Milk is the typical liquid ingredient in overnight oats. But what if you are lactose intolerant or just don’t have any milk to hand? There are other plant-based milk alternatives and liquids you can use. Let’s look at the best ones to use for overnight oats.
The best milk or liquids for overnight oats:
- Nut milk (Almond, Coconut, Cashew, or Macadamia)
- Oat milk
- Soy milk
- Fruit juice
- Other dairy milk (Goat or Sheep)
You can use one part oats to one or two part liquid depending on how thick you like it. I prefer it thicker so it doesn’t turn slimy in texture, but you might like to experiment.
Exploring recipes for overnight oats reveals that you don’t have to worry if you can’t use milk or choose a plant-free diet. You can use a variety of liquids to make overnight oats. Here are some more details using them.
Non-Dairy Substitutes For Milk In Overnight Oats
If you are avoiding dairy for health or lifestyle reasons, there are many excellent alternative liquids to use in overnight oats.
1. Nut Milk
You can find nut milk made with almost any nut, even pistachio, walnut, and hazelnut, and it can replace dairy milk in equal amounts.
We recommend these four varieties of nut milk as the best liquid in overnight oats.
- Almond milk: The top-selling plant-based milk in the US, almond milk has a delicious flavor that goes well with oats. If you find the consistency thin, you can mix in some greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt.
- Coconut milk: Made from the shredded white flesh of coconuts, this milk is incredibly creamy and will give a very similar result to dairy milk. Choose coconut milk or decadent coconut cream if you like the nutty flavor, which is gorgeous with chocolate, fruit, bananas, and dried coconut flakes.
- Cashew milk: Although a little pricey, silky cashew milk makes the smoothest overnight oats. The unsweetened version is the healthiest, but try the vanilla and chocolate flavors for a treat.
- Macadamia milk: This thick, luxurious milk works well in overnight oats. It has a distinctive nutty flavor that goes well with fruit, especially banana and mango.
2. Oat Milk
If you’re making oats, oat milk is a very appropriate choice. It’s also nut-free and the most popular non-dairy milk in the UK (almond milk is the US favorite).
High in protein, oat milk has a thick, smooth texture and sweetish flavor that works well in overnight oats. Add cinnamon and raisins for a cookie vibe. Here are some tips on making your own oat milk – it’s cheaper.
3. Soy Milk
The highest in protein of all non-dairy milk, soy milk has a hearty texture, which is particularly effective when you add chia or other seeds as well.
Although unsweetened soy milk has a slightly chalky flavor, you can choose the vanilla-flavored version or add maple syrup and fruit to the oats to mask the taste.
4. Fruit Juice
An easy non-dairy alternative is to use whatever juice you have in the fridge to make your overnight oats. It won’t be creamy like milk-based overnight oats, but the juice adds a different dimension.
Orange juice and apple juice make tasty substitutes and create interesting overnight oats with an added vitamin punch.
The simplest non-dairy substitute is water if you have nothing else. As you can probably guess, it’s not the most flavorful of options but it does work. Overall, your overnight oats will lack flavor, texture, and nutrition.
But you can always use water and then boost the flavor with other toppings like honey and fruit. Better still, choose your favorite plant-based milk or be inspired by one of the ideas in this article.
I wrote a full article on using water for overnight oats and how you can make it more interesting.
Dairy Substitutes For Milk In Overnight Oats
You can use half-fat, full-fat, or fat-free milk in overnight oats. But if you don’t have any of these, what other dairy products can you grab from the fridge?
Many variations of overnight oats include yogurt because it creates a tangy flavor, improves the texture, adds probiotics, and gives a protein boost.
Your best option is unsweetened, full-fat Greek yogurt since it is high in protein and low in sugar. You can use low-fat or fat-free yogurt, but you won’t get the same flavor and texture. Avoid yogurt with artificial additives.
However, you can’t replace the milk with the same amount of yogurt – it will make your breakfast too thick. Make up half the liquid with milk, or add a little water to thin the yogurt.
Another dairy option is buttermilk, the fluid that remains after churning butter.
With a somewhat sourer taste than yogurt, buttermilk is also rich in protein and nutrients.
The thick consistency of buttermilk means you must dilute it slightly, so combine it with milk, water, or yogurt.
8. Half And Half
If you’ve run out of regular milk, use your coffee topper. Half and half isn’t the healthiest choice – it contains twice as much fat – but it will give you a rich and creamy result.
Replace milk with an equal proportion of half and half.
9. Other Dairy Milk
Goat or sheep milk is often recommended for people with lactose sensitivity as they can tolerate these alternative dairy milk types.
However, these kinds of milk can have distinctive and robust flavors that some might find off-putting. Taste the milk before adding it to the overnight oats to see if you like it.
Use these kinds of milk as direct substitutes for regular milk.
What Is The Ratio Of Oats To Liquid For Overnight Oats?
For the best overnight oats, use the following ratios:
- Use a 1:1 ratio of liquid to oats for a thicker, heartier texture.
- Use up to a 2:1 ratio of liquid to oats if you want a thinner consistency.
So for every 1 cup of oats, use 1 or 2 cups of liquid depending on how thick you like it. For me, I personally like a 1:1 ratio. I tested this out in my post on why I was getting slimy overnight oats.
If you add too much liquid, the oats won’t be able to absorb all of it, and you will find a soupy, slimy mess instead of a creamy mixture.
Adding too little liquid means your overnight oats will turn too thick. You can do a 1:1:1 with yogurt if you like the tangy taste it brings.
Is Milk Necessary For Overnight Oats?
Cows milk is not necessary for overnight oats. Other substitutions can be made as long as the oats are soaked in a liquid to soften them.
A liquid is necessary when making overnight oats because the oats are added into the liquid must be left to soak overnight. The oats absorb the liquid, break down and soften, becoming creamy and toothsome.
The overnight oats technique allows you to eat raw oats without heating or cooking and to make it in advance.
This method of making non-cook porridge is endlessly customizable. So long as you have a liquid ingredient, you can use any milk, dairy, or plant-based. You can even use water or juice if you are stuck, although the texture and flavor will suffer.
Apart from milk, a milk alternative, and oats, you can make the following additions to overnight oats:
- Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, or monk fruit
- Toppings: nuts, dried coconut, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or seeds
- Flavorings: cinnamon, pumpkin spice, vanilla extract, nut butter, or jam.
To make overnight oats, you need to use a liquid that will soak into the raw oats and break them down into creamy goodness. There are many types of milk or liquid to use for overnight oats.
The most common liquid for overnight oats is regular dairy milk, but you can use yogurt, buttermilk, or even half and half. You can also replace dairy milk with a non-dairy alternative, including nut milk, soy milk, or oat milk. Water and fruit juice will work but aren’t the tastiest options.