A bowl of oatmeal porridge
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsStarchy plants (e.g. grain), water or milk, flavourings

Porridge[1] is a food made by heating or boiling ground, crushed or chopped starchy plants, typically grain, in milk or water. It is often cooked or served with added flavourings such as sugar, honey, fruit, or syrup to make a sweet cereal, or it can be mixed with spices, meat, or vegetables to make a savoury dish. It is usually served hot in a bowl, depending on its consistency. Oat porridge, or oatmeal, is one of the most common types of porridge. Gruel is a thinner version of porridge and congee is a savoury variation of porridge of Asian origin.

Type of grains

Cooked oatmeal in a bowl

The term "porridge" is used in Britain and Ireland specifically for oatmeal. This is a hot mixture of oatmeal or oats slowly cooked with water or milk.[2] It is typically eaten for breakfast by itself or with other ingredients, including salt, sugar, fruit, milk, cream, or butter.

Other grains used for porridge include rice, wheat (cracked wheat porridge is also known as frumenty), barley, corn, triticale and buckwheat. Many types of porridge have their own names, such as congee (rice), polenta (maize) and poi (from Taro).[2]

Conventional uses

Porridge can be eaten for any meal of the day. Porridge is eaten in many cultures around the world as a common snack or breakfast, including by athletes.[3][4][5]


Unenriched porridge (oatmeal), cooked with water
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy297 kJ (71 kcal)
12 g
Dietary fiber1.7 g
1.5 g
2.5 g
Vitamin A equiv.
0 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.08 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.02 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.23 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.197 mg
Vitamin B6
0.005 mg
Folate (B9)
6 μg
Vitamin C
0 mg
Vitamin E
0.08 mg
Vitamin K
0.3 μg
9 mg
0.9 mg
27 mg
0.6 mg
77 mg
70 mg
4 mg
1 mg
Other constituentsQuantity

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Unenriched porridge (as oatmeal), cooked by boiling or microwave, is 84% water, and contains 12% carbohydrates, including 2% dietary fiber and 2% each of protein and fat (table). In a 100 gram reference amount, cooked porridge provides 71 Calories and contains 29% of the Daily Value (DV) for manganese and moderate content of phosphorus and zinc (11% DV each), with no other micronutrients in significant content (table).

Health effect

A 2014 review found that daily intake of at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan lowers total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by 5–10% in people with normal or elevated blood cholesterol levels.[6] Beta-glucan lowers cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol production, although cholesterol reduction is greater in people with higher total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in their blood.[6] In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration issued a final ruling in 2015 stating that food companies can make health claims on food labels for products containing soluble fiber from whole oats (oat bran, oat flour and rolled oats), noting that 3.0 grams of soluble fiber daily from these foods may reduce the risk of heart disease.[7] To qualify for the health claim, the food that contains the oats must provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving.[7]


Further information: List of porridges

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Millet porridge


Porridge oats before cooking

Types of oats

Porridge by William Hemsley (1893)

Oats for porridge may be whole (groats), cut into two or three pieces (called "pinhead", "steel-cut" or "coarse" oatmeal), ground into medium or fine oatmeal or steamed and rolled into flakes of varying sizes and thicknesses (called "rolled oats", the largest size being "jumbo"). The larger the pieces of oat used, the more textured the resulting porridge. It is said that, because of their size and shape, the body breaks steel-cut oats down more slowly than rolled oats, reducing spikes in blood sugar and making the eater feel full longer.[17] The US Consumer Reports Web site found that the more cooking required, the stronger the oat flavor and the less mushy the texture.[18]

Oats are a good source of dietary fibre; health benefits are claimed for oat bran in particular, which is part of the grain.


The oats are cooked in milk, water or a mixture of the two. Scottish traditionalists allow only oats, water and salt.[19] There are techniques suggested by cooks, such as presoaking, but a comparative test found little difference in the end result.[19] Various flavourings can be used and may vary widely by taste and locality. Demerara sugar, golden syrup, Greek yoghurt and honey are common. Cold milk or single cream may be used.[19]


Rice porridge with mixed fruit soup


Beef yam porridge with red and green pepper


Malt-O-Meal with coffee



Historically, porridge was a staple food in much of the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia, and it remains a staple food in many parts of the world, it becoming commonplace in agricultural societies that practice grain cultivation starting from the Neolithic period and onward.[citation needed] The dish has traditionally been closely associated with Scotland, possibly because oats can be successfully cultivated on marginal upland soils.[23] In 1775, Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote that oats were "a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people".[24] Oats were introduced to Scotland in about 600 AD; traces of barley porridge have been found in pots excavated in the Outer Hebrides which have been dated to 2,500 years ago.[25]

Northern Europe

Traditional Estonian rustic porridge Mulgipuder made with potatoes, groats and meat is known as a national dish of Estonia
Traditional Latvian barley grit porridge with milk, potatoes and speck (bukstiņputra)

Historically, porridge was a staple food in much of Northern Europe and Russia. It was often made from barley, though other grains and yellow peas could be used, depending on local conditions. It was primarily a savoury dish, with meats, root crops, vegetables and herbs added for flavor. Porridge could be cooked in a large metal kettle over hot coals or heated in a cheaper earthenware container by adding hot stones until boiling hot. Until leavened bread and baking ovens became commonplace in Europe, porridge was a typical means of preparing cereal crops for the table.[citation needed]

Porridge was also commonly provided for breakfast for inmates in the British prison system during the 19th century and early 20th century, and so "doing porridge" became a slang term for a sentence in prison.[26][27]

See also


  1. ^ porridge (pronunciation: /ˈpɒrɪdʒ/), Oxford English Dictionary, archived from the original on 3 November 2013, retrieved 4 April 2013
  2. ^ a b Davidson, Alan (1 January 2014). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  3. ^ Fisher, Roxanne. "Eat like an athlete - Beckie Herbert". BBC Good Food. BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  4. ^ Chappell, Bill (25 July 2012). "Athletes And The Foods They Eat: Don't Try This At Home". The Torch. NPR. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  5. ^ Randall, David (19 February 2012). "Cursed! The astonishing story of porridge's poster boy". The Independent.
  6. ^ a b Othman, R. A; Moghadasian, M. H; Jones, P. J (2011). "Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan". Nutrition Reviews. 69 (6): 299–309. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00401.x. PMID 21631511.
  7. ^ a b "Title 21—Chapter 1, Subchapter B, Part 101 – Food labeling – Specific Requirements for Health Claims, Section 101.81: Health claims: Soluble fiber from certain foods and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) (revision 2015)". US Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Artes culinarias/Recetas/Gachas manchegas". wikibooks.org.
  9. ^ "Cómo preparar gachas de maíz". wikiHow. Archived from the original on 13 August 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  10. ^ Grant, Mark (1999). Roman Cookery. London: Serif. ISBN 978-1897959602.
  11. ^ The Danish cultural historian Troels Frederik Lund (1840–1921) published a work later known as "Everyday Life in the North". In his comments (1883) about the development of foods, he highlights porridge as one of the oldest Nordic meals. No other meal is described as frequently as this "from the moment the written sources begun."
    See: Troels-Lund, Troels Frederik (1883). "Fødemidler". Danmark og Norges Historie i Slutningen af det 16de Aarhundrede [History of Denmark and Norway to the End of the Sixteenth Century] (in Danish). Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel. ISBN 978-1247189857.
  12. ^ Lloyd, J; Mitchinson, J (2006). The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571233687.
  13. ^ East, George (2010). French Impressions: Brittany (PDF). La Puce. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-9523635-9-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Nutrition diva: Are Steel Cut Oats Healthier?". Nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2014.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Nasty-Face, Jack (1836). Nautical Economy, or Forecastle Recollections of Events during the last War. London: William Robinson.
  16. ^ "Last male WWI veteran dies". abc.net.au. 5 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Steel Cut, Rolled, Instant, Scottish? (Marisa's comment, November 10, 2012 at 9:46 am)". Bob's Red Mill. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  18. ^ "For best oatmeal taste, be patient". Consumer Reports. November 2008. Archived from the original on 10 April 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  19. ^ a b c How to cook perfect porridge, Felicity Cloake, The Guardian, 10 November 2011.
  20. ^ "👨‍🍳Recipe: Meiling porridge (The taste of Nanjing big stalls) (Electric rice cooker version)". Home Cooking Recipes.
  21. ^ "Ambrosia Devon Custards & Desserts - Home".
  22. ^ Kperogi, Farooq (26 January 2014). "Q and A on the grammar of food, usage and Nigerian English". Daily Trust. Archived from the original on 23 February 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  23. ^ Welch, R.W., ed. (1995). The Oat Crop: Production and Utilization. Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0412373107.
  24. ^ Green, Jonathan (2014). Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. p. 96. ISBN 978-1628737196.
  25. ^ Macdonald, Fiona (13 December 2011). Scotland, A Very Peculiar History – Volume 1. Brighton: Book House. p. 47. ISBN 978-1906370916.
  26. ^ Martin Belam (1 May 2018). "Porridge no longer on the menu for those doing porridge". Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  27. ^ Bill Robinson. "The Best of British Prison Food 1". Food Reference. Retrieved 5 December 2019.