Traditional Scottish Porridge

Traditional Scottish porridge recipe

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 17 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 12 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 superfood.

Since late medieval times, oats have grown in Scotland as the staple diet of crofters. With no methods of preserving the oats, a thick paste was made, then cooled and stored in a wooden porridge draw, from where it was eaten over several days. When cold the mixture became thick and solid and useful in thick slices for lunch or fried for breakfast. 

Originally only made with water and salt, the paste, or porridge as it became known, bore little likeness to the thick, creamy mixture we know today. Traditional Scottish dish has many tastes and textures. Some like it thick and sweet, some with salt. Instant porridge (frowned on by porridge purists) is often smooth and lighter in its consistency. These variations are all a matter of personal choice and rely on the oats used and the cooking method.


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  • 4 ounces rolled oats 
  • 9 1/2 fluid ounces water or milk 
  • Optional: pinch salt
  • Garnish: 2 to 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, brown sugar, golden syrup, a teaspoon of jam, or berries

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for traditional Scottish porridge
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Place the rolled oats, water or milk, and salt in a small pan.

    Place oats and water in pot
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. Gently bring the oats to a slow boil, stirring all the time until the porridge begins to thicken.

    Bring oats to boil
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Once thickening has begun, lower the heat so as not to burn the porridge. Allow the porridge to simmer for approximately 5 to 7 minutes (or less if the porridge is thick enough and heated all the way through).

    Lower heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 minute. This allows the porridge to cool slightly—eating it right off the heat can sometimes burn the mouth.

    Remove from heat and let stand
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. Serve the porridge in warmed bowls with either maple syrup, brown sugar, golden syrup, or a teaspoon of jam, if desired.

    Serve porridge with fruit
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. Enjoy!

    Berries in porridge
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt


  • 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

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 pinhead, as they cook faster. Scottish oats, also known as pinhead oats, can be used but take about 40 to 45 minutes to cook since they are less refined.

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.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Grundy MM, Fardet A, Tosh SM, Rich GT, Wilde PJ. Processing of oat: the impact on oat's cholesterol lowering effect. Food Funct. 2018;9(3):1328-1343.  doi:10.1039/c7fo02006f