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How to Soak and Dehydrate Oats

How to Soak and Dehydrate Oats If you want to make granola bars or oatmeal cookies using the soaking process to reduce phytates, you have to soak and dehydrate oats. It feels almost silly to go to such trouble and still end up with oats, an ingredient. You can’t even eat it yet! However – if you believe that soaking makes a difference in digestion or mineral absorption, then it’s worth it.

Related: How to Cook Steel Cut Oats in the Instant Pot

How to Make “Soaked and Ready” Oats

  • Start by soaking the oats overnight in water at the ratio of 3 cups of oats to 1 cup of water with 1 Tbs whey in the cup. I’ve only used rolled oats; really not sure how steel cut or whole oat groats would go with this process. Be sure to add 1/3 c. whole wheat or spelt or buckwheat flour in order to have some phytase available to break down the phytic acid. Without it, this process is worthless.soaked oats (2) See how the oats aren’t drowning, just moist? They’re just difficult to deal with when you use more water, in my opinion.
  • Drain any excess liquid off (there will be little if any).
  • Spread as thinly as possible on cookie sheets, or better yet, a silicone baking mat. soaking oats
  • Toast in a 250 degree oven for as long as it take to completely dry out, usually about 2-4 hours. You want the oats to be very crunchy. You can of course also accomplish this in a dehydrator at any temperature. Use parchment paper or a fruit roll tray to keep the oats from falling through.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then break apart and whiz briefly in a food processor until it looks like the top photo.
  • Store in a tightly closed container at room temperature, or if you have excess freezer space, cold storage probably isn’t a bad idea. I just use a marked oatmeal canister.
  • Added Bonus:  If you forget to soak oatmeal for the morning, you can cook these up as hot cereal, just as if they were “quick oats!”

Timesaver: Schedule this process to finish up on a day that you’re going to use the food processor for something else, like chickpea wraps or power bars (coming in the Healthy Snacks To Go eBook). You can just tap the oat dust out of it after this and reuse without washing in between.

Here is the soaked granola bar recipe for you, a free download as a preview of the Healthy Snacks To Go eBook.

NOTE:  Recipe updates and a nicely formatted printable version of this and 30 other “Healthy Snacks to Go” recipes now available as an eBook!

My First Attempt at Soaking and Dehydrating Oats

A close up of soaked oats

The first few times I tried this, I just poured water over all the oats, drained them, and dehydrated. I ended up with this:
While trying to drain the water, I felt like I lost half the oats through the strainer, and it was tough to dry them out evenly for a nice consistency. Switching to a 1:3 water to oats ratio seemed to yield much better results. I’d love to hear how others have soaked and dehydrated oats with success (or failures, too, really)!

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

26 thoughts on “How to Soak and Dehydrate Oats”

  1. Cheryll Bennett

    HELP! So I tried this for my first time this week. I soaked my oats with the apple cider and a bit of quinoa (can’t do wheat, had no spelt) for 24 hours. Then i spooned the mixture onto the cookie sheet (covered in parchment paper), placed in oven on 140 for 2 hours, then 115 for 12 hours. set the oven timer to turn off at 12 hours (4am) and went to bed. this morning they were nice and dry on top but wet on the bottom. they sat in the cold oven from 4-10am. Are they safe to eat and if so how do i fix them? I went ahead and put them in the oven on 325 to bake, hoping that would help, but not sure if they’re safe to eat now. Thank you for your help!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Continuing to cook them until dry was the way to go! They should be fine for 24-48 hours depending on your house temperature. I hope they came out well!

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  3. I’m just wondering if I could use raw apple cider vinegar to soak instead of the whey. Since our cows are dried up, not giving us milk right now I don’t have any whey to use, but do always have apple cider vinegar around. Thanks for the recipe!!

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  6. One of the OPs here – just wanted to let you know that I solved my soaked oat/grain/wheat problem in a more general way by letting recipes sit in the fridge overnight, viewing a dairy ingredient in the recipe as an acidic component. Doesn’t work for cakes, but excellent for breads and oatmeal cookies with whole wheat – yum! No tasty texture solution for granola – can’t be bothered with dehydrating and my soaked versions were terrible – though I love bircher muesli/overnight oats as a creamy alternative. Yay for progress in real food, one year on!

  7. I realize this is an old post… but I wonder if soaking oats in kefir water will break down the phytic acid… hmmm

      1. Well I tried it and it worked great. I added 1/4 cup of water kefir (not the grains, just the water). The oats were nice and sour after 24 hours. To get rid of the sour taste, I learned a trick a while back. After soaking/souring is complete, just add about a 1/4 tsp of baking soda for every cup of soured oatmeal. Works like a charm.

  8. Thanks so much for your reply Katie! Unlike me, DH has an iron stomach and is the only one who eats muesli, so I will consider homemade good enough. Cookies have definitely been soggy lately! Might get a bag of sprouted oats just for “special” recipes, soak where practical, and not worry about the rest. I am concerned about homekeeping, real food etc crowding out God in my mental space. I want to be sure I don’t pursue physical health at the expense of spiritual health. Thanks for your encouragement!

  9. I gotta admit, this is pretty overwhelming. I’m doing the best I can in most areas, including soaked oatmeal, but my family gets through at least 10 pounds of oats a month – including muesli, DH’s breakfast staple. I don’t know if I can face dehydrating 10+ pounds a month on an oven rack (oats are also a primary ingredient in many of our baking recipes). You can buy sprouted oats online, but they’re soo expensive. Tempted to make this a cheat area in an otherwise traditional diet….thoughts?

    Fantastic post though – appreciate the information.

    1. Ana,
      In the end, at least in my book, the jury is still out on the value of soaking – I really believe that if your family doesn’t seem to see any improvements if you do a test few weeks with all grains soaked (or cut grains) – and if no one has heavy gut or other problems with unsoaked grains- then yes, there are definitely other things to worry about before this one!

      Some baby steps or other possibilities for you:
      1. Some baking recipes are easily adapted to soaking – most muffins, quick breads, pancakes. Cookies are the tricky one with oats, so don’t soak those, but you could experiment with soaking some of your fav oat-based recipes if they’d lend themselves to soaking.
      2. If you decide the muesli (is that cold cereal with oats? Do you bake it?) needs to be soaked, then you invest in a dehydrator. It will change your life. 😉 I make a wicked good soaked granola that doesn’t take any more hands-on time than my old regular granola – less time actually because I don’t have to stir it while baking since it’s just dehydrating. So sometimes there are better ways…

      Don’t worry about it Amy, it sounds like you’re making a lot from scratch and feeding your family whole foods, so the perfection of the “traditional” part needs to be balanced with your sanity. 🙂 Katie

  10. Candace @ Candida Free Candee

    This is exactly what I was looking for! Do you think this process would work with oat flour to make. ..well soaked and dehydrated flour? Thanks for the great post!

    1. Candace,
      Yikes, your comment got totally misplaced, sorry about that! I don’t think flour would work quite the same…once it’s incorporated with water at all, it’s impossible to get it “back out” of the dough/batter. So if you dehydrated it in a thin layer, you’d have to use a high-powered blender to get it back into flour, and I just don’t think it would behave the same way. Better to simply use “soaked” recipes or adapt your favs for flour OR use whole oat groats and sprout them and then make sprouted flour. That’s what people usually use for recipes (like cookies) that don’t have enough liquid to soak. Does that help? 🙂 Katie

  11. Do you have any experience with using milk kefir instead of whey to soak/activate/culture veggies? Thank you for your great posts.

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  13. is it okay to use store bought flour as the phytase host for oats? Which flour would you reccomend to do so?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Carmen,
      It’s not the best because a lot of the phytase will be gone, but it’s worth a try – just use whole wheat or whatever you have on hand. 🙂 Katie

  14. Katie,
    I am thinking of soaking with my sourdough starter; any idea how much? I think I will soak in bulk & dehydrate for those yummy granola bars!

    Also, it is okay to rinse before drying, right? I think I saw someone else ask that question.

    Thanks!
    Beth

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Beth,
      Ack, sorry about a whole month delay; your comment was totally misplaced. I would just use a Tbs per cup of liquid with the sourdough, and yes, you can rinse, but I just found I lost so much oats through the strainer that I didn’t like it. It will depend on how mushy your oats get. 🙂 Katie

  15. Katie – Forgive me, please, if someone here has already asked, but ….. I have sourdough starter. I can throw some of that in in place of the whey and flour, I assume. Any idea how much?

    Thanks!
    Beth

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Beth,
      I have used sourdough starter before, and I just used a Tbs per cup (no more, it gets kind of sour!). I’d try it in a small batch first to make sure you don’t mind the tang. 🙂 Katie

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