How to Cook Whole Grains


Whole grains, such as brown rice and barley, are fantastic: they’re delicious and nutty-tasting, super-versatile, and better for you than white rice, since they’re full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. We boil them in lots of water and then drain them — the way you’d cook pasta. Once you get the hang of making them, you’ll find that it’s really pretty easy. Use them in custom one-bowl meals, or as a base for stew, soup, or chili.

kitchen gear

  • Measuring cup
  • Large pot with lid
  • Large spoon
  • Mesh strainer


  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice


  • Fill the pot half full of water, then cover it and set it on the stove. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. (You’ll know the water is boiling when you see bubbles breaking all over the surface.) Meanwhile put the rice in the strainer and rinse it under running water.
  • Add the rice, stir it, then cover the pot again and boil the rice for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the rice into the strainer in the sink and drain it really well.
  • Return the rice to the pot, cover it, and leave it to steam, off the heat, for 10 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.


For other grains, follow the instructions above for rice, including the draining and steaming, but just change the boiling time as suggested below; taste the grain after the suggested time to make sure it’s just about done (the steaming will cook it a bit more):

Cracked Wheat (also called “Bulgur Wheat”): Boil for 5 minutes.

Quinoa: Rinse really well in the strainer (it’s got a bitter coating) then boil for 20 minutes.

Barley: Boil for 50 minutes.

Spelt, Farro, or Kamut (all are types of wheat): Boil for 1 hour.



Freeze 1-cup portions of cooked grains in labeled zipper-lock bags, then you can thaw whatever you need whenever you like. 

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