Quinoa Porridge with Maple and Brown Sugar

Porridge has been around for thousands of years. Historically a dish enjoyed by the lower classes, porridge is a simple and inexpensive way to create a filling meal from very few ingredients. All porridges consist of grains, pulses, or vegetables cooked into a soft mush. Ancient Romans appreciated porridge because it allowed them to eat cereal grains like wheat without the need for grinding those grains. An early Roman recipe for porridge can be found in De Agricultura, or “On Agriculture,” a treatise on farm management written by by Cato the Elder (234-149 BCE):

Recipe for wheat pap: Pour 1/2 pound of clean wheat into a clean bowl, wash well, remove the husk thoroughly, and clean well. Pour into a pot with pure water and boil. When done, add milk slowly until it makes a thick cream.

During the Tang dynasty, the Northern Chinese survived on porridge made from millet and goat’s milk. In Central Europe during the 1800’s, porridge became popular with early vegetarians looking for nutritious meals without meat. In 17th century Romania, a porridge from cornmeal similar to polenta known as mamaliga became a staple in the Romanian Jewish diet. In the early 1900’s, the labouring classes of England called oat porridge “water pudding” and ate it for both breakfast and dinner. Countless other forms of porridge have surfaced throughout the centuries.

Today, we think of porridge as a hot breakfast dish made from oats, wheat, or ground corn. Modern oatmeal porridge is a descendant of the English dish called pottage, a simple meat stock thickened with oats and sometimes enriched with chunks of meat or vegetables. The Scottish enjoy their porridge oats unsweetened with salt, cream or buttermilk; the English started the tradition of sweetening porridge. Americans tend to like their porridge on the sweeter side.

The most common porridge in America is oatmeal, a family favorite in our home. My stepdaughter likes to eat oatmeal before bedtime, as a sort of late evening snack. She likes it the way her Abba (dad) makes it—sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup. I developed this Quinoa Porridge with Maple and Brown Sugar as a more nutritious alternative to our usual oatmeal. Quinoa is a natural source of protein. Because it’s a seed and not a grain, it’s also completely gluten free, which is helpful to those who have trouble processing gluten. To make it dairy free/pareve, substitute a non-dairy milk; I’ve provided suggestions below. You can add raisins or fruit to the mix, if you’d like; dried fruits should be added 5 minutes before the end of cooking. Fresh fruit can be stirred in during the last minute of cooking till warmed through, or used as a topping. This is our new favorite porridge here on the homefront… it’s warm, creamy, comforting, and healthy. Enjoy!

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Quinoa Porridge with Maple & Brown Sugar


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups milk, plus more for serving (pareve dairy-free milk subs below)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar, plus more for serving
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, or walnuts - optional)
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 4 small portions or 2 large portions
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under running water for a few minutes. Shake gently to drain. Some brands of quinoa does not need this initial rinse-- the packaging should say if it is required or not. If you bought your quinoa from a bulk bin, go ahead and rinse to be safe. Rinsing gets rid of any residual natural bitterness on the quinoa seeds.
  • In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, pour 2 cups of milk. Turn heat to medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spatula, wooden spoon, or whisk. Gently scrape the bottom of the pan periodically till the milk begins to bubble and simmer. This will take several minutes. Do not raise the temperature of the milk, and be patient-- trying to heat the milk too quickly will result in scorching.
  • Once the milk simmers, pour in the drained quinoa and the salt; stir till combined with the milk. Allow the quinoa to come to a gentle boil. Cover the pan with the lid vented slightly and reduce heat to low. Let the quinoa cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes covered by the vented lid.
  • Remove the lid of the pan. Stir in 2 tbsp brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
  • Recover the pan with the lid, vented again, and let the quinoa simmer on low for about 10 more minutes. Check and stir periodically till most of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Reduce heat to low if quinoa appears to be simmering too quickly. Do not let the quinoa get overly dry or scorched; add additional milk if it becomes too dry before it's tender.
  • When fully cooked, the porridge should have a consistency somewhere between oatmeal and cream of wheat. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Pour the cooked quinoa porridge into bowls; this recipe will make 4 small child servings or 2 large adult portions. Sprinkle on additional brown sugar, chopped nuts, and/or warm milk to taste.
  • To Make Pareve/Dairy-Free: In the place of regular milk, substitute almond milk, soy milk, or light coconut milk (ex. So Delicious or Silk brands- do not use canned). Heat milk substitute as directed above, heating slowly and stirring constantly to prevent scorching. I have tested the milk substitutes listed in this recipe with good results; I have not tried it with rice milk or any other alternatives.

Research Sources

Brears, Peter (1999). All The King’s Cooks – The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. Souvenir Press, London, England.

Davidson, Alan (1999). Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press, USA.

Meyer‐Renschhausen, Elisabeth (1991): The porridge debate: Grain, nutrition, and forgotten food preparation techniques, Food and Foodways: Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment, 5:1, 95-120

Trager, James (1995). The Food Chronology. Henry Holt and Company, Inc., New York, NY.

Comments (31)Post a Comment

  1. Thank you. I kept it low, added more milk and cooked it for longer and the quinoa stayed crunchy, though it had good flavor.

    1. The quinoa shouldn’t be crunchy, so you may need to cook it a bit longer. Try the modifications I suggested and cook till the quinoa becomes tender next time, adding milk as needed. The quinoa is done when you can see the little sprouts shooting off from the quinoa seeds. Glad you liked the flavor! We’ve been eating this one for breakfast a few times a week, we really like it too.

    1. Sudy, I wrote the milk substitutes that I have tested above. I have not tried it with rice milk. It will probably work, but I have not tested it so cannot promise. I have tested it with almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk with good results.

  2. As a Jew who is gluten intolerant and is nauseated by quinoa, thanks for posting a recipe that makes it look appealing. Besides it being gluten free, I also recognize Quinoa’s phenomenal health benefits and that it contains a powerhouse of nutrients. I have been trying to find a way to prepare it so I can tolerate it. Looking forward to trying this!! Thanks again. And thank you for being who you are!!!! (an inspiration to all!)

  3. Basically it’s a recipe for oatmeal that takes 25 minutes longer because it’s made with Quinoa.

    Look I’m one for picking up something new in the store but Quinoa is a useless south american artifact that simply requires more prep than is worth the effort for something that should be quick and simple.

    Quinoa is useless as a dietary anything anywhere that dry cleans clothing and has doors open with no human intervention.

    Why is Quinoa so popular all of a suddent anyways?

    1. Quinoa has fed a lot of people over decades. I think your comment is culturally insensitive.

      I don’t think this blog has ever been about quick recipes, but about good food. Sometimes good food takes longer to make. If you think it’s too long, just make it the night before.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just made this with almond milk and it turned out great! I didn’t have brown sugar so I opted for a drizzle of honey over the top at the end. And I used toasted walnuts. I’m not even a porridge fan, but I’m hooked on this. Thanks!

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Love this recipe…my husband even ate it, ALL of his!
    Our first time eating quinoa. The only thing I changed is I put the cinnamon in with the milk, and substituted 1/2 C of the milk with coconut water. Will definitely use this recipe again and experiment with savory recipes also
    Thank You = )

  6. I tried to make it this morning and the quinoa was dry. I followed the exact measurements (using almond milk) and when I went to add the brown sugar it was still way too crunchy. I tried adding more liquid and even let it simmer for up to an hour, adding more liquid here and there and it still wouldn’t absorb it. I may try it again with less quinoa. Usually when I cook it I use a 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio. But for now I gave up and made peanut butter on toast.

    1. Hi Jamie, I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with this recipe. There is a 2:1 liquid ratio here (2 cups milk, 1 cup quinoa), and I’ve never encountered the dryness issue you are describing. I will test this recipe again over the weekend to see if I can troubleshoot for you.

  7. I LOVE this recipe. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your site, but I’ve tried Quinoa “breakfast” recipes before, and never liked them. This was FABULOUS!! I’m so happy to find one I like. I just realized I forgot to add the vanilla. Well, I’ll have to make it again tomorrow!! Can’t wait to try others of your recipes. Thanks for sharing. Denise, from Atlanta.

  8. Can this be made in a crockpot? I make steel cut oats using the crockpot as a waterbath and cook the oats for 12-14 hours. Do you think it can be cooked this way?

    1. I’m not sure Joyce, I’ve never tried it– but steel cut oats take a lot more time to cook than quinoa, so the recipe would probably need a fair amount of adjusting to make it work.

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Just made this with unsweetened almond milk. Topped it with blueberries and sliced almonds! It’s excellent. Again thanks again for sharing your amazing recipes!

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