Overnight oats are and easy breakfast meal break. The no cook recipe is a make-ahead meal that is ready in a matter of minutes, and can satisfy your hunger cravings with a hearty, wholesome and fulfilling breakfast in the morning.
What are overnight oats? Overnight oats are a no cook oatmeal that is made by soaking raw oats in a liquid of your choice. Overnight oats can be made with a variety of different ingredients such as fruits, nuts, milk, yogurt, sweeteners and spices.
It is a good idea to make a large batch of overnight oats, or even prepare different recipes in individual containers, however the no cook oatmeal does not stay fresh or last indefinitely.
So, can you freeze overnight oats? Yes, you can freeze overnight oats for up to 3 months. It is recommended to store individual containers in the freezer for easy grab and go meal prep. To ensure quality and freshness, there are a few safety precautions to follow when freezing overnight oats.
Freezing overnight oats is fairly straight forward. Once you understand how to freeze overnight oats, you will be able to eat tasty, outright and easy to make breakfasts throughout the week, while saving money and time during your morning routine.
How To Freeze Overnight Oats
When preparing overnight oats, the choice of liquid, toppings and mix-ins will ultimately affect how the overnight oats will freeze and whether or not the no cook oatmeal will stay fresh when completely thawed. Toppings and liquids each respond differently to freezing, therefore the results can vary based on the components that are added.
Before freezing overnight oats, it is recommended to make the soaked oats as plain as possible because the add-ins will change flavor and texture when thawed.
- Fruits such as diced apples, sliced bananas and fresh berries will turn soft and mushy after being frozen and defrosted. If you don’t mind the change in texture, however it is better to add fruit after freezing plain overnight oats.
- Nuts and seeds will soften when the overnight oats are frozen and then thawed. In addition, the texture will breakdown slightly from the exposure to liquid for longterm. Lastly, the nuts and seeds will not have the prominent flavor as they do when add in fresh.
- Spices will change flavor when frozen and thawed. The aromatics won’t be as bright or vibrant and will lose some of the punchy notes. If you want a bold taste, then add spices in when the oats have been defrosted.
For best results, mix-ins should be added after the plain overnight oatmeal has been frozen and defrosted. This will help to prevent any changes in taste and texture as most ingredients do not freeze and thaw with the same characteristics as when they are fresh.
Best Overnight Oats Containers
There are a number of well-suited options to freeze overnight oatmeal inside of. From glass jars to plastic containers, here are the best overnight oats containers for you to choose from.
Factors to consider are durability and sturdiness, as well and guaranteeing that the seal is tight and airtight.
Furthermore, glass is preferred over plastic because it does not retain bad flavors. Plastic can harbor off tastes from past meals that can permeate the material and be passed onto your overnight oats.
Mason Jar for Overnight Oats
Mason jars are a popular choice for storing overnight oats, and they are a great option to freeze the soaked oats in as well.
Just make sure that the mason jars are freezer safe before proceeding. The glass jars seal tight and offer protection from odors in the freezer and that may have permeated other types of material.
The most popular mason jars for overnight oats are these 16-oz, wide-mouth mason jars.
The disadvantage to using glass is the material is heavy and breaks easily, and mason jars are not space saving and tend to take up quite a bit of freezer space.
Overnight Oats Plastic Container
Plastic containers with an airtight seal and freezer-friendly functionality are another good option for freezing overnight oats.
Plastic containers come in all shapes and sizes, you can get plastic freezer containers that are shaped the same as mason jars (like these clear plastic jars), so layer up your favorite oats and extra ingredients the same way as if you were putting them in the fridge.
Plastic containers are reusable, however they do absorb bad odors and funky flavors from past meals, so be aware of this when using plastic containers to store overnight oats.
Flat plastic containers are easy to stack on top of each other to save space inside the freezer.
Freezing Overnight Oats: Preparation
After selecting a freezer-safe container for storing overnight oats, you can then prepare soaked oatmeal to be frozen.
- Mix together the oats and liquid in a container, and add any sweeteners you prefer such as honey, maple syrup or sugar. Avoid adding fruit, seeds, nuts or spices at this time because oatmeal toppings should be added to the the overnight oats after it has been defrosted.
- Leave enough room for expansion inside the container, as liquid in the overnight freezes it will expand. The container will need to be to be large enough to provide space, otherwise the container will break or explode and the resulting oatmeal mess will be very difficult to clean up.
- Seal the overnight oats with an airtight seal, the lid should be screwed on tightly or locked in place with snap clasps. The prevents exposure to the dry conditions that may cause freezer burn to the soaked oats.
- Use an appropriate sized container, if the container is too large then there will be too much head space at the top. Similarly, if you are using a freezer bag then squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the zip top. Removing excess air will help to prevent a rapid decline in freshness.
Overnight Oats Without Refrigeration
To optimize the quality, it is recommended to freeze overnight oats immediately after preparing them. By placing the no cook oats into the freezer (without storing in the refrigerator first) you are not allowing the oats to soak up all the liquid and get as soggy as they would be if you stored them in the fridge beforehand.
Once oats have been mixed with liquid, they will start to swell up and absorb the moisture. They become vulnerable to bacteria growth, and therefore need to be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid the risk of causing a food borne illness.
According to the USDA, perishable foods should be stored at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit within 2 hours of preparation if the food is going to be kept and served as leftovers.
Freezing oats right away after blending with the soaking liquid will help to keep a fresh quality and taste. You want the oats and extra ingredients to maintain the fresh made flavor, texture and appearance.
Don’t worry that the oats have not had to soak up the liquid and soften to a palatable consistency. When you are ready to eat the frozen oats, leave to defrost in the fridge overnight. When the oats are thawing in the refrigerator, they will absorb the liquid and soften to a consistency that will be ready to eat the very next day.
Overnight oats can also be thawed by being left on the counter to sit at room temperature for up to 4 hours if you don’t want to eat the soaked oats cold.
Once the frozen overnight oats have completely thawed, that is the best time to add any fruits, nuts, seeds and spices that you might want mixed into the soaked oatmeal. Feel free to enjoy right away or allow the flavors to meld together for a little bit before eating.
Can Frozen Overnight Oats Go Bad?
Yes, soaked oats can go bad resulting in poor texture, bad taste and lose of nutrients. Overnight oats can be frozen for up to 3 months when stored in optimal circumstances, however the duration can vary based on storage conditions.
Here are three common ways that frozen overnight oats can go bad:
- Freezer burn: Freezer burn results from food being directly exposed to the cold, dry air within the freezer. To avert this common issue, use freezer-proof airtight containers to lockout any airflow from coming in contact with the overnight oatmeal.
- Off-putting smell: Bad odors and off putting smells can be present within the freezer or inside the storage container. Use a sealed container to prevent the overnight oats from coming in contact with airflow within the freezer. In regards to the container, glass is better than plastic because it does not retain bad odors that can be absurd into the food storage.
- Discoloration: When frozen for too long, the overnight oats will start to discolor and no longer look fresh and delicious. For this reason, it is recommended to consistently rotate the frozen overnight oats so that the old ones are used before any new batches are added in.
How Long Do Overnight Oats Last?
When properly stored, overnight oats can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. While they may be fine when consumed after this length of time, they will certainly decline in flavor, quality and freshness that may make them not as edible and enjoyable.
Once you have removed the overnight oats from the freezer and placed them into the fridge, you can transfer 3 to 5 jars or portions which should be enough to last throughout the week. Overnight oats will last for up to 5 days when kept in the fridge. This amount of time allows you to have enough portion thawed and ready to eat whenever you need a quick meal, all you need to do is add the mix-ins and the oats will be ready to eat.
After defrosting, overnight oats are safe to leave in the fridge for up to 5 days. Frozen overnight oats that are transferred to the fridge will still have the same quality and freshness as if they were freshly prepared.
However, it is not recommended to refreeze defrosted overnight oats. The quality of the oats will greatly decline and the risk of bacteria growth leading to food borne illness is significantly higher.
As a result, it is best to freeze single servings of overnight oats in individual containers and then pull out as many portions as you are going to eat within 5 days.
Can you freeze soaked oats?
It is safe to freeze all types of oats, including steel cut oats, rolled oats and quick oats.
Cooked oatmeal can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months when properly kept, and you can easily reheat oatmeal in the microwave or on the stovetop when it comes time to enjoy the frozen meal prep.
Soaked and cooked oats can be frozen, and it is recommended to portion the meals into single servings so that none of the leftovers go to waste, unless you are freezing a family sized portion which makes sense to store the make-ahead meal in one container.
How long should overnight oats be left in the fridge before being eaten?
Overnight oats soak up the liquid within 4 hours, however it is recommended to soak oats for at least 12 hours to reduce the phytic acid and make the oatmeal more digestible.
When prepared at dinnertime, they should be ready to eat the next day for breakfast, lunch or even as a midday snack. In addition, the soaked oats can be prepared a few days in advance because overnight oats can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Can you freeze raw oats?
Raw oat can be frozen, but raw oats have a shelf life up to 30 years when stored in a cool, dark and dry area.
However, you can freeze raw oats for up to 1 year when kept in an airtight container that seals out moisture and airflow that could ruin the taste, texture and quality of the oats.
As previously mentions, you can store oatmeal from up to 30 years when kept under the right conditions.
How do I serve frozen overnight oats?
Frozen overnight oats must be fully defrosted before serving. Here are three ways to serve frozen overnight oats:
- Thaw in fridge overnight: Place the portion of frozen overnight oats in the fridge the night before and allow the oats to fully thaw. This method is the easiest, however it requires remembering to do so. It will take about 8 to 12 hours for the frozen oats to fully defrost at refrigerator temperatures.
- Set on the counter: Frozen overnight oats can be left out at room temperature for up to 4 hours to defrost. This method works if you don’t want the oats to be served cold.
- Defrost in microwave: Nuke the frozen overnight oats in the microwave for a quick remedy. Be careful not to microwave the frozen container because the thermodynamic shift can cause the container to break, crack or shatter. Instead, transfer the frozen overnight oats to a microwave safe bowl and then nuke for 30 second increments, stirring between each duration until the oats are fully heated.
- Heat in pan on stovetop: Transfer the frozen overnight oats to a pan and heat on the stovetop. This is the most effective method to heat frozen overnight oats, however it requires a pot and stovetop cooking.
Freezing Overnight Oats: Final Thoughts
Freezing overnight oats is a great way to extend shelf life, preserve the freshness and make ahead meal prep that are good to eat at any time of day. If you are looking for breakfast option that is ready to eat, the freeze individual portions of overnight oats for a quick grab and go.
Separate single servings of overnight oats into mason jars or plastic containers and store them in the freezer. Remove the portion the night before and place the into the fridge so that it is ready to enjoy the very next day.
Overnight oats should be prepared as plain as possible because the add-ins will change when frozen. Once the oats have been defrosted, then mix-in your favorite oatmeal toppings and enjoy the tasty, nutritious and fulfilling breakfast!