If you live in a northern climate, your childhood morning breakfast bowl was doubtless filled with a warm and comforting serving of Cream of Wheat, at least on some chilly mornings. This wheaty porridge rivals oatmeal for the hot cereal of choice in countless kitchens across the country.

While most people are familiar with Cream of Wheat and its long list of flavored varieties, the actual ingredients in the cereal are a bit of a mystery to many. Is it like cornmeal? Is it farina? What's the difference between oatmeal and Cream of Wheat?

How Cream of Wheat Is Made

Cream of Wheat is the brand name for one manufacturer's farina cereal. It's made by milling the wheat grain and using the endosperm and wheat germ from the grains. Since most of the nutrients in wheat are concentrated in the wheat germ, this makes Cream of Wheat and other farina products nutritional powerhouses.

It's a great source of anti-oxidants and vitamin E as well as calcium, iron and B vitamins. The milling process does take away a good part of the grain, so Cream of Wheat doesn't include much fiber. That's easy to fix, though, by adding high-fiber ingredients during the cooking or flavoring process.

Oatmeal, on the other hand, begins with hulled oat grains, or groats. Depending on the desired finished product, manufacturers will either grind, steel cut, or roll the oats to produce the finished cereal product. Different types of oats will produce oatmeal with different textures: either chunkier, grittier or creamier. Oatmeal has a more distinct flavor than Cream of Wheat, although they're both great canvases for creative breakfast flavor experimentation.

Basic Cream of Wheat Directions

Warm, creamy and satisfying, Cream of Wheat is the ultimate winter breakfast dish. The mild flavor makes this cereal the perfect base for adding different flavor profiles. There is a whole world of creative dishes that can be made using Cream of Wheat, but the original hot breakfast cereal begins with the most basic of recipes.

Total Time: 5 minutes | Prep Time: 1 minute | Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat granules

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the water and salt.

  2. Heat until the water boils.

  3. Remove the pot from heat and slowly stir in the Cream of Wheat granules.

  4. In the same pot over high heat, stir the contents until it begins to boil.

  5. Turn the heat down until the cereal simmers.

  6. Stir constantly for 3 minutes.

One of the most popular variations is to use milk instead of water. If you choose this method, heat the milk to a simmer, never a boil, before stirring the Cream of Wheat into it. Other common techniques are to put a dash of cinnamon, a teaspoon of vanilla extract or a cinnamon stick into the water or milk when you begin cooking or to use half water and half milk.

Creative Cream of Wheat Instructions

Since Cream of Wheat has such a bland and basic flavor, it's the perfect foil for experimenting with a wide variety of fanciful dishes. No matter what is your favorite flavor profile, you can create a tasty Cream of Wheat dish to complement it.

  • If you have a sweet tooth, try adding brown sugar, agave, maple syrup, nutmeg and cloves or plain sugar.

  • If you love fruit flavors, this is the perfect dish to experiment with flavor combinations. Try applesauce or cooked pears, cranberries, cherries, berries, bananas or plums with or without cream. Try a tropical touch with pineapple, mango, tangerines and coconut.

  • Go a little nutty by mixing in peanut butter, chopped walnuts or pecans, bits of mixed nuts or a spoonful of Nutella or another hazelnut-cocoa spread.

  • If you're a cheese lover, you'll really enjoy Cream of Wheat on the cheesy side. It's the perfect backdrop for any cheese, from basic cheddar to artisan cheeses like Wensleydale with cranberries or herbed goat cheese.

  • Up your protein intake and feed your inner carnivore by stirring in a variety of breakfast meats. Choose from sausage, crumbled bacon or chopped ham and experiment by stirring in a touch of maple syrup for a tasty accent.

Cream of Wheat International Ideas

Once you've tried a few basic flavors, you might want to get even more creative by going international. What's your favorite cuisine when you go out to eat? You can use those flavor profiles to turn a basic bowl of Cream of Wheat into an international breakfast treat.

If you love Mexican food, stir in black beans, corn, salsa and Monterey Jack cheese. For a Greek flavor, try spinach and ricotta cheese with or without a touch of lemon. For an Asian touch, add a bit of teriyaki sauce along with some chopped vegetables. If you're ready to get in touch with your inner child, stir in some peanut butter and jelly for the ultimate in comfort food.

Cream of Wheat Creative Cooking

Such a healthy and hearty basic staple was bound to spark the imaginations of countless cooks. Cream of Wheat isn't just for bowls of breakfast anymore. It's now a creative ingredient in a wide variety of savory dishes and baked goods, making it a versatile addition to any good cook's kitchen. Enjoy these creative Cream of Wheat recipes!

Cream of Wheat Dumpling Soup

Total Time: 1 hour | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 9 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon butter 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat granules
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups chicken broth

Directions

  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, butter and salt.

  2. Heat until the water is simmering and the butter has melted.

  3. Pour in the Cream of Wheat granules while stirring constantly.

  4. Remove the pot from the heat.

  5. Allow the contents to cool.

  6. Beat the egg and mix into cooled contents.

  7. In a heavy saucepan over high heat, heat remaining water until boiling.

  8. Drop teaspoons full of Cream of Wheat mixture into boiling water.

  9. Using a slotted spoon, remove resulting dumplings when they float.

  10. Divide into 4 bowls and pour hot broth over dumplings.

Cream of Wheat Muffins

Total Time: 20 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Cream of Wheat granules
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Cream of Wheat granules, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

  3. Add the milk, egg, oil and vanilla.

  4. Pour the batter into greased muffin cups.

  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

  6. Cool for 5 minutes.

  7. Remove muffins from pan.

Spoonable Cookie Dough

Who doesn't like to sneak raw cookie dough once in a while? You might be leery of this treat because of the possible dangers posed by the raw eggs inside. This creative recipe gives you the same flavor and texture without the ick factor.

Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 1 minute | Serves: Varies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup Cream of Wheat granules
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  1. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat together peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, bananas and vanilla extract.

  2. Add Cream of Wheat granules, flour and baking soda.

  3. Beat until dough stiffens.

  4. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

  5. Scoop into container with tight-fitting lid.

  6. Store in refrigerator and serve by the spoonful.

Cream of Wheat Pancakes

Total Time: 20 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup commercial pancake mix
  • 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat granules

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg, milk and vegetable oil until well mixed.

  2. Stir in pancake mix and Cream of Wheat granules.

  3. In a greased frying pan, ladle batter onto surface.

  4. Cook until edges are dry and surface is covered with bubbles.

  5. Flip pancake and cook other side until brown.

Tip

Serve them with butter and maple syrup, yogurt and honey or fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Cream of Wheat Breakfast Bread

This filling bread is crumbly like cornbread with a slightly sweet taste.

Total Time: 40 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Cream of Wheat granules
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together Cream of Wheat granules, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together egg, milk, vanilla extract and vegetable oil until egg is well beaten.

  4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.

  5. Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.

  6. Pour into well-greased loaf pan.

  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until loaf is golden brown.

Cream of Wheat Custard Pie

Total Time: 1 hour | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • Premade 9" pie crust
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Cream of Wheat granules
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Prebake pie crust according to directions.

  2. Heat oven to 425F.

  3. In heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir milk and sugar and heat until bubbling.

  4. Sprinkle in Cream of Wheat granules, stirring as you add.

  5. Stir for 3 minutes.

  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  7. Stir in vanilla.

  8. Add beaten egg yolks one at a time.

  9. In a small, chilled bowl, beat egg whites and salt until fluffy.

  10. Fold into Cream of Wheat mixture.

  11. Scoop into pie crust.

  12. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350F and bake for 25-30 minutes.

  13. Remove from oven when knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Overnight Cream of Wheat

Overnight oats are all the rage in breakfast dishes, but you can create the same type of convenient meal with Cream of Wheat.

Total Time: 8-10 hours | Prep Time: 2 minutes | Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Cream of Wheat granules
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Brown sugar, cinnamon or other seasonings to taste

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together Cream of Wheat granules, water, salt and seasoning.

  2. Pour mixture into the crock of a slow cooker.

  3. Cover securely.

  4. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or overnight.

The result is a great, hot breakfast that is all ready when you wake up, tasty on its own or ready for every family member to customize with their favorite flavors. Multiply this recipe by as many people as you have at your breakfast table. The directions are the same whether you're cooking for one or for a crowd.

About the Author

Victoria Bailey

Victoria Bailey owned and managed restaurants for 25 years, from an award-winning gourmet bistro to a pre-hipster artisan coffee house. She's constantly following food and wine trends and has even created her own private coffee bean blend. Bailey's work has been published in a number of industry magazines, and she literally wrote the book (well, one of them) on opening a neighborhood pizza restaurant.