHY PROTEIN OVERNIGHT OATS
Consider this recipe your basic template. There are plenty of fun flavor possibilities! I’ve shared quite a few on my blog, including…
- Almond Joy Protein Overnight Oats
- Banana Bread Protein Overnight Oats
- Blueberry Pie Protein Overnight Oats
- Chocolate Protein Overnight Oats
- Gingerbread Protein Overnight Oats
- Peach Pie Protein Overnight Oats
- Peanut Butter Cup Protein Overnight Oats
- Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats
- Raisin Protein Overnight Oats
- Snickerdoodle Protein Overnight Oats
My dad loves the banana bread one. He made it almost every night for three straight months! The pumpkin pie version is a huge reader favorite during the fall (who can resist pumpkin pie for breakfast?? certainly not me!), and the raisin one basically tastes like oatmeal raisin cookies. The chocolate, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter cup versions are also pretty popular around here!
Basically… You can’t go wrong with any of them! (And you can find all of my high protein overnight oats recipes here!)
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHY PROTEIN OVERNIGHT OATS
Are these healthy protein overnight oats gluten-free, vegan, clean eating, low fat, or sugar-free?
Yes — to almost everything! They’re naturally clean eating, low fat, and sugar-free. (Nut-free too!) If you use certified gluten-free oats, then they’re also gluten-free. I’ve substituted dairy-free yogurt and milk with great results, so you can easily make your overnight oats vegan as well!
What are the best oats to use for overnight oatmeal?
Old-fashioned rolled oats and instant oats (aka “quick cooking” or “one minute” oats) both work equally well. I don’t recommend steel-cut oats because they don’t soften properly. See the “Oats” header in the “Ingredients to Make Healthy Protein Overnight Oats” section above for more info!
Can I use a different yogurt?
Yup! If you aren’t a fan of plain Greek yogurt, you can easily substitute another flavor. Vanilla, coconut, honey, something fruity… Whatever you prefer! Regular non-Greek yogurt and dairy-free yogurt work well too. They’re not quite as thick, but you can easily decrease the milk by a touch to help compensate. (And your overnight oats will still taste the same too!)
What about a different milk?
Yes again! Just about any type will work, so you’re welcome to use whatever you keep in your fridge.
Or a different sweetener?
Absolutely! Liquid sweeteners tend to be a tiny bit easier to stir in, but this high protein overnight oats recipe is really forgiving… So feel free to substitute your favorite one! (See the “Sweetener” header in the “Ingredients to Make Healthy Protein Overnight Oats” section above for more info.)
What are good toppings for overnight oats?
Oh my goodness — the options are almost endless! Fruit, nuts, spices, chocolate chips, raisins, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup… Even granola clusters, if you’re a huge oat lover and want a little crunch! Whatever you’d normally sprinkle on yogurt and breakfast parfaits or drizzle on top of pancakes should also work well here. I’ve included a list of my favorite mix-in and flavor variations above, so see the “Flavor Variation Ideas for Healthy Protein Overnight Oats” section above for more inspiration!
Can I reheat these overnight oats to eat them warm?
You’re welcome to try! Just be careful… If you heat them too much or too quickly, the yogurt and milk can curdle!
How long will they keep? Are overnight oats good for meal prep?
I’ve had these healthy protein overnight oats last for close to a week when refrigerated and sealed inside of their individual jars. So yes — they’re perfect for meal prepping! (One quick note… If you’d like to add fresh fruit to your batch, it’s sometimes best to wait until the night before or morning of, just for the best flavor and texture!)
Ready for breakfast?? And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy protein overnight oats!
Healthy Protein Overnight Oats
- Stir together everything except the oats until thoroughly combined in a mason jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Then stir in the oats until fully incorporated. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Chocolate Protein Overnight Oats
♡ Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats
♡ Blueberry Pie Protein Overnight Oats
♡ Banana Bread Protein Overnight Oats
♡ Carrot Cake Protein Muffins
♡ Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Muffins
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s high protein overnight oats recipes!