Overnight oats are one of the best breakfast options for those who are constantly in a hurry. You just grab a jar with oatmeal from the fridge and don’t need to worry about having a healthy and filling breakfast anymore.
But how long do overnight oats last? You can store overnight oats in the fridge for up to 5 days which makes them a good option for meal prep. Freezing also works with overnight oats if you want to have some ready for a few months. Keeping overnight oats at room temperature is not recommended.
In this article, you will learn all about storing overnight oats and how you can make them last longer and maintain the right texture while they are sitting in the fridge.
What Are Overnight Oats?
Oatmeal makes such a good breakfast. It is versatile enough to not get bored of eating it even if you do it 7 days in a row.
Aside from being delicious, oats also hold considerable nutritional value. Oats contain around 5 grams of protein per half-cup serving, which will make a good start of the day especially if you are someone that likes to enjoy a delicious breakfast bowl after a workout.
Oats in the morning will also keep your hunger at bay for a longer period of time as they are high in fiber. As a bonus, oats are a good source of antioxidants which will have a positive impact on your overall health.
If oats are so good, why don’t more people have them for breakfast? The answer is simple: People want something quick and easy to make, eat, and go about their day.
This is what overnight oats are all about: convenience.
They are extremely effortless to make. No cooking is required to make overnight oats.
Simply soak the oats in a liquid and let them sit overnight in the fridge. You will have a healthy and tasty meal for the morning.
Considering that there are a variety of toppings you can add to overnight oats, there is no way you won’t be able to find a combination that works for you.
Try adding fresh or dried fruits to the oats, seeds, nuts, syrups to your overnight oats. The options and combinations you can come up with are endless.
Overnight Oats Storage Guide
If you are someone that wants to incorporate overnight oats into their diet, knowing how to store the oats is important.
From leaving the oats at room temperature to keeping them in the fridge or the freezer, there are some points you shouldn’t miss to preserve the best qualities of these make-ahead meals.
Can You Make Overnight Oats Without Refrigeration?
You may think that overnight oats made with water, seeds, dried fruit, and other ingredients that typically don’t require refrigeration, may be left on your kitchen countertop and nothing will happen to them.
Leaving overnight oats without refrigeration is a big mistake.
Oats may contain microorganisms that will start growing once you add liquid to dry oats. Thus, storing overnight oats in the fridge is essential.
You can leave overnight oats at room temperature for no longer than 4 hours.
You can store dry oats in your pantry for up to 2 years. But when you add liquid to it and leave the oats at room temperature, microbial pathogens start quickly growing.
Do Overnight Oats Go Bad?
If you are making a few portions of overnight oats to have them ready for the week, it is good to know what are the signs indicating that the oats have gone bad.
Even if you have read that overnight oats keep for around 5 days in the fridge, you should always check them before eating.
Here are the signs that indicate that the oats have gone bad:
- Mold. If you notice mold growing on the surface of your overnight oats, discard them.
- Off-putting smell. Give the oats a sniff test. If they smell off, don’t eat them.
- Discoloration. If there are any unusual spots in your oatmeal, don’t risk your health eating it.
How to Store Overnight Oats in the Fridge
To store overnight oats in the fridge so that the oatmeal maintains its best qualities and doesn’t change its texture, you should follow a few simple rules.
Choose The Best Container For Overnight Oats
Storing the oats in the right container is important.
The general rule is that the oats should be kept in an airtight container.
Glass containers with tight lids will work best for overnight oats. We love using these wide-mouth, 16-oz mason jars for overnight oats.
Overnight oats in such containers also looks appealing, which is another reason why you would want to eat them for a healthy and nutritious breakfast.
Add Toppings For Overnight Oats After Refrigerating
When storing overnight oats in the fridge, don’t add toppings to it until you are ready to eat.
Do not store overnight oats in the fridge topped with fruit and nuts. They will get soggy and are likely to interfere with the texture of the oatmeal itself.
Almost no fruits are likely to survive being stored in the fridge on top of oats especially for more than a day. However, such fruits as apple or banana have zero chances of doing. These fruits oxidize and turn brown very quickly once sliced.
It is better to add a handful of berries or decorating your oatmeal with other fruits and nuts in the morning.
If you are making overnight oats for the next day and really want to have it all ready with fruits, use frozen berries. Use smaller berries, such as blueberries or raspberries. These will defrost overnight while the oats soak up the liquid to ‘cook’.
How Long Do Overnight Oats Last in the Fridge?
Stored in the fridge, overnight oats will last for 3 to 5 days.
The oats will retain their best qualities, i.e. texture and taste, for the first couple of days. However, overnight oats will remain safe for consumption for around 5 days in the fridge.
Attention should be paid to the expiration date of the ingredients you are using to make the oats. If any of the products say milk or yogurt, expires sooner, the shelf life of overnight oats in the fridge will change accordingly.
Once you take the oats out of the fridge, give it a good stir. As the oats sit in the fridge for days, the liquid separates. Stirring the oats will bring the ingredients back together.
Additionally, it will result in a better texture as oats sitting at the bottom of the jar are much softer than the top layer where oats remain a little crunchy.
If you stir the oats and feel like there isn’t enough liquid in your oats, you can always add a dash of milk or yogurt.
Tips for Storing Overnight Oats
Knowing some tips always makes the job easier. Here are a few ways you can extend the life of your overnight oats and make the most out of them.
By the way, we have a storage guide for cooked oatmeal too.
Use Almond Milk for Overnight Oats
Overnight oats made with milk have a higher chance of going bad than oatmeal made with water. But what can you do if you like your oats with milk?
A great alternative to using milk to make overtight oatmeal is substituting it with almond milk. It keeps better in the fridge compared to cow’s milk. The fact that its shelf life is a few days longer than that of regular milk explains why almond milk is a better choice.
Almond milk also makes overnight oats creamy and rich-tasting.
Where to Put Overnight Oats in The Fridge
If you are meal prepping with overnight oats, the last thing you want is waking up to see that all your efforts have gone in vain. The oatmeal has gone bad.
When storing overnight oats soaked in milk or yogurt, be attentive where you are putting your breakfast for 5 days.
Don’t put the oats on the fridge door as the temperature is higher there and the oats, especially if they are made with milk, will have a higher chance of going bad.
To keep your overnight oats safe, store it in the body (the middle) of the refrigerator.
Meal Prep Overnight Oats
Overnight oats keep 5 days in the fridge. If you like them chewy, their shelf life in the fridge is decreased to 2 days.
So how can you have overnight oatmeal ready for breakfast for the seven days of the week? Here’s how to meal prep overnight oats:
- Start by making two jars of overnight oats (two portions).
- Once you finish your breakfast, replenish your breakfast oatmeal by putting a new jar of oats in the fridge.
- To do so, mix 1 part of oats in with 1 part (or more) of water or milk, and put in the refrigerator.
Add Enough Water or Milk to Overnight Oats
No-cook oats absorb the liquid overnight and are ready to be eaten in the morning. They may have the perfect consistency in the following morning.
But what about the following day? The oats may absorb more liquid as they sit in the fridge. Thus, you should add enough liquid to avoid dry overnight oats.
If you are meal prepping with overnight oats, add slightly more liquid than you would if you were eating the oats the following day. This way, you will have creamy oats even a few days later.
Make sure to not overdo it with the liquid. Otherwise, you will end up with an oatmeal soup.
Experiment with the ratio to find your perfect balance if you are planning on meal prepping with overnight oats for an extended period of time.
If those weren’t enough tips, here are even more tips from Healthy Green Cooking on YouTube!
Shelf Life of Overnight Oats
It is best to store plain overnight oats in the refrigerator, as the more products you add to it the higher are the chances of the oatmeal suffering texture and flavor changes.
Overnight Oats with Fruit
If you like your overnight oats with fruit mix-ins, it is best to eat them within 2 days. However, they will probably be safe to eat for up to 5 days.
If you don’t mix the fruit in with your overnight oats but simply ‘decorate’ it with it, add the fruit to your oatmeal on the day you are eating it.
Oatmeal with fruit mix-ins will certainly look appealing in your fridge. But is it the most efficient way of storing overnight oats? Not really, since having fruit mixed in with oats will interfere with the texture of the oatmeal.
Overnight Oats with Yogurt
Overnight oats made with yogurt will last up to 7 days in the fridge.
Before making the oats, check the expiration date of the yogurt. If there are fewer days left, consume the oatmeal within those days.
Overnight Oats with Milk
How long overnight oats will last in the fridge also depends on the expiration date of the milk you have used to soak the oats.
If the milk you have made the oats with expires in 3 days, you should eat the overnight oats within 3 days.
If there are no problems with the milk expiring, overnight oats will last up to 5 days.
Can You Store Overnight Oats in the Freezer?
If you need overnight oats to keep longer than 5 days, you can store them in the freezer.
Typically, overnight oats last for up to 6 months in the freezer. However, keep in mind that the longer it sits in the freezer the more changes the texture and flavor will suffer.
Store overnight oats in the freezer in freezer-safe mason jars.
Can You Heat Overnight Oats?
Overnight oats are typically eaten cold. This makes them a quick and easy breakfast. Not only they are all ready to be eaten in the morning but they also don’t need to be heated.
However, if you want to eat your overnight oats hot, go for it.
There are two ways you can heat overnight oats:
- The first method is using the microwave. Simply transfer the oats into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until you are happy with the temperature.
- The second way of heating overnight oats is on the stove. Transfer the cold oats into a pot and turn on the low heat.
If you feel like the oats are too dry, you can add water or milk to make the oats creamier.
Up Next: Can You Reheat Cooked Oatmeal?