Overnight Oats vs. Oatmeal

By: Bob's Red Mill | May 24 2022

If you live a busy lifestyle and love prepping food ahead of time, you've probably heard of overnight oats. A simple and nutritious meal, overnight oats are oats combined with a liquid like water or milk and additional ingredients like fruit, nuts and spices and then refrigerated overnight. Moreover, overnight oats can be prepped in minutes and enjoyed as an on-the-go morning meal.

If you want to make overnight oats and wonder about the health benefits, we're here to help. Though similar to a regular bowl of oatmeal, overnight oats and oatmeal do have their differences. Continue reading to discover the difference between these two meals and if overnight oats live up to all the hype.

The Difference between Overnight Oats and Oatmeal

Choosing between overnight oats or oatmeal is usually determined by personal preference. For example, some individuals love eating cold or room-temperature uncooked oats, while others crave a warm bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal.

The nutritional benefits of these meals do vary, and depending on your unique health needs, you may want to choose one over the other. In addition, because of the different preparation methods, the way your body absorbs, digests and uses the nutrients from the whole grain changes. Let's look at the differences between overnight oats and oatmeal to decide which will work best with your lifestyle.

An Overview

overnight oats

While they may taste similar, overnight oats and oatmeal are not the same. Here's a list of their most notable differences for a quick reference.


Overnight oats are prepared in advance, and oatmeal is cooked and consumed the same day.


You can prepare overnight oats using various cold liquids, whereas you cook oatmeal by heating water or milk.


Overnight oats are often served cold but can be heated; oatmeal is served hot.

Pros and Cons of Overnight Oats and Oatmeal

Overnight oats are the more nutritious option, but that doesn't mean that this meal is for everyone. Review the pros and cons of overnight oats vs. oatmeal and decide which best suits your nutritional and lifestyle needs.

Overnight Oats: Pros

overnight oats


Overnight oats are an excellent option for busy mornings. Because you make this meal the night before, you can consume it in the morning without preparation.

Better Nutrient Absorption

The low levels of phytic acid in overnight oats may help your body better absorb their nutrients.

Easy Preparation

When making overnight oats, no heating or cooking is required. Instead, all ingredients are added to the same container as the oats and liquid and left to soak overnight.


Overnight oats are as easy to transport as they are to prepare. Because they're chilled, overnight oats can be made in a jar or container and taken with you as an on-the-go breakfast.

Less Mess

Because overnight oats don't require cooking, they can be prepared and enjoyed from the same container, leaving you with fewer dishes to wash.


When making overnight oats, several liquids are used—water, yogurt and milk are excellent options. Overnight oats can also be prepared a few days in advance, allowing you to plan for the week ahead.

Overnight Oats: Cons

overnight oats


Many people prefer a warm breakfast when they wake up. However, because overnight oats are refrigerated and enjoyed as-is, they're not the preferred breakfast for chilly winter mornings. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: heat them on the stove or in the microwave.


If you enjoy traditional oatmeal regularly, you'll quickly notice that the texture of overnight oats is a bit different. Although most people like it just the same, some individuals prefer cooked oatmeal instead.


Overnight oats usually contain more calories than traditional oats, which is not ideal for individuals following a low-calorie diet or looking to cut back on calorie-rich foods.

Note: Eating raw oats is generally safe, but may cause digestive issues or increase the risk of foodborne illness.

Oatmeal: Pros

Healthy oats porridge with cranberries on light blue background with oatmeal ears and wooden spoon

Hearty Taste

Oat's nutty flavor changes slightly when cooked. As a result, oatmeal often provides a heartier taste and texture.


The warm and filling nature of a freshly cooked bowl of oatmeal is bound to provide comfort on a cold morning.


Overnight oats are simple to prep. However, they do require a bit of soaking time before you can enjoy them. If your oat cravings are immediate, then oatmeal will better satisfy you.

Oatmeal: Cons

Oatmeal with slices of pear and almonds


Though several types of oatmeal are quick-cooking, they require some cooking time. So if your mornings are jam-packed, preparing a bowl of overnight oats the night before is an excellent way to ensure that you have a healthy meal to reach for as you head out the door.

Hard to Pack

Because oatmeal is cooked hot, you'll need to wait until it cools off before packaging it as an on-the-go breakfast.

Overnight Oats Recipe: Easy Overnight Oats

Ready to make a jar of overnight oats and discover all the hype? This Easy Overnight Oats recipe is an excellent way to get started. An effortlessly nutritious breakfast, these overnight oats feature a combination of our Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, Organic Chia Seed and Almond Protein Powder. A delicious and healthy meal, banana, honey and almond butter are used as natural sweeteners.

Oatmeal Recipe: Baked Pear Oatmeal

If you have a bit of time in the morning and crave a warm and comforting bowl of oats, we have just the recipe. This Baked Pear Oatmeal is a fun-to-make dish loved by everyone who tries it. So sweet and nutritious, this oatmeal is made with Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, fresh pears, spices and brown sugar and will leave a lasting impression.

When choosing between overnight oats vs. oatmeal, you'll want to consider how much time you have on hand. If your mornings are busy, leaving you little time to make a nutritious meal, overnight oats are the perfect option. To plan meals ahead of time, choose from one of our many delicious recipes and make it the night or a few days before you plan on eating it.

On the other hand, if you have a few minutes to spare and crave a warm and comforting bowl of oats, then baked oatmeal, like the Baked Pear Oatmeal above, is the perfect dish. Slow to cook, the end flavor is well-worth every minute spent making it. Though you can enjoy this oatmeal any time of the week, we enjoy making it on Sunday mornings and sharing it with family and friends. From the Bob's Red Mill Family to yours, we wish you a healthy and delicious day!

Do you find yourself making overnight oats regularly? We'd love to hear which recipes you enjoy. Share your favorites with us in the comments below.


1 Comment

  1. Daniel Smallwood
    Daniel Smallwood
    "Overnight oats usually contain more calories than traditional oats, which is not ideal for individuals following a low-calorie diet or looking to cut back on calorie-rich foods."
    Is this only on the basis that overnight oats are usually taken with higher calorie addies like fruit and nuts? Surely a similar starting weight of oats will have the same number of calies, whether it's cooked or soaked.

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