It’s officially the winter holiday season and I’m kicking it off with this Gingerbread Protein Overnight Oats recipe. They’re like a cozy hug in a jar, blending those spicy gingerbread vibes with a solid protein kick. But this recipe isn’t your average breakfast routine – it’s a flavor party that’ll make mornings your favorite part of the day. Plus, you know I love a perfectly meal prep-able breakfast, and this definitely fits the bill!
How Far in Advance Can I Make Overnight Oats?
The name would suggest that you need to make them the night before you eat them, but I’ve made them up to 6 days in advance and haven’t had any issues. For most overnight oats recipes, the texture starts to change slightly after about 3 days in the refrigerator. People worry a lot about oats getting mushy if they don’t eat them within a day or two, but I find they get more creamy than anything. You may also find that some of the liquid separates or that they seem to dry out – just give them a stir and add more of your milk of choice to revive them!
If you’re worried about whether you’ll still like them after a few days, I’d recommend 2 things: 1) make a test batch and give it a try on day 4 and 5 to see if you like it. Don’t put all of your proverbial eggs in that breakfast basket on those days – have a backup ready to avoid any frustration or disappointment if you don’t like them. And 2) if you find you don’t like their texture on days 4, 5, 6, etc. – mix up the dry ingredients in a jar ahead of time and stash it on your counter. Then all you’ll have to do is add the wet ingredients and stick it in the fridge overnight when you’re ready for it!
Another pro tip: always be sure to use the regular or thick rolled oats/old fashioned oats. There are quick cooking rolled oats out there that will lose their chew way faster than the thicker ones. Bob’s Red Mill actually makes these Extra Thick Rolled Oats that are perfect for overnight oats!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Gingerbread Protein Overnight Oats recipe:
Rolled oats – I prefer to use rolled oats (also called old fashioned oats) in my overnight oats recipes because they maintain some chew even after a few nights in the fridge. Quick cooking oats turn to mush and steel cut oats have too much bite (even if you use the quick cooking kind).
Milk – For the oats themselves, use whatever neutral tasting milk you prefer! I used almond milk, which doesn’t have a strong flavor. Some non-dairy milks have a really strong flavor or are overly sweet – I’d stay away from those in this recipe.
Vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt – This helps make these oats extra creamy while adding a boost of protein. If you want to use a dairy free yogurt, check out my recommendations here.
Molasses – Molasses gives gingerbread its characteristic dark color, but also adds a lot of layers of flavor that you can’t really achieve without it. It’s a byproduct of extracting sugar from sugarcane and sugar beets and tastes a bit like almost-burned caramel with a deep, slightly sweet, and smoky flavor. Be sure to use light or medium/regular molasses – I find that blackstrap is too robust and bitter for this recipe.
Brown sugar – Just a touch of brown sugar helps give these oats the sweetness they need. Light or dark brown sugar will work and either will help reinforce that molasses flavor. You could also use a low sugar alternative like this.
Whey protein powder – I used a whey protein in this recipe. You can really use any kind you like, but I prefer whey in overnight oats since it dissolves easily into milk and tastes great. A casein or whey/casein mix will absorb more milk than just whey alone, so you may need to adjust the amount of almond milk if you decide to use one of those. Plant based proteins can sometimes leave a gritty texture and have an aftertaste.
Chia seeds – If you’re not familiar with them, they’re the little black specks you can see in the overnight oats. As they sit in liquid, they soak up moisture and help your overnight oats thicken up and get really creamy. Plus they’re a great source of fiber and antioxidants!
Vanilla extract – Like salt in a savory dish, vanilla tends to enhance the flavors of a sweet recipe.
Spices – This may fall last in the lineup of ingredients, but next to the molasses, spices are the most critical to achieving a gingerbread flavor. You’ll need ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. You can definitely play with the ratio of each spice, but I did find that all of them were needed to get that classic flavor. The only one I’d recommend subbing if you have to is the cloves, which you could use all spice instead.
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Gingerbread Protein Overnight Oats Recipe
- 2/3 cup rolled oats, (64 grams)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, (4 fl oz)
- 1/2 cup Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt, (4 fl oz)
- 2 tbsp Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder, Vanilla Ice Cream, (17 grams)
- 1/2 tbsp molasses, (10 grams)
- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, (7 grams)
- 1/2 tbsp chia seeds, (6 grams)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp each: nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger
- pinch salt
- Add almond milk and whey protein to a bowl and and whisk together until smooth. Add yogurt, molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla extract; whisk again until combined.
- To the wet ingredients, add rolled oats, chia seeds, spices, and salt. Mix until well combined. Divide into two resealable storage containers, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, top with whipped cream or Greek yogurt, if desired.