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How long do overnight oats have to soak?

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As you already know, oats are a popular whole-grain food because they are easy to cook and also offer impeccable health benefits. Raw oats are not digestible, however overnight oats alleviates the problem by soaking the oatmeal in liquid.

So, how long do you soak overnight oats? Soak overnight oats for a minimum of twelve hours in order to break down the phytic acid present in the raw oats. Furthermore, fermentation increases the amount of beneficial bacteria making the oats more digestible.

The health and nutrition benefits are further enhanced by soaking as the microorganisms come to life in the process of fermentation. Consuming the microbes improves and supports your digestibility.

If you are now wondering why soaking is important, how to properly soak oats and how long overnight oats should soak for, then you have surely landed on the right page. Just keep reading and reveal all the info on soaking oats overnight.

Do you need to soak oats?

Yes, it’s recommended for you to either cook or soak oats before consuming. Although raw oats can be eaten, it may cause digestibility issues, which is why it’s always preferred to soak oats.

There are multiple benefits when you soak oats. For example, it softens the texture making the dry grain more palatable. 

Unlike raw oats, overnight oats do not cause any digestion related issues. Soaked oats with softer texture are so perfect for your consumption and digestibility.

What’s more, there are several additional health benefits of soaked oats. First of all, soaked oats can be gluten-free and dairy-free when make vegan overnight oats recipes

Secondly, soaking reduces phytic acid in overnight oats by breaking down the anti-nutrient. As a result, soaked oats have relatively lesser phytate content.

In regards to the phytate content, raw oats contain concentrated amounts of phytic acid. Unfortunately, it hampers your body’s natural ability to absorb minerals like calcium, iron and zinc.

This problem can be overcome by soaking the oats for the right amount of time.

How do you soak oats?

To properly soak oats, follow a basic overnight oats ratio such as 1½:1 or 2:1 liquid to oats, add a splash of acid like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to break down the phytic acid, and soak for a minimum of 12 hours.

The easiest way to soak oats is with water. Add the desired portion amount of oats to an overnight oats container and pour some filtered water over the top. 

Make sure to give it a nice stir and leave it for several hours to soak and absorb the moisture in the jar. The oats will soften into a creamy consistency with a slight chewiness to the grain.

Other than plain water, you can even use other liquids as well to soak overnight oats. Depending on you personal preference, the best overnight oats recipes can be made with cow’s milk, dairy-free milk, yogurt or even juice.

What does soaking oats overnight do?

Soaking oats overnight can be equivalent to cooking oats without applying heat. As you probably know that raw oats have a coarse and rough texture that is softened into a palatable consistency when soaked overnight. 

Soaking will improve the oatmeal texture, break down the starch and reduce the phytate content to make nutrients more absorbable. This process allows your body to process and effectively utilize the available nutrients. 

Plus, soaked oats are even helpful for people who have digestive sensitivities as the microbes initiate the digestion of the whole grain before entering your stomach.

Can you eat overnight oats immediately?

Yes, overnight oats can be served and eaten immediately if you have soaked oats for a minimum of 12 hours. Afterwards, you can immediately serve the meal prep at anytime of day. 

To elevate the overall taste of the recipe, you can add some quick mix-in ingredients and oatmeal toppings such as chopped nuts, dried fruits, honey, cocoa powder, fresh berries and more.

Alternatively, if you have soaked oats in the fridge overnight, then you can also serve it cold for breakfast. Nevertheless, not every one of you will like and prefer this cold and chilly texture of overnight oats; in that case, they do not need to be cooked but you can easily heat it up in your microwave before serving.

Can you eat overnight oats after 2 hours?

Yes, you can always eat overnight oats after 2 hours, however the phytic acid won’t have a chance to fully break down. 

Though the oats may be hydrated and softened to a creamy texture, you will be consuming the anti-nutrients that can cause digestive issues and prevent the body from absorbing certain nutrients.

But, here’s a tip for you to expedite the soaking process if you know you are going to eat sooner than 12 hours. Use boiling water to soak the oats because the hot water will activate the beneficial bacteria and initiate the microbial break down if the starches.

Additionally, the hot water will absorb into the raw oats and make them softer even faster.

Before you eat these overnight oats, you can consider adding some delicious ingredients to it! Oats are an extremely versatile food that pairs well with many foods. 

There are different types of ingredients and toppings that can be added to overnight oats so that its taste value is enhanced drastically. 

Many people prefer adding crunchy elements to overnight oats. Some people even add different flavored powders to overnights like cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon powder, and more. 

What’s more, you may even consider adding fresh fruit slices to overnight oats as well.

So, all you will need to add any of the above-mentioned ingredients to your dish and it will be ready to eat even if you eat it after 2 hours. For improved digestion, it is still recommended to wait the full 12 hours before consuming soaked oats.

How long do oats have to soak?

You should soak oats for at least twelve hours before consuming it. The more time you soak oats, the texture will be enhanced and the digestibility will be improved. 

If you soak it for less time, the texture will be tough and chewy. Additionally, the phytic acid will not be dissipated enough and will block absorption of nutrients like calcium, iron and zinc.

Starting from about two hours after soaking, you will witness changes in its texture. The best idea is to soak it overnight so that it gets enough time to rest. 

In this way, when you will wake up in the morning, oats will be ready to serve your hungry stomach. And, the texture of the overnight oats will be so apt for digestion and prepared to offer great nutrition values too.

How long do overnight oats have to soak

Tips for Soaking Oats

With this, you have revealed all the details if you are planning to soak overnight oats. 

So, what are you waiting for? Overnight oats are much better than raw oats in terms of health, nutrition, and digestive values.

Listed below are a few helpful tips for soaking oats for maximum benefit:

  • Add a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the soaked oats mixture to facilitate the break down of the phytic acid present in the whole grain oats.
  • Soak for a minimum of 12 hours to fully hydrate the dry grain and make it more palatable and digestible. 
  • The key for overnight oats is nothing but the liquid-to-oat ratio. For example, if you add too much liquid, it will become like a soup. Similarly, if you add too little liquid, the texture will still be hard and cement-like. 
  • To ensure a perfectly smooth and porridge-like consistency, the ratio of liquid to oats is ultimately determined by the type of mix-ins and toppings you add. Between 1½:1 or 2:1 liquid to oats ratio produces the best results
  • Add a pinch of salt to the oat and liquid mixture at night so that it ensures a well-seasoned breakfast preparation in the morning.
  • Rolled oats are the best type of oats for overnight oats. Although there are many types of oats available, it’s recommended for you to use the classic old-fashioned oats.
  • You can add some mix-ins like seeds, granola, fresh fruit, coconut flakes, and nuts before serving, or even soak the additions with the oats overnight.

It is perfectly acceptable to eat raw oats, however it is recommended to soak the oatmeal in any liquid for a minimum of 12 hours before serving. Follow the above-mentioned preparation tips and you will be ready to eat a perfect overnight oat recipe that is guaranteed to savor your tastebuds.

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Thursday 24th of February 2022

Is 48 hours at room temperature too long to soak oats?


Thursday 24th of February 2022

@Joshua, Thank you for your help! Room temp here is between 65-68 degrees. I tried them after 48 hours & loved the sour taste!


Thursday 24th of February 2022

Not at all, many foods/grains are fermented at room temperature for longer time than that. Just realize that the oats will have a mild fermented/sour taste that is not appealing to some people. The real question is what is the actual room temp? I have written more on the subject if you want to read. Do overnight oats need to be refrigerated?


Thursday 18th of November 2021

After soaking the oats overnight, do I need to drain the water before eating? If I'm making an oat smoothie, should I drain the water and add fresh water before adding the oats to a smoothie?


Tuesday 24th of January 2023

@Moni, agree with the author... well done!


Friday 19th of November 2021

There are many ways to handle this situation. Have written about it extensively to reduce phytic acid in overnight oats, but this step isn't really necessary. Here are some easy oatmeal smoothies recipes that are worth trying out as well.