The Difference Between Cream Of Wheat And Oatmeal

There may be no breakfast more comforting than a bowl of oatmeal. Whether entirely plain or sweetened with brown sugar and cinnamon, oatmeal is a restorative (via Seven Point Wellness), generally healthful dish that has been cherished for years on end. Often associated with breakfast, items like porridge (ala Goldilocks) or congee also abound throughout the rest of the day's meals. 

But what about Cream of Wheat? Is it the same thing? If not, how is it different? Read ahead to learn all about the differences — or lack of them.

Interestingly enough, as MyRecipes notes, Cream of Wheat is not in the same frame of reference as oatmeal — oatmeal is a generic term, while Cream of Wheat is actually a brand name. Technically, the term is farina, which is described as milled wheat "produced by gently cracking the grain and then air purifying to remove most of the lighter-weight bran particulars from the heavier endosperm," as noted by Bob's Red Mill.

What are the differences?

At its core, the texture of Cream of Wheat is much more, unsurprisingly, creamy, hence the name. The consistency of farina is creamy and loose, while oatmeal can be quite chunky or chewy, as noted by MyRecipes. Another takeaway? Oatmeal is made, of course, from oats, while farina is made with wheat. Both dishes are centuries old; SF Gate notes that Cream of Wheat was actually manufactured way back in 1893.

When it comes to nutrition, AZ Central notes that while Cream of Wheat has a high calcium content, oatmeal offers fiber, magnesium, and zinc, while both contain B vitamins and iron. They also both contain fiber, with oatmeal having the upper hand on that front. 

Depending on the brands you purchase, some are enriched or fortified, which boosts their nutrition content even further. While both Cream of Wheat and oatmeal can contain high amounts of sugar depending on your personal proclivities and preparation method, both items are quite healthful at their essence. In addition, both can also take on a more savory flavor profile, but savory farina is much more common than savory oatmeal, which so often has a sweet-adjacent flavor profile and complexity. 

Oatmeal is also often gluten-free, while farina is wheat-based, so it's very much so full of gluten. 

Clearly, it's fair to say that oatmeal and Cream of Wheat (aka farina) are two very different items.