How to Soak Chia Seeds – A Complete Guide

How to soak chia seeds in water or almond milk before eating
How to soak chia seeds in water or almond milk before eating

In our family, we will usually soak chia seeds before eating them.  It’s usually a strange concept to most of our friends or family who see it, but this is something we’ve been doing for some time now.

It really isn’t too hard to learn how to soak chia seeds.  In this post, I’ll share with you how we’ve been soaking chia seeds and for how long.

First, let’s look at chia seeds and what they are for anyone who may not know.

What Are Soaked Chia Seeds?

Soaked chia seeds are raw or whole chia seeds that have been soaked in liquid until they become a gelatinous gel. This happens because chia seeds can hold up to 19 times their weight in water, and will absorb the water they are sitting in and swell up.

This swelling creates a substance that will now be a chia gel.

Watch Chia Seed Expanding in Time Lapse
Watch chia seeds absorb water

Can You Eat Chia Seeds Without Soaking?

Chia seeds can be eaten in their raw form without soaking. You will still get nutritional value and health benefits from raw chia seeds, including all the fiber. But, there is some benefit to soaking chia seeds first. (Chia seeds and their fiber are especially good for weight loss as well since they will expand in your stomach and make you feel full for longer after eating them. The fiber will also provide other health benefits. Learn more at How to Use Chia Seeds for Weight Loss.)

Chia Seeds Soaked in Water Overnight Benefits

Soaking chia seeds helps the body digest and absorb more of the nutrients and might be a healthier way to consume chia seeds. There’s also some evidence that soaking chia seeds may help with absorbing their protein. There’s also a belief that soaking chia seeds or nuts may help to break down some of the phytic acid which keeps us from absorbing these foods completely.

You can learn more about this at Do I Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?

There may be an even healthier way of eating chia seeds than soaking, and that is by grinding chia seeds. I cover this in Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole – Which is Better?

How to Prepare Chia Seeds

There are two main ways to prepare chia seeds for eating. This includes either grinding or soaking the chia seeds before you eat them. For many years we used soaked chia seeds on our plant-based and vegan breakfast oatmeal. Now we grind the chia seeds, but both are good ways of preparing chia seeds.

In this post, we will now cover how to prepare chia seeds by soaking them next.

How to Soak Chia Seeds

How to Soak Chia Seeds in Water, Coconut or Almond Milk - Overnight or Before Eating [Weight Loss]
chia seeds soaked water don't last as long

How to Soak Chia Seeds in Water or Almond Milk

Prep Time 5 minutes

  1. Prepare Chia Seeds and Mug or Bowl

    chia seeds

    Get a mug or a bowl and some raw chia seeds. (This is my favorite option for chia seeds) If you are planning to soak a larger amount, then you will need a large coffee mug.

  2. Fill Mug or Bowl with Raw Chia Seeds

    The size of the bowl or mug will determine how many chia seeds you use here. Generally, I will fill a large coffee mug up about 1/4 of the way with raw chia seeds. I use a large coffee mug in which I use about 5-6 tablespoons for this.

  3. Add Water or Plant-based Milk

    Next, add either water or plant-based milk such as almond milk or coconut milk to the cup or bowl. Fill it till it is close to the top. Some of the chia seeds should float, and some should be under the liquid at this point. The ratio is generally about 6:1 water to chia seeds. But this can be more or less depending on your preference.

  4. Stir the Mixture with a Spoon

    Stir the chia seeds and water together with a spoon so that they mix together.

  5. Let Sit

    Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

  6. Stir Mixture Again

    After the 15 minutes, stir the mixture a second time. At this point, the chia seeds will have started to form a gel, but they will still be slightly clumpy. You can eat the chia seeds if needed, but it’s best to allow them to sit at least a couple of hours, and preferably overnight. This allows the mixture to continue to gel and will create a more consistent mixture that is not clumpy.

  7. Cover and Set in the Fridge Overnight

    Cover the soaked chia seeds by placing plastic wrap over the top of the mug or bowl. Set in the fridge overnight to complete the gelling process.

  8. Enjoy!

    Soaked chia seeds

    The chia seeds should be soaked and ready to eat and will have made a consistent gel. You can add them to oatmeal or cereal, or add fruit and them as is.

My soaked chia seeds in a cup
My soaked chia seeds in a coffee mug

Soaked Chia Seeds Summary

How do you soak chia seeds before eating?  Here’s what I do to soak chia seeds in water or a plant-based milk before eating.

I take a very large coffee mug, but a bowl would work as well.  I fill it about 1/4 of the way with chia seeds.  In my case, I use 5 tablespoons of chia seeds, but you might do more or less depending on the size of your container, or the consistency you might like. 

I then just fill the mug up with water, with the chia seeds in it.  I fill it up till it gets close to the top.  The ratio is about 6:1, water to chia seeds.  That means, for every tablespoon of chia seeds, you use 6 tablespoons of water.

Then I stir with a spoon.  Now for the waiting.  Let it sit for a little bit, maybe 15 minutes or so.  Then stir it again and place it in the refrigerator.

Just remember, if the chia seed gel is too thick for you, you can use fewer chia seeds or more water to thin it out.  Just experiment and see what you like.

Here’s another way that I’ve heard used to soak chia seeds.  Put the chia seeds in a mason jar instead of a mug or bowl, add the water, then put a lid on and shake.  This mixes the chia seeds and water without having to stir.  After waiting for about 15 minutes, you can shake one more time.

Below is a quick video I made showing the process of soaking chia seeds in water.

How to Soak Chia seeds in Water, Almond or Coconut Milk

Chia Seed to Water Ratio

The ratio I use of chia seeds to water is about 1:6 chia seeds to water. This means 1 tablespoon of chia seeds for every six tablespoons of water. You can adjust this to make it thicker or thinner depending on your preference.

By changing the ratio to 1:4 or 1:5 you will use less water and the soaked chia seeds will be thicker. If you do a higher ratio than 1:6 and add more water, the chia gel will be thinner.

Instead of just measuring, an easier way I’ve found to do is to fill the container up about 1/4 or 1/5 of the way with chia seeds. Then just add water until the water is almost to the top. This amount seems to work well.

How to Soak Chia Seeds Overnight

The process of soaking chia seeds overnight is the same process I outline in this post. I actually prefer to soak the chia seeds overnight, since it will give you a more consistent gel.

How to Consume Soaked Chia Seeds

The soaked chia seeds can be consumed now by putting them on different foods, such as oatmeal. If you soak the chia seeds in water, this is usually the best thing to do, since there will not be a lot of flavor to the soaked chia seeds, but they will mix well with something else and not interfere with the flavor of what you are adding them to.

If you soaked the chia seeds in milk, you could do the same thing as adding them to other foods, or since they will have more flavor, you could just add some fruit and eat them how they are.

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds

Next, we will answer how long to soak chia seeds for different uses.

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Water

If you are in an absolute hurry, you can soak chia seeds in as little as 15-20 minutes or so before you start to get the chia seed gel.  But, it won’t be as good as if you leave it longer.  And, it will still be clumpy.  Ideally, aim for a couple of hours.

The best way I have found to do it is to leave it overnight.  You can leave it overnight on the counter, or place it in the fridge if you prefer.  After it has created the gel, you can then place it in the refrigerator, and it will stay good for up to 5 days, quite possibly even longer. (But I wouldn’t push it too much)  Because it will last this long, I make enough to last us a couple of days before I need to make a new cup of soaked chia seeds.

For more info see the post: How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Water or Almond Milk?

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Water or Milk [Soaking Chia Seeds Overnight or Quick] How Much Time?
How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Water

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Milk

We recommend soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk to soak your chia seeds in, but you can use any milk you choose. Chia seeds will soak the same way in milk as in water.

This means that the minimum amount of time you need to soak chia seeds in milk is 15 minutes. But they will still be clumpy at this stage. It’s better to let them sit and soak for at least 1-2 hours, and preferably overnight. This way they will be less clumpy and more even in texture.

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Yogurt

Since yogurt is thicker than water or milk, you will probably need to soak chia seeds longer in yogurt. It would be best to let them soak for a minimum of 1-2 hours. For best results, allow them to soak in the yogurt overnight.

How to Soak Chia Seeds for Smoothies

Chia seeds do not need to be soaked long in order to be put in a smoothie. In fact, you don’t even need to soak chia seeds before putting them in the smoothie. You just may need to add some extra liquid so the smoothie does not become too thick. (This is because the chia seeds will absorb some moisture and make the smoothie thicken)

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds for a Smoothie

If you do decide to soak the chia seeds before placing them in a smoothie, you only need to soak them a minimum amount of time, only about 15 minutes. This is because they will continue to soak while in the smoothie, and also the blending together in the smoothie will help to break any of the clumps apart.

How to Soak Chia Seeds for Baby

Babies can eat chia seeds after 6-8 months, but the chia seeds should be soaked first. You can soak the chia seeds in water or milk.

How Long to Soak Chia Seeds for Baby

To be safe, the chia seeds need to be hydrated (swelled) and should be soaked for at least 30 minutes for them to swell. You can stir any clumps with a spoon at this point. Preferably, you can soak them longer, either for a couple of hours or overnight to ensure they are fully hydrated.

How Long Do Soaked Chia Seeds Last?

Soaked Chia Seeds in Almond Milk
Soaked Chia Seeds in Almond Milk

Raw chia seeds last a very long time! But, once you soak them, there is a limit on how long they will last at that point.

Soaked Chia Seeds will generally last up to 5 days or even a week with no problems at all.  I’ve never had problems with soaked chia seeds after a couple of days. 

Some have claimed to be able to go longer, up to 2 to 3 weeks, but I wouldn’t recommend saving them for too long of a time.  Since they are so easy to make, you can just make a fresh batch every couple of days when you need them.  Just prepare enough at a time that you know will last a couple of days, then make a fresh batch when it runs out.  You don’t need to make a super big batch of it and try to make it last for weeks.

Also, I’ve always put the chia seeds in the refrigerator uncovered, and they have always been fine.  I have read elsewhere that you should cover them to prevent any kind of growth.  So you might want to consider covering them if you want to be safe.

Do I Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?

You don’t need to soak chia seeds before eating and it isn’t required.  Chia seeds can be eaten dry and will still have excellent health benefits.  I prefer to soak them because they are much easier to eat when they are soaked and have made their gel-like substance.

Otherwise, chia seeds can be very dry and also get stuck in your teeth.  There are also claims that soaking them is more beneficial to their health benefits and helps to break down the natural phytic acid.

See also Do You Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?

Common Questions

Do I Need to Soak Chia Seeds in Water?

No, there are other liquids you can soak chia seeds in besides just plain water.  Almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk are alternative choices to water.  This will give the soaked chia seeds a little more flavor which some people might prefer, especially if you are adding it to a morning bowl of oatmeal. 

Another thing, if you soak the chia seeds in one of these plant-based kinds of milk and add another ingredient or two, you will create something called Chia Seed Pudding.

Can I Soak Chia Seeds in Hot Water?

You can soak chia seeds in hot or water, just make sure that it is clean purified water, the same that you would drink.  You will be consuming the water along with the chia seeds.

But the water does not need to be warm or hot in order to soak chia seeds. Cold water will work fine and is what we always use. Learn more at Can I Soak Chia Seeds in Hot Water (or Warm Water)?

Just try not to add chia seeds to boiling water. Although you can, you might destroy some of the nutrients and healthy fats. Learn more at Here’s Why I Wouldn’t Boil Chia Seeds.

Are Soaked Chia Seeds Good for Constipation?

Soaked chia seeds can be good for constipation since they have a lot of fiber. Fiber is always good for constipation and helping you have a bowel movement, and chia seeds provide a lot of fiber, helping you to go.

Are Soaked Chia Seeds Good for You?

Soaked chia seeds are great for you and provide lots of fiber as well as antioxidants, protein, and healthy Omega-3 fats.

Are Soaked Chia Seeds Better?

Some studies seem to suggest that soaked chia seeds may be better than whole chia seeds at increasing Omega-3 fats in the bloodstream and increasing protein absorption. There may be other benefits we are unaware of as well.

Are Soaked Chia Seeds Digestible?

Soaked chia seeds are digestible. The act of soaking them may help to further increase their digestibility and nutrient uptake.

Are Soaked Chia Seeds Crunchy?

Soaked chia seeds should not be crunchy. Whole chia seeds are crunchy, but once they are soaked they should absorb the liquid around them and no longer be crunchy. If soaked chia seeds are crunchy, you may not have soaked them right or long enough.

Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Milk?

You can, but as vegan or plant-based, we recommend soaking in a plant-based milk such as almond milk or soy milk. But, it’s possible to soak chia seeds in any kind of milk. They will soak in milk the same as they do in the water.

Dairy can cause negative effects on the health due to casein, as Dr. Campbell found in the China Study.  See WFPB Ultimate Guide or Whole Food Plant-Based Diet No Oil Guide.

Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Yogurt?

You can mix chia seeds into yogurt. We recommend a dairy-free yogurt that uses a plant-based milk, but any type of yogurt will work with chia seeds.

Can Chia Seeds Be Eating Raw?

Yes, you can eat raw chia seeds. There is no need to soak them first. Soaking will just give some extra benefits and help with digestibility.

Soaked chia seeds

Soaked Chia Seeds in Water (or Almond Milk)

You will learn how to soak chia seeds in water, almond milk or another plant-based milk
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Soaking Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 5 mins
Course Topping
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 360 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 tbsp Chia Seeds You can use more or less depending on how much soaked chia seeds you are wanting to make
  • Water or Plant-Based Milk You can use any plant-based milk you like.

Instructions
 

  • The size of the bowl or mug will determine how many chia seeds you use here. Generally, I will fill a large coffee mug up about 1/4 of the way with raw chia seeds. I use a large coffee mug in which I use about 6-8 tablespoons for this. If you use a smaller mug, then use less tablespoons until it is 1/4 of the way full.
    6 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • Next, add either water or plant-based milk such as almond milk or coconut milk to the cup or bowl. Fill it till it is close to the top. Some of the chia seeds should float, and some should be under the liquid at this point. The ratio is generally about 6:1 water to chia seeds. But this can be more or less depending on your preference.
  • Stir the chia seeds and water together with a spoon so that they mix together.
  • Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
    How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Water or Milk [Soaking Chia Seeds Overnight or Quick] How Much Time?
  • After the 15 minutes, stir the mixture a second time. At this point, the chia seeds will have started to form a gel, but they will still be slightly clumpy. You can eat the chia seeds if needed, but it's best to allow them to sit at least a couple of hours, and preferably overnight. This allows the mixture to continue to gel and will create a more consistent mixture that is not clumpy.
  • Cover the soaked chia seeds by placing plastic wrap over the top of the mug or bowl. Set in the fridge overnight to complete the gelling process.
  • The chia seeds should be soaked and ready to eat and will have made a consistent gel. You can add them to oatmeal or cereal, or add fruit and them as is.
    My soaked chia seeds in a cup

Video

How to Soak Chia Seeds in Water, Coconut or Almond Milk - Overnight or Before Eating [Weight Loss]

Notes

You can use it in as little as 15 minutes but it will still be clumpy.  After a couple of hours, it will be less clumpy, but will still have some clumps.  The best is to let it sit overnight in the fridge for the smoothest consistency.
I use water, but if you prefer a little more flavor, you can use plant-based milk.  Since I add it to other stuff like oatmeal, the flavor is less of a concern, since it will absorb the flavor of what it is in. 
Keyword chia seeds, gluten-free, plant-based, vegan, vegetarian
See also  Is Chia Pudding Healthy? Good For You?

3 thoughts on “How to Soak Chia Seeds – A Complete Guide”

  1. Could I usedChia seeds to thicken my almond milk yogurt? Some sites say to use either arrowroot powder or vegetable based gelatin. I can’t help but wonder if chia would have the same effect with the benefits of the Omega 3s.

    • I would assume so. Chia seeds can be used in regular almond milk to create chia seed pudding. Basically the chia seeds work to thicken it up, so it becomes more like a pudding.

      I haven’t tried almond milk yogurt, but I think it would work somewhat similar. The only thing is the almond milk yogurt might already be thick and not have a lot of excess water for the chia seeds to absorb. It’s this absorption of water that creates the gel or thickening.

      If the almond milk yogurt is not thick already, then I would think this would work. And, you would have the added health benefits of Omega 3s and antioxidants that you mentioned. Let me know how it works!

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