Porridge Oats vs Rolled Oats: Unraveling the Differences

Oatmeal vs. Rolled Oats: Exploring the differences

Oats are a popular and nutritious breakfast option, often used to make porridge or oatmeal. However, when it comes to oats, there are several varieties available, including porridge oats and rolled oats. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to oats with different characteristics and cooking properties. In this article, we will look at the differences between porridge oats and rolled oats and explore their preparation methods, textures, and potential uses in different recipes.

Oatmeal: Definition and Characteristics

Oats, also known as porridge oats, are a type of oats used specifically for making porridge. The term “porridge oats” is not precisely defined by the Whole Grains Council, but it generally refers to oats that are suitable for making porridge. In different regions, porridge oats can vary in terms of processing methods and resulting textures.

Irish Oats: Chewy and Flavorful

One common type of oatmeal is Irish oats, also known as steel-cut oats. Irish oats are made by slicing oatmeal into two or three pieces with a sharp steel blade. This slicing process creates oat pieces that are chewier in texture compared to other types of oats. In addition, the increased surface area of the sliced oats allows water or milk to penetrate more easily, resulting in a faster cooking time.

Scottish Oats: Creamier and Stone-Ground

Another type of porridge oats is Scottish oats, which are stone-ground instead of steel-cut. Stone-ground oats produce a less consistent texture, with a mixture of finely ground oat flour and small oat chunks. Because of the fine grinding, Scottish oat porridge tends to have a creamier consistency than porridge made from steel-cut oats or rolled oats.

Rolled Oats: Flattened and quick to cook

Rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats, are oatmeal that has been steamed and flattened with heavy rollers. The steaming and flattening process increases the surface area of the oats, allowing them to cook faster. Rolled oats come in a variety of thicknesses, ranging from regular rolled oats to quick oats or instant oats. Thinner oats cook faster, while thicker oats retain more texture.

Cooking and preparation differences

Oatmeal and rolled oats have different cooking characteristics due to different processing methods and resulting textures.

Oatmeal: Longer cooking time

Oats for porridge, especially Irish oats, require a longer cooking time than rolled oats. Irish oats can take 30 to 40 minutes to soften and reach the desired consistency. The longer cooking time is necessary to tenderize the chewy oat pieces and allow them to fully absorb the liquid.
Scottish oats, on the other hand, cook relatively quickly, typically within 10 minutes. Their fine texture allows them to absorb liquid quickly, resulting in a creamy and smooth porridge.

Rolled oats: Quick and convenient

Rolled oats cook much faster than porridge oats because of their flattened structure. Regular oatmeal usually cooks in about 5 minutes, making it a convenient option for those looking for a quick breakfast. Quick oats and instant oats, which are thinner, cook even faster, often requiring only a few minutes of cooking time.

Uses and applications

Both porridge oats and instant oats can be used in a variety of recipes beyond traditional porridge or oatmeal.

Oatmeal: Versatile and Chewy

Porridge oats, with their chewy texture, can add a savory element to a variety of dishes. In addition to making porridge, porridge oats can be used in baking recipes such as cookies, muffins and bread. The chewiness of porridge oats can provide a pleasant texture and improve the overall mouthfeel of baked goods.

Rolled Oats: Texture and Binding Agent

Rolled oats, with their flattened flakes, are often used in recipes where a smoother texture or binding agent is desired. They are often incorporated into granola bars, cookies and crusts for cakes and desserts. The texture of oatmeal adds a pleasant chewiness to these recipes while helping to hold the ingredients together.

Oatmeal and Rolled Oats Substitutions

In certain situations, it may be necessary to substitute one type of oat for another. While this can be done, it is important to note that texture and cooking properties may be affected.

Oatmeal as a substitute for oatmeal

Oatmeal can be substituted for rolled oats, but the resulting texture will vary depending on the recipe. For example, if you use porridge oats in a recipe that calls for rolled oats, you may end up with a chewier, denser final product. This substitution works best in recipes where a heartier texture is desired, such as oatmeal cookies or bread.

Rolled Oats as an Oatmeal Substitute

If you are out of oatmeal but have rolled oats on hand, you can use rolled oats as a substitute in most oatmeal recipes. Keep in mind, however, that the cooking time may be shorter because oatmeal cooks faster. Adjust cooking time accordingly and monitor consistency to achieve desired texture.


In summary, porridge oats and rolled oats are two different types of oats with different textures and cooking characteristics. Porridge oats, such as Irish oats and Scottish oats, are chewier and take longer to cook. Oatmeal, on the other hand, is flattened and cooks much faster. Both types of oats have their unique uses and can be substituted in certain recipes with a few adjustments. Understanding the differences between oatmeal and rolled oats will help you choose the right type for your desired texture and cooking needs. Whether you prefer a chewy porridge or a quick and convenient breakfast, oats are a versatile and nutritious way to start your day.


What is the main difference between Oatmeal and Rolled Oats?

Porridge oats tend to be chewier and take longer to cook, while rolled oats are flattened and cook much faster.

Can I use porridge oats instead of oatmeal in recipes?

Yes, you can substitute porridge oats for rolled oats in most recipes. However, keep in mind that the texture and cooking time may be different, resulting in a chewier and denser final product.

Are porridge oats and oatmeal the same thing?

Yes, porridge oats and oatmeal are often used interchangeably to refer to oats specifically used to make porridge. However, the term “oatmeal” can also be used to describe a coarser grind of oats.

Which type of oats is better for a quick breakfast?

Rolled oats are the better option for a quick breakfast because they cook much faster than porridge oats. In particular, quick oats or instant oats have the shortest cooking time.

Can I use Scottish oats instead of Irish oats?

Yes, you can use Scottish oats as a substitute for Irish oats in most recipes. However, keep in mind that Scottish oats have a finer texture and may result in a creamier consistency compared to the chewier texture of Irish oats. Adjust cooking time as needed.

Are there gluten-free options for oats?

Yes, there are gluten-free oats on the market. Look for oats that are specifically labeled as gluten-free to ensure that they have been processed in a facility that avoids cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains.