What Is Porridge?

And how is it different from oatmeal?

February 10, 2023
Steel cut oats, oatmeal porridge in a bowl on old wooden table background

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Steel cut oats, oatmeal porridge in a bowl on old wooden table background

Photo by: Arx0nt/Getty Images

Arx0nt/Getty Images

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

Porridge is a popular breakfast dish, but it goes way beyond oatmeal. Here we break down everything you need to know about porridge, what it’s made of and how it’s different from oatmeal. Plus, get our favorite sweet and savory porridge recipes.

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Photo by: Ivan/Getty Images

Ivan/Getty Images

What Is Porridge?

Porridge is a dish of cooked whole grains, cereal or legumes. When we think of porridge in the U.S., we often think of it as a hot breakfast cereal made from cooked oats, quinoa or barley topped with honey, maple syrup, fruit and nuts. But porridge can be made with a wide variety of grains and legumes and incorporate spices, proteins and vegetables to create savory dishes too. Porridge is a staple dish in a variety of cuisines around the world. Some examples of different types of porridge include congee, a Chinese rice porridge; kasha, a Russian buckwheat porridge; polenta, an Italian cornmeal porridge; khichari, an Indian rice-and-lentil porridge; and asaro, a Nigerian yam porridge.

making traditional Scottish porridge by wooden spurtle

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making traditional Scottish porridge by wooden spurtle

Photo by: bonchan/Getty Images

bonchan/Getty Images

What Is Porridge Made Of?

Porridge is made of grains such as oats, quinoa, barley, farro or wild rice cooked in liquid such as water, milk or milk alternatives. The grains are cooked until they start breaking down and releasing their starch; using ground, rolled, pearled or cracked grains helps speed up the lengthy cook time for making porridge. Oatmeal is a type of porridge.

Organic Chia and Quinoa Porridge with soya yoghurt, millet, mint leaves, rasbperries, blackberries, blue berries and pomegranate seeds

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Organic Chia and Quinoa Porridge with soya yoghurt, millet, mint leaves, rasbperries, blackberries, blue berries and pomegranate seeds

Photo by: Rocky89/Getty Images

Rocky89/Getty Images

Porridge vs Oatmeal: What’s the Difference?

Both porridge and oatmeal are cooked, grain-based dishes that are served hot and often enjoyed for breakfast or as a neutral base for savory toppings. But the main difference between porridge and oatmeal is that porridge is made with a variety of whole grains, cereal or legumes, and oatmeal is made with oats (either rolled, flattened or ground).

Porridge Recipes

This porridge is like eating autumn for breakfast. The slow cooker does the heavy lifting of cooking steel cut oats while they simmers with pumpkin puree, maple syrup and cinnamon. Each bowl is topped with a duo of sliced pears and dried cranberries for an extra hit of sweetness.

Slow Cook Porridge with Mixed Fruit in Blue Bowls

Porridge

Slow Cook Porridge with Mixed Fruit in Blue Bowls

This is a hearty breakfast worth waking up to. Wild rice, steel cut oats, farro and farina simmer overnight in a rice cooker with brown sugar, a cinnamon stick, orange peel and dried fruit, which plumps up as it cooks and provides an ideal burst of sweetness.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

In our take on khichidi, an Indian rice and lentil porridge, red lentils stand in for traditional mung beans. It makes for a hearty, soothing dish that’s packed with flavor from a combination of ginger, cumin, jalapeno and fresh cilantro.

Food Network Kitchen’s Slow-Cooker Healthy Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal Porridge for Year of Oats/Drunk Pies/Diners, as seen on Food Network.

FNK_SlowCookerHealthyCranberryPecanOatmealPorridge_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Slow-Cooker Healthy Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal Porridge for Year of Oats/Drunk Pies/Diners, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Prepping this easy, fiber-packed breakfast porridge before you go to bed ensures you’ll have a hearty, nourishing breakfast in the morning. All you’ll have to do when you wake up is give it a good stir, ladle up a bowlful and top with maple syrup, cranberries and pecans.

Dehulled barley teams up with steel cut oats and cornmeal in this hot breakfast of champions. Dehulled (or hulless) barley is unprocessed and takes longer to cook than the quicker pearled barley; you can use either for this recipe (though the fiber content will vary).

Milk, Barley Flakes, Light Brown Sugar, Raspberries, Granny Smith Apple, PIstachios, Chia Seeds, Cinnamon

Milk, Barley Flakes, Light Brown Sugar, Raspberries, Granny Smith Apple, PIstachios, Chia Seeds, Cinnamon

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

If it’s true that we eat with our eyes first, then we’d happily ogle this Nordic-inspired breakfast bowl. The base features a lightly sweetened barley porridge that’s garnished with apple matchsticks, raspberries, pistachios and chia seeds. But feel free to experiment with your own medley of vibrant, pretty toppings.

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