Blackberry Lemon Bircher Muesli

January 02 2024 – Sophie Ward

Blackberry Lemon Bircher Muesli

Blackberry Lemon Bircher Muesli

“Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.” ― Diane Ackerman

When I began thinking about what might be my first recipe to share this year, this one rose to the surface. It’s not surprising at all, because it transcends many chapters of my life: from childhood summers, to starving artist, to camping with kids. It’s a recipe that has stood the test of time, even though when I mention it to my American friends they have no idea what I’m talking about.

I thought it would be the perfect first recipe.

First up, it’s a breakfast. Second, it’s great for your health but still feels decadent. In Australia, our mum used to make this for us during the summer holidays (the first time I’d seen anyone grate a banana) and by the time I was a teenager, most Australian cafes had some version of it in constant rotation.

Later when I lived in New York it was what I made when I had barely any hope nor money left, dragging my feet in an unfulfilling relationship, wondering what would become of my life. I remember making it in the tiny Lower East Side apartment kitchen with the exposed red brick and sirens. I remember eating it on the bed that took up the entire room. I remember making it for Isaac when we were newlyweds.

No matter the season, this has been my go-to breakfast, probably because it’s also inexpensive, but mostly because it does something to my spirit. It wakes me up, it brings me to life (more on that later this week!) It’s fresh, creamy, slightly fermented and easy to digest (thanks to the soaked oats and yogurt), and dare I say it, better than porridge. This is what I made for a New Year’s Day brunch I hosted at our house on January 1st this year, by the end of which everyone wanted my recipe.

Bircher muesli. I never thought I’d need you so much.

Ok – back story. What the heck is bircher muesli?

As the NYT says, it’s essentially oats soaked in fruit juice, or milk, with nuts and fruit […] Bircher muesli has a long history, and enough versions floating around to prove it. The original was created in the early 1900s by Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss doctor. It consisted of oats, grated apple, nuts, lemon and condensed milk and honey, but over time, people have gotten creative with the formula.”

My version includes frozen blackberries (=easy), and copious amounts of lemon zest, because what isn’t better with lemon zest?

Blackberry Lemon Bircher Muesli

  • makes 4-6 servings

  • 5-10 minutes active prep time

  • 12 hours soaking time


  • medium sized bowl

  • grater & zester

  • chopping board

  • chef’s knife

  • large spoon for stirring


  • 4 cups rolled oats, (ideally soaked, soured and rinsed)

  • 1 cup unsweetened greek yogurt

  • 3 cups water or milk

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or I tsp vanilla extract

  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (or to taste) 

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts, cashews or almonds)

  • 1 green apple, cored and grated (no need to peel)

  • zest of half a lemon

  • a handful of fresh or frozen blackberries

Place 4 cups rolled oats in a medium sized bowl. Add one cup of yogurt and three cups of water or milk directly to the oats.

(If you’re a purist, you can whisk the yogurt and water in a separate bowl before pouring over the oats, but usually I just dump it all in to save dishes.)

Next add your 1/4 tsp vanilla powder, 1/4 tsp salt and 1-2 tbsp maple syrup to the bowl with the oats.

Grate one apple with the larger size grating section and the zest of half a lemon on the smaller one.

Roughly chop 1/4 cup of nuts but don’t go too crazy. It’s nice to have a bit of a bite.

Add the zest, apple, nuts and frozen blackberries to the oat mixture and mix well. If it looks a little dry, add additional water or milk until it reaches the same level as the oats.

Taste it to see if it needs more sweetener or lemon zest. I usually think it’s absolutely to die for and can’t stop myself eating the raw oat mixture but you might do better than me.

Cover with a plate or a cloth and leave overnight in the fridge, or for at least 12 hours if you haven’t already soaked your oats.

If you did use pre-soaked oats, you’ll be good to go in 1-2 hours!

Serve with an extra splash of milk, a dollop of yogurt and any fruit that sets your heart on fire.

So fresh! So good! So easy!


SOAKING & SOURING OATS: To soak and sour your oats, add water to your rolled oats until submerged, and then add some kind of acid (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, even sauerkraut juice or whey.) Leave for a minimum of 12 hours, before rinsing well and using as normal.

GLUTEN FREE: Go for certified gluten free oats, or you could try buckwheat groats or use cooked quinoa in place of the oats.

DAIRY FREE: Use coconut yogurt or coconut cream in place of the yogurt.

NUT ALLERGY: Omit nuts.

SUGAR FREE: Omit the maple syrup, apple and fruit. Add extra nuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes and some additional spices for flavor such as nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom.

OTHER FRUIT? Go for it! Typically bircher has grated apple (even grated banana!) but you can add whatever feels inspiring to you. I used to make a version with prunes, which soaked up all the liquid and became super jammy in the morning.


OATS: Try cooked quinoa or buckwheat groats instead.

APPLE: Swap for grated pear, banana or berries.

YOGURT: Use whatever milk you have!

MILK: Swap for water!

MAPLE SYRUP: Use honey, agave, stevia, coconut sugar, orange juice or double the apple.

VANILLA: Use cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg or another spice that turns you on.

LEMON ZEST: Omit, or use lemon juice. You could also try orange zest or orange



Did you make this? Let me know in the comments!

Tagged: bircher muesli, breakfast, oats


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