This Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge Recipe is a creamy, warming, and delicious breakfast! Made using a simple cornmeal mixture infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, a hint of vanilla extract and sweetened to taste it’s the perfect way to start your day.
If you love this breakfast porridge, you’ll also love this Creamy Jamaican Hominy Corn Porridge and this Jamaican Green Banana Porridge! But if you’re a lover of oats, definitely check out my Easy Apple Pie Overnight Oats Recipe.
This porridge is a classic in Caribbean households. It makes for a healthy hearty breakfast that’s warming, delicious and certainly filling!
Growing up, this porridge was always in rotation along with Creamy Jamaican Hominy Corn Porridge and Jamaican Green Banana Porridge. Occasionally, we would get away with having cold milk and cereal, but we knew the next mornings meal would be a warm bowl of porridge.
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Jamaican Porridge:
- Substitutions – you can make it vegan, swap out the dairy milk for (soy milk, evaporated milk etc.), sweetener and spices to those of your preference.
- Baby Friendly – this porridge can be introduced as one of babies first foods similar to oatmeal.
- Simple Ingredients – more than likely, you already have everything you need in your pantry and fridge.
- Meal Prep – make in a large batch and share into individual sized containers for a quick grab and go breakfast.
- Traditional Porridge – holds true to the most authentic taste and flavour using fine or coarse cornmeal (if preferred) and ingredients such as coconut milk and a cinnamon stick.
What is Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge?
Jamaican cornmeal porridge is a simple and filling breakfast recipe, similar to oatmeal. It’s made using cornmeal as the base, then thickened with some flour, flavoured with warm spices and sweetened with sugar.
What is Cornmeal Porridge Made From?
It is made using fine cornmeal, milk (traditionally cows milk), spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, sweetened condensed milk or sugar.
If you’re vegan, you can substitute the cows milk for a nut milk like almond or coconut and sweeten the porridge with coconut sugar, brown sugar or granulated sugar.
Is Cornmeal Porridge Healthy?
Cornmeal is a good plant source of protein, is high in fibre, is vegan, gluten-free and a rich source of complex carbohydrates. This makes a great start to your day as it will give you some vitamins and minerals as well as keep you feel fuller longer.
What is Cornmeal?
Cornmeal is a type of meal made from ground yellow corn. It ranges in texture from fine to coarse grounds and can be found in most grocery stores in the baking aisle alongside flour.
Is Cornmeal Gluten-Free?
Since cornmeal is only made with dried corn, it is gluten-free. However, it may be processed in a facility where other gluten products are also processed. So, be sure read your labels.
Can I Substitute Cornmeal for Corn Flour?
Cornmeal has a more distinct corn taste as well as a coarser texture than cornflour. Cornmeal feels gritty, while corn flour is fine and smooth. As such, if using cornflour it will yield a slightly different result and will likely need more flour to thicken the porridge.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes for Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge Recipe
- Fine Yellow Cornmeal – for this recipe it’s important to make sure the label states “fine cornmeal” for best results. If you want to use 1 cup of cornmeal instead of 3/4 be sure to adjust the amount of liquid.
- All Purpose Flour – this is used to thicken the porridge.
- Milk or Milk Alternative – you can use 2%, whole milk, coconut milk, almond milk or any nut milk of your preference. I have use almond and oat and both work wonderfully here.
- Ground or Freshly Grated Nutmeg – freshly grated always provides the best flavour but you can also use ground nutmeg.
- Cinnamon Stick – use this to flavour the water prior to adding the cornmeal mixture. Alternatively you can use ground cinnamon,
- Cinnamon Leaf – this is completely optional, and is used to provide more flavour.
- Pure Vanilla Extract – this adds more warmth and flavour to the porridge.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk or Sugar – used these to sweeten the porridge, or even sugar alternatives like stevia or monk fruit sweetener.
See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions!
How to Make Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge
To make this recipe, you want to ensure you have all your ingredients within reach. Cornmeal porridge comes together really fast, so this is key! Here are the steps:
1. Bring Water to a Rapid Boil – in a medium saucepan, add water, cinnamon stick, and cinnamon leaf (optional) and bring to a boil over medium heat/ medium-high heat.
2. Combine Cornmeal Mixture – in a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, nutmeg, salt, 2 cups milk, vanilla extract, and whisk until incorporated (it’s okay if the cornmeal settles).
3. Add Cornmeal Mixture to Water – gradually whisk the cornmeal mixture into the boiling water until all the mixture is in the pot. Do this slowly, whisking constantly to prevent a lumpy porridge for about 5 to 10- minutes.
4. Whisk – Reduce to low heat once starting to thicken, and add remaining milk to the mixture (between 1/2 cup and 1 cup). Continue to whisk until milk combined, then switch to a wooden spoon once mixture thickens more (see notes section).
5. Simmer on Low – allow porridge to simmer and continue to cook until the mixture thickens to desired consistency reached approx. 15- minutes. Adjust consistency with additional milk and/or water if needed. Remove from stove, sweeten as desired and enjoy!
How to Make Cornmeal Porridge for Babies
Jamaicans proudly and strongly believe that porridge makes babies strong and healthy and give them added nutrients. For this reason, it is often and can be introduced to babies as early as 4 to 6 months, similar to oatmeal. However, you should always seek professional medical advice from a family doctor or paediatrician first.
The recipe does vary by much, but it is key to note these few things when making cornmeal porridge for babies:
- Type of Cornmeal – ensure you are using fine yellow cornmeal as coarser textures can be harder for babies to digest.
- Use a Blender – you can use a blender after the porridge is made and cooled a bit to ensure an even smoother consistency.
- Consistency – you will want to thin out the porridge to a more baby friendly consistency by using water, milk (regular, almond milk etc.) and even breast milk.
- Sweetener – as sugar is not recommended for babies, you can use a natural sweetener such as bananas.
Vegan Cornmeal Porridge (Cornmeal Porridge with Coconut Condensed Milk)
The traditional way of making this porridge is not dairy-free or vegan friendly. However, with two simple swaps, you’ll completely veganize this delicious breakfast recipe. To make vegan cornmeal porridge:
- Milk – swap dairy milk, for almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or oat milk.
- Sweetener – swap regular condensed milk for coconut condensed milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar or simply fresh fruit.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Porridge Texture – whisking is your best friend, especially when first combining your cornmeal mixture to the boiling water. This helps to prevent a lumpy porridge. There’s a badge of honour that comes with making lump-free cornmeal porridge.
- Low and Slow – do not leave unattended. Once mixture is combined, lower to medium heat/ medium-low heat, and stir to prevent the cornmeal from sticking/burning to the bottom of the pot.
- Adjust Flavour to Taste – add more or less cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla and sweeten to taste with sugar, or sugar alternatives.
- Porridge Consistency – you may not need to use the full amount of remaining milk. Add as much as you need, to reach your desired consistency – thicker porridges need less liquid, thinner porridges need more.
Cornmeal to Liquid Ratio – as a general rule of thumb, follow the 1:4 ratio, for 1 cup of cornmeal use 4 cups of liquid.
Variations and Substitutions
- Make it Vegan and Dairy-Free – see notes above, for what to use as replacements for cows milk ingredients such as vegan condensed milk and coconut milk.
- Spices – you can use whichever warm spices you have on hand or prefer. Personally, I like the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. However, you can also use almond essence, or throw in a cinnamon or bay leaf for added flavour. Keep the spices to a minimum because you don’t want them to overpower the taste of the banana.
- Milk – use regular cows milk, or any nut milk you prefer as there is no significant difference on the outcome. Some, may also choose to simply use water, however the milk gives a rich creamy taste. Some also opt to use evaporated milk.
- Fresh Fruit – although not traditional, you can add your favorite fruit such as berries, mangoes, pineapple and bananas.
What To Serve With Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge
Jamaican cornmeal porridge is often served on its own. However, you can serve this porridge with hard dough bread or Jamaican Excelsior Water Crackers.
Jamaicans will either dip the hard dough bread in the porridge while eating it or break up the hard dough bread and add it into the cornmeal porridge.
You can also serve with your favorite fruit for a sweet fresh kick.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No, if you use cinnamon sticks, you don’t have to use ground cinnamon as well.
Swap cows milk, for almond, coconut or oat milk and to sweeten, swap regular condensed milk, for brown sugar, coconut sugar or vegan condensed milk.
Be sure to whisk then stir the porridge frequently during cooking to avoid any lumps.
Looking for More Jamaican Breakfast Recipes? Try These…
- Traditional Jamaican Green Banana Porridge
- Peanut Porridge
- Hominy Corn Porridge
- Jamaican Callaloo
- Jamaican Festival Recipe
- Jamaican Fried Dumpling
- Saltfish Fritters
- Jamaican Banana Fritters
- Ackee and Saltfish
- Jamaican Callaloo
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Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge
- Medium Saucepan
- Wooden Spoon
- 3/4 cup Fine Yellow Cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cup Water
- 2 tbsp All Purpose Flour
- 3 cups Dairy Milk or milk alternative, divided, amount depends on desired consistency
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg ground or freshly grated
- 1/2 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Cinnamon Leaf optional
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 tsp Salt more or less to taste
- 3 tbsp Sweetened Condensed Milk or sugar, as desired
- In a medium saucepan, add water, cinnamon stick, and cinnamon leaf (optional) and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, nutmeg, salt, 2 cups milk, vanilla, and whisk until incorporated (it's okay if the cornmeal settles).
- Gradually whisk the cornmeal mixture into the boiling water until all the mixture is in the pot. Do this slowly, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
- Reduce heat to low once starting to thicken, and add remaining milk to the mixture (between half cup and a cup). Continue to whisk until milk combined, then switch to a wooden spoon once mixture thickens more (see notes section).
- Allow porridge to simmer and continue to cook until the mixture thickens to desired consistency approx. 15-20 minutes. Adjust consistency with additional milk and/or water if needed. Remove from heat, sweeten as desired and enjoy!
Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.