Soaked Oatmeal: The Original Instant Oatmeal

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There is something about a warm breakfast of oats with cold milk that really excites me.

As a child, I have fond memories of oatmeal packets on early school mornings. Two minutes and a microwave meant   I could enjoy oatmeal, instantly. Hence instant oats.

Once our family began our journey of real food and started thinking about food products, I had to face a hard truth. There wasn’t much “real” about my favorite oatmeal.  Oatmeal on store shelves contains synthetic vitamins, “natural” and artificial colorings and flavorings, and other “goodies”.  I was disappointed that my favorite bowl of morning goodness just didn’t make the real food cut.

Of course, I turned to my kitchen.


I started making homemade oatmeal with basic rolled oats from the grocery store.  Soon, I found a grain co-op and began buying fifty pound bags of organic oats.  Oatmeal became a frequent morning breakfast sweetened with raw honey or pure maple syrup and fresh fruit.

A couple years ago, I picked up a copy of the book Nourishing Traditions. It was at this time our family decided to take a step further into real food, turning from vegetarianism toward real, traditional foods. Part of this shift also meant properly preparing grains, nuts, seeds, and beans by soaking.


Why Soak Grains?

Oats and other grains and legumes contain phytic acid which is an anti-nutrient making it hard to absorb the nutrients when digested.  Soaking is traditional and has been practiced as a way to make grains, nuts, seeds, and beans more digestible and help unlock the nutrients.  According to Nourishing Traditions,

Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important predigestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures.

Our family soaks many, not all, the grains we consume. Soaking not only improves digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals, but also allows for oats to cook quickly. The original instant oatmeal.


5 from 4 votes

Soaked Oatmeal: The Original Instant Oatmeal

Our family soaks many, not all, the grains we consume. Soaking not only improves digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals, but also allows for oats to cook quickly. The original instant oatmeal.

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword oatmeal
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 895 kcal
Author Kristin Marr


  • 2 cups rolled oats not instant
  • 2 cups water warm
  • 2 TB pure maple syrup
  • 2 TB plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole milk


  1. Mix together: oats, 2 cups water, pure maple syrup, and acidic medium in a large bowl. Cover and let sit on the counter overnight.
  2. In the morning, bring 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, salt, and oat mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer around 5 minutes. Watch carefully as these oats cook quickly.
  3. Spoon into bowls and top with a healthy fat such as grass-fed butter or coconut oil. We also top ours with chopped walnuts, ground cinnamon, berries, raw milk, and raw honey or pure maple syrup.




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  1. says: Lisa

    5 stars
    I am so glad that I signed up for emails – it makes it SO much easier for me to print out your recipes (I just can’t figure out how to use Pinterest!) I am starting to build a recipe binder filled exclusively with recipes that you have shared, because I know that they will be whole food based. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will be trying this soon. I love oatmeal, but my daughter doesn’t. I am hoping to convert her into a fan of it (possibly by adding chocolate chips!)

  2. says: maggie

    So is this not done anymore with store bought foods? Is there a possibility that this process being exuded makes for the gluten issues on the rise being digestive?

    1. says: Kristin

      It will have a slight vinegar taste if you use the apple cider. I would suggest using whey, lemon juice, milk kefir, even yogurt as an acidic medium if you would like it to not have a vinegar taste present.

        1. says: Kristin

          Yes, it should be just as effective. If you are worried about the yogurt on the counter (although that is how yogurt is made :)) you can also use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as the acidic medium.

  3. says: Renee Rauch

    5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe!! I soaked it with the whole milk yogurt and as it was cooking I added a sprinkle of cinnamon and tsp. of madagascar bourbon pure vanilla bean paste. It was amazing!! Topped it with some fresh blueberries, and a drizzle of milk and pure maple syrup.

  4. says: Marie

    I used the apple cidar vinegar and the oatmeal tasted like the vinegar. Recommend using other acidic ingredients that may not affect the taste. Liked the texture of the finished product and the hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. Have some oats soaking with buttermilk now.

  5. says: Martha Barragan

    Have you ever used something else besides pure maple syrup. I was just going to use some brown sugar would that work. I’m currently out of maple and wont be able to purchase some until next week. I don’t think I can wait that long before eating more if this delicious oatmeal! TIA

  6. says: Sheri

    I too have a hard time getting past leaving yogurt or milk out all night. Although I understand that’s how yogurt is made but what about milk? How is it ok to leave it out all night? I’m just starting my own real food ‘journey’ so I’m honestly curious 🙂

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Sheri, The acidic medium used when soaking helps the milk to sour. Modern day pasteurization essentially produces a dead milk, so most the organic milk produced via this method doesn’t even need refrigeration, but the general public was too skeptical when producers introduced it on store shelves. You can still find these small milk cartons via Organic Valley and Horizon in the non-refrigerated section.

      I don’t recommend using ultra-pasteurized milk at all, rather a low-temp pasteurized or raw milk (if possible). The acidic medium (lemon, vinegar, whey) sours the milk, essentially how ricotta cheese is made. Many people with reservations choose to use water in place of the milk with an acidic medium (the key to breaking down phtyic acid in the grains too). Using water is perfectly fine.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      1. says: Sheri

        I’m sorry I misunderstood, I though I read to soak it in all milk. But now I’m confused again :/ if I use milk do I use an additional acidic medium?

        I’ve just learned about milk! I was so shocked to learn I hadn’t been doing much except wasting money buying organic milk.. We just found a local farm to buy raw milk from, I was ecstatic because we have very few real food options where I live!

        Thanks for replying 🙂

        1. says: Kristin Marr

          Hey Sheri,

          I’m so happy you found a raw milk farm! Very cool.

          Yep, no matter if the liquid is milk or water, the soaking process still needs an acidic medium. That medium is what breaks down the phytic acid (the harder to digest stuff) in the grains. You’ll notice here at Live Simply, my recipes go back and forth. Some are soaked and some are not. I try to soak many of our grains, but sometimes (due to time and texture) it’s not possible.

  7. says: amanda

    My family loves baked oatmeal. I was thinking that it would work the same for me to soak the oats overnight and then add the same things to the recipe that I normally add and bake them in the morning. Have you ever tried baked oatmeal this way?

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Amanda, I have tried using this method for baked oatmeal with good success. The soaked baked oats have a bit different of a consistency (moist vs. dry) than the non-soaked version. Let me know how it goes with your recipe!

  8. says: amanda

    5 stars
    Just wanted you to know I soaked oats last night and made baked oatmeal this morning and it turned out great! I soaked 3 c. Oats, 3 c. Water, 3 T. Yogurt, 3 T. Maple syrup. This morning I added 2 eggs, 2 T. Butter, 1/4 c. Coconut sugar, 1/2 c. Almond butter, 2 t. Baking powder, 3/4 t. Salt, 2 t. Vanilla. It makes a 9×13 dish and I baked it at 350o for 40 minutes. It was delicious! Thanks for your ideas! I love your blog. 🙂

  9. says: Bob

    i never comment on blog posts, but I had to on this one. This oatmeal is out of this world! So much better than my usual oatmeal. I may have soaked some additional oats so I can have it for breakfast and lunch tomorrow 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

  10. says: Fatima Silva

    Sadly, I’m lactose intolerant. I would love to try this with the lemon juice! What do you suggest I use instead of whole milk? Many thanks!!!

  11. says: Lela

    I came to this post from the granola post that mentioned soaking the oats. I LOVE granola but find it sometimes doesn’t love me. Do you recommend soaking in the same way as listed above when making granola?

  12. says: Rachel

    Can you soak a large batch of oats to be cooked in smaller servings over time? I’m trying to find ways to save time with cooking as I work long retail hours.

  13. says: Stephanie

    Can I soak the oats in 2 T of almond or coconut yogurt or would these not be considered an acidic medium? I’m worried about a vinegar taste as some previously commented. Thanks!

  14. says: Tami Demascal

    Hey there
    I’ve read a couple recipes that say it’s OK to just soak oats in water. My family just did not like the sour taste with the acidic medium. I tried yogurt and some of the other options. Have you ever used just filtered water?

  15. says: Christina

    Do you need to use filtered water in the oats? I’ve read somewhere that the chlorine in tap water can kill the good bacteria from the yogurt.

  16. says: Belinda K

    This was delicious! I used organic whole milk vanilla yogurt instead of plain, that is what I had on hand. Sprinkled with fresh raspberries

  17. says: Autumn

    5 stars
    Yummy! Best way to eat oatmeal. Soaked last night using Stonyfield plain whole milk yogurt. Cooked this morning while packing lunches. SO simple and delicious!!!!

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