Magazine

Cooking | Magazine

Recipes: Overnight refrigerator oatmeal makes weekday breakfasts easy

Pop this oatmeal in the refrigerator and it’s ready to go in the a.m. for a quick and satisfying breakfast.

Variations on overnight refrigerator oatmeal.
Photograph by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.
Variations on overnight refrigerator oatmeal.

Why put up with the mushy glop that results from adding boiling water to a packet of instant oatmeal when you can have real old-fashioned oatmeal, customized to your taste, with zero cooking instead? Meet overnight refrigerator oatmeal. Mix it up the night before and grab it in the morning on your way out the door to enjoy later, cool or warmed. Overnight oatmeal is a study in flexibility — I like mine thick, creamy, and very lightly sweetened; by adding more or less sweetener, liquid, and flavorings, you can tailor yours however you wish.

OVERNIGHT REFRIGERATOR OATMEAL

Serves 2 (about 1 cup each)

Mason jars are popular containers for overnight oatmeal. You’ll need two of the pint-size jars to accommodate this recipe. If you use plain yogurt instead of vanilla, include ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. The chia seeds thicken the oatmeal (and help keep you feeling full) but can be omitted. And if you heat the mixture before serving, it will thicken further, in which case you might want to add a little extra liquid to adjust the consistency to your liking.

1         cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats

Advertisement

2        tablespoons chia seeds

1         cup milk of choice

½      cup vanilla yogurt

1         tablespoon sweetener of choice, such as pure maple syrup, honey, light agave, or turbinado or brown sugar

¼      teaspoon ground cinnamon

Advertisement

Salt

In each of 2 pint containers, add ½ cup oats and 1 tablespoon chia seeds. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, yogurt, sweetener, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to blend. Pour half the milk mixture into each container of oats and stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate until the oats are hydrated and the mixture is thickened, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

At serving time, remove the cover, stir to re-blend, and heat in the microwave if desired. Adjust seasoning with sweetener and/or consistency with milk if necessary and serve.

Variations 

OVERNIGHT REFRIGERATOR OATMEAL WITH BANANA AND BERRIES

Serves 2 (about 2 cups each)

Berries will soften during fridge time, so I prefer to add them just before serving.

Follow the recipe for Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal, stirring ½ cup thinly sliced banana into each container along with the liquid mixture. At serving time, top each portion with ½ cup raspberries, blackberries, and/or blueberries, and serve.

ORANGE-GINGER OVERNIGHT REFRIGERATOR OATMEAL WITH DATES

Serves 2 (about 1 cup each)

Advertisement

The grated zest gives this oatmeal a gentle orange essence. If you’d prefer an intense orange flavor, substitute orange juice for the milk.

Follow the recipe for Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal, choosing honey or light agave as the sweetener and stirring 1 teaspoon each finely grated orange zest and fresh ginger and ¼ cup chopped pitted dates (about 4 small dates) into each container along with the liquid mixture. To serve, top each portion with 2 tablespoons chopped pitted dates (about 2 small dates) if desired.

TIP: TOAST YOUR OATS

Dry-toasting oats intensifies their flavor. Heat 1 cup of rolled oats in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring and shaking the pan frequently so they’ll toast evenly, until they’re fragrant and a shade darker, 8 to 10 minutes.
Anthony Tieuli
Dry-toasting oats intensifies their flavor. Heat 1 cup of rolled oats in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring and shaking the pan frequently so they’ll toast evenly, until they’re fragrant and a shade darker, 8 to 10 minutes.

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE OVERNIGHT REFRIGERATOR OATMEAL

Serves 2 (about 1  1/3  cups each)

If you like your strawberries sweetened, toss them with ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar or other sweetener and allow them to macerate for a few minutes before topping the oatmeal with them. Also, if you warm up this oatmeal, do so before topping with the cream cheese, preserves, and fresh berries.

1         cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats

2        tablespoons chia seeds

1         cup milk of choice

½      cup vanilla yogurt

1/3      cup strawberry preserves

Salt

3        tablespoons whipped cream cheese, preferably at room temperature

2/3     cup sliced or quartered cored fresh strawberries

In each of 2 pint containers, add ½ cup oats and 1 tablespoon chia seeds. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, yogurt, 3 tablespoons strawberry preserves, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to blend. Pour half the milk mixture into each container of oats and stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate until the oats are hydrated and the mixture is thickened, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

At serving time, remove the cover, stir to re-blend, and heat in the microwave if desired. Adjust the consistency with milk, if desired. Top each portion with half of the cream cheese and fresh strawberries and half the remaining strawberry preserves, and serve.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

CARROT CAKE OVERNIGHT REFRIGERATOR OATMEAL

Serves 2 (about 1  1/3  cups each)

As with the Strawberry Cheesecake version, if you choose to warm up this oatmeal, do so before topping it with the cream cheese.

1         cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats

2        tablespoons chia seeds

1         cup milk of choice

½      cup vanilla yogurt

1         tablespoon (or more, if desired) sweetener of choice,  such as pure maple syrup, honey,  agave, or turbinado or brown sugar

¼      teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8     teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2/3     cup finely shredded carrot

3        tablespoons currants or chopped raisins

Salt

¼      cup finely chopped pineapple, optional

3        tablespoons whipped cream cheese, preferably at room temperature

¼      cup chopped toasted pecans

In each of 2 pint containers, add ½ cup oats and 1 tablespoon chia seeds. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, yogurt, sweetener, cinnamon, nutmeg, ½ cup of carrots, the currants, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to blend. Pour half the milk mixture into each container of oats and stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate until the oats are hydrated and the mixture is thickened, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

At serving time, remove cover, stir to re-blend, and heat in the microwave if desired. Adjust seasoning with sweetener and/or consistency with milk if desired. Top each portion with half the pineapple, if using, half the remaining shredded carrot, half the cream cheese, and half the pecans, and serve.

SAVORY OVERNIGHT REFRIGERATOR OATMEAL WITH SESAME, SOY, AND SCALLIONS

Serves 2 (about 1 cup each)

I recommend that you eat this version warm. And it makes a great lunch. It will thicken further when you heat it, so you may want to adjust the texture with an extra couple of tablespoons of broth or water.

This was inspired by an idea from cookbook author Mark Bittman.

1         cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats

2        tablespoons chia seeds

1 1/3   cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or more, if necessary

Salt

1         tablespoon soy sauce, or more, if desired

2        teaspoons Asian toasted sesame oil, or more, if desired

2        tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted and cooled

¼      cup thinly sliced scallion whites and greens (about 2 medium)

In each of 2 pint containers, stir ½ cup oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2/3 cup broth, and ¼ teaspoon salt to mix. Cover and refrigerate until the oats are hydrated and the mixture is thickened, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

At serving time, remove the cover, stir to re-blend, and heat in the microwave; adjust consistency with broth if desired. To each portion, add 1½ teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 2½ teaspoons sesame seeds, and 1½ tablespoons scallions and stir to mix. Adjust seasoning with salt, soy sauce, or sesame oil if necessary. Sprinkle some of remaining scallions and sesame seeds over each portion and serve at once.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.