Overnight oats have been having a moment. And for good reason. Who doesn’t want a nourishing, ready-made breakfast waiting for you in the kitchen? Old-school Bircher muesli is the original overnight oats. But this recipe takes inspiration from the original muesli to craft a modern, full-of-goodness Bircher overnight oats recipe.
All About the Original Bircher Muesli
In a deep-dive BBC article several years ago, the author referred to Bircher muesli as, “a hosanna to healthy living.” Funny. But it’s true. Bircher muesli was developed around 1900 in Switzerland by Dr. Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner. The doctor’s determination to improve tuberculosis patients’ health through diet resulted in this wholegrain bowl.
The original recipe for Bircher muesli called for raw grated apple, nuts, and oats mixed with water, lemon juice, and condensed milk. This apfeldiätspeise, or “apple diet meal” guaranteed vitamins, protein, fiber, whole grains, and a full belly.
The healthful ingredients — coupled with the good doctor’s savvy opening of a health clinic (basically, a precursor to today’s health spa) that catered to Switzerland’s well-healed seekers of health and fresh Alpine air — spread the word.
Bircher-Style Overnight Oats, Updated
One of the best parts of this Bircher-style overnight oats recipe? It’s a no-cook breakfast. Another best part: It tastes hearty, nourishing, and just sweet enough.
This recipe hews closely to the original ingredients of oats, nuts, apple, and lemon, but bests the original with some additional add-ins.
- I use plain yogurt instead of condensed milk. This adds probiotics.
- I add a sprinkle of pumpkin and chia seeds, in addition to nuts, for added protein, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals
- A pinch of cinnamon always pairs well with apples. Add a pinch.
That said, feel very free to riff and do your own thing. Maybe you add berries, maybe you substitute different nuts, or leave them out altogether. Maybe a drizzle of honey or maple syrup sweetens the deal. Whatever you do, have fun. The only real rule is to let the oats chill in the fridge first, for minimum an hour but preferably overnight. This lets the oats absorb the flavor and moisture from the fruit and yogurt and develop a soft but hearty texture.
More great grains for breakfast: Yoga-Style Baked Oatmeal and Multigrain English Porridge
Updated Bircher Overnight Oats
- 1 cup plain (not Greek) yogurt
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 sweet, crisp apple, such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady
- 1/8 cup golden raisins or other similar dried fruit of choice
- 1/8 cup raw, unsalted nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds
- 2 tablespoons assorted seeds, such as chia and pumpkin seeds
- pinch cinnamon
- squirt fresh lemon juice
- honey or maple syrup to taste (optional)
- Grate the apple, unpeeled, on the wide grates of a box grater.
- Combine all the ingredients except for the honey or maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Stir to fully combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. To serve, re-stir and top with extra fruit, nuts, seeds, and a little honey or maple syrup as you like.