Let’s cut to the chase. The short answer to whether you can use frozen fruit in overnight oats is a resounding YES. You absolutely can use frozen fruits and achieve a delicious result for breakfast. The long answer, though, is more of a “yes, but.” Read on to learn all about our experiments, how to adjust your recipe to accommodate for frozen fruit, and what to expect when using frozen fruit versus fresh fruit in your overnight oats.
Fresh Versus Frozen Fruit in Overnight Oats: The Experiment
I’ve used frozen fruit in my overnight oats before, so I knew it was possible! But when I got this question, that answer wasn’t good enough. I want to give you the complete picture, not just a simple “sure, go for it.”
With that in mind, we set up an experiment. We made six jars of oats, all using the same base recipe. The only difference was that three had fresh fruit (raspberries, nectarines, and a combination), while three had frozen fruit (raspberries; pineapple and mango; and mixed fruits). We weren’t able to use exactly equivalent fruits, thanks to quarantine and grocery supply issues, so we had to use nectarines as one of the fresh fruit options. I knew these would discolor a bit, and don’t really recommend using them in your overnight oats.
We put all six jars in the refrigerator and left them overnight. The next morning, we opened them up to discover the results of our first experiment.
In summary: the jars with frozen fruits had excess liquid, and the fruit was softer than the fresh equivalent.
The Results by Fruit Type:
- Liquid quantity: the jar with fresh berries had perfectly absorbed all the liquid. The jar with frozen ones, on the other hand, visibly had extra liquid.
- Appearance: the fresh fruit was still fresh and beautiful on top of the oats. The frozen raspberries were a bit discolored and looked like they had melted a bit.
- When stirred: the fresh berries stayed mostly whole, while the frozen berries disintegrated right into the oats. (Whether you like whole fruits or for them to dissolve a bit is a matter of preference, of course, but worth pointing out!)
- Flavor: the fresh jar had a noticeably fresher flavor, while the one with the frozen berries tasted more like raspberry syrup. Both were good.
Yellow fruit jars (fresh nectarines, frozen pineapple and mango):
- Liquid quantity: the jar with fresh fruit had perfectly absorbed all the liquid. The jar with frozen fruit had a little bit of excess liquid.
- Appearance: the fresh nectarines, as expected, had discolored a bit. The frozen fruit still looked good!
- When stirred: the fruit in both jars stayed whole and intact.
- Flavor: both were good, no issues.
Mixed fruit jars (fresh nectarines, frozen mixed fruits:
- Liquid quantity: the jar with fresh fruit had perfectly absorbed all the liquid. The jar with frozen mixed fruit visibly had extra liquid, almost as much as the frozen raspberry jar.
- Appearance: both looked good overall. The fresh nectarines being a bit discolored (as expected). The frozen strawberries were also discolored and looked like they had melted, similarly to the frozen raspberries.
- When stirred: the frozen strawberries disintegrated and mixed into the oats, similarly to the frozen raspberries. All the other fruits (including the frozen blackberries and blueberries) stayed intact.
- Flavor: both were good, no issues.
Important Takeaways From the Experiment
We had two major takeaways from the experiment.
First, frozen fruit produces excess liquid as it melts. This means that your overnight oats will end up wetter with frozen fruit than with fresh fruit.
Second, some frozen fruits lose their texture when they melt. This occurred specifically with strawberries and raspberries. The result is that these fruits will disintegrate into your oats when you mix them, rather than staying whole and intact. Whether you like that is completely a matter of taste!
Our next step was to run a second experiment.
We measured the excess liquid in the jars with frozen fruit and made new batches, reducing the amount of liquid accordingly. The next morning, the new jars using frozen fruit had exactly the right amount of liquid and the oats were the right texture, meaning that compensating by reducing liquid works perfectly.
How to Compensate for Using Frozen Fruit
If you’ve read through all the results, you know that you need to reduce the amount of liquid when you use frozen fruit in your overnight oats. Here’s the formula that we used successfully in our second round of experiments!
For every ¼ cup of frozen fruit in your overnight oats, reduce the liquid by 2 teaspoons.
Here’s a handy cheat sheet in case your recipe calls for a different amount of fruit, so you don’t need to pull out the calculator!
- ⅛ cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by 1 teaspoon
- ¼ cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by 2 teaspoons
- ⅓ cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by 1 scant tablespoon
- ½ cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by 4 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
- ⅔ cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by 2 scant tablespoons
- ¾ cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by ⅛ cup (or 2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup of frozen fruit: reduce the liquid by ⅛ cup plus 2 teaspoons (or round up to 3 tablespoons)
Reducing your liquid by the listed amounts will keep the moisture level and texture of your final overnight oats the same, while compensating for the extra moisture from the frozen fruit.
Points to Keep in Mind
Fruit texture. If you want whole pieces of fruit in your overnight oats, steer clear of frozen raspberries or strawberries. These tend to “melt” in the oats overnight, and completely disintegrate when you stir the oats in the morning. All the other fruits we tested (including blackberries and blueberries) were fine and retained their shape.
On the other hand, if you want a more evenly fruit-flavored breakfast, frozen raspberries and strawberries may be the perfect choice. Since they sort of dissolve as you mix the oats, their flavor gets distributed much more evenly.
Reducing the liquid. When you reduce the liquid in your overnight oats to compensate for frozen fruit, do so by reducing the liquid that makes up the bulk of the recipe. For example, if your main ingredients are milk and oats but the recipe uses a bit of yogurt and vanilla extract, reduce the amount of milk. Don’t reduce the yogurt or vanilla extract even though that would technically reduce the amount of liquid. These are enriching and flavoring ingredients that have a purpose in the recipe other than to hydrate the oats.
The recipe we used for overnight oats was a very simple, straightforward one. It’s just the bare bones, without even chia seeds. We wanted to keep things super simple while conducting these experiments.
This makes a fairly dry jar of overnight oats without extra liquid, because that’s what I prefer. If you don’t already have a recipe, feel free to use this one! But if you have a recipe that you love to make with fresh fruit, I recommend just using that recipe and compensating for the frozen fruit with the cheat sheet above.
Overnight Oats With Frozen Fruit
- 1 cup minus 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup whole grain oats
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup frozen fruit
- Mix together all of the ingredients except the fruit, and divide between two resealable glass jars. Put half the frozen fruit in each jar, seal, and refrigerate overnight before enjoying for breakfast.