Turns Out I Love Porridge More Than Goldilocks

September  6, 2018

We've partnered with Milk Life to share recipes, tips, and videos that highlight unexpectedly delicious ways you can use organic milk—like this comforting, picture-perfect porridge, which gets signature rich, creamy texture from our favorite type of dairy.

I can’t pretend that porridge is an alluring word. Until relatively recently, the only thing it conjured for me was the sad, watery gruel I imagined from Oliver Twist, or at best, a bowl of oatmeal “just right” enough it could tempt Goldilocks into stealing from the three bears.

But a few years ago, when visiting Denmark, something clicked. At the time, porridge was a rising food trend in Copenhagen, big enough to rival any avocado toast on your Instagram feed—think wholesome-looking bowls of oats topped with perfectly placed berries, nuts, sliced fruits, and compotes, drowned in organic milk. A porridge-only restaurant called Grød (that would be the Danish word for porridge or “mush”) had just opened, and after hearing a friend rave about it, I went.

I suppose I was expecting to see British-style oatmeal, and some mushy desserts like Rød grød med flød: a traditional Danish summertime dish in which red berries are transformed into a sweet, silky pudding. (My teacher used to torture us American students with it when I was in college because it’s so hard to say; the ø is like a French “eu” or a German ö, and the soft d at the end of a word is like a "thl", but with marbles in your mouth. Not easy!)

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What I wasn’t expecting was all kinds of deliciously mushy dishes from all over the world, like oats cooked with organic whole milk, topped with apple-vanilla compote, skyr and granola or beet root risotto with parmesan, fresh thyme, black pepper and ricotta. Turns out porridge isn’t just oatmeal, and it’s not just breakfast, either. It can be sweet or savory, as long as it’s a grain cooked in liquid—preferably beyond the point of recognition. Rice pudding is technically a type of porridge. Congee and risotto, too. So are grits and polenta. Cream of wheat also counts, and so does kasha. You can even make porridge from stale bread, which the Danes definitely do (it’s called øllebrød and it’s made with rye bread scraps and beer, and often topped with organic milk for a touch of creamy sweetness).

The consistency is undeniably comforting and nostalgic, which is why dishes like congee and cheesy grits—two things I definitely didn’t grow up eating—feel as familiar as oatmeal and cream of wheat. But the most appealing part of porridge isn’t just the comforting, rich base, it’s in the contrasting textures and flavors that come from topping your porridge canvas with whatever the heck you want.

For me, that’s a lot of crunch, color, flavor, and brightness, regardless of whether we’re going sweet or savory. That could mean topping congee with poached chicken, crunchy fried onions, and chopped peppers and cilantro in the winter, or piling cheese and parsley onto mushroom and asparagus risotto in the spring.

This time of year, my favorite porridge keeps it classic: steel cut oats, organic milk (I go for all dairy instead of Grød's 50/50 water and organic milk ratio, because the result is so much more rich and creamy), a pat of butter, and a pinch of flaky salt cooked until the oats break down, topped with...well, that depends on the day!

In general, I shoot for lots of fresh and bright ingredients, a few crunchy options for texture, plus something sweet and something rich. Here’s an example of how that might go down:

And here are all the other toppings you could mix and match with (I’m definitely taking some inspiration from Grød here, and you should too!):


  • Maple syrup
  • Caramel sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate shavings or chips


  • Organic milk (I like a little extra to cool things down)
  • Nut butters
  • Skyr or yogurt
  • Clotted cream


  • Granola
  • Cacao nibs
  • Nuts (I love hazelnuts or chopped almonds)
  • Seeds
  • Chia

Fresh & bright:

  • Berries
  • Sliced banana
  • Segmented citrus
  • Freeze-dried fruits
  • Sliced figs
  • Fruit compotes
  • Apple or pear slices

Make up your own favorite porridge using the suggestions above, or check out some of the recipes below for even more ideas.

More Cozy, Comforting Porridge Recipes

In partnership with Milk Life, an organization of milk processors around the country, we're excited share fun, family-friendly ways to use organic milk from breakfast all the way to dinner, and of course, dessert.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mckenzie
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
Cory Baldwin

Written by: Cory Baldwin

Food52's director of partner content Cory Baldwin has been an editor at food, travel, and fashion publications including Saveur, Departures and Racked.


Mckenzie September 6, 2018
Yes! I visited Grod too and mind blown. I bought their cookbook on the spot, and the biggest game changer I've learned from it has been adding cardamom syrup to my porridge. In the cookbook, they have a version using it with pears, hazelnuts, and skyr and it's the best thing ever.
Posie (. September 6, 2018
Cory this is my dream article. I'm quite sure I could live on porridge alone in all its many forms. I've been loving a version at a little cafe in Soho which is a blend of grains cooked with almond butter until thick and creamy, then topped with crispy mushrooms, kale chips, and a pile of lightly dressed fresh greens. Salad/breakfast/bliss.