Overnight Chia Pudding

~ Overnight Chia Pudding is the perfect solution for everyone who feels like they don’t have time for breakfast. It’s full of great nutrition, and there are nearly unlimited delicious ways to customize it! Make a big batch for grab-and-go breakfasts you’ll look forward to eating, all week long! (Psssssst … it’s also terrific for snacking and even dessert – we’ve got lots of ideas for great flavor combos you’ll LOVE!) ~

This Recipe Is:     Make Ahead    Vegetarian (with Vegan Options)    Gluten Free   Paleo Options

It’s no secret that the right breakfast sets your day up for success. And really, it’s something we all strive for, right – easy ways to make each day better??

But sometimes it’s still just so hard. There’s no time. You’re running late, and your healthy eating goals might have to start … ummmm … tomorrow.

You toss some granola bars to the kids as you all run out the door, and vow that you’ll try to grab something for yourself later. *SIGH* And you’ll try again … tomorrow.

This is precisely why overnight breakfasts are so magical. They’re already waiting for you. They take no time in the morning.

Grab them and go, go, go!

Overhead of several small jars with different chia pudding flavor combos and toppings.

So hey … about those goals for “tomorrow” … this Overnight Chia Pudding will check the “healthy breakfast” goal right off your to-do list. Done and done!

When tomorrow morning’s craziness begins, a healthy breakfast will NOT be a missed opportunity. It will actually happen, and the whooooole rest of your crazy day will be so much better when you power up right!

Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite breakfast (and snack and dessert, too)!

What is Chia Pudding?

If you haven’t experienced the simplicity and bliss of chia pudding – especially Overnight Chia Pudding – it’s time for a little peek at this magical food.

You might be familiar with the tiny, unsoaked, chia seed. It doesn’t offer much of a hint about its secret superpower. I’ve tried eating chia seeds straight-up (you know … for the sake of culinary research), and I can confirm that they taste exactly how they look: crunchy and pretty darn boring.

But …

… put those unassuming little chia seeds in milk (or any other liquid), and they morph into a perfect base for pudding:

  • They swell into fun little, tapioca-like pearls …
  • and then they gel the surrounding liquid into a dreamy, silky, custard.
Set chia pudding after overnight refrigeration, with mix-ins like berries and granola nearby.

The process takes a minimum of an hour or two for the pudding to begin to set, which is why chia pudding is an ideal overnight breakfast recipe.

Take a couple minutes to stir it all together before bed, and a nourishing make-ahead breakfast is waiting for you the next morning!

And, our Overnight Chia Pudding recipe is specifically designed to be the perfect blank canvas for all sorts of tasty experiments with flavor combinations, mix-ins, and toppings. (Read on … we have LOTS of suggestions for ya!)

Soooooo are you starting to understand why I fell so totally in love with this whole Overnight Chia Seed Pudding concept?!?

Why We Love Overnight Chia Pudding (And You Will, Too!)

  • It takes just a few minutes to whip up in the evening, so a nutritious and super-yummy breakfast is all ready and waiting in the morning.
  • It’s lusciously creamy with LOTS of ways to customize it, with different flavors, toppings and mix-ins (more on that in a minute)!
  • It’s honestly not just for breakfast. It also makes a terrific power snack. And, with the right toppings, it’s a satisfyingly decadent (but still healthy!) dessert, too. Our “Candy Bar” Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding is a perfect example. No doubt – if you’ve got chia pudding in the fridge, I bet you’ll find yourself reaching for it all day long!
  • Luckily, it keeps well for several days, so it’s fabulous for meal prep.
  • And, it’s so healthy! In fact, let’s talk just a little bit more about all that delicious nutrition hiding out in your yummy bowl of chia pudding bliss!

Chia Pudding Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition, there’s just so much to love here!

Chia pudding is naturally gluten free.

And, it’s very versatile, so you can switch up the milks and sweeteners to personalize your own version of this Overnight Chia Pudding recipe to be vegan, milk free, dairy free, paleo or keto.

Chia seeds are a terrific superfood, with lots of health benefits from minerals and antioxidants.

Glass jar of chia seeds with a metal scoop full of seeds laying in front.

Harvard’s School of Public Health points out that those tiny little seeds also pack in loads of omega-3 fatty acids, and are actually the richest plant source of omega-3s.

Plus, chia seeds are a really good source of plant-based protein. In fact, chia seeds are among the few plant-based ingredients that contain all the essential amino acids needed to be complete proteins (quinoa is another example). Add in the protein you’ll get from whatever milk you combine with your chia seeds to make your pudding, and you’ll be starting your day with a nice hit of protein!

Chia seeds are also a great source of fiber. In fact, as Healthline points out, by weight they’re about 40% fiber, which makes them one of the very best sources of fiber out there! Why is that so great? Well, as Harvard’s School of Public Health explains, the fiber in chia “may help to lower LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol and slow down digestion, which can prevent blood sugar spikes after eating a meal and promote a feeling of fullness.”

And while we’re talking fiber, it’s notable that almost all the carbs in chia seeds are fiber. Healthline explains that just one ounce of chia seeds offers 12 grams of carbs, but 11 of those are fiber. Unlike digestible carbohydrates like starches and sugar, the fiber in chia which won’t raise blood sugar.

Oh … and all that wonderful fiber? It does one other amazing thing, too. It’s the magic bullet that allows those tiny chia seeds to transform ordinary liquids into yummy … PUDDING!

Why Chia Seeds Expand

So, let’s dig deeper into all that fiber packed into chia seeds … and how that works to magically create delicious puddings.

Specifically, chia seeds have loads of soluble fiber and mucilage (a gluey substance produced by most plants). All that soluble fiber and mucilage allow chia seeds to expand a lot (approximately 10 times their own weight), becoming very gelatinous when they’re mixed with a liquid.

Jar of chia seeds dumped over with chia spilling out, ready to make chia pudding.

That’s why – by simply adding some liquid and flavoring to chia seeds – you can end up with a delicious pudding. The chia does all the work for you. Thank you, tiny chia!

This means that, if you find the right ratio of chia and milk, you’ll end up with something that closely resembles the texture of rice pudding or tapioca pudding … except it’s so healthy!

Yep! You, too, can have healthy pudding for breakfast, snacks, and especially DESSERT!

With our delicious Overnight Chia Pudding, you can start and end your day with a yummy bowl full of nutrients.

I bet you’re excited. And I bet I can guess your next question:

How to Make Overnight Chia Pudding?

Since you’ve got a basic idea of chia’s secret superpower, it’s probably easy to guess how you’d go about making chia pudding, right?

1. Add liquid to chia seeds (plus maybe some sweeteners if you want, or flavorings like vanilla extract).

2. Stir … wait a few minutes … and then stir again to break up any clumps.

Hand holding spoon that's mixing up the chia pudding before chilling overnight.

3. Pop it in the fridge and pull on your jammies … dreaming happy dreams of tomorrow’s yummy breakfast (which is already waiting for you)!

4. Then … wake up to a power breakfast you can grab in moments. Add any toppings or mix-ins your little heart desires … and get on with your day, nourished and ready to tackle whatever lies ahead! 

Booyah! You’ve conquered breakfast (and snacks and desserts, too)! Yay, you!

It’s really just so easy!

But of course, you know I’ve got a few handy tips and tricks to help you make an absolutely perfect chia pudding breakfast (or, you know … snack or dessert) every single time …

The Right Chia Pudding Ratio

Chia pudding is truly quite flexible and forgiving. You can play with the ratio of chia seeds to liquids to get precisely the consistency you like best.

Across the internet, different recipes use varying ratios of chia to liquid, but most fall somewhere between a ratio of 1:2 – 1:4. It really depends on the texture and thickness you’re shooting for.

But, after all of my trials, recipe testing, and feedback, I’ve settled on an ideal chia pudding ratio of:

1 Part Chia to 4 Parts Liquid

This means that each chia seed has more liquid to absorb (compared to a 1:2 ratio), and it really allows each seed to expand and ensures it’s no longer dense or crunchy.

But seriously, this is an open playing field for you to experiment with and adapt to your own preferences!

What Milk Should You Use for Chia Pudding?

One of the great things about chia seeds is that they’ll absorb any liquid you add to them, gelling it in just a few hours.

I’ve tested chia puddings with many of the common types of milk. And, I’ve concluded that most milks will usually work just fine – they’re all pretty similar in the way they react with chia and how they taste when made into chia pudding (especially if you’re adding flavorful toppings).

Overhead of big glass mixing bowl filled with set pudding, with a serving spoon and berries laying nearby.

You can definitely use whatever type of milk you happen to have in your fridge, but here are some subtle differences my “taste-testers” and I noted:

• Coconut Milk

In general, we liked this one best, and it’s my go-to choice for making this Overnight Chia Seed Pudding recipe. (Note that I use refrigerated, low-fat coconut milk – not the full-fat, canned kind.)

Coconut milk has a subtle flavor and melds well with other ingredients. We agreed that the pudding made with coconut milk had the smoothest (and best) taste.

But again, once you stir in flavorful additions like fruits or jelly, or sprinkle on some toppings, the subtle differences in how the milk tastes become much less noticeable.

• Cashew Milk

As you might guess, this adds a slightly nutty flavor. The after-taste of cashew milk is the darkest and richest when compared to the other milks.

• Almond Milk

Almond milk tastes pretty similar to cashew milk. It adds a hint of nutty flavors, but it’s a bit lighter in taste.

• Dairy (Cow) Milk

We specifically tested nonfat, skim milk. Even though it was nonfat, it made the pudding creamier. But, surprisingly, its taste actually didn’t meld quite as well with the chia pudding as some of the other milks.

• Bottom Line: Choose Whatever You Prefer!

Realistically, the difference between these varieties of milk isn’t all that significant.

Go with whatever type of milk best meets your personal preferences and dietary goals. As I keep saying, your choice of milk shouldn’t really have a huge impact on the consistency or taste of your Overnight Chia Pudding – especially if you add a bunch of mix-ins and toppings (we’ll discuss our favorite add-in ingredients shortly).

Pro Tip: Stirring to Prevent Clumping

As easy as chia pudding is to make, it can be tempting to just mix up your ingredients and shove it all straight into the fridge, forgotten about until tomorrow.

But, we found that one simple but important extra step makes a big difference in getting a terrific final consistency.

Even if you whisk the pudding ingredients together really well, you’re likely to end up with some tightly bonded little clumps of chia seeds here and there, throughout your pudding …

UNLESS

… you set it aside to wait just a few minutes, and then give it another good, second stir before sticking it in the fridge. Look for any clumps that have formed in those initial minutes while the pudding is starting to set up – and be sure to break them apart as you give your pudding a second stir.

That second stir makes allll the difference!

You’ll be rewarded with a smoother, clump-free pudding the next morning!

The Waiting Game: How Long Overnight Chia Pudding Takes to Set

Chia pudding technically doesn’t have to sit overnight.

But, since it takes at least an hour or two to be soft-set (and sets up more fully even after that), it’s a perfect make-ahead, overnight recipe. Basically, it’s the same strategy you’d use in making overnight oats.

Closeup of hand holding a spoonful of finished pudding, with the bowlful and a few ingredients scattered below.

You definitely can (and should!) make chia pudding ahead of when you actually want to eat it.

Terrific, right? Make-ahead recipes are awesome for busy people like you … and me!

Choosing Mix-Ins and Toppings

Now it’s time for the fun part!

You’ve got your Overnight Chia Pudding sitting there like a blank canvas. It’s just waiting for you to add some personal flair and your favorite flavors!

There are truly endless possibilities for how you can customize it! Some great examples that are sure to spark your creativity are our Apple Pie Overnight Chia Pudding and our Almond Joy-inspired “Candy Bar” Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding. Yes … yum!

No doubt, you’re already gleefully imagining lots of ideas and combinations to try. But if you need some more inspiration for what to add, here just are a few ideas:

  • Grab some fresh berries, bananas, shredded apple – whatever fruit you have on hand. Try mango, pineapple or kiwi for tropical vibes.
Serving idea showing a little bowl of chia pudding topped with blueberries, strawberries and granola.
  • Swirl in jelly (we recommend 100% pure fruit jelly or jam) or pureed fruit for another pop of fruit flavor.
  • Sprinkle granola, toasted coconut, or nuts on top (or stir some in) for a fun crunch.
  • Add a splash of your favorite extracts and flavorings for a subtle flavor boost. We usually at least add some vanilla extract, for example. But a tiny bit of almond extract works great in our Candy Bar version.
  • Try stirring in Nutella, cocoa powder (like in the two photos below), or our 3-Ingredient Chocolate Dip for a decadent, chocolate-y flavor. Mmmmmmm … perfect for dessert!
  • A few mini chocolate chips heighten that chocolate decadence even more. (But go easy here if you’re trying to keep it extra-healthy!)
  • For a boost of both flavor and even more protein, try adding peanut butter, almond butter, or a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt.
  • You can also find lots of unique inspiration in our full list of 30 Chia Pudding Recipes. Peanut butter and jelly, anyone? Or maybe key lime pie? How about cinnamon fig … or blood orange … or lychee rose??

SOOOO many possibilities!

Pro Tip for the Best Add-Ins

You generally want to avoid stirring in additional ingredients until after you’ve given your chia pudding that important clump-preventing second stir, just before you slip it into the fridge to sit. (Vanilla and almond extracts are an exception – you can add them right at the beginning.)

You can also add mix-ins and toppings right before serving. Granola, in particular, will be crunchiest if you add it at the last minute.

How to Store Your Chia Pudding

As I mentioned, this keeps really well for several days in the fridge. (If it lasts that long!)

Option #1: Sometimes, I just leave the entire big batch in a mixing bowl, so my family can scoop up a bit and top it any way they like, whenever they want.

Option #2: Or, for extra-speedy, grab-and-go meal prep convenience, you can pre-portion your chia pudding into individual containers. It’s so quick that way (and also totally adorable in the Weck jars we used in some of our photos)!

FAQs At-a-Glance

Which Milk Is Best for Making Chia Pudding?

You can use whatever milk you prefer. They all have subtle differences (see above for in-depth descriptions), but most milks should work just fine. For our Overnight Chia Pudding, I personally usually reach for low-fat, unsweetened coconut milk, but use whatever you have on hand or whichever milk fits best with your dietary goals.

How Long Does Chia Pudding Take to Set Up?

At the very minimum, chia pudding needs to sit for at least two hours. (After one hour, it’s still a bit too runny to really be considered a “pudding.”)

Can You Leave Chia Pudding Overnight?

Definitely! Chia pudding is great left overnight. And, it’s a great candidate for overnight meal prep, because you can whip up a batch and let it continue setting up all night. Then, it’ll be ready to go as soon as you need it in the morning.

How Long Is Chia Pudding Good?

Chia pudding keeps well, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 3-5 days. Make a double batch for quick, grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks (even desserts!) all week long. You can also pre-portion the pudding into small jars or portable containers.

A healthy power breakfast doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t even require you to set your alarm extra-early.

Start conquering your healthy eating goals, beginning with tomorrow morning’s breakfast!

Idea to serve overnight chia pudding in individual portions in glass jars.

Overnight Chia Pudding is an easy and oh-so-delicious way to power up for your busy day.

And it’ll be ready and waiting, right there in your fridge … the perfect start to a better morning!

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Several jars of chia pudding with different toppings combinations.

Overnight Chia Pudding

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Wait Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 3 minutes

Overnight Chia Pudding is so easy to make and full of nutrition to power your day! Plus there are so many ways to customize it!

  Make Ahead    Vegetarian (with Vegan Options)    Gluten Free  Paleo Options

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk of choice (see note)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • sweetener of choice (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or 1/2 - 1 teaspoon almond extract or other flavoring)
  • optional for serving: additional mix-ins and toppings such as fruit, jams, and granola (see post for lots more ideas)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients (except optional toppings) in a medium bowl with a spoon or whisk, stirring thoroughly to combine.
  2. Set the mixture aside, and then stir or whisk again after about 10-15 minutes to break up any clumps of chia seeds.
  3. Cover the chia pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (If desired, you can pre-portion the pudding into individual serving containers.)
  4. Serve with mix-ins and toppings of your choice.

Notes

Milk options: As mentioned in the post, I've tested this Overnight Chia Pudding recipe with various milks, including coconut, almond, cashew, and dairy. All of them work well, and although there are slight variations in flavor, those differences are minimal, especially if you're adding toppings and mix-ins. Use whichever you prefer, or whichever best meets your dietary needs.

Sweeteners: I've tested this recipe with a variety of sweeteners, including sugar, honey, and maple syrup. Although a combination of 2 tablespoons plain white sugar with 2 tablespoons maple syrup is my personal choice for this recipe, feel free to use whatever sweetener you prefer. Also, you may find that you don't need as much sweetener if you are using a sweetened milk (such as a sweetened vanilla oat milk, for example) or if you are using lots of sweet mix-ins and toppings.

Make-ahead and meal prep: This Overnight Chia Pudding keeps well, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 3-5 days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 128Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information does not include optional toppings or mix-ins and is provided for the recipe as made with unsweetened, low-fat coconut milk, 2T sugar and 2T maple syrup. Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may additionally vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

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Published on
Updated on August 24, 2021
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