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Overnight Oats vs. Cooked Oats: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever wondered the difference between cold oatmeal vs. hot oatmeal? Here are some recipes and health benefits!

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of oatmeal in the mornings. It’s an easy breakfast, and you can customize it however you want.

I came across this craze called “Overnight oats” a few years ago and finally decided to try it for myself. I’m a busy person, as you probably are too. And sometimes it’s hard to get out all the ingredients to cook a bowl of oatmeal.

Let me tell you, overnight oats quickly became my favorite! It was a total step up from regular oatmeal. I’d make up a few for the week and my healthy breakfast was ready to go.

A bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit, with text "Cold oats vs hot oats"

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between cold and hot oats? Is one healthier than the other?

The short answer is: Both hot oats AND cold oats are good for you, and it’s really your preference as to how you eat them. Hopefully this post will help explain the difference and give you a few ideas!

Dried oats on a white countertop

Health benefits of oats

I recommend oatmeal to all of my clients because oats are a nutrition powerhouse! Here’s what I love about oats:

  • They help lower cholesterol levels
  • They have a good amount of fiber, which keeps you full
  • They can help lower the risk of heart disease
  • They can aid in weight loss
  • They help stabilize blood sugar

Here’s the nutrition info for a 1/2 cup of uncooked oats:

  • 150 calories
  • 27 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 5 grams of protein

This is a GREAT source of fiber and protein, both of which are super important in your day. And getting them in early with breakfast really helps!

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats in a Mason jar

What are overnight oats?

Overnight oats can sometimes be called “cold oats”, because you soak them overnight in the fridge.

Instead of cooking the oats, you soak them in a liquid: milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, etc. And you can also add other mix-ins like fruit, nuts, and maple syrup.

Once you add all the toppings, you place the container or Mason jar in the fridge overnight and the oats absorb all the liquid, making them soft and easy to eat the next morning. Most people eat it cold, and some let it come to room temperature.

This is a great option for people who love oatmeal but don’t want a hot bowl of oatmeal in the middle of Summer. It’s also a good meal prep option, because you can grab these healthy overnight oats from the fridge and bring it to work with you.

Are cold oats healthier than hot oats?

In terms of nutrition, there really is no difference if you cook oats vs. soaking them in the fridge.

Some people claim that the cooking process removes some of the nutrients in oats. My opinion is: Most of us don’t get enough nutrients anyway, so eating any type of oatmeal- cooked or uncooked- is better than none.

A jar of dried oats spilled out onto a white surface

What kinds of oats to use

You’ve probably seen different types of oats at the store, and sometimes it can get confusing! Here’s a breakdown of the most common ones:

  • Old-fashioned oats: These are one of 3 types of rolled oats. Old fashioned oats have a firmer texture and are what I use most when making oatmeal or energy bites.
  • Quick oats: These quick-cooking oats are old-fashioned oats that are cooked and dried, which helps reduce cooking time.
  • Instant oats: This is what you’ll find in the oatmeal packets. They’re rolled out thinner into small pieces, so they cook the quickest.
  • Steel cut oats: These oats are not rolled out like the above kinds. They have a chewy texture and take longer to cook. Steel-cut oats are the kind I recommend for the slow cooker, because they won’t get mushy in there.
Two Mason jars of overnight oats, topped with strawberries

How to make overnight oats

The simplest way to make overnight oats is mixing rolled oats and milk, and letting them soak in the fridge overnight. But that’s really boring, so I add any number of things.

This is my basic overnight oats recipe:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup milk (Dairy milk or dairy-free milk)
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt

The Greek yogurt gives an extra protein boost. And from there I’ll add any combination of mix-ins:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit or fresh fruit (blueberries, diced apples, sliced bananas, raisins)
  • Maple syrup
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seed

My favorite overnight oatmeal recipe is this one for Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats!

The bottom line

In the end, oatmeal is a really healthy choice for breakfast. We all have our own personal preferences, so no matter how you decide to eat it, I highly recommend you make oats part of a healthy diet!

Leave a comment and tell me: What is your favorite way to eat oats? Give us more ideas!

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