If you live in the UK or some similar chilly place, it’s very likely that you’ll spend the next 2-3 months enduring rain, wind and freezing temperatures that you’ll very much enjoy complaining about despite the fact you’d never emigrate. It tends to be around this time that we start to eat more hot breakfasts, and good old fashioned porridge is commonplace in the Winter months.
The only problem? Porridge, especially the instant variety, can be dull dull dull. Sure you can buy different flavoured instant sachets, but often they become a little pasty and tedious by the last few mouthfuls, and they definitely are not as exciting as the prospect of a bacon and egg roll. I’m not here to try and convince you that porridge is better than a bacon roll (because it isn’t), but I can definitely help you pimp your porridge.
Anywhere on the internet will tell you to add honey and some fruit, yawn. Honey and fruit can be nice, but sometimes you just want something more tasty, because filling your belly with heart-healthy oats shouldn’t have to be some holier-than-thou restrictive affair. Your porridge deserves to be topped, swirled and cosied up with some delicious stuff. Here are the 20 best porridge toppings I’ve discovered, so that you can actually enjoy eating it.
1. Brown sugar
Yes. Proper old school refined sugar people. Don’t fear the sweet stuff, because it’s no less healthy than honey or expensive plant syrups! Brown sugar is an absolute classic; dark, toffee-like and delicious, just a teaspoon or two of this will up your porridge game!
2. Maple syrup
Honey has very little flavour, maple syrup is a little more pricey but so worth it for the taste. A toasty, dark sweetness that’s much less bitter than treacle, maple syrup is a perfect breakfast partner.
3. Golden syrup
A childhood favourite for most, a good dollop or Lyle’s golden syrup will make that bowl of oats much more appealing.
4. Dried fruit
Swap out some dull raisins for dried cranberries, dates or candied orange peel. All of which are sweeter and generally more appetising.
5. Fresh fruit
I know it’s an effort to slice, but fresh fruit can make porridge much more appealing. Sliced banana, apple, pear, mango, orange, peach, a grating of lemon or orange zest, or a handful of whatever berries you can find are all great options!
6. Peanut butter
Aw yes. Thick, creamy and savoury, peanut butter pairs perfectly with creamy oats. Try stirring it in or just dolloping on top, I particularly love this when paired with banana or chocolate.
Embrace it baby. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have chocolate for breakfast. A swirl of this world renowned chocolate hazelnut spread brightens up any breakfast bowl, it’s a favourite topping of mine!
8. Nuts and seeds
Hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, even salted peanuts can add great texture and flavour to porridge. Pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds to a great job too. If you have the time and love nutty flavour, gently toasting the nuts in a dry pan for around 30-60 seconds can make ALL the difference!
This is a fairly new addition to the spreads aisle, but this thick, creamy spread tastes just like biscuits! Malty and sweet with just a little cinnamon flavour, both the crunchy or smooth variety will do a great job of perking up your porridge.
10. Shredded coconut
Coconut adds a delicious flavour and texture to porridge, a sweet little chewy crunch in every bite. As with nuts, if you have the time to gently toast the coconut in a dry frying pan, it really amps up the flavour.
11. Jams and preserves
Another classic topping, a good blob of berry jam or a fancy preserve you have lying around is a sweet addition to your bowl.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, ginger, cloves, cardamom, even turmeric. Spices add addictively tasty flavour, and makes each mouthful even more festive and cosy! Cinnamon and ginger are my go-to flavours.
13. Chocolate chips
Just a sprinkling of white, milk or dark chocolate chips can sex up your porridge in seconds. The chips will gently melt into the oats, making for a sweet breakfast treat.
14. Cocoa powder
For those who like a more intense chocolate flavour, adding a few teaspoons of cocoa powder to your oats before cooking them brings out a delicious deep chocolate flavour reminiscent of hot chocolate.
15. Crushed Oreos
No I’m not mad, this is delicious. Just 2-3 Oreo cookies, crumbled up and swirled into or sprinkled onto your porridge adds a gorgeous cookies and cream vibe to your bowl. Thank me later.
16. Full-fat yoghurt
If you like your porridge thick and creamy, adding a tablespoon or two of full fat yoghurt after cooking will create a porridge that is right up your street. Thick yoghurts such as Greek yoghurt or Skyr would make it even creamier! Full-fat yoghurt is best, and tastiest, as low or 0% fat yoghurts can curdle and split in hot food.
If you don’t have time to mess around with yoghurt, and you want something creamy, comforting and damn tasty for breakfast, hit up your porridge with a little single or double cream. It’s been vilified by health freaks everywhere, but there is simply no substitute for the flavour and texture of double cream!
See above for lacklustre feelings towards fat-fearers. Butter is delicious, no one can deny that. If you want to add a little cheap richness to your porridge, just a wee knob of butter will do the trick. Butter never killed your grandparents, so it won’t kill you.
19. Flavoured milk
A really simple way to keep your porridge smooth and unadulterated but still exciting, is to switch up your milk. Strawberry, chocolate or banana flavoured cow’s milk are fun changes. Or if you’re feeling even more adventurous, nut milks, rice milks, soy milks and coconut milks all make a delicious creamy change to your regular semi-skimmed!
It’s early, you’re tired and cranky, throw in some caffeine. A shot or two of espresso or just some dissolved instant coffee will add an arse-kicking energy boost to your porridge, and a lovely latte-like flavour!
Now go out there, get creative with a lovely warming, filling breakfast, and don’t let anybody get you down. Don’t forget your scarf and gloves!