Deutsch: Brei / Español: Gachas / Português: Mingau / Français: Bouillie / Italiano: Pappa

Gruel is a type of thin, often runny cereal-based dish, commonly made from grains like oats, wheat, rye, or rice that are boiled in water or milk. It is a traditional food that dates back centuries and is often associated with historic or poverty-based diets due to its simplicity and inexpensive ingredients.


Gruel is known for its simple preparation and basic ingredients. The grain is typically ground into meal or flour, mixed with water or milk, and cooked over heat until it forms a semi-liquid consistency similar to a very thin porridge. The flavor of gruel is generally quite bland, which is why it is often enhanced with salt, butter, sugar, or other spices and flavorings when available.

Application Areas

Gruel serves various purposes:

  • Dietary Staple: In many cultures, particularly historically, gruel served as a fundamental dietary item, providing essential nutrients.
  • Infant Food: Its soft, easy-to-digest nature makes gruel suitable for babies and young children.
  • Healthcare and Elder Care: Gruel is often used in medical and elder care settings for patients who require easy-to-swallow and gentle-on-the-stomach meals.
  • Economic Meal Option: Due to its low-cost ingredients and filling nature, gruel is a practical option in times of economic hardship.

Well-Known Examples

Gruel has been a part of various cultural diets and literary references:

  • Historic Diets: Gruel was commonly consumed by peasants in the Middle Ages as a cheap, filling meal.
  • Literary References: Gruel is famously depicted in Charles Dickens’ "Oliver Twist," where the orphaned characters are fed gruel due to its low cost.

Treatment and Risks

Gruel is generally safe to eat but there are some considerations:

  • Nutritional Content: While it provides some essential nutrients, gruel should not be relied upon as a sole nutritional source unless enriched with other foods.
  • Texture and Digestibility: Its smooth texture makes it suitable for those with difficulty chewing or swallowing.


Gruel can be easily made at home with the following recipe:

  • Basic Gruel:
    • Ingredients: 1/2 cup of oats or finely ground grain, 4 cups of water or milk, salt or sugar to taste.
    • Method: In a saucepan, combine the oats or grain with water or milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent lumps. Cook until the mixture is smooth and thin, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt or sugar as desired.

Similar Terms

Articles with 'Gruel' in the title

  • Chagayu (Tea Gruel): Chagayu (Tea Gruel) refers to the Japanese popular food for Yamato people since ancient times. Chagayu is a rice porridge which has long been the most familiar food for the people of Nara (Yamato)


Gruel is a traditional food that consists of a thin, liquid mixture of cereal grains cooked in water or milk. It is known for its role as a staple in historical diets across various cultures due to its economic and nutritional value. Gruel remains a practical choice for diverse groups needing soft, easy-to-prepare meals.


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