Can You Use Instant Oats For Overnight Oats? (Which Work Best)

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the convenience of overnight oats. Stirring oats and milk together, topping it off with a bunch of fresh goodies, and leaving it to soak into a hearty, satisfying breakfast is irresistible. However, can you grab a packet of instant oats to make overnight oats when you run out of traditional rolled oats? 

You can use instant oats for overnight oats. However, the texture will differ from using the recommended rolled oats. Instant oats are steamed longer and pressed thinner, causing them to fall apart when soaked for too long. Aim only to make enough for the following morning.

You can keep overnight oats made with rolled oats refrigerated for up to five days, while instant oats turn soggy after the first day.

If you’re new to overnight oats, you’ll soon realize how great a breakfast they are. But, while old-fashioned oats are the best for overnight oats, you can use instant oats too – here’s the full scoop. 

Using Instant Oats For Overnight Oats

While old-fashioned rolled oats are the ideal variety to prepare overnight oats, you can also use instant oats. Don’t know the difference? Check out my post on how oats are processed.

A while ago, I wanted to prepare my usual overnight oats only to realize I didn’t have any rolled oats. And because I’m completely addicted to this delicious and healthy brekkie, it got me scouring my pantry cabinet.

Coming across the box of instant oats, I thought I’d got nothing to lose and might as well give it a try. Well, I’m happy I did. Instant oats, also known as quick oats, taste equally delicious when making overnight oats.

However, instant oats typically fall apart when soaked for too long. So, I recommend only making enough for the following day to prevent it from becoming a goopy mess.

On the other hand, if you are happy with mushy overnight oats, they still offer all of the health benefits, so you can go ahead and prepare a weekly batch.

It’s important to get the ratio of milk to oats right when making overnight oats, I did some experiments over on a previous article to find the perfect ratio.

How To Make Overnight Oats With Instant Oats

Making overnight oats with instant oats is straightforward.

Using a glass mason jar, mix 1 part liquid (water, milk, or yogurt) to 1 part oat as a base, and toss the mixture into the fridge overnight to soak. You definitely have some wiggle room regarding the liquid to oats ratio – simply alter the quantities based on your preferred consistency.

You can switch up from regular milk. I love using a combination of almond milk and Greek yogurt for a creamy breakfast with lots of protein.

You can get creative by using a wide range of alternatives, including water, dairy, coconut milk, oat milk, cashew milk, plain or flavored yogurts, and kefir. See all the milk I recommend.

I highly recommend flavoring your overnight oats with nutritious toppings, including chia seeds or grated apple. Then use fun toppings like nut butter, frozen fruit pieces, spices, extracts, powders, and sweeteners in the morning. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Fruit: Fresh, dried, frozen, or stewed fruit 
  • Nut butter: Macadamia butter, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, or pecan butter
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, ginger, or turmeric
  • Extracts: Vanilla, almond, lemon, or mint extracts are delicious
  • Powders: Protein powder, cocoa powder, or matcha 
  • Natural sweeteners: Maple syrup, honey, sugar, jam, or date paste

Using Instant Oats Vs. Rolled Oats For Overnight Oats

Old-fashioned rolled oats are steamed and rolled oat groats that are turned into flakes to stabilize the oils, allowing the oats to stay fresh for longer. In addition, they have a large surface area, allowing them to cook quickly.

In comparison, instant oats are processed even thinner and cut smaller than rolled oats. As a result, the oats need little to no cooking time. However, it also means that they rapidly lose their texture when exposed to moisture. 

Rolled oats retain their texture longer than instant outs due to their larger and thicker disk size. As a result, you can keep overnight rolled oats refrigerated for up to five days, while instant oats turn soggy after the first day.

What Is The Difference Between Overnight Oats And Instant Oatmeal?

Overnight oats aren’t cooked; the raw oats are soaked in water or milk overnight and served chilled in the morning. Instant oatmeal is cooked for a few minutes in water or milk and served warm.

Although overnight oats and instant oatmeal are both made with oats, they have different preparations, serving methods, nutrients, and textures.

The preparation is the most apparent difference between overnight oats and instant oatmeal – with instant oats having a few minutes of cooking to soften them rather than soaking.

Soaking overnight oats decreases the phytic acid in oats. Phytic acid is harmful and can stop your body from absorbing nutrients. So, overnight oats improved digestion and this is a key benefit.

Regarding taste and texture, they both have a similar bland, earthy taste and take on the flavor of the ingredients and toppings added to them. However, overnight oats are served chilled and have a slightly more stringy texture, while instant oatmeal has a smoother consistency and is enjoyed steaming hot.

Overnight oats and oatmeal boast similar nutrients and usually depends on what they are served with. Extra toppings can boost protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamin content. Straight oatmeal typically contains fewer carbohydrates and calories.

Which Oats Are Best For Overnight Soaking?

While you can technically use various oat varieties for overnight soaking, traditional rolled oats work best.

All oats are oat groats originally – whole, unbroken grains. Rolled oats do not undergo as much processing as instant oats or quick oats, allowing them to maintain their texture for longer without turning mushy.

Instant oats or quick oats undergo extra steaming before they are packaged to decrease their cooking time. As a result, while they are suitable for making overnight oats, they turn mushy quickly. 

Although oats are naturally gluten-free, they may contain traces of gluten due to contamination with other gluten-containing grains and cereals during harvest or manufacturing. If you are gluten sensitive ensure to opt for gluten-free certified oats.

There are also lots of kinds of milk and liquids you can use, check out my article on the 9 best milks to use for overnight oats.

Can You Use Steel-Cut Oats For Overnight Oats?

You can use steel-cut oats to make overnight oats, but it’s not recommended as their dense texture spoil the creamy, smooth texture of overnight oats.

Steel-cut oats aren’t rolled like old-school rolled oats and instant oats. Instead, they are made by chopping whole oat groats into pin-head-sized pieces using steel blades – hence their name. As a result, the oats boast a coarser texture than their rolled and instant counterparts.

While you can soak steel-cut oats in milk or water overnight to make overnight oats, they are too thick to absorb the liquid properly. In addition, their toothsome and dense texture means they aren’t as enjoyable as rolled overnight oats.

Steel cut oats


Hopefully, you now know whether you can use instant oats for overnight oats. Traditional rolled oats are best adapted to making overnight oats. However, instant or quick oats are a suitable substitute.

Aim only to make one serving when using instant oats instead of rolled oats. Instant oats have a more refined texture compared to the thicker textured disks of rolled oats. So, quick oats tend to turn mushy if left too long.

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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