Chia Oats Fruit Parfaits are a layered, make-ahead breakfast option that’s great for meals on the go. The fresh fruit and kefir base of these parfaits is easily changeable, so you’ll never get bored with them.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are the edible seed of the Salvia hispanica, a species of mint. The small, black, oval-shaped seeds are harvested from the plant and used in recipes here in the States and in many countries in Central and South America. You can usually find them in the health foods aisle of your grocery store or near the grains and seeds section.
Chia seeds are rich in calcium, iron, and manganese, in addition to other nutrients, so they are a great addition to your diet, with caveats. Chia seeds are high in fiber, so eating too much of them can lead to digestive issues. Since this is a recipe post, I won’t get into the nasty details. Suffice it to say, eat the seeds in moderation.
Chia seeds are hydroponic, which means they swell up and absorb the liquids they are soaked in. As a result, it’s important to always hydrate chia seeds before eating them. If not, they’ll swell up once they make contact with liquids in your body.
What do I need to make these Chia Oats Fruit Parfait?
You need kefir, fresh fruit (I make these with berries), vanilla extract, fruit preserves, chia seeds, and old-fashioned rolled oats to make this recipe.
The chia oats pudding mixes in a mixing bowl, and you will assemble the parfaits in tall 1-liter jars. You can also use quart-sized mason jars for this.
Can I use instant Oats for this recipe?
To begin: add the seeds and the old-fashioned rolled oats to a 3-quart mixing bowl. Use a spoon to stir the two together, so everything is evenly mixed.
Because you are soaking these ingredients in liquid, you can’t use instant (or quick-cooking oatmeal) for this. Rolled oats are simply whole oat groats that are steamed to soften them so they can later be rolled until flat. Because of their thickness and minimal processing, rolled oats will hold their shape better in this recipe. On the other hand, instant oats are cooked, dried, and rolled even thinner than rolled oats. They will become pasty and gummy in this recipe. Steel-cut oats are the least processed type of oats and will not soften enough to be edible in this recipe. So, I only recommend using old-fashioned rolled oats here.
If you want to add a bit of flavor to the oats, you can toast them on a sheetpan in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes. This will give them a deliciously nutty flavor.
Can I add spices or other flavors to the Chia Oats pudding?
You can also add a unique taste to these fruit parfaits by adding a favorite spice. Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or cardamom will compliment the flavors of many fruits in this recipe. Ground cardamom, especially, pairs well with berries.
Toss any spices you want to add in with the oats and seeds.
What is Kefir?
Next, stir in your favorite flavor of kefir as well as the vanilla extract.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that tastes like yogurt. If you have drunk lassis ever, you’ll find the flavor is very similar. Kefir is sold in plastic bottles near the yogurt. You can usually purchase it plain or in flavors like vanilla, strawberry, raspberry, or blueberry. My local grocery store sells it in mango and coconut flavors, as well. For this recipe, you can use whichever flavor you prefer or which will compliment your fruits. Here, I’m using blueberry kefir.
Can I substitute something else for the Kefir?
You can substitute yogurt for kefir in this recipe. You will have to thin the yogurt, though, to properly hydrate the chia and oats. I usually thin it with a bit of water or milk.
You can also replace the kefir in this recipe with a prepared lassi drink, ayran, or other probiotic drink like Yakult. As the last resort- or maybe a first choice- you can make this recipe with your favorite dairy or non-dairy milk.
The vanilla extract can be replaced with almond extract or omitted altogether.
How far ahead can I make the Chia Oats pudding?
Mix everything together in the bowl and let the seeds and oats plump up in the liquid. Simply put the bowl in the fridge and allow it to hydrate for at least 20 minutes.
You can make this chia oats pudding a day before you plan to assemble the parfaits. Just store it covered in the fridge. I wouldn’t make it much farther ahead than one day, especially if you plan to make the fruit parfaits ahead. The longer they hydrate, the softer they become. So, if you plan to make your fruit parfaits for the week, the pudding will be mushy towards the end of the week.
What kind of fruit is best for these parfaits?
You can pick and choose which fruits you want to add to your fruit parfaits. Personally, I love to mix up my fruits for this recipe. Since I’m using the blueberry kefir, this batch of fruit parfaits includes fresh raspberries, blueberries, and sliced strawberries. You can use just one type of fruit, two kinds, or go the full monty with three. Hell, go even wilder and add blackberries to the mix! Well, maybe not. You still need it to fit inside your jars.
Speaking of jars, I assemble the fruit parfaits in these tall weck jars. They are just the right size for all of the layers in this recipe. You can also use quart-size mason jars. They are wider and shorter, which means you can fit even more layers in them. But, I like the look of these jars, so that’s why I use them.
Begin by adding your first layer of fruit to the bottom of the jars. This recipe will fill 4 1-liter jars generously. If you want to stretch it out, you can add a smaller quantity of fruit and pudding to the layers.
What other fruits do you recommend?
Here are some of the ways I switch up the flavors of my fruit parfaits. Make sure to peel, pit, and dice any fruits larger than a blueberry:
- Tropical: make the pudding with mango, coconut, or vanilla kefir. Layer mango, pineapple, and/or kiwi fruit in the jars with pineapple or mango preserves (or curd).
- Fall/Winter: make the pudding with pumpkin spice or vanilla kefir. Layer apples, pears, and/or quince with cranberry sauce or apple butter.
- Stone Fruit Parfaits: make the pudding with coconut, vanilla, or mango kefir. Layer peaches, nectarines, cherries, and/or mangoes. Use mango or cherry preserves.
- Banana-Chocolate: make the pudding with vanilla or banana kefir. Layer with bananas, chocolate chips, and/or peanut butter.
You can also add a layer of your favorite toasted nuts or a layer of shredded coconut or chocolate chips (or chunks) to the mix.
Can I make these with frozen fruit?
You can make these fruit parfaits with frozen fruit. Thaw the fruit completely and strain off excess liquids. Adding the frozen fruit to the parfait layers while still frozen will lead to a watered-down consistency in the final dish.
In addition to frozen fruit, you can use dried fruits like cranberries, cherries, or apricots. Add an additional 1/2-cup of kefir to the pudding or hydrate the dried fruits in hot water, though. You will later strain off the soaking water. You need to add this additional liquid to plump up the fruits, or they’ll be too hard and gummy.
Can I use jelly instead of fruit preserves?
Top the base layer of fruit with 3-4 tablespoons of chia oats pudding. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of fruit preserves over the pudding layer.
Now, I only buy and eat fruit preserves. Fruit preserves are made with whole fruits that are cooked down until thick. Jam is made from mashed fruits that are cooked until thick. Berries usually break down completely during the cooking process, so it doesn’t matter if you use/buy preserves or jam. They’re the same thing when we’re referring to berries. On the other hand, jelly is made from fruit juice cooked with a thickener like pectin.
Because I want this to be relatively healthy, I don’t recommend fruit jelly. Fruit preserves are the closest thing to whole fruits, so use that. The alternative is jam or compote, or marmalades. Use jelly as a last resort. You can also omit the fruit preserve layer altogether. I add it because it’s what sweetens the fruit parfaits.
Can I add more sweetener to them?
You can just do another layer of fresh fruits and get the sweetness from a drizzle of agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey if you don’t want to add the preserves.
Top the preserves with another layer of fruit. My next fruit layer is sliced strawberries. I only did this for the pictures. Usually, I dice the strawberries to make them fit better. The lengths I go to impress you. I tell you what.
Top this second layer of fruit with 3-4 more tablespoons of chia oats pudding. Pick up the jars and tap the bottoms against your hand. This helps settle the contents and eliminates air pockets that might take too much space in the jar.
How far ahead can I make the Chia Oats Fruit Parfaits?
Top that final layer of chia oats pudding with a final layer of fruit. I chose whole blueberries for my top layer. Press the lid of the jar on and clamp or twist it shut.
Store the chia oats fruit parfaits in the fridge for up to 4 days. Usually, I make a big batch of fruit parfaits on Sunday evening, so I can grab them in the morning during the week. I have kept them in the fridge for up to 5 days, but the fruit is really pitiful by that time, and the pudding is too mushy to be enjoyable. I still ate it, though, because I don’t waste food.
Can I heat the Chia Oats Fruit Parfaits?
You can eat these fruit parfaits straight from the fridge. No need to do anything but give them a stir to mix the preserves in with the pudding and the fresh fruits. You might have to use long-handled ice tea spoons if you assemble your fruit parfaits in these tall jars. I don’t fuss over mixing the fruits and pudding when I eat them, so I use a regular eating spoon.
The boy-child likes to heat his in the microwave for 1 minute. They do taste pretty amazing hot, I’ll have to admit.
Can I freeze them?
Between the fresh fruit, fruit preserves, and dairy in the chia oats pudding, there’s way too much going on in these jars to freeze them. You’re bound to develop ice crystals in the jar upon thawing, and the kefir could potentially curdle.
I don’t recommend freezing them at all. Instead, make the parfaits ahead and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How do I serve them?
I don’t add any additional sweetener to these fruit parfaits because the preserves and fructose in the fruit itself provide enough sweetness for me. If you’re serving these to wee-little ones, you can add your choice of liquid sweetener.
Just pop off the lid and eat it straight from the jar to serve them. You can also split this up and scoop it into bowls. One jar is a very hearty, filling breakfast for one person. Also, you can make these in smaller jars to get more out of your recipe. Layer the fruit parfaits in pint-sized jars and get 8 or 9 of them from this recipe. You’ll still need to eat it within 4 days, though, so I don’t know if that will work for small families.
Try out these filling Chia Oats Fruit Parfaits for your next breakfast meal-prep, and let me know what you think. Don’t forget to pin them to your breakfast boards and share them with your crew, too!
Chia Oats Fruit Parfaitsat Sense & Edibility
- 4 1-liter jars or 8 pint-sized jars
For the Chia Oats Pudding
- 4 cups (1 quart or 946 milliliters) kefir plain or flavored
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup (48 grams) chia seeds
For the Fruit Parfaits
- 6 cups (3 dry pints) fresh berries (diced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc)
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (375 grams) fruit preserves (or jam), stirred until smooth
Make the Chia Oat Pudding (Begin 20 Minutes Ahead)
- Add the seeds and the old-fashioned rolled oats to a 3-quart mixing bowl. Use a spoon to stir the two together, so everything is evenly mixed.
- Next, stir in the kefir as well as the vanilla extract. Mix everything together in the bowl and put the bowl in the fridge. You can leave it uncovered if you plan to make it right away. If not, cover it. Allow the chia seeds and oats to hydrate in the kefir for at least 20 minutes.
Assemble the Chia Oats Fruit Parfaits
- Add 1/4-cup of fruit to the bottom of 4 1-liter (or 8 pint-sized) jars. Top the base layer of fruit with 3-4 tablespoons of chia oats pudding.
- Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of fruit preserves over the pudding layer. Top the preserves with another 1/4-cup of fruit.
- Top this second layer of fruit with 3-4 more tablespoons of chia oats pudding. Pick up the jars and tap the bottoms against your hand. This helps settle the contents and eliminates air pockets that might take too much space in the jar.
- Top the final layer of chia oats pudding with a final layer of fruit. Press the lid of the jar on and clamp or twist it shut.
- Keep the parfaits in the fridge and enjoy them within 4 days of assembly. Just pop off the lid and eat it straight from the jar on your own or split one jar between two people. To serve: use a spoon to give them a stir and mix the preserves in with the pudding and the fresh fruits.
Swaps and Substitutions:
- Add a unique taste to these fruit parfaits by adding ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or cardamom to the chia and oats in this recipe.
- You can substitute yogurt for the kefir in this recipe. Just thin the yogurt with a 1/2-cup more water or milk to ensure proper hydration of the chia and oats.
- You can also replace the kefir in this recipe with prepared lassi, ayran, or other probiotic drink, or with your favorite dairy or non-dairy milk.
- Replace the vanilla extract with almond extract or omit it altogether.
- To make these fruit parfaits with frozen fruit, thaw the fruit completely and strain off excess liquids.
- To use dried fruits like cranberries, cherries, or apricots, add an additional 1/2-cup of kefir to the pudding or hydrate the dried fruits in hot water, strain off the soaking water before adding it to the jars.
- Replace the fruit preserves with jam, compote, or marmalade. Use jelly as a last resort.
- You can omit the fruit preserves layer altogether and/or add sweetness with agave syrup, honey, or maple syrup.
- Tropical: make the pudding with mango, coconut, or vanilla kefir. Layer diced mango, pineapple, and/or kiwi fruit in the jars with pineapple or mango preserves (or curd).
- Fall/Winter: make the pudding with pumpkin spice or vanilla kefir. Layer diced apples, pears, and/or quince with cranberry sauce or apple butter.
- Stone Fruit Parfaits: make the pudding with coconut, vanilla, or mango kefir. Layer diced peaches, nectarines, cherries, and/or mangoes. Use mango or cherry preserves.
- Banana-Chocolate: make the pudding with vanilla or banana kefir. Layer with chopped bananas, chocolate chips, and/or peanut butter.
- You can also add a layer of your favorite toasted nuts or a layer of shredded coconut or chocolate chips (or chunks) to the mix.
Tips and Techniques:
- If you want to add a bit of nutty flavor to the oats, toast them on a sheetpan in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes.
- You can make the chia oats pudding a day before you plan to assemble the parfaits and store it covered in the fridge. Don't make it much farther ahead than one day, especially if you plan to make the fruit parfaits ahead.
- You can also use quart-size mason jars, which are wider and shorter, allowing you to fit even more layers in them.
- You can microwave the fruit parfaits for 1 minute and serve them hot.
- I don't recommend freezing these fruit parfaits.
- If you're serving these to kids, you can add your choice of liquid sweetener like agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey.
- You can make these in smaller jars to get more out of your recipe. Layer the fruit parfaits in 8 or 9 pint-sized jars. Remember they still need to be consumed within 4 days.