Your Guide to Cooking Whole Grains

Rice and quinoa are great but maybe you want to branch out. Discover how to cook a variety of whole grains to experience with color.

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You’ve probably heard the news about whole grains. Lately, these nutrient-dense plants have been heralded as some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. High in fiber and important antioxidants, whole grains have been linked to myriad health benefits, from supporting immunity to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and even diabetes.

More varieties of whole grains are available than ever before, and they’re simpler to prepare—and a lot more versatile—than you might think. Many whole grains cook in less than half an hour, making them easy weeknight fare. When cooking a pot of grains, make a double batch. The cooked grains will keep for several days in the refrigerator and can be reheated quickly for any number of improvised meals. You can add them to soups, toss them with vegetables to make a main dish salad, and even fold them into muffin or quick-bread batters to give breakfast a nutritional boost.

So dive in and expand your whole grain repertoire. Use the following tasty recipes as templates for improvisation, and experiment with combining different grains, seasonal vegetables, herbs, and fruits to come up with your own favorite dishes. You’ll see how easy it is to get your grains.

Whole Grain Cooking Times

Trying a new grain is easy with this simple guide to cooking times. For a flavorful side dish, use broth instead of water to cook grains.

Cooking Instructions: Bring water to a boil and add grain. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for the amount of time specified.


Simmer 1 cup well-rinsed quinoa in 1 1/2 to 2 cups water for 15 minutes. (Try this recipe for Blueberry Quinoa Muffins.)

Brown Rice

Simmer 1 cup brown rice in 2 cups water for 40 to 45 minutes.

Wheat Berries

Simmer 1 cup wheat berries in 3 cups water for 40 to 50 minutes. (Try this recipe for Wheat Berry Salad with Cranberries and Herbs.)


Toast 1 cup millet in a dry skillet and simmer in 2 cups water for 25 minutes. (Try this recipe for Southwestern Millet Pilaf.)

Wild Rice

Simmer 1 cup wild rice in 2 cups water for 45 to 50 minutes. (Try this recipe for Wild Rice Country Rolls.)

Farro (semipearled)

Simmer 1 cup farro in 3 cups water for 45 to 50 minutes; drain any excess water. (Try this recipe for Roasted Beet and Farro Risotto.)

Barley (hulled)

Simmer 1 cup hulled barley in 3 cups water for 45 to 50 minutes; drain any excess water. (Try this recipe for Barley and Asparagus Soup.)

Barley (pearled)

Simmer 1 cup pearled barley in 2 cups water for 20 minutes; drain any excess water.

See alsoNew Study Underscores the Nutritional Value of Whole Grains

About Our Writer
Terry Walters is passionate about making sustainable, healthful eating both easy and delicious. She is the author of Clean Foodand Clean Start.

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