Traditional Scottish Porridge

Traditional Scottish porridge recipe

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 17 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Servings: 2 servings

Discover the healthy and nutritious breakfast dish of Scottish porridge. This recipe calls for rolled oats, which are easy to find and quick-cooking. Scottish porridge 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.

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 served 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. The traditional Scottish dish can have 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 can shift based on the oats used and the cooking method.


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  • 4 ounces rolled oats 
  • 9.5 fluid ounces water (or milk)
  • Pinch salt
  • For serving: 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup, brown sugar, or golden syrup; 1 teaspoon jam or berries; fresh cream (optional)

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.
  • 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 or steel-cut, as they cook faster. Also popular, Scottish oats are stone-ground and end up somewhere in between rolled oats and steel-cut. The oats take about 10 minutes to cook. Both rolled and Scottish oats make delicious porridge.

Is Scottish Porridge Healthy?

All oats have the same nutritional value, so no matter which type you choose for your Scottish porridge, they will be 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