Soaked Oatmeal: A Filling and Frugal Start to the Day


By soaking the oatmeal overnight with a dash of lemon juice, not only are you reducing anti-nutrients, but your oatmeal will cook up in minutes in the morning. A true instant oatmeal, done the old fashioned way! We finally found a way to make soaked oatmeal that we can really enjoy by the use of lemon juice, which gives a much more mild taste. We also love to add chia seeds to our oatmeal (easily soaked overnight with the oats). This adds not only omega 3’s, protein and nutrition to our oatmeal, but we love the texture it gives.

When I decided to start soaking grains, I quickly decided soaked oatmeal was just not going to happen. It was so sour my husband wouldn’t even eat it. Of course, this was in my dairy days and I was trying to use yogurt and buttermilk. Now that we are dairy free, I decided to give it another go.  I tried raw apple cider vinegar at first just because I had it on hand. And, not surprisingly, it had a funny vinegar taste to it. Then, I tried lemon juice. And it worked! It was hardly sour at all! By the time you add ghee (or butter) and some honey and raisins to the bowl, it tastes like a normal bowl of oatmeal.

A quick review, the acidic addition that you can add to your soaked grain include:
Dairy: Buttermilk, yogurt, whey, kefir
Non-Dairy: Lemon juice, vinegar (I also think that a well soured coconut kefir, or even water kefir would could work as well, but I haven’t tried it yet).

I have also added in some spelt or whole wheat flour into my oatmeal. Near the beginning of this blog I recommended Rebuild From Depression’s helpful Phytic Acid E-course. One of the tips she includes is adding a grain high in the phytase enzyme (which neutralizes the anti-nutrient phytic acid) to grains low in phytase-such as corn and oatmeal. She suggests adding in 10 percent whole wheat (or spelt) to your oatmeal. I’ve been experimenting a little, and so far we like having a tablespoon per cup of oatmeal, which isn’t quite 10 percent. Feel free to experiment on your own and see what you like.

Because I couldn’t get soaked oatmeal to taste right for a while, we had taken it completely out of our diet, but now that we are having it again, it’s certainly helping with our food budget! I was able to get a large bag full of organic rolled oats for about four dollars. That four dollars will stretch into many meals for us.

So this will be my nourishing frugal recipe for the carnival which I will be posting late tonight/ early tomorrow morning. I just ordered five pounds of steel cut oats and am eager to try a soaked version of them as well.

Basic Soaked Oatmeal-Serves 4 people
If you are worried about it being too sour, start with one tablespoon of lemon juice. If the chai seeds appearance is not to your liking, you can always grind them in your clean spice/coffee grinder. Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking gave me the idea to use a mason jar for the soaking process.

    2 cups of rolled oats (not quick cooking)
    2 cups of water
    1 tablespoon chia seeds (or flax seeds )
    2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
    2-4 tablespoons of wheat or spelt flour
    2 cups of water
    a dash or two of sea salt

1-12 to 24 hours before hand, place your oats, chai seeds, wheat flour and 2 cups of water in a quart size mason jar or bowl. Mix it all together and cover. If you need to, you can add a bit more water to cover.

2-The next morning, dump into a pot with 2 more cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook just a few minutes and it’s done!

3-Serve with your favorite toppings: Honey, maple syrup, butter, palm sugar, ghee, raisins, dried fruit, fruit compotes, nuts, etc. Get creative!  We have found that if we put a little ghee and honey on our oatmeal, it gives it an almost caramel like taste. Yummy!

How do you like your oatmeal?

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Liana says

    Hi Kimi,
    I know you must be very busy but would you mind having a look at my post above? I really would like to know if you think it’s ok to eat my (soaked) oats raw the next morning. This soaking business is rather new for me and I must confess I’m becoming a little concerned about my phytase intake… Thanks if you can help!

    • KimiHarris says


      I am pretty sure that Sally Fallon has a soaked recipe using oatmeal that doesn’t need to be cooked. I truthfully haven’t heard one thing or another as to whether it’s good for you or not, so I don’t have much of an opinion myself. 🙂

  2. says

    This is terrific soaked oatmeal! We’ve been making it with buttermilk or yogurt and the complaints have been great. My kids had been choking it down. There was much rejoicing this morning when the oatmeal tasted like “the old oatmeal.” However, my husband still prefers to have his soaked oats via stout!

  3. Julie H says

    This is the only way I’ll eat oatmeal…trust me, I am not a fan even though I have wanted to be for many years. I have made this several times for me and my kids and everyone is happy! I have some soaking now….can’t wait to add some dried cranberries, maple syrup, and walnuts to it in the morning….MMmmmmm….

  4. Alex says

    I have not read the other comments so I’m not sure if someone said this already or not…but when you described the steps of making the oatmeal you did not say when/where you add the lemon juice. It is obvious that you put it in during the soaking step, but it is not listed along with the other ingredients there. Just thought you’d like to know! Anyways, I’m excited to try this recipe this weekend! Thanks!

  5. says

    I am new to this way of eating, and just tried your soaked oatmeal. It turned out very well! It was not sour, the texture was creamy, and I added some natural peanut butter (for protein) and honey to mine and it was about the best bowl of oatmeal I’ve ever had! (I’m not a huge fan of oatmeal, but I know it is cheap and nourishing, so I’m trying!)

  6. Annabeth says

    I HOPE you can answer a question for me, because I can’t seem to get an answer anywhere….
    If I use acid water (opposite of alkaline from the machine), do I still need to add lemon?? The water pH would be 5.5.

    • KimiHarris says


      The point being to have acidic water to soak in, I think you should be just fine using acidic water from your machine without lemon juice. 🙂

  7. Bircher says


    I soak 500g of oats by covering it with water and the juice of a whole lemon, then the next day grate in two granny smiths, add a 1kg tub of yoghurt and some big spoons of honey, a bit of cinammon. then i cover it in raspberries and blueberries and leave it overnight. amazing.

  8. says

    Hi! I wanted to let you know that I used raw apple cider vinegar in my oatmeal, because that was all I had on hand. When I was cooking my oatmeal this morning, I cooked it with some raisins and cinnamon. Instead of a vinegary taste, I ended up with a delicious apple taste in the oatmeal. I don’t think it’s sour at all, although I could smell the vinegar when I dumped it out of the canning jar. So yummy! This is my favorite recipe! I can’t wait to share it with my mom, who loves oatmeal even more than me.

  9. Linda says

    Thanks for the tip on using lemon juice! I tried my very first batch of soaked oatmeal last night and we used buttermilk. Ick! It was so sour we couldn’t eat it. So, I am excited to hear you had success with the lemon juice. I’ll have to try that tonight.

    I love oatmeal and I like it to be creamy and soft – no hard bits of the oats for me. I am pleased that the soaked oatmeal gave me the correct consistency, now I just need to work on the flavor 🙂

    I just need to find some pumpkin and I can make a fabulous pumpkin nut spice oatmeal that even my non-oatmeal-eating kids will eat!

  10. Lori says

    I saw my daughter feeding her 12 month old soaked oatmeal yesterday, that she had not cooked. Kinda scared me but she was confident it didn’t need to be cooked and since it was raw, it provided a portable food for she could pack on hikes. I’m pretty concerned about this and was hoping you could give me some advise on the digestibility of raw, albeit soaked, grains. Thanks.

  11. Doug says

    Instead of lemon juice, I replace some of the water with apple cider (not vinegar – just cider). For this recipe, of the initial 2 cups of water, I’d use a bit over 1 cup of water, the rest cider.

    Apple cider has a pH that’s higher than lemon juice, so you need more to get the same acidity. You can add more, but at some point it gets too sweet for me.

  12. says

    I have been wanting to start soaking and I am so glad I found your site. Very helpful, made my first batch last night and ate it with the fam this morning. Everyone loved it, I thought it my best oatmeal ever. I used yogurt after realizing I didn’t have enough lemons and seeing that yogurt is actually ok as per your viewer’s comments. I only noticed it a bit while eating and I actually enjoyed its addition. I think it is very possible the yogurt you were using was more sour then others.

  13. Teresa says

    I take my oatmeal (old fashioned type) and put in bowl, add dried raspberries, add boiling water, cover and let sit for 7 mins. Then top with 1 tsp. of cinnamon. No need for extra cooking, no need to remember to soak overnight. It is quick, seeing that it ‘cooks’ up while I am doing something else.

    • Liz says

      The point of soaking it overnight is not to make it easier to cook, but to neutralize the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. The fact that it cooks faster is just a bonus.

  14. Soccy says

    Hi there.

    Does soaking the nuts/seeds along with the oatmeal give the same result as “crispy nuts”? Also, do I keep the jar covered or uncovered?

    Thank you!

  15. Kacey says

    This may be a silly question, but if you are soaking the oats to neutralize the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, wouldn’t you want to rinse the oats before cooking to rid them of the phytic acid, otherwise aren’t you just eating it anyway? Thanks, I am new to this soaking stuff.

    • says

      I’m with Kacey. I just started soaking oats a couple weeks ago. First, I did it just with water. Then I added a couple teaspoons of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, but I think rinsing is key. Phytic acid is water soluble, but it doesn’t make sense not to strain and rinse after soaking if you’re trying to get rid of it, right?

    • says

      I’m with Kacey. I just started soaking oats a couple weeks ago. First, I did it just with water. Then I added a couple teaspoons of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, but I think rinsing is key. Phytic acid is water soluble, but it doesn’t make sense not to strain and rinse after soaking if you’re trying to get rid of it, right?

      • Denise says

        I think the phytase enzyme would break down the phytate into inert/ less sinister compounds. Rinsing would just be extra, unnecessary work.

  16. Mel says

    Hey! Great article on soaking but I have a question, i’ve read alot about soaking oats in an acidic liquid, and all this time I have been soaking dry rolled oats in only milk, cinammon and berries overnight in the fridge. The milk becomes thick and oaty and I love the flavour. But is milk alone an acidic enough substance to release the anti-nutrients? Can it replace fat free cows milk for warm water? Would adding a spoonful of yoghurt help? Thank you!

    • Karen says

      I’ve been making soaked oatmeal with steel cut oats for years. When soaking, I add enough water to cover the oatmeal. It’s basically the same ratio when cooking it, but I do like to add a little more liquid (milk) to make it softer. Thanks, Kimi for coming up with this recipe! I haven’t really liked the way mine has tasted because I’ve been using apple cider vinegar and the steel cut oats are hard for me to digest. I will definitely be trying your recipe soon.

  17. MrsK says

    I am so confused out soaking oats. I buy the 365 brand of old-fashioned rolled oats. They cook up in 5 minutes on the stove. Are those not the ones I should be soaking. I actually tried soaking them and they got all mushy. Sorry if this is a super novice question.

  18. says

    Hello, I have not tried this yet as I am just learning about phytic acid, but wouldn’t the oats need to be rinsed to dispose of the removed phytic acids? Or is the phytic acid “deactivated” and then safe to consume without rinsing after soaking and before cooking?

  19. says

    Hi there,
    Thanks for a lovely recipe that gave me inspiration for a lovely dish. This is a lovely site. I just read that any kind of oats you buy are already processed. Oat groats are toasted at a low temperature to make them more stable, then different kinds of oat flakes are steam-processed. You can read about this on the web. For that reason it seems to me that it’s not necessary to pre-soak oatmeal. Just wanted to share the thought. I am generally for sourdough-type methods, though, they seem biblical to me and anything biblical has to be better than our modern methods.

  20. Melissa says

    I have always loved oatmeal. But since I have not studied the nutritional value of SOAKED oatmeal, will you please tell me the reason to prepare it this way?

  21. Kylie says

    I have been looking into soaking grains today also, I am curious if fresh orange juice could be used as opposed to lemon? It also contains citric acid but would be a bit sweeter. Has anyone tried? ?

  22. Kelly says

    I have loved WAPF for several years now. But I find that I am so confused about food. My husband has Crohn’s disease and we have been eating paleo for him. He seems to do very well on it. I, however, find that I have good days and bad days on paleo. On really high fat days, I feel bleh. I just started grad school so I’m trying to cut down on food expenses by eating more grains and legumes. But, I find myself constantly worried about everything I’m eating. Not only am I concerned that my husband is eating a well balanced diet, as it is particularly important for him, but I get so confused with so many different viewpoints. When eating paleo I get scared that I’m eating too much fat, if I eat grains I worry about blood sugar and digestion. I know it sounds really silly, but with so many varying viewpoints I have a hard time knowing what to think. I love food, but I am so preoccupied with eating the “right way” that it is sucking all of the enjoyment out of eating. I want to try experimenting with these overnight oats! Do you have any advice for somebody like me who’s trying to navigate what it means to eat a healthy diet? I think this is all exacerbated by the fact that I lost 60 lbs in college and have kept it off for 5 years. Great, but I find that I fear gaining the weight back!


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