Bircher Muesli – The Original Overnight Oats Recipe

The Swiss Bircher Muesli is the original overnight oats. Make this quick and easy overnight oats recipe for a healthy and delicious breakfast. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

bowl of overnight oats or bircher muesli with fresh figs and honey

Bircher Muesli

One of the most popular recipes from Switzerland is bircher muesli, perhaps even more so than fondue or raclette.

But if you have never heard of bircher muesli, it is probably because it is better known as overnight oats in the rest of the world, especially in the US.

What are Overnight Oats?

Overnight oats are a breakfast dish made with oatmeal which have been soaked overnight (hence the name) in water, milk, yoghurt, juice, or a combination of these ingredients. Other ingredients, such as fruit and nuts, are also often added to the oatmeal for flavour and colour.

Overnight Oats

Bircher muesli is the original overnight oats, and it was developed by a Swiss doctor called Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner for his patients at his clinic in Zurich.

The Bircher-Benner Clinic is now occupied by a local insurance company and, in my previous life as a financial services lawyer, I got to work on the premises on many occasions. It is nestled atop a hillside on the Zurichberg with magnificent views of Lake Zurich and, in between chatter about financial planning and legal strategy, I used to marvel about how something so humble could have such resounding success worldwide.

bowl of overnight oats with fresh figs and gold teaspoon

Original Bircher Muesli Recipe

The original recipe for bircher muesli calls for different ingredients and instructions to that specified below.

First, the oatmeal is soaked overnight in plain water. Just before serving, condensed milk and honey are added, followed by ground hazelnuts or almonds with freshly grated apple and a squeeze of lemon juice.

What is nice about the original bircher muesli recipe is that the apple is served fresh so that you get more nutrients, and that the freshly grated apple also adds a bit of texture to the softened oatmeal.

Overnight Oats Recipe

The recipe for overnight oats has evolved a lot over the years, and my favourite version contains whipped cream and strawberries! In fact, it is quite common to find restaurants and cafés in Zurich serving bircher muesli with whipped cream to add air and lightness to the mixture. I’m not sure what Dr. Bircher-Benner would think of that but it certainly tastes good!

In the US, there are many delicious and decadent overnight oats recipes, with many tending towards dessert rather than breakfast.

Why Overnight Oats is Good For You

One of the health benefits of eating oatmeal is that it slows down digestion, meaning that you will feel fuller for longer. So a good serving of bircher muesli or overnight oats in the morning will help prevent any mid-morning hunger pangs.

Oatmeal is especially recommended for children, especially when compared to most breakfast cereals which have a high sugar content and which can contribute to dips in blood sugar levels, thereby affecting concentration in the classroom.

I once read somewhere that it was a good idea to eat a bowl of oatmeal before, say, an important meeting or job interview; this is advice which I still follow to this day!

bowl of bircher muesli with fresh figs and knitted napkin

How to Make Overnight Oats

Making bircher muesli or overnight oats is so quick and easy that you will never buy it again.

The recipe below is a fairly basic overnight oats recipe. You should treat it as a blueprint and add other flavourings or ingredients that you like.

Once you start making your own bircher muesli or overnight oats, you will find that the variations are endless.

To start, grate the apples into a large bowl. I prefer to use a coarse grater so that the grated apple can add some texture to the overnight oats. However, a traditional bircher muesli calls for a fine grater like that pictured in the photo below, and which is sold throughout Switzerland for the purpose of making bircher muesli.

how to make overnight oats or bircher muesli, grate the apples into a bowl

To the grated apples, add the rolled oats, natural yoghurt and apple juice.

For a slightly thicker overnight oats, you could use plain Greek yoghurt in place of the natural yoghurt.

how to make overnight oats or bircher muesli, add the rolled oats, natural yoghurt and apple juice

Give everything a good mix until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Wrap the bowl in clingfilm and place it in the fridge overnight.

During this time, the rolled oats will soften and the mixture will thicken considerably.

To serve, I like to add fresh fruit – usually anything which is in season – plus a good drizzle of honey for some added sweetness.

how to make overnight oats or bircher muesli, place the mixture in the fridge overnight


How long to overnight oats last? Overnight oats are best eaten within 1 to 2 days, but they can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days. However, the longer overnight oats are stored, the softer the oats will become.

How long do overnight oats take to make? This depends on how soft you like your oats. Most recipes will instruct you to soak the oats overnight, but if you prefer your oats with a bit more bite, you can prepare your overnight oats about 4 to 5 hours ahead of time.

What type of oatmeal should I use for overnight oats? You should use rolled oats when making overnight oats or bircher muesli, as they absorb the liquid well and retain a nice texture afterwards.

Which type of yoghurt should I use for overnight oats? I like to use plain natural yoghurt, but Greek yoghurt will give the overnight oats a thicker consistency.

More Breakfast Recipes

If you are looking for breakfast recipes, you might also enjoy:


Easy Fluffy Pancakes

Easy Plain Scones

Raspberry Almond Scones


Quick and Easy Waffles


Bircher Muesli – The Original Overnight Oats

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 10 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 5 cups
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Cuisine: Swiss

The Swiss Bircher Muesli is the original overnight oats. Make this quick and easy overnight oats recipe for a healthy and delicious breakfast. Recipe with step-by-step photos.


  • 2 small eating apples (such as Gala or Pink Lady), unpeeled
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 500 ml (2 cups) natural yoghurt (plain yoghurt)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) apple juice
  • seasonal berries or fresh fruit
  • honey, to taste


  1. Coarsely grate the apples (including the skin) into a large bowl.
  2. Add the rolled oats, yoghurt, and apple juice.
  3. Stir until all of the ingredients are combined.
  4. Wrap the bowl with some clingfilm.
  5. Place the bowl in the fridge overnight.
  6. To serve, the bircher muesli can be eaten as is, or with the addition with any fruits of your choice.
  7. Drizzle with some honey before serving.

Kitchen Notes

Traditionally, the apple is grated quite finely, using a grater similar to that in the photos shown. However, I prefer to coarsely grate the apples so that there is more texture in the bircher muesli.

The bircher muesli keeps for about 3 days in the fridge.

* add 1-2 tablespoons of sultanas or mixed dried fruit
* add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped almonds or hazelnuts

* fresh berries such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, pitted cherries, redcurrants
* sliced bananas
* sliced strawberries
* fresh figs
* whipped cream

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 147
  • Sugar: 8.2g
  • Sodium: 23.4mg
  • Fat: 4.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 20.4g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Protein: 7.7g
  • Cholesterol: 7.8mg

Did you make this recipe?

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This recipe was first published on 6 October 2018. It has been updated with new photos.

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  1. Adrianne 13 October 2018

    Hey Thanh! An Aussie living in Switzerland hey that is pretty cool!! This recipe makes me want to get the ingredients and make it right now. The photos are beautiful and the cut open fig looks delicious. The honey looks appealing too. Delicious!!

  2. Adrianne 13 October 2018

    I am giving you 5 stars as this is beautiful!!

  3. Mary 13 October 2018

    Your photos are gorgeous! And I love bircher muesli–the original overnight oats indeed!

  4. Allison 14 October 2018

    I love the addition of grated apple! I’m pinning this and trying it next week.

  5. Nicole Tingwall 14 October 2018

    Oatmeal is a breakfast staple at our house! Love this twist! Thanks for sharing!

    • Eat, Little Bird 15 October 2018

      You’re welcome! We eat oatmeal in so many forms in our home, but bircher muesli is definitely a favourite.

  6. Sara Lehman 14 October 2018

    I love overnight oats. I usually just add a splash of vanilla and one spoon of brown sugar but those figs look so good!

    • Eat, Little Bird 15 October 2018

      Ooh I love the sound of vanilla! I also sprinkled mine (in the photo) with vanilla powder as I love the flavour too 🙂

  7. Sherry Eicher 15 October 2018

    I am not sure why I haven’t attempted Bircher Muesli since moving back to the states. I loved getting the lovely little dishes from Globus at work on Fridays. Made this tonight and, fingers crossed, my girls will love it too. Planning to top with yummy berries as a snack tomorrow while at work. It will be perfect for a quick bite on a busy Monday at an elementary school clinic. Thanks for the lovely reminder of something I miss about living in Switzerland. Cannot wait to eat tomorrow. ?

    • Eat, Little Bird 15 October 2018

      So lovely to hear from you, Sherry! I miss our time together in Zurich. I hope you enjoyed the recipe 🙂 I used to always buy my bircher muesli at the work canteen or from Sprüngli, until I realised how incredibly easy it was to make at home. The recipe is so easy to customise as well. Miss you guys! xx

  8. Ros 17 September 2019

    So easy and delicious

  9. Faye 1 February 2020

    First time making overnight oats, these were really tasty. I made mine with full fat Greek yogurt and really loved the thickness of the mixture it gave, breakfast now sorted for the foreseeable future thank you ; )

    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2020

      Hi Faye,
      So glad you enjoyed this recipe! This Bircher Muesli is a staple in our home. I’ll have to try it with Greek yoghurt next time – thanks for the feedback!

  10. Sharon Lee 28 June 2020

    I bought a bulk 10 lb box of “muesli” from a local grocery store as a supply during the Covid lockdown. The first time I opened it, I added milk and ate it “as is.” I realized there must be some different trick or other to eating it, since I didn’t think the rolled oats were supposed to be eaten raw (I ate the entire bowl of raw oats!). When I looked up “how to make muesli,” I found your site and this recipe. The next time I ate it, I soaked the muesli overnight, wow what a difference that made! Thanks so much for posting this recipe, Thanh!

    • Eat, Little Bird 2 July 2020

      Hi Sharon,
      So glad my recipe came in handy 🙂 There are so many ways of using muesli, but Bircher Muesli would be my favourite. Plus, you can play around with the flavours and sweetness to your liking. Enjoy!

  11. Belinda 24 March 2021

    Yummy and easy recipe!

  12. Anna Rolfe 27 April 2022

    Delicious recipe

  13. Iris 4 May 2022

    Very good basic recipe for bircher muesli. I’ve made it several times and added different fruits. It’s my favorite breakfast!

  14. Sandra 1 June 2022

    Beautiful recipe and very easy to make. I added strawberries today and it is my favourite so far.

  15. Anita Chowdry 3 October 2023

    Hi, thanks for this absolute classic version of the recipe. One question about soaking the oats with grated apple overnight – don’t the apple oxidise and become brown?
    Many Thanks, Anita

    • Eat, Little Bird 4 October 2023

      Hi Anita,
      The apple juice and yoghurt seem to stop the apple from browning. Also, once the oats swell, you don’t really notice the colour of the apples. Hope you will enjoy this recipe!