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Basic Overnight Oats Ratio

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There is no doubt that oats are one of the most popular and sought after cereal grains around the world. Additionally, overnight oats have become an easy meal prep that satisfies hunger with a healthy, wholesome and fulfilling dish. 

When your extremely busy and meal prepping for breakfast the next morning, a basic overnight oats ratio is the last thing on our mind. However, there are a few reasons why sticking to the 2:1 oats to liquid ratio is important when assembling a serving of easy overnight oats.

What is the basic overnight oats ratio? The basic overnight oats ratio can range from 1:1 liquid to oats to as high as 2:1 liquid to oats. The difference in the basic ratio depends on the consistency you prefer, and the mix-in toppings that you combined with the oats before soaking.

If you love oats and more importantly if you are looking for the basic overnight oats ratio, then you are in the right place. We will try and answer some pertinent questions and obvious doubts that come in the minds of many people.

Why Do You Soak Oats Overnight?

Oats are soaked overnight with a few objectives. They help in making the oats softer and chewable. More importantly, soaking oats removes phytic acid from oats that are found on the outer shell.

Though there is no doubt that oats are a phenomenally good for a nutritious diet, there are a few facts about it which perhaps we may not be aware of. Oats, as is the case with other grains such as legumes and nuts, contain something known as phytic acid. 

In most cereal grains, phytic acid is found on the outermost shell. When phytic acid enters our body and our digestive system in particular, it easily binds to various minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and a few other minerals like calcium and copper. 

When these minerals get attached to phytic acid, they become indigestive and unabsorbed. Therefore, the body has no other option but to ensure that it is excreted.

Further, phytic acid also acts as an inhibitor for various important digestive enzymes including trypsin, amylase and pepsin. Therefore, according to nutritionists and others, any diet that is high in phytic acid makes it tougher for the body to absorb the various nutrients optimally and efficiently.

What is the solution? The solution to the problem of phytic acid is quite simple, soaking the grain in liquid is the easiest way to reduce the phytic acid in overnight oats

Just soak in a bowl of water and the oats will be ready to eat the very next morning. Overnight oats do not need to be cooked, and can be eaten as is with your favorite mix-ins.

Make tasty dishes by adding milk, salt and whatever oatmeal toppings you like. You also can add a number of food items to increase the protein in oatmeal by taking into account your overall protein consumption throughout the day. 

We need to bear in mind that soaking is not something new that has just arrived. The practice of soaking has been around for generations and thousands of years and it could certainly be called an age-old tradition when it comes to preparing grains.

It is similar to other techniques like fermenting and sprouting, hence the reason that overnight oats do not require refrigeration.

Is soaking oats necessary?

Oats need to soak overnight in order to break down anti-nutrient phytate. Oats contain a low amount of the enzyme phytase, which is needed to break down phytic acid.

As a result, oats need to soak for at least 12-16 hours in order to increase nutrient absorption. I start soaking the oats at night, and then they are fully prepared by the morning.

Whether you are following a recipe exactly, or slightly modifying the ingredients, here are the tips and tricks you need to know to keep the ratio in proportion. If the balanced is not maintained, then the results may ending up being a pasty cement like, or a soupy waterlogged oatmeal; and I promise that neither one of those versions are exciting to eat.

Furthermore, the flavor of the overnight oats can be highly affected by the amount of liquid added. Adding water dilutes the taste profile, especially when it comes to oatmeal toppings such as peanut butter, applesauce or Greek yogurt.

If you weren’t already aware, then now you can start to see the oatmeal water ratio is an important element to bear in mind. Although this is not the end of the world, we’re going to discuss factors that will help determine what is the perfect balance for you.

What is the Ratio for Overnight Oats?

When it comes to flavor and texture, the overnight oats ratio is an important factor to consider. The difference between thick oatmeal and creamy porridge-like oats is just a ounce or two of liquid.

For many generations and years, 2:1 is considered to be the best ratio for overnight oats. For one part of oats, you must add two parts of liquid.

While the convenience, nutrition and other such positive factors of oats are known to most of us, we often make mistakes when it comes to the correct liquid-to-oat ratio. The success to a tasty and nutritious oat meal preparation depends on understanding, learning and mastering the ratio as far as oats to liquid is concerned. 

Oats are left overnight in liquid to hydrate and become soft, you must be careful about putting the oats in the liquid. It could be plain water or even some different sorts of milk. 

Using too little liquid or too much of it could create problems. 

Too little of it may not be able to make the oat cereal soft enough and you may not be able to get the creamy consistency. It will resemble more like cement. 

On the other hand, too much liquid will turn the oatmeal into a soup. Hence, the best option is to stick to a 2:1 ratio when you are adding liquid overnight to the oats cereal.

How much liquid do I add to overnight oats?

I always combine the oats, liquid, and pinch of salt in a sealable mason jar or overnight oats containers. But the question remains, what is the best overnight oats water ratio?

For a thick spoonable texture, follow a 1:1 ratio of oats to liquid. ½ cup oats and ½ cup liquid results in a hearty oatmeal texture that is easy to scoop up in a shallow spoon.

For a thin creamy consistency, follow a 1:1½ ratio of oats to liquid. ½ cup oats and ¾ cup liquid will results in a smooth and velvety thinness.

The water ratio for overnight oats changes when adding nuts and seeds that have not already been soaked. For instance, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds will soak up about ¼ cup of additional liquid, therefore you will want to follow a 1:2 ratio of oats to liquid when adding mix-ins.

You want to avoid overnight oats that resemble a cement-like texture. As a result, the overnight oats water ratio is an important consideration.

When preparing overnight oats, remember that the mixture will thicken by the next day. More liquid can always be added at a later time, so there is really no need to overdue the fluids when preparing the recipe.

Raw oats are nutritious and safe to eat. Overnight oats are easy to add to your diet, however, it’s important to soak them in order to enhance digestibility and nutrient absorption.

Are overnight oats better than cooked oats?

Overnight oats retain more nutrients than cooked oats. The process of cooking deteriorates the available nutrition within the whole-grains.

In addition, soaking your oats overnight helps decrease the amount of phytic acid within the whole-grain. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals like iron and zinc, which prevents your body from absorbing them. [1] As a result, this can lead to mineral deficiencies over time.

Soaking, cooking, germinating and fermenting foods helps to break down phytic acid and reduce the anti-nutrient factors. However, research suggests that soaking does a better job. [2

How long do overnight oats need to sit?

Whole grain foods are a valuable source of minerals. It’s best to meal prep overnight oats a minimum of 12 hours before consuming.

Oats will soak up a majority of the liquid before the time is reached. However, research suggests that more time is required to effectively reduce the high content of phytate.

Overnight oats need to soak for 12-16 hours to effectively reduce the phytate, which may increase bioavailability of the nutrients. [3]

Does soaking oats reduce gas?

Properly soaking oats overnight helps to break down phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient that impairs the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium. [4]

Oats are very low in the enzyme phytase, and therefore need help to break down the phytate

Degradation of phytate before the gastro-intestinal passage may result in reduced gas. 

However, if your body is not used to the high fiber content, then you may need to minimize the side effects of oats. Slowly introduce the fiber-rich grain to gradually familiarize your body with digesting oats on a regular basis.

Can you use water instead of milk for overnight oats?

Milk is not the only liquid that can be used to make overnight oats. Water, juice or dairy-free alternative can be substituted instead of milk for any overnight oatmeal recipe.

Almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk and oat milk are all fantastic vegan options. Apple juice and orange juice also deliver powerful flavor building boost.

For a touch of rich creaminess, whole milk or half and half will do the job.

Can you soak oats overnight in water? Yes, water can be used in place of any liquid and vice versus. However, doing this will definitely affect the overall taste. 

Here is a recipe to make overnight oats with water. Included are a few tips and mix-in ideas for you to make the meal prep extra special.

What kind of oats is best for overnight oats?

Not all oats are created equal. Definitely avoid reaching for instant oats because they will result in a mushy mess.

Steel-cuts oats can be used, but expect the final result to be very chewy and fairly dense. Therefore, steel cut oats are not as great for preparing overnight oats.

Old-fashioned rolled oats are the best type of oats to make overnight oats. The oat bran is partially steams and rolled into manageable pieces that are easier to soak. As a result, the finished product is palatable and has a nice consistency.

Why are my overnight oats slimy?

Your overnight oats could be wrong mostly because of the wrong ratio of liquid to oats. 2:1 is the basic overnight oatmeal ratio that you should follow when including mix-ins in the recipe, and also ensure that the oats is not over soaked for too long of a time period.

Quite often you find that the overnight oats become slimy and you may questioning the reason why. It is not too difficult to find the answer as it all boils down to the wrong ratio as far as liquid and oats are concerned. 

Do not deviate from the proven and time-tested ratio of 2 to 1 when adding mix-ins to the soaked oat. In other words two parts of water to one part of oats cereal should take care of the problem of overnight oats becoming slimy.

If soaking oats by themself without any dry ingredients such as nuts, seeds or dried fruits, then you may consider a 1:1 or 1½:1 liquid to oats ratio. However, it is rare that oats are soaked without additional ingredients, so it is recommended to keep the liquid ratio higher to prevent a cement like consistency.

Basic overnight oats ratio

Tips for Soaking Oats

There are many tips for soaking oats and these would depend on individual tastes and preferences. However, the most common tip is to ensure that the liquid levels are neither too small or too large.

If you are keen on getting the best soaked oats in the morning for you and your family, you must also have some idea about the correct tips when it comes to soaking oats overnight. The following suggestions could be useful to you:

  • Ensure the liquid be adequate without being too much. This is the most important secret you must ensure that you are able to get the right consistency. The level of consistency may vary from person to person. As mentioned above, the ratio of 2:1 is considered the best (2 parts liquid to one part rolled oats). 
  • Soaking helps remove phytic acid from oats. The recommendation is to soak for a minimum of 12 hours to help break down the phytic acid that is present in the raw oats.
  • For best results, stick with rolled oats as they retain a soft and tender texture. If you want a chewy and hearty mouthfeel, then go for steel cut oats but do realize that they will be chewy.
  • Always keep the serving to ½ cup of dry oats when preparing overnight oatmeal. Although it doesn’t look like much when dry, the hydrated oats swell up nicely and make a fulfilling portion. In other words, try and shrink the portion size and do not make it too big.

Overnight Oats Storage

When overnight oats are properly stored, they can last for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 6 months when frozen.

Do you need to cover overnight Oats?

Yes, oats needs to be covered once it has been soaked using the desired liquid. Covering it helps prevent oxidation and also makes it safer and healthier.

Yes, it is recommended that overnight oats should be covered. This helps it to soak better and prevents oxidation. Covering any uncooked or cooked dish is the basic of healthy living and therefore this should not be disturbed unless it becomes totally and fully essential.

Do you need to refrigerate overnight oats?

Yes, it is always better to refrigerate overnight oats. This is because it keeps the oats free from the risk of growth of microorganisms and other such health-related problems.

However, overnight oatmeal does not need to be refrigerated. Whole grain oats may have some microorganisms that will start to grow and multiply once liquid is added to dry oats. 

Hence, keeping it refrigerated is a good idea. However, beneficial bacterial are used in the process of fermentation to help break down starchy grains and aid the digestion of the edible food.

Can you freeze overnight oats?

You can freeze overnight oats provided it has been soaked properly and it is fresh. It can stay frozen for almost six months.

Yes, there is nothing wrong in freezing overnight oats. In fact it can be done for a period of 6 months. 

However, it would be a good idea to store them in individual containers rather than freezing it in one container. This will make your meal prep easy and simple for you to grab and go.

Leave the frozen oats at room temperature for an hour or two and the frozen meal prep will thaw nicely. Allow the oats to defrost to room temperature before consuming.

Final Thoughts

Full of nutritional goodness, hearty flavor and ease of preparation, oats continue to be one of the most favorite dishes for millions of people across the world. While there are many ways for making oatmeal, soaking oats overnight is a practice that has been around for many centuries. 

It is a tradition that has also been scientifically proven with multiple benefits for soaking oats overnight. It helps in removing phytic acid apart from helping to bring in the right softness and consistency. 

However, you should know how to soak the oat cereal. Proper consistency is achieved by following the basic 2:1 overnight oats ratio when you have mix-ins that also absorb moisture.

If you prefer a thicker and more spoonable texture, then stick with 1:1½ oats to liquid. If you have no mix-ins or toppings to add to the plain oats, then you may prefer a 1:1 ratio, but that will be dense and dry the next day.

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Saturday 30th of January 2021

Do I have to drain the soaked oats ?


Sunday 31st of January 2021

Hello Haneen, You can, but you don't have to. Here are some easy overnight oats recipes for you to follow. Also check out this post about reducing phytic acid to understand why it is important to soak the oats before eating. Please let me know if you have any more questions. Warmly, Joshua