What is porridge?

Porridge is a popular breakfast dish made by gently cooking oats in milk, water or a combination of both. Traditionally, it's cooked on the hob, and the oldest recipes may even call for a spurtle, a Scottish wooden implement used for stirring. Now, it's commonly cooked in the microwave, with similarly creamy results.


Porridge is a versatile breakfast and can easily be adapted to your taste. Add honey, a swirl of jam or peanut butter for a sweet start to the day, or top with fresh fruits and seeds.

The type of oats you choose is really down to personal preference. Jumbo or rolled oats will result in a really chunky texture, but those labelled as ‘porridge oats’ will generally contain medium-ground oatmeal, which results in a fine, smooth texture. For the liquid, you can opt for cow's milk, almond milk or any other dairy-free alternative.

Check out our healthy oat recipes, warming porridge recipes and energy-boosting breakfast recipes.

Is porridge good for you?

Oats, especially whole oats, are a nutritional powerhouse, so it would be fair to say that porridge is a healthy breakfast choice. Health benefits of oats include reducing blood pressure and bad cholesterol, and providing slow-release energy. Plus, they're a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

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How to make porridge with oats


Porridge ingredients

  • 50g porridge oats
  • 350ml milk or water, or a mixture of the two
  • fruit or honey, to serve

How to cook porridge on the hob

1. Put the porridge oats in a saucepan, pour in the milk or water and season with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 mins, stirring occasionally and watching closely to ensure it doesn't stick to the pan.

2. To serve, pour the porridge into bowls and top with fruit or honey, if you like.

How to cook porridge in the microwave

1. Mix the porridge oats, milk or water and a pinch of salt together in a large microwave-safe bowl, then microwave on high for 5 mins, stirring halfway through. Leave to stand for 2 mins before eating.

2. Add your favourite toppings – try nuts, dried fruit or peanut butter with sliced banana.

For more recipes, try perfect porridge with milk or water, creamy yogurt porridge and raspberry coconut porridge.


Alternative ways to cook porridge

Baked porridge is another popular choice, as it has all the wholesome benefits of regular porridge, but all you need to do is mix the ingredients together and transfer it to the oven. Try it with our easy baked banana porridge.

If you own a slow cooker, you can make a delicious, fuss-free porridge. Assemble the ingredients in the evening and wake up to perfection in a bowl. Robust, jumbo oats work best for this method.

If you don’t fancy something hot or want to eat on the go, bircher is a satisfying alternative to traditional porridge. It will still take around 5 mins to make, as the jumbo oats are soaked in juice, but if you make a batch, it’ll keep in the fridge for a few days. If you really want to ramp up the nutrition factor, add chia seeds.

Got cold, leftover porridge to use up? Transform it into a stack of pancakes.

Orange & blueberry Bircher in two glasses

Porridge toppings and additions

  • Give your porridge instant pizzazz by adding simple flavours. Nut butters, such as almond, hazelnut or cashew, give porridge a hearty depth – stir vigorously to dissolve any clumps. Try simple spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or mixed spice, or stir in vanilla extract, creamed or dessicated coconut or a touch of jam.
  • Opt for honey, maple syrup or agave if you fancy a sweet drizzle, or add granulated sugar either at the start of cooking or sprinkled over before serving.

Enjoy apple & blueberry bircher and vanilla-almond chia breakfast bowl.

Our favourite porridge toppings

There are plenty of ways you can personalise your porridge. Keep it simple with a drizzle of honey, opt for fresh seasonal fruits, enjoy an indulgent breakfast with dark chocolate, or you can even add vegetables. Here are a few of our most-loved ideas.

1. Compote

Porridge with blueberry compote

Use up whatever's in the fruit bowl by making a sweet, comforting compote. Apples, plums and blueberries work well – simply stew with a little syrup or sugar.

Porridge with blueberry compote
Creamy porridge with spiced apple & cranberry
Spiced coconut porridge with cranberry & orange compote
Creamy yogurt porridge with apple & raisin compote

2. Fruit


Banana, grated apple, thin slices of pear and blueberries are some of our favourite fruits to scatter over a warming bowl of porridge. Go all out tropical by liberally topping oats with chopped banana, coconut yogurt, coconut shavings, lime juice and a cherry.

Banana colada porridge topper
Healthy porridge bowl
Creamy yogurt porridge with banana & blueberry porridge

3. Granola


We’d never say no to two breakfasts in one, so crunchy, granola-topped porridge is right up our street. Here, oats are baked with cinnamon and raisins, then sprinkled over honey-soaked plums on top of porridge.

Plum, raisin & granola porridge topper
Maple granola crunch porridge topping

4. Nuts


While the silkiness of porridge is one of its charms, adding a bit of texture will create a new dimension. Crush your favourite nut to scatter on top – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts all fit the bill.

Give your porridge a taste of luxury with aromatic vanilla-poached plums and crunchy toasted almond flakes. Finish with a drizzle of creamy almond butter for ultimate satisfaction.

Vanilla poached pears with almond flakes & nut butter topping
Almond butter & banana porridge

5. Vegetables


Vegetables in porridge – who'd have thought? We seriously recommend trying this maple squash, bacon & blueberry porridge topper for a comforting breakfast that'll keep you full until lunch. The roasted butternut squash is caramelised, balancing the salty bacon and juicy blueberries.

Carrot cake porridge
Porridge with beetroot, apple & cranberry compote & toasted hazelnuts

6. Nutritional boosters

Budget porridge in two bowls

Vitamin-packed seeds add a satisfying crunch to your breakfast bowl. Try linseeds, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds, or add dried fruit or goji berries when you’re out of fresh fruit. You can also add a touch of spice – warming cinnamon brings plenty of benefits.

Budget porridge
Date & tahini porridge
Fruit & nut breakfast bowl

Enjoy this? Now try:

Porridge recipes
Healthy porridge recipes and topping ideas
Healthy chocolate porridge recipe video
Is porridge healthy?
Leftover porridge pancakes

Are you a porridge lover? What are your secret tips for making it, and how do you serve it? We'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.


All health content on goodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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