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Mrs Fitz’s Porridge from Outlander

Mrs Fitz’s Porridge from Outlander


“Weel now, that’s verra gude.  Now, ye’ve just time for a wee bite, then I must take you to himself.”

“Himself?”  I said.  I didn’t care for the sound of this.  Whoever Himself was, he was likely to ask difficult questions.

“Why, the MacKenzie to be sure.  Whoever else?”

Who else indeed?  Castle Leoch, I dimly recalled, was in the middle of the clan MacKenzie lands.  Plainly the clan chieftain was still the MacKenzie.  I began to understand why our little band of horsemen had ridden through the night to reach the castle; this would be a place of impregnable safety to men pursued by the Crown’s men.  No English officer with a grain of sense would lead his men so deeply into the clan lands.  To do so was to risk death by ambush at the first clump of trees.  And only a good-sized army would come as far as the castle gates.  I was trying to remember whether in fact the English army ever had come so far, when I suddenly realized that the eventual fate of the castle was much less relevant than my immediate future.

I had no appetite for the bannocks and parritch that Mrs. FitzGibbons had brought for my breakfast, but crumbled a bit and pretended to eat, in order to gain some time for thought.  By the time Mrs. Fitz came back to conduct me to the MacKenzie, I had cobbled together a rough plan.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander, (Seal Books, 1991)

Porridge.  Parritch.  And, over on this side of the pond, oatmeal.  However you say it (parritch is the most fun), it’s easy to make — maybe a little too easy for a food blog — but, when it comes down to it, where else could Outlander Kitchen begin?  I mean, really?

And I have no doubt that we’ll find ourselves coming back to the porridge bowl for another helping (and recipe) at some point — there’s a lot of different types of oats and ways to prepare them out there — but we’ve got time for steel-cut and whole groats later.  Today, we’re going to start with the common rolled oat, sometimes sold as oatmeal.  It’s as ubiquitous on the modern grocery store shelf as parritch was on Jamie’s breakfast table.


Speaking of Mr. Fraser, since there is certainly no shortage of references to him eating parritch across DG’s 7 Outlander tomes, you may be wondering why I picked this particular excerpt.  You’d think I’d want to start with a scene that includes Jamie — he’s the star of the show for most of us, isn’t he?

Well, yes…but…it’s in these pages where the adventure started for me as a first-time reader.  Every time I’ve read them since (I’ll admit to a few), I can remember my initial excitement and how I devoured it all: the uncertainty of Claire’s predicament, the mystery of the castle and the previous night spent on Jamie’s lap, crying into his chest.


As for the food, this is Mrs. Fitz’s everyday parritch, which means that, although it’s made basic with just water, it’s hearty, well seasoned and lump free.  Really, Claire should have tried to get a little more down — she’s going to need her strength — because when Colum mac Campbell is the MacKenzie, difficult questions are just the beginning.


(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Mrs. Fitzgibbons’s Parritch

Yield: 2+ Cups (Serves 3-4)

An easy-to-make breakfast that is rib sticking, nutritious and full of fibre.  There’s a reason the Scots have been starting their day with it for centuries… 😉

  • Rolled Oats – 1 Cup (240 ml)
  • Water – 1¼ Cups (300 ml)
  • Salt – generous pinch

Bring the water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat.

Reduce to medium and stir the oats into the water. Bring the water back to the boil, stirring continuously.

Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.  Halfway through, add the salt and stir well, then recover for the remainder of the cooking time.

Serve, 18th Century style, with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt.  Save the leftovers for bannocks (coming soon!)


  • Quick-cooking or instant oats are not a substitute for rolled oats.  Their smaller pieces result in a mushy, unappealing finished product, and the extra processing certainly can’t add to their nutritional value.   Besides, despite the quickening pace of modern life, I refuse to believe that 20 minutes is not an “instant breakfast.”
  • The longer you cook porridge, the thicker and creamier it will be — to a point — overcooked porridge is “rather on the stodgy side,” as Claire might say.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)

How do you like your Jamie, oops! I mean porridge?


  1. Susie
    November 2, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Looks fantastic and the pictures are great!!!

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Thanks so much Susie…porridge can be tricky to make look appetizing! Theresa

  2. Oh man. I’ve not read any of these books in so long and now you’ve brought them all rushing back and I’m going to have to start with book one to remind myself of the whole story again. When does the next book come out?

    I love, love, love your porridge. I can’t believe you pulled off such a great looking bowl of the stuff. Personally, I think if it HAD looked the way you have it, Claire would have devoured it.

    I like my porridge made with milk, with a tablespoon of sugar and some yellow raisins. Once it’s done, I sprinkle on some brown sugar. Yeah, sugar, sugar all over.

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      Christiane – thanks for dropping by my newest project! Yes, you must begin a reread of the books today. Right now, in fact. Savour them slowly though, as you have some time until DG gets Book 8 all polished up…
      I think our sweet teeth of today would have a real shock if we did get catapulted back in time – this was my first time eating buttered, salted porridge – and I think next time we all get together for a bowl, there will at least be some honey in it. 😉

  3. (Make this easier on me. Get a stumble button.) 🙂

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Yes Mom…. 😉 And…..DONE!

  4. Astiza
    November 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Ah, Outlander is one of the best books. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    But just a side note, 1 cup in the States is roughly 240 ml, (237) not 300 ml.

    [“How do you like your Jamie, oops! I mean porridge?”] Haha

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Oops again…Thanks for the correction — that little error slipped through the edit stage — recipe fixed! Theresa

  5. Julia Marks Zuniga
    November 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for posting this! Do you have a brand of rolled oats you prefer?

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Julia — great to have you here! I must confess that because I live on a small island (pop. 2200) and our grocery store is pretty small, I don’t see all of the brands that are out there. I really like Bob’s Red Mill brand of almost anything (organic), but I also also have plain old Quaker Rolled Oats in my cupboard pretty much all of the time.

      Does anyone else out there have a favourite?

    • Lauren
      December 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      Quaker for oats & grits. Bob’s Red Mill for just about everything else. Almond meal, soy flour, unsweetened coconut, & quinoa so far. I may have spelt flour too.

  6. Karen Henry
    November 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Congratulations on the launch of the new site! I just posted an announcement on my blog about it (

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Many thanks, Karen — I think I must have been over commenting on your site at the same time you were here! What can we say but great minds think alike…Theresa

    • Karen Henry
      November 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Absolutely! LOL. I think the OUTLANDER bloggers need to support each other. 🙂

  7. mymacintyre
    November 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    What a great idea, Outlander food. I think I am going to love this site!

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      Then I`ll see you back here next week! Theresa

  8. Carol
    November 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I love your site – what a fantastic idea! I will link to you at My Outlander Purgatory. 🙂 Thanks to Karen (Outlandish Observations) for the great find!

    • Theresa
      November 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks so much Carol! Once I’m a little more organized, I’ll have a blogroll up with a link back to you and Karen too…Theresa

  9. JustHeather
    November 3, 2011 at 5:22 am

    I found your blog a few days ago through a blog of a blog. I’m loving it so far! Thank you for the excerpts and great recipes!

    • Theresa
      November 3, 2011 at 9:02 am

      It’s my pleasure, Just Heather — look I made a rhyme! I hope to see you back here soon…Theresa

    • Marilyn Shearer
      January 17, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Marilyn ShearerI’m trying to find out what “brose” is. Is it like oatmeal?

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Marilyn, It’s a quick-cooked oatmeal. Generally made with boiling water, and allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes before consuming.

  10. Jennifer W
    November 3, 2011 at 7:04 am

    How ironic! I was just on my favorite OUTLANDER forum and hour ago- my usual morning routine, taking a minute before work to browse my favorite sites, that and foodgawker… and look what i stumbled upon! PLEASE keep up the posts- I cant wait to tell my other foodie/Outlander friends:)!

    • Theresa
      November 3, 2011 at 7:47 am

      What a great way to start both of our days! Thanks for stopping by — I hope to post a new recipe and excerpt once/week — see you again soon? Theresa

  11. Ruth
    November 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Theresa – hello and thanks for posting a link on LOL – which is where I saw it first. Love the fact that the first recipe is for parritch – and it reminded me of a time when my siblings and I were being looked after by this Scottish lady – Mrs. MacLeod – and she made us porridge for breakfast – and it wasn’t anything like mum’s – and it became an inside joke around our house, guaranteed to make my sister and I, at least, laugh out loud.


    • Theresa
      November 3, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Ruth — my parents once left my brothers and I with an Eastern European lady who had a monkey and prohibited the use of spoons at the table – Mrs. Helmcken — my mother would defend herself here by saying “She came highly recommended!” My parents were gone for 3 weeks, but we survived…and I still chuckle occasionally when I pick up a spoon to eat my soup — she MADE us drink it from the bowl! Thanks for stopping by…Theresa

  12. claudia
    November 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I love porridge – romantically – in my imagination. But I may actually really love porridge now that I can see it and taste. You’ve turned me on to her books – haven’t read the latest… yet.

    • Theresa
      November 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm

      Claudia, from what I know of you from your blog, you sound like a true porridge person at heart! And I`m glad I`ve made another convert…;) Theresa

  13. Lee Ann
    November 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I just discovered this blog thanks to Island Vittles! It’s a home away from home for this Outlander/Food lover!!!

    • Theresa
      November 4, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Lee-Ann — it’s great to have you in the kitchen with us! Just don’t forget about little ol’ Island Vittles, now, ya hear? 😉

    • Lee Ann
      November 5, 2011 at 5:26 am

      Never! I love Island Vittles! 🙂

    • Theresa
      November 5, 2011 at 7:32 am


  14. Lesley
    November 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Theresa,
    Loving the blog.
    I like my porridge made with full fat milk and with raisans in it served with honey. Last week I served it with vanilla flavored extra thick double cream as well.Now that was seriously good parritch.

    • Theresa
      November 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      Lesley — if I need to call on an expert for our next bowl of parritch, I’m asking you! That sounds amazing. Theresa

  15. Denise Twist
    November 7, 2011 at 9:07 am

    We do steel cut oats around here. Nothing easier than getting it started alongside the first pot of tea. By the time I’m well and truly awake, the parritch is ready for honey and milk. This morning, by special request of the younger half of the family, we added homemade chocolate scones. Not a traditional bannock but oh, so good! I’m a newcomer to the blog but not to Jamie and Claire. I get hungry just reading my way through the books. Thirsty for good Scotch, too! Excellent work here! Keep it up!

    • Theresa
      November 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Thank Denise! You sound like a woman after my own stomach (and maybe my liver too?)

    • Denise Twist
      November 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      Whatever it takes to keep them both happy!

    • Theresa
      November 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      In this case, Denise, that`s the maple pudding, or Murphy`s notorious turtle soup…

    • Denise Twist
      November 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Theresa, I visited the FL Keys for the first time this past February. Next door to the Coast Guard Base where we stayed was a Sea Turtle Hospital. Very fascinating, not the least of which were the examples of outlawed sea turtle items: anything tortoise shell, obviously, as well as old cans of turtle soup from a cannery in Key West. I found myself recalling excerpts from DG as I gandered at the illegal items.

      PS: there is a great brewery/restaurant in Everett WA called the Scuttlebutt. The waiters wear T-shirts that state: The liver is evil and must be punished. Pour my punishment from a bottle of Dalwhinnie!

  16. Kea
    November 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    this post reminds me of when i first read this part, and decided to make our morning porridge a la mrs fitzs rather than our usual milky-sugary-cinnamon-esq style. I used just water salt and butter, and received a funny look and a plaintive ‘please can we have normal porridge tomorrow’ from my husband. lol. i didn’t mind the salty one personally, and i’ve done a hybrid salt-milk-prunejuice a few times since. yum!

    • Theresa
      November 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Kea – I’m with your husband, although a bowl loaded with butter, salt AND honey would go down well over here!

  17. Julia Zuniga
    November 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Can someone explain the actual difference between steel cut and rolled oats – I just bought a can of McCann’s Irish steel-cut oats. Is one higher in fiber than the other? Is there any difference in taste or texure? Do we actually know which kind Mrs. Fitz would have used back then? Curious minds want to know….:)

    • Theresa
      November 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm


      Rolled oats are oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted.

      Steel cut oats are groats that have been cut into two or three pieces rather than being rolled, steamed and toasted. Because they are less processed, steel cut oats are higher in fibre and take a little longer to prepare. Their flavor is nuttier than other types of oats, and they are also chewier.

      I’m still figuring it all out, but I would guess at this point that steel-cut oats are closer to the ones Mrs. Bug would have had access to. Anyone else want to weigh in?

  18. Jennifer Miller
    January 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Oatmeal/Porridge /parritch is a staple in the Southern Appalachian mountains where our Scottish ancestors ended up over 200 years ago. I have eaten it in many forms almost daily for most of my life. Our family favorite right now is steel cut oats, which have recently became easily available in our area (Thanks to Aldi supermarket), but we are all quite fond of “parritch” no matter what form it takes! Especially good with brown sugar and butter with warm milk splashed on top!

  19. Linda Canfield
    August 10, 2014 at 7:16 am

    With a tip of the hat to Heughan and a search for a way to microwave rolled oats, I’ve stumbled upon a fool proof method of sapping without it boiling over into the oven. 1/3 c oats, 1 scan c water, 1/4 t. salt, about 1 T raisins/cranberries, in a microwaveable bowl – and this is the important part – place bowl a microwaveable saucer, and cook at full power 2 minutes. Remove from oven and add 1 T extra crunchy peanut butter. perfect every time!

  20. Musette Blanchard
    August 11, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Hi good morning Theresa! I sent you a twitter yesterday but I don’t think you had time to read it so … here I am again because I’m intrigued by those round flat toasted … bread? That are to the side of the second picture – right under “And I have no doubt […]” what are they? I would like to get the recipe for them!
    Thank you very much for your attention and have a peaceful and yuumy Monday!

    • Theresa
      August 11, 2014 at 6:32 am

      I’m sorry I missed you tweet. 🙂 those little round things are bannock. Watch this week for a new recipe!

  21. Birgit Hartoft
    August 12, 2014 at 1:06 am


    Thank you for your Outlander Kitchen blog – it makes the story live again in a special way – like The Little House Cookbook makes Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories live again for me …

    Your recipe for porridge makes me feel all of 10 years old again – though I got it served with cold milk and a little sugar. You see, I’m Danish. But I think I’d have eaten more porridge if it HAD been served with a pat of butter …
    What I REALLY wanted to say was: THANK YOU for adding the metric measurements. Cups and ounces make my head spin, I’ve grown up with grams and milliliters and such. But I’ve also had a husband eager and willing to experiment in the kitchen so we’ve spent HOURS translating Fahrenheit into Celsius and Cups into grams (or deciliters). Nice to be able to skip that step.
    Bannocks I haven’t tried making yet – looking forward to them.

  22. Carolyn Ware
    August 20, 2014 at 5:38 am

    My grandfather, Alexander, ate parritch every morning for breakfast (one of my memories of growing up). I also harbor a love for it. Then 3 yrs ago I spent 16 days in Scotland and found out what real parritch tastes like. Still love it, maybe even more. Want to go back so badly. What a fun and delicious site you have!

    • Theresa
      August 20, 2014 at 6:23 am

      Welcome, Carolyn!

  23. Laura
    August 30, 2014 at 10:48 am

    What is the difference between Rolled Oats & Steel-Cut Oats?

    • Theresa
      August 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      They are two different grinds of oats. You can google them for pictures, or have a look in the store next time you’re there. Steel-cut are what they would have eaten in the 18th C

    • Laura
      September 15, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Thank you! I love Steel-Cut Oats and always have them on hand. I use a quick-cook form of them them in making bannocks and my family loves it.

    • Elizabeth
      September 15, 2014 at 7:19 am

      If you need a full explication, you might find the episode of Good Eats, titled “Oat Cuisine,” helpful:

      (I prefer steel-cut, while my husband prefers rolled; it’s a different texture and can take you off-guard if you’re not used to it!)

    • Laura
      September 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Thank you for the reply & link. I love steel cul oats and my kids, 11 & 9, will eat them with some brown sugar, raisins and bit of milk. My husbands hates all things oatmeal, unless it is in the form of an oatmeal raisin cookie baked by my mother!

  24. Elizabeth
    September 15, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Also, thank you for confirming that I could, in fact, call my steel-cut oatmeal “parritch” – I wasn’t sure, thinking that maybe it had a different connotation. Today’s the first morning since the spring that it’s been cool enough to eat some in the morning (I’m a wuss and cannot eat oatmeal of any shape when it’s warm outdoors) so, onto the stovetop it went.

    I make mine with steel-cut oats, water, and a bit of salt (I have to measure it or else I over-salt it; yuck!)

    My daughter and I like ours with a wee pat of Irish butter and a drizzle of real maple syrup. (What can I say? We’re Americans.)

    • Theresa
      September 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Steel cut oats are what Jamie, Claire and the crowd would have been eating…you’re authentic!

  25. Su
    May 1, 2015 at 9:29 am

    with a family name like McLaren, porridge/parritch was a morning staple growing up in my family! I still love it; Mum would serve it in a bowl and it would flatten out like a disc – I’ve always eaten mine with a generous covering of cold milk and plenty of sugar. When i poured the milk into the bowl, the porridge disc would float up.
    And i’d like my Jamie served up naked with a grape leaf for modesty LMAO

  26. BB-RVA
    November 14, 2015 at 1:49 am

    I’ve just been studying up on oatmeal and the differences between Scottish & Irish. Starting with Bob’s Red Mill site and moving along google to other entries by searching “Scottish vs Irish oatmeal” and “steel cut vs stone ground oats”, it appears Scottish Oatmeal for centuries was stone ground and Irish was steel cut. If we really want to get our “authentic-Jamie-on”, shouldn’t we begin with stone ground oats? Since everyone doesn’t have easy access to Scottish stone ground oat, it’s kind to have the rolled oats versions but it would be great to have the stone ground versions of your awesome recipes as well.

    • Theresa
      November 14, 2015 at 6:16 am

      You are welcome to use stone ground oats, aka oatmeal, in place of the coarsely ground rolled oats I call for in my recipes. There’s no need for a new recipe. I’ll leave it up to you to experiment! This parritch recipe is the perfect place to start — you will find it’s much denser than porridge made with rolled or steel-cut oats…not a texture I enjoy, but I’m sure those who grew up with it love it.

      After years of doing this, and reading much about historical food, I’ll just clarify that steel-cut, or Irish, oats were not available until the 19th Century, when the machine that cut the groats was invented. The rolled oat process was invented at about the same time. Prior to that, all oats were stone ground.

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