Can You Use Water For Overnight Oats? (And Other Liquids)

Overnight oats are a quick go-to breakfast for myself and many other people. Easy to make, incredibly versatile, and with all the health benefits of a nutritious wholegrain breakfast. I like to add all kinds of fruits and flavors to keep them from getting boring. Milk is the usual mixer, but many people want to know if they can use water for overnight oats.

You can substitute milk for water when making overnight oats or even thin your milk with water. Adding a little yogurt to the water will make it taste creamier, while honey or maple syrup will boost the sweetness.

When making overnight oats, most people mix oats and milk in a 1:1 ratio. Water can be kept at a similar ratio, or adjusted for a thicker or thinner consistency.

Keep in mind you will lose the creaminess that the milk brings, and the mixture will taste blander. The bare taste of the oats will be more prominent but you can always add other toppings to improve flavor.

So if you’re lactose intolerant or just don’t want milk with your oats, this article covers everything you want to know about making overnight oats with water

Using Water For Overnight Oats

You can use all kinds of liquids to plump up your oats, from dairy to nut milk and coconut milk. You can use water to keep the calorie count down, but if you want a creamier breakfast, mix your oats with milk instead.

Most people opt for adding milk to their overnight oats because it gives them a sweeter taste and creamier texture. Whatever you decide to use, soaking in liquid is vital to your overnight oats.

When you soak oats, it absorbs the liquid and becomes softer and the grains larger. Soaking helps make the oats easier to digest and taste better.

Traditionally when cooking porridge oats, oats were added to water with a little salt. In Scotland, many people still eat their oats salted rather than sweetened. I prefer my porridge with some honey and raisins, but don’t tell the Scots that!

While I love a warm porridge in winter, in summer, I prefer to get my daily oats in by making cold overnight oats. I’ve experimented with different flavors and concluded which liquids work best for the most delicious oats.

How To Make Overnight Oats Without Milk

If you’re out of milk, you’re probably wondering if you could use water or plant-based milk instead and how much that will affect the taste of your oats. Here is a list of 9 liquids you can use for overnight oats.

A few things first. You want to get the ratio of oats to liquid right, whether you choose milk or water, and you want to use the best type of oats for making overnight oats.

I suggest avoiding instant oats or ground oats but sticking to traditional old-fashioned rolled oats. The ground oats for instant or quick porridges tend to go a slightly off-putting, slimy texture, in my opinion.

A touch of salt is a good idea. It helps improve the oat flavor, and you only need a small pinch.

The liquid-to-oat ratio: if you’re using rolled oats, soak them in an equal amount of liquid overnight. For example, if you prefer almond milk, you would use 1 cup almond milk to 1 cup rolled oats.

This is the ratio I’ve found that gives me the consistency I like best (from an experiment), but if you prefer runnier oatmeal, make it with a touch more water. Conversely, add a little less water if you like your oats thicker.

Mix the ingredients, and chill in the fridge overnight to make basic, plain overnight oats.

What Is The Taste And Texture Like?

You’ll find that the taste and texture are slightly different than if you used milk. Milk adds a lot of sweetness and creaminess to your oatmeal that water will not.

Some people like adding a tablespoon of yogurt to their overnight oats if they make it with water, but that is up to you.

Of course, not many of us want to eat overnight oats made with just water, oats, and a pinch of salt. So when I make my oats, I love to add healthy sweeteners and fruits to make them tastier. When I use only water instead of milk, I usually add a touch of honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness.

My favorite ingredients to add to my oats and water mixture are cinnamon, honey, chopped dried fruits, peanut butter, protein powder, and cocoa.

I use different ingredients with flavors that work well together. One of my favorite decadent breakfast treats is to prepare rolled oats with diced peaches, vanilla essence, maple syrup, and cashew butter in water and leave them to soak overnight. Top it with some oat cream, and it’s perfect!

Do I Have To Add Yogurt If Using Water?

Adding yogurt to your oats if you’re using water is one way to make the oats taste richer and creamier. But you don’t have to, especially if you add other creamy, sweet ingredients like mashed bananas.

Another way to add extra sweetness and body to oats made with water is to stir in a fruit jam or pureed banana.

If you want to add a non-dairy yogurt, opt for soy or coconut yogurt to add that creamy texture and flavor.

You may also want to add yogurt for extra nutritional benefits since yogurt is packed with healthy bacteria that are excellent for your gut health.

If you’re leaving out milk to decrease the calories, opt for artificial sweeteners rather than honey or syrup, and use low-fat yogurt.

What Other Liquid Can I Use For Overnight Oats?

There are plenty of other liquids that make delicious overnight oats. Soy, rice, coconut, and almond milk are also excellent ingredients. You can even use oat milk.

That’s the great thing about overnight oats – the many combinations you can make! But remember, you can undo all the good if you add in too many extras like fats or sugar.

Your liquid options are not just cows milk or water – all the usual plant-based milk alternatives can be used for a vegan-friendly breakfast.

You can also mix your liquids in whatever ratio you prefer.

One thing I haven’t dared to try yet, though a friend recommended it to me, is to make my overnight oats with orange juice. According to her, it makes fresh, citrusy morning oatmeal. Just add vanilla essence and some rolled coconut for a tropical taste.

Overnight Oats With Water And Protein Powder

On gym days, I sometimes like to prepare my overnight oats with protein powder to give me an extra protein boost before or after my workout.

If I’m cutting calories, I mix water with my protein powder overnight oats. The protein shake powder tastes creamy enough with the oats. If I’m trying to gain muscle then I mix it with milk and it tastes a bit richer.

However, the artificial sweetener taste of some shakes can be a little overwhelming. I like adding a little cocoa into the blend to give it a dark chocolate taste. Overnight protein oats are fast becoming one of my top breakfasts, as the protein and fiber leave me feeling sated for the whole morning.


Hopefully, you now know all about whether you can use water for overnight oats.

You don’t need to use milk to make overnight oats, you can use only water but it will lack some creaminess and sweetness. Adding ingredients like maple syrup and vanilla essence can add to the flavor.

You can use any non-dairy milk to make overnight oats, and by adding in ingredients like chopped fruit and nut butter, you can add extra nutrition and amazing taste. Other things to add to overnight oats include chia seeds, cocoa, and cinnamon.

Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

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