Authentic Bircher Muesli | The Original Overnight Oats


This authentic Swiss Bircher muesli is the original overnight oats. With lots of fresh ingredients, it makes the perfect, healthy breakfast.

Growing up in Germany, we only had uncooked oatmeal. In this post, I am excited to share with you the mother of all mueslis, the real Swiss Bircher Muesli. 

The authentic Swiss version of this homemade muesli is perfect as it is and is so delicious and healthy. However, I will give you lots of tips on how to vary this versatile breakfast to your liking and preferences. 

No matter how you make it, this yummy make-ahead breakfast is the perfect start to your day.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to youYou can read my full disclosure.

Background of Bircher Muesli

Depending on where you live, you will see it spelled either “Müsli” (with an Umlaut) or “Muesli”. Either way, it is pronounced “myooz-lee”.

No matter how you spell it, the original recipe came from the Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner in the early 1900s. This healthy breakfast consists of a combination of oats, raw fruits, and nuts. Interestingly enough, originally it was not always a breakfast but rather served for supper. 

This traditional muesli is so popular in Europe that you can purchase it already made in more or less healthy versions. 

bowl of Bircher muesli with hazelnuts and oats on kitchen counter with towel

What are the ingredients

A bowl of Bircher muesli originally only has 5 simple ingredients:

  • Rolled oats: These are readily available in any grocery store but are even healthier if you make them fresh (with a high-quality flaker).
  • Milk: Some of the original Swiss recipes mention sweetened condensed milk, probably because people couldn’t conserve milk otherwise at the turn of the last century. We love using raw milk but any milk will work great. 
  • Apple: Lots of freshly grated apple is actually the main ingredient in this dish
  • Lemon juice: The sourness of lemons evens out the sweetened condensed milk. But even with regular milk, it adds a nice kick and some Vitamin C.
  • Hazelnuts: Also called filberts, they add crunch and protein to this breakfast dish. Trader Joe’s has them or you can get them online.
bottle of milk, an apple, rolled oats, whole hazelnuts, and half a lemon on kitchen counter

Useful tools and equipment

Since people were making this dish in small huts in the Swiss Alps, you can imagine the simplicity of the equipment:

  • Mixing bowl: I am sure this healthy breakfast tastes better from a large, pretty bowl that you can both mix it in and serve it in.
  • Sharp knife: I love my German carbon knives but any sharp knife works for cutting the fresh fruit and nuts.

Substitutions and variations

This is the fun part! I am partial to the original recipe but you can absolutely vary this easy breakfast:

  • Oats: You can flake your own oat groats, or use old-fashioned oats or quick oats. But don’t limit yourself to this grain: you can also use spelt flakes or einkorn flakes.
  • Milk: As I mentioned, the very original recipe contained sweetened condensed milk. Using fresh milk is a much better choice. You can make a vegan Bircher muesli by using a plant-based milk such as oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk. Or use cream for a nice, creamy texture.
  • Fruit: The traditional Bircher muesli uses a freshly grated apple. Feel free to substitute with dried fruit or fresh fruit such as berries. 
  • Lemon juice: Don’t have any lemons? Use orange juice or apple juice or don’t use any at all.
  • Sweetener: While the original recipe does not have or need any added sugar, you can finish your bowl of muesli with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey or a bit of brown sugar.
  • Nuts: Hazelnuts are very common in Europe. You can easily use chopped almonds or walnuts.
  • Seeds: You might like to add some more healthy fats by adding pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds. 
  • Spices: You can easily add some ground cinnamon, coriander, or even cocoa powder.
  • Other ingredients: You can get a helping of probiotics by adding a spoonful of Greek yogurt. I sometimes like to soak my oats overnight in buttermilk or kefir instead of milk.
  • Ratios: While the raw apples are the main ingredient, you can also increase the amount of oats if you like.
  • Heating: The definition of Müsli is that is served at room temperature. For that reason, I like to remove it from the refrigerator for about an hour before I eat it. If you like your muesli to be more like a traditional oatmeal, you can heat up the oat mixture before adding the remaining ingredients.

How to serve

While this dish was originally served in the evening, the best part is that there is no wrong time to eat this Swiss muesli. 

You can serve it in the morning, for a light lunch, as a yummy snack, or as a healthy meal in the evening. 

With its wholesome ingredients, I don’t think it needs a fancy presentation but you can always top it with some extra slices of red apples or some fresh berries. 

Since you are making it ahead of time, you can use a Mason jar and take it with you on the go. 

bowl of Bircher muesli with apple slices and spoon

Make ahead of time?

This recipe is the original make-ahead breakfast. Since it doesn’t take much to make it, I recommend making it fresh in small batches and enjoying it the following day.

However, you can keep your Bircher muesli in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

You can also combine oats, dried apples, and chopped nuts and keep them in an airtight container. Then all you need to do is add milk (maybe some extra water) and lemon juice. 

Common Questions:

What’s the difference between overnight oats and Bircher muesli?

While the preparation is essentially the same, Bircher muesli contains a lot more apples than oats. Overnight oats contain mostly oats with some additional ingredients.

What is Bircher muesli made of?

The original Bircher muesli recipe contains apples, oats, milk, chopped nuts, and some lemon juice.

What is the difference between muesli and Bircher muesli?

Regular muesli is oats, fruits, and nuts served cold with milk. For Bircher muesli, the oats are first soaked in milk overnight.

Why are overnight oats better for you than cooked oats?

All grains and seeds contain phytic acid. Soaking the oats overnight reduces the phytic acid content better than cooking them. Also, oats soaked overnight contain more resistant starch which helps keep insulin from spiking.

How long does Bircher muesli keep in the fridge?

Once made, you can keep your Swiss muesli in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Other breakfast recipes you might like

How to make German Quark

Authentic German Pretzels

German Crunchy Rolls

Wholegrain Sourdough Bread

Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread

Cast-Iron Sourdough Waffles

Homemade sourdough granola

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Rolled oats

Dried apples


How to make this dish

Here’s the simple preparation for this creamy Bircher muesli:

  • Add the oats to a breakfast bowl and add the milk.
  • Transfer this mixture to the refrigerator for at least one hour but ideally overnight.
  • The next morning, feel free to add some water should the oat mixture have gotten too thick. 
  • Grate the apple or chop it into small pieces. Immediately add it to the muesli to prevent browning.
  • Add the lemon juice and mix well.
  • ​Chop the nuts and add them as a topping or mix them in. 
  • ​Enjoy!
while bowl with overnight oats, apple slices, and spoon

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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How to Make the Best Bircher Muesli
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5 from 1 vote

Authentic Bircher Muesli

This authentic Swiss Bircher muesli is the original overnight oats. With lots of fresh ingredients, it makes the perfect, healthy breakfast.
Prep Time8 minutes
resting time8 hours
Total Time8 hours 8 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Swiss
Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 395kcal
Cost: $3


  • cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP hazelnuts, chopped


  • Add the oats and milk to a medium breakfast bowl and mix well.
  • Cover lightly and transfer to the refrigerator for at least one hour but ideally over night.
  • The next morning, remove the bowl from the refrigerator.
  • Coarsely grate the apple or cut into small dice. Immediately add it to the oat mixture and mix it in to prevent browning.
  • Add the lemon juice to the oat-apple mixture.
  • Chop the nuts and add them to the bowl.


Calories: 395kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @ourgabledhome or tag #ourgabledhome!


  1. How do you make rolled oats on the mock mill? Iam so excited about the possibility of making my own. Thanks.

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