Oatmeal vs. Porridge: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Difference Between Oatmeal and Porridge

Oatmeal and porridge are a staple food in most countries. This has been the case even from ancient times. Long before other methods of cooking were explored, setting a pot of porridge to cook over heated coals were a daily thing for households.

Today, oatmeal and other porridge remain a common breakfast choice in many homes that people use these two terms interchangeably. They think these point to one and the same thing.

But there’s a difference between these two, and it comes down to terminologies. The term oatmeal always refers to the oatmeal we know. But the term porridge sometimes refers to oatmeal, and sometimes it does not. In countries like Canada and the United States, a lot of people grow up calling oatmeal just porridge.They say porridge to mean oatmeal. However, porridge is not just oatmeal.

Oatmeal is oat porridge. But porridge is any type of grain (cereal), seed or legume, and vegetable that is ground or chopped, then boiled in water or milk. Salt is usually added, and the porridge is ready to eat once it is smooth and creamy.

Oat porridge or oatmeal may likely be one of the most popular types of porridge consumed worldwide. And every time a person says “porridge” without identifying what kind, he or she usually means oatmeal.

Are Oat and Oatmeal the Same?

You may have seen it in recipe books. Some people call it Oat Cookies Recipe. Others call it Oatmeal Cookies Recipe. But oat and oatmeal are different. Again, it comes down to terminologies.

Oat is the type of grain used, while oatmeal is a porridge made from oats. Now, recipes usually call for uncooked oats to be directly mixed in with the ingredients before baking. So the proper way to call your finished product is Oat Cookies. However, it usually matters little to the person who’s more concerned about the taste of your baked goods rather than what they are called.

Are there Different Types of Oatmeal?

Yes, there are. Oatmeal varies according to the type of oats used and the ingredients people add to make them.

What Ingredients Can You Use for Your Oatmeal or Porridge?

To flavor your oatmeal and other types of porridge, you may use:

  • Fruits – apples, blueberries, raisins, and more.
  • Nuts – cashews, walnuts, pecans, and more.
  • Sweeteners – sugar, honey, and more.
  • Other flavorings – cinnamon, vanilla, honey, chocolate, and more.

What are Different Types of Oatmeal You Can Make?

Oatmeal may differ in taste and texture depending on the type of oats used, which may be:

  • Whole Oat Groats. These are also called whole oat kernels. They are cleaned, and only the hulls are removed. This type of oat is the least processed of all. Whole oat oatmeal takes longer to cook. You get to enjoy a bowl of chewy, nutty, and sweet oatmeal in an hour or so. Soak them overnight for an instant breakfast cereal the next day. Others leave them in the slow cooker overnight with other ingredients for a tasty breakfast.
  • Steel-Cut Oats. These are sometimes called Irish oats. They are toasted then cut into pieces using a steel blade. Larger cuts will take longer to cook than smaller ones. These oats look like broken rice. They make chewy, creamy, and mildly sweet oatmeal. Steel-cut oats take time to cook but not as long as whole oat groats.
  • Scottish Oats. Unlike other oats, these are stone-ground. They are a great choice for baking because they are finely ground. They make a smooth, creamy oat porridge.
  • Rolled Oats. These are sometimes called old-fashioned oats. They are rolled and flattened into flakes.
  • Quick-Cooking Oats. These cook faster than other types of oats. They are steamed then rolled thinly to absorb water and heat quickly.
  • Instant Oats. Popularized by the Quaker Oats brand, these are quick-cooking oats that are often available in sachets as a go-to breakfast at home or on the road. They are flavored and sweetened with sugar and/or fruits. They may also have nuts. These are indeed the most processed type in this list but not necessarily unhealthy. They are nutritious, and you can find brands that are low in sugar and preservative-free.

What are Different Types of Porridge You Can Make?

Like you do with oatmeal, you can use a variety of fruits, nuts, sweeteners, and flavorings to make porridge. You can also use different types of grains, vegetables, and legumes or seeds.

For grains, the popular choices are:

  • Oat Porridge. Homemade oat porridge is very common. Commercial brands like Quaker Oats are popular.
  • Rice Porridge. Champorado is a popular chocolate rice porridge in the Philippines. In Asia, rice porridge is also called congee. Chinese congee is enjoyed on cold, rainy days. It may have pork meat, fried dough strips, and century egg as some of the additional ingredients.
  • Corn (Maize) Porridge. Mexico calls it champurrado. It is sweet and chocolatey like the Philippines’ champorado but uses cornflour or corn dough. Polenta is a popular Italian porridge. Some serve polenta baked, cut into slices then served with mushrooms, tomatoes, and more.

For vegetable porridge, you can use different types of veggies, including potatoes, turnips, sweet potato, cabbage, and more. Vegetable porridge is essentially the same as vegetable soup or stew but thicker and creamy.

For seed and legume porridge, people make quinoa porridge, beans porridge, peas porridge, and more.

Final Thoughts

  • Oatmeal means oat porridge, while porridge may mean oat porridge or other types of porridge.
  • In some countries, porridge and oatmeal mean the same.
  • Oatmeal uses oat, while porridge may use oat, other cereal, vegetable, or legumes.
  • Porridge is any type of grain, vegetable, or legume that is ground or chopped, then boiled in water or milk until it becomes creamy.
  • Oatmeal is a common type of porridge sold and consumed worldwide.
  • You can use different types of oats to make oatmeal: whole oat groats, steel-cut oats, rolled oats, quick-cooking oats, and instant oats.
  • You can make different types of porridge: grain porridge, vegetable porridge, and seed or legume porridge.

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