Traditional Scottish Porridge

Traditional Scottish Porridge

The Spruce

  • Total: 12 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 7 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings

Discover the healthy and nutritious breakfast dish of Scottish porridge. This recipe calls for rolled oats which is one of the healthiest ways to start the day because this slowly released carbohydrate will keep you feeling satisfied from breakfast through to lunchtime. That makes Scottish porridge a real super food.


Watch Now: Traditional Scottish Porridge Recipe


  • 4 oz./110 g. Scottish pinhead oats (or rolled oats)
  • 9 1/2 oz./275 ml. milk (or water or a mixture of both)
  • Optional: pinch salt
  • Optional: maple syrup, brown sugar, golden syrup, jam

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional Scottish Porridge Ingredients
    The Spruce 
  2. First decide whether you want your porridge made with all water, with all milk, or a mixture of the two. If in doubt, if you like a creamy porridge, all milk works best.

  3. Place the oats in a heavy saucepan and add the milk or water.

    Traditional Scottish Porridge With Milk
    The Spruce
  4. Gently bring the oats to a slow boil, stirring all the time until the porridge begins to thicken.

    Traditional Scottish Porridge Simmering
    The Spruce
  5. Once thickening has begun, lower the heat so as not to burn the porridge. Allow the porridge to simmer for approximately 7 minutes (or less if the porridge is thick enough and heated all the way through).

    Traditional Scottish Porridge Boiled
    The Spruce
  6. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 minute. This allows the porridge to cool slightly—eating it right off the fire can sometimes burn the mouth.

    Traditional Scottish Porridge Finished
    The Spruce
  7. Serve the porridge in warmed bowls with either maple syrup, brown sugar, golden syrup or a teaspoon of jam, if desired.

    Bowl of Traditional Scottish Porridge
    The Spruce
  8. Enjoy!


  • True porridge should be cooked in a pan and stirred with a wooden spurtle (stick). If you don't have a wooden spurtle, don't worry. A wooden spoon will do just fine.
  • For a Caribbean version, try this Caribbean Oat Porridge recipe.

Types of Oats for Porridge

Goldilocks knew what she was doing when she ate the porridge from each bowl, finally choosing the tastiest. This traditional Scottish dish has many tastes and textures. Some like it thick and sweet, and others like it on the savory side with salt. Instant porridge (frowned on by porridge purists) is often smooth and a lighter consistency.

The oats used for porridge determine how hearty the final dish will be and how long to cook; the finer the oats the quicker the cooking time. The oats used for porridge are usually rolled rather than crushed, and Scottish oats, also known as pinhead oats, are the ones used for Scottish porridge.

Choose rolled oats if you want a smooth consistency and a porridge that cooks quickly. Rolled oats have a medium grain and are used for oatcakes, biscuits, and stuffing.

Nutritional Value of Oats

All oats have the same nutritional value so no matter which type you choose, they are a slow-release carbohydrate and perfect for a low glycemic-index diet. Research also shows they are useful for lowering cholesterol.