Jamaican Oats Porridge

Jammin Jamaican Oats Porridge

Rumor has it this is the exact recipe Bob Marley ate before every one of his concerts.

(Ok, so there is no rumor. I made it up. But I bet if it was true, it would sell a lot of porridge…)

I’ve never been to Jamaica, but I can imagine what it would be like to eat this porridge on the beach of a warm, tropical island…

In a word:


Just the same as it here in the Pacific Northwest.

How do I have a Jamaican recipe if I’ve never been to Jamaica?!

Well, partly it’s because you really can find anything on the Internet… but mostly it’s because my dad (who did go to Jamaica) loved this oats porridge and asked the hotel staff what was in it.

And they gave him most of the recipe, save for the fact that according to them, it’s seasoned with “Jamaican Essence,” and try as we might, my dad and I never could figure out exactly what Jamaican Essence is.

But, through a lot of trial and error, together we discovered a recipe that in my dad’s words, is “as close to Jamaican porridge as anyone could ever be.”

So, without further ado…

How to make it

You will need the following equipment:

  • food processor
  • 3-quart saucepan
  • can opener
  • whisk
  • wooden spoon
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons

And the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 13 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 11 oz bottle coconut water
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Everything but the vanilla

The first thing you wanna do is to chop the rolled oats in a food processor until they resemble a fine oat powder.

Then, combine the evaporated milk, coconut milk, coconut water, and dry spices in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil.

(Watch the pot very carefully as it approaches boiling! The second it starts to boil, it will begin to boil over, and if you’re not there to stop it you’ll have a bit of a mess on your hands.)

Once you have a good boil going, quickly whisk in the powdered oats and reduce the heat to a low simmer. (You want to make sure it’s still boiling, but very slowly; otherwise, it could scorch.)

Now the name of the game is patience. You want to let the oats cook for a good 25 to 30 minutes so they can absorb the liquid, and the porridge can get nice and thick and creamy.

You want to be sure not to burn the porridge, so you’ll still want to stir it often. You shouldn’t have to stir constantly, but every couple of minutes or so is probably a good idea.

You’ll know the porridge is ready when the consistency changes and it starts to feel thicker than when you started.

When this happens you can turn off the stove and finish cooking, or you can continue to cook for a bit longer if you want a thicker porridge.

Now it’s all about the vanilla

When you’re done cooking, remove the porridge from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

(This will allow the vanilla flavor to spread throughout, and will also let the porridge thicken up just a tiny bit more as it starts to cool.)

After about 5 minutes, serve the porridge either plain, or with sugar and heavy cream. (And Bob Marley music, naturally…)

Why I prefer this recipe

I love oatmeal, and I love porridge. I love that this recipe has the oats cooking slowly over a low simmer – I feel like that gives more time for the porridge to develop a nice creamy texture.

The combination of chopping the oats in the food processor, followed by cooking them slow and low, results in a wonderful, smooth texture, and a deep, satisfying flavor that will have your family and friends begging for seconds!

And the spices and coconut milk (not to mention the coconut water!) goes a long way toward capturing the flavors of “Jamaican Essence,” even though my dad and I still don’t actually know what Jamaican Essence even is…

All I know is that this is one of my favorite breakfast recipes, and it’s one that’s easy enough for even the most inexperienced among us.

So make it tonight! (Or you know, tomorrow morning, for breakfast.)

And let me know how you like it.

Jamaican Oats Porridge

Jammin Jamaican Oats Porridge

This is a simple but delicious porridge recipe flavored with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. It's one of my family's favorite breakfast recipes!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Caribbean
Servings 4


  • Food processor
  • 3-quart saucepan
  • can opener
  • whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats powdered in food processor
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 13 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 11 oz bottle coconut water
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • In a 3-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients except for vanilla and oats. Bring to a rapid boil over medium heat.
  • Quickly whisk in oats. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cook 25-30 minutes, stirring often, until porridge starts to thicken up.
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Serve plain or with sugar and heavy cream on the side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating