Porridge vs Oatmeal: What’s the Difference?

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porridge vs oatmeal

You might know what porridge looks like, but do you know what’s in it?

Oatmeal is made of oats boiled in milk or water, but does it look different from porridge?

Both are interchangeable meals, and it is easy to mix one up for the other.

Difference between porridge vs oatmeal? Oatmeal is basically porridge, but it is not quite right to say that porridge is the same as oatmeal. Oatmeal has oats as the primary ingredient, while porridge can have other grains as its base component.

What is porridge?

what is porridge

Porridge is made of any grain cooked and boiled in water or milk until the mixture turns into a thick, creamy meal that can warm up our tummies.

Also considered hot cereal, porridge is a thick soup that can be a great meal any time of day, especially during the cold season.

There are a variety of grains used to make porridge including wheat, rice, barley, corn, and buckwheat.

In Russia and Eastern Europe, people cook kasha or buckwheat porridge.

There are numerous variations of rice porridge throughout Asia called congee.

A popular variation in America is a porridge made from corn, more popularly known as cornmeal.

If you want to get creative in the kitchen, you can try endless possibilities by creating your own porridge mix.

What is oatmeal?

what is oatmeal

We prepare oatmeal in the same manner as any porridge. We can cook and boil it in milk or water.

Since it is made of a grain called oats, we can say that oatmeal is a type of porridge.

In reality, the less popular term for oatmeal is oats porridge.

There are at least four commercially available oats, each varying in processing limits, texture, and cooking time.

For healthy oats, always check the packaging for indications of sugar and flavor additives.

Oat Groats

Oat groats are the whole, hulled grains of oats. They come in shapes similar to commercial rice but are mostly light brown or beige.

Producers of oat groats roast the grains at low temperatures to inactivate their spoiling enzymes and give them a very long shelf life.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are oat groats chopped or cut into smaller pieces.

Made of smaller bits and pieces, steel cut oats take much less time to cook than whole oat groats but definitely require more time to cook than rolled or instant oats.

Steel cut oats tend to be toothsome and chewy even after cooking.

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats are oat groats that are steamed and rolled to become flat and irregularly round.

This type of oats absorbs and holds more liquid but has less texture than steel cut oats.

If you want more texture than instant oats, choose rolled oats, but consider having more cooking time.

Instant Oats

Also referred to as quick oats, instant oats are the fastest-cooking of all four types.

To make instant oats, factories pre-cook the oats, dry them, roll them, and finally press them to be slightly thinner than rolled oats.

Your morning rush can ease up a bit if you go for quick-cooking oats.

Difference between porridge vs oatmeal?

difference between porridge and oatmeal

A bowl of porridge or oatmeal served hot in the morning can kickstart our day and help us have the energy to go through our daily routines.

Both are relatively filling and can boost our energy through lunchtime, but how are they not the same?

Let’s take a look at some of the differences between oatmeal and other types of porridge.


The oatmeal texture varies between the type of oats and cooking duration.

Steel cut oats carry more texture than instant oats, but both can have the same cooked texture if you add more liquid and extend the cooking time for steel cut oats.

Effects of cooking duration also apply to finishing textures of other grains cooked into porridge.

Since texture varies among different types of grains, your porridge texture will also depend on the actual ingredients used.


Although there are types of porridge with very similar components as oatmeal, some use very different ingredients.

For example, congee needs the addition of meat broth, herbs, spices, or meats for flavor and more nutrients.

Typically, to produce much-needed calories and provide energy with breakfast, you can infuse oatmeal with more milk, butter, and natural sweeteners such as honey.


You can have a wide range of choices for oatmeal toppings.

Spruce-up your oatmeal by adding fresh fruit slices, dried fruit, fruit jams, mixed nuts, and other healthy toppings such as chia seeds.

You can also add the same toppings to different porridge types, as long as you prepared it using the same method for oatmeal.

However, if you are preparing congee, you might want to add more suitable toppings, such as meat, dim sum and dumplings, chives, garlic, onions, and spices.


We prepare oatmeal by boiling oats in milk or water until the mixture produces a soup-like consistency.

This method also applies to other porridge recipes, but not to all types.

Congee may require sautéing of spices before boiling the grains in water.

Health Benefits

Oatmeal contains manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, thiamine, and pantothenic acid.

Besides its nutrient contents, oatmeal is also high in fiber and can help you with digestion and weight management.

Oats also contain antioxidants that are known to reduce the risks of having heart disease.

Other grains share some properties of oatmeal, but not all.

Can I use porridge instead of oatmeal?

If you are looking to fill up your tummy, you can substitute oats with any available grain to make porridge.

But if you are gunning for maximum health benefits at an affordable price, stick to oatmeal.

It packs the most nutrients per calorie compared to any other grains.


Porridge is a general term we use for soup-based grains, while oatmeal is one of the best types of porridge.

Other grains like quinoa, amaranth, and sorghum are also very healthy and can be prepared and cooked as porridge.

These grains provide large portions of daily nutrient requirements, but they tend to have steep prices.

Oats are a very accessible and affordable type of grain, and they also have a plethora of health benefits.

If you’re looking for porridge, oatmeal is the economical, healthy choice.

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