These vegan vanilla pumpkin overnight oats are such a treat! They taste of vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, and they’re naturally sweetened with finely chopped medjool dates. The dates almost seem to melt into the overnight oats, creating pockets of sweetness and texture. You can meal prep the overnight oats on the weekend for quick, portable, nutritious weekday breakfasts.
You’ll see no shortage of pumpkin recipes when October arrives.
Many of them will be of the warm and cozy variety. I have a number of beloved recipes like this myself, especially my classic vegan pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate marble loaf, pumpkin skillet cornbread, and pumpkin chocolate chip baked oatmeal.
But how about something a little different? How about a cool dish that features pumpkin? Something that’s just about perfect for that moment in early October when fall vibes are in full effect, but it’s not quite chilly outside?
I got you. These vegan vanilla pumpkin overnight oats are the perfect breakfast for early fall. And they’re one of my all time favorite overnight oat recipes, period.
What are overnight oats, exactly? And what makes them any different from regular oats?
Some of the distinctions are fuzzy. But for the most part, regular oatmeal is cooked on a stovetop, whereas overnight oats are made by soaking rolled oats overnight (or for 8+ hours).
Soaking hydrates and plumps the oats up, so that they’re pleasant to eat without the need to actively cook them.
Overnight oats can be made in many different ways. They can be made with quick oats or rolled oats (it’s even possible to make them with steel cut oats, though I don’t like that texture myself) and a variety of mix ins.
People often add chia seeds or flax seeds to overnight oats to make them more dense and textured. I nearly always add chia seeds to mine.
Overnight oats have one of the same standout qualities as cooked oatmeal: they’re incredibly versatile. You can choose your favorite seasonings to flavor them and add any combination of mix-ins that suits your mood.
I love this vegan overnight oatmeal recipe in particular, but another favorite is my banana mocha overnight oats.
I mean, why not?
Pumpkin gets celebrated as an ingredient in the fall months, and this makes perfect sense. Fresh pumpkins are in season at that time of year.
Even so, canned pumpkin is available year round. And it is such a fantastic ingredient in so many ways.
Pumpkin is versatile. It can be used to add moisture to vegan baked goods, thereby reducing the amount of fat that’s required for them.
Pumpkin is subtly sweet; it sweetens a recipe just enough, without being overtly sugary or fruity.
I also love the nutrition in pumpkin! Pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. It’s a good source of Vitamin B2, Vitamin E, and iron.
Most of all, pumpkin is an outstanding source of beta-carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, and it’s also important for immune health.
In short, pumpkin is as nutrient-dense as it is creamy, colorful, and delightful to eat.
The ingredients for these overnight oats are simple. In fact, if you’re someone who keeps a couple cans of pumpkins in your pantry on the regular, you may have everything you need to make them right now.
I like to use rolled oats for my overnight oats. Quick oats taste a little sandy to me, while I find steel-cut oats to be much too hard and chewy for soaking.
Rolled oats are perfectly tender, yet chewy.
Chia seeds will add some texture, as well as anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, to the overnight oats. You can use white or black chia seeds here.
When I first developed this recipe, I was giving a test run to Abbott’s Ensure® Plant-Based Protein shake.
That was an exciting moment, because until then, ready-to-drink protein shake for vegans (as well as those who are lactose-free, or simply interested in seeking out plant-based foods) were relatively rare.
In addition, the shake contributed a nice, extra boost of protein to the oats.
However, the vanilla pumpkin overnight oats can be made with non-dairy milk as well. This is how I prepare them at home most often.
You have lots of options. The overnight oats will work with soy milk (great for adding extra protein), oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, and light coconut milk.
I recommend an unsweetened variety, so that the caramel-like natural sweetness from dates can really shine through.
It’s also worth saying that I like to use store-bought plant milk, for the calcium fortification. However, you can use a homemade plant milk, too. I have many options on this site:
I like to use canned pumpkin purée for this recipe (you can make it from scratch, but that’s a lot of work for overnight oats).
Be sure to purchase pumpkin purée, rather than pumpkin pie filling, which is pre-sweetened and pre-seasoned with spices.
Speaking of spices, pumpkin pie spice adds characteristic autumnal aroma and flavor to the pumpkin overnight oats.
Pumpkin pie spice is typically just a store-bought mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and/or allspice. I keep it around because I do a lot of baking at home, and it’s really nice to get these spices in one place, rather than fiddling around with multiple jars.
If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice for the recipe, it’s no big deal. Just use a quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon, a quarter teaspoon ground ginger, and a pinch of ground cloves.
Vanilla adds depth of flavor to the overnight oats, and I think it complements the pitted dates really nicely.
And on that topic, pitted Medjool dates are the source of sweetness in this recipe.
I love adding finely chopped Medjool dates to overnight oats because they sort of melt into the mixture overnight.
By the time you eat the oats, the dates will have contributed their lovely, caramel notes to your overnight oat mixture. They’ll also have gotten creamy—you’ll get nice pockets of them as you eat, but they’ll be softened.
My favorite dates are the heavenly, California-grown dates from Rancho Meladuco. I order them by the 2lb box!
The process of making these overnight oats is, fortunately, very easy.
You’ll simply mix all of the ingredients together in an airtight container that has a lid.
Place the lid on the oats, transfer them to the fridge overnight, and let them soak and take on a nice, thickened texture.
In the morning, stir the oats. You’ll have two servings, per the recipe, so you can divide what you have into small serving bowls and eat right away.
Alternatively, you can divide it into individual storage containers, so that you have a meal prep breakfast ready for the following day, or later in the week.
If you’re meal prepping for a family, you can double or even triple the recipe.
Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.
Once soaked overnight, the vanilla pumpkin overnight oats can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 more days.
I like to store my overnight oats in mason jars, but any storage container with an airtight lid will work.
Vegan overnight oats can be such a convenient, fun-to-eat part of a vegan meal prep routine.
If you’re like me, and you love oatmeal, but sometimes don’t have the time to cook it on the stovetop or the desire to wash a saucepan, then you may find that this recipe creates a lot of space and ease.
I sure hope that you do.