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. 

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Hands-on time: 5   |    Total time: 20   |    Makes: 2 Cups


Measuring cup
Large pot with lid
Large spoon
Mesh strainer


1 cup short-grain brown rice


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your equipment and ingredients and put them on a counter.

  1. 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.
  2. Add the rice, stir it, then cover the pot again and boil the rice for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the rice into the strainer in the sink and drain it really well.
  4. Return the rice to the pot, cover it, and leave it to steam, off the heat, for 10 minutes.
  5. 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.