I’ve noticed it takes approximately once for kids to assume something is a tradition.
Do anything once, especially near a holiday, and suddenly that is “the way we do it.” The kids will expect it every time.
Thank goodness, I’ve been using a simple, make-ahead breakfast for every Christmas and Easter for years.
So when my kids think of a holiday with fun gifts showing up in the morning and a really special mass, they will also think of baked oatmeal in many flavors. It’s absolutely our holiday routine.
I love making our soaked baked oatmeal because, in the morning, I can just toss it in the oven, turn it on and go join the festivities. If I’m going to bed fairly late, and I’m comfortable with the eggs being out for a few hours, I can even set my auto oven to turn it on for me and wake up to good smells.
Besides that, leftover soaked baked oatmeal is wonderful cold. So we even get a twofer with another easy grab-and-go breakfast. I make a variety of flavors of baked oatmeal because I treated it like a framework recipe.
What’s a Framework Recipe?
When I see a recipe that seems like it might be a good base for lots of flavors, I create a framework. You can see other examples of this with our meatballs and meatloaf, pasta salad bar, potato salad, cream of vegetable soup, and granola bars with mix-ins.
To create a framework recipe, I just figure out what the basic ingredients and amounts are that are necessary for the recipe to turn out. Then I look at what’s actually giving the recipe its flavor and determine what other options there might be.
For example, you could look at a recipe for banana bread and completely change it to be pumpkin bread or cinnamon raisin bread or even a savory rosemary and feta bread to go with soup. You just have to understand a little bit about the process of baking.
With that banana bread, you can easily swap out any spices that are in the recipe, and you could play with adding additional mix-ins or changing the sweetener for a more honey or maple syrup based undertone.
Now you can’t just take the bananas out though, because they add substance, moisture, and sweetness to the mix. You’d want to make sure you substituted something equivalent for the bananas, such as pureed pumpkin, applesauce, or even melted butter or coconut oil — although probably slightly less of that.
Framework for Baked Oatmeal
When you’re making baked oatmeal, here are the pieces of the recipe that you shouldn’t change:
- baking powder
Here’s what you can swap within boundaries:
- Sweetener. The sweetener can be liquid or granulated, but you should use slightly less if sweetening with honey. And of course, you can always cut down on the sweetener per your preference. People can certainly add more maple syrup or honey on top if they don’t feel it’s sweet enough. You can also use some applesauce or banana to replace part of the sweetener.
- Oil. You can swap in any liquid oil such as melted butter or ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. If you’re going for lower fat (which I don’t advocate but understand that some people prefer), you can substitute applesauce or pureed pumpkin for part or all of the oil. Many recipes also allow a ground flax and water mixture in a three to one ratio to replace oil. I have not tried that yet with this recipe though.
- Vanilla. You can use other extracts like peppermint or almond, or omit the vanilla if you’re including other vibrant flavors.
- Liquid. The liquid is necessary at the quantity provided, but it can be anything from water to raw milk to dairy-free milk or even potentially experiment with a fruit juice or tea if you want to try a flavor like lavender hibiscus oatmeal.
Change with abandon and lots of creativity:
Any of the add-ins that add flavor are up for grabs here. So you’ll see in my pumpkin pie recipe that we use pumpkin pie spices, and when I go apple cinnamon, we just flavor with cinnamon. We add chopped apples or raisins, and you could certainly include anything from this list.
- chopped nuts
- candied ginger
- any dried fruit
- any fresh or frozen fruit
- all sorts of spices or seasonings
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Possible Flavors for Your DIY Baked Oatmeal
Let’s brainstorm together, and then I can’t wait to see what else you come up with in the comments. Here’s a quick list of some ideas that I’ve tried or that just sound good.
- apple cinnamon
- pumpkin pie
- peach pie
- cherry almond
- blueberry lemon
- peanut butter chocolate chip
- peanut butter banana
- cashew caramel
- cashew cranberry
- banana nut
- cinnamon raisin
- raspberry lime
- lemon poppyseed
- chocolate coconut
- coconut cardamom
- mixed maple nut
- banana chocolate chip
- lavender hibiscus
- blueberry pecan
- maple walnut
I’ve had savory oatmeal before, some sort of mushroom Italian Parmesan or something. But I wasn’t a fan. I’m sure it could work if done well though. With all my experimenting, here is my family’s favorite that they always request along with apple cinnamon when I ask which two flavors should fill our pans for Christmas and Easter mornings.Print
- 2 1/2 c. whole rolled oats (not quick or instant)
- 1/4 c. whole wheat or buckwheat flour (optional)
- 1 3/4 c. liquid
- 1/2 c. melted coconut oil (or butter)
- 4 whole eggs
- 1/2 c. sweetener (I used maple syrup, but honey is probably even better)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3+ tsp. cinnamon
- 1–2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 c. dried cherries
- optional: 1/2-1 c. chopped or slivered
- Two nights before you want to eat baked oatmeal at breakfast: Mix the oats, flour, and liquid together. If you have a 9×13 glass pan with a lid, I recommend mixing the oats right in there to save a dish. Allow to rest at room temperature, covered, overnight (up to 24 hours).
- Anytime the next day: Beat oil, sweetener, and eggs until glossy (I use my KitchenAid mixer). The cold eggs generally made the coconut oil solidify a bit, but don’t worry about it. Just beat.
- Add the baking powder, cinnamon, and almond extract. Beat in the oats mixture, then add dried cherries and nuts, stirring to combine. ,
- Pour back into that 9×13 glass dish, put a lid on it, and refrigerate overnight. If you don’t have a lid, try one of these methods to avoid using plastic wrap.
- In the morning, put the pan (uncovered) right from the fridge into a cold oven and turn on to 350F. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the oatmeal is not mushy to the touch.
- Serve warm with milk and extra syrup if you prefer. Store covered, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It’s pretty doggone good cold, too…I might be the type of person to buzz by a dish and snitch a bite here and there throughout the day!
For the liquid, choose from buttermilk, plain homemade yogurt (or store-bought), raw milk, half milk/half yogurt, half water/yogurt, half whey/yogurt – good if you have whey to use up. If you don’t have raw milk, as long you mix it with half yogurt or cultured dairy, it should be fine for the soak overnight, but don’t use 100% pasteurized milk as the only liquid.
For the sweetener, just about anything goes, including cutting it in half or more, since you can always add maple syrup to the top when you serve the dish if it turns out a bit not-sweet-enough. I prefer maple syrup or honey, but I’ve used sorghum, sucanat, brown sugar and date sugar and various combinations of the above.
- Serving Size: 1/8th a pan
- Calories: 357
- Sugar: 24g
- Sodium: 206mg
- Fat: 20g
- Saturated Fat: 13g
- Carbohydrates: 38g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 8g
- Cholesterol: 86mg
Keywords: easy breakfast, make ahead breakfast
- Why add flour? Freshly ground whole wheat, spelt, and buckwheat are added to oats for soaking purposes and phytase only. If you’re not soaking, skip the flour.
- How to make it faster: Just soak the oats overnight or for 24 hours (breakfast to breakfast) and mix up all the other ingredients in the morning when you’re going to serve it. The overnight refrigeration is not necessary; it’s only for the morning convenience of having everything done.
- How to make it with fewer dishes: Honestly, I’ve taken to mixing everything up in the 9×13 dish. How lazy is that? But no one has noticed any difference in the end result, so I highly recommend it. Just mix up the oats and liquid, then the next day, push that to one side and whisk the eggs, oil, and sweetener on the other half of the pan. Start mixing everything up well at this point (a potato masher or super-strong whisk may come in handy to incorporate everything well. Make sure you sprinkle things like salt and baking powder evenly over the whole mixture.
Soaked Baked Oatmeal is a Simple Make-Ahead Breakfast
I’m not going to tell you baked oatmeal is a simple recipe. Mixing oats and water and turning on the stove or Instant Pot? That’s simple.
This is a little more special, tastes way better as leftovers, but does have a little work upfront to get all those flavors in there. Most of the work is done ahead of time though, so it’s just a 30-second job in the morning.
More Healthy Breakfast Recipes
- The Healthy Breakfast Book with over 50 recipes!
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- Grain-free Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Porridge
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- Instant Pot Apple Cranberry Steel Cut Oats
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- Hard Boil Eggs in the Instant Pot