How To Cook Farro: The Best, Easiest Method

updated Oct 1, 2022
How to Cook Farro

A simple recipe for cooking perfect farro every time.

Makes3 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook32 minutes to 52 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a blue pot full of farro sits on a wooden table with a spoon in it
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Farro is an ancient grain beloved for its nutty flavor and chewy texture. It’s high in protein and fiber, adds a satisfying heft to any dish, and can easily be prepared in advance to bulk up salads, grain bowls, and soups throughout the week.

If you’re intimidated by cooking farro, don’t be — our easy, hands-off method is totally foolproof. All you need is a pot of water, a pinch of salt, and your bag of farro. Let’s get started!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

What’s the Difference Between Pearled, Semi-Pearled, and Whole Farro?

Farro comes in three different varieties, each requiring slightly different cooking techniques. If the variety isn’t clearly labeled on the front of the packaging, check the ingredient list.

Pearled: This is the most common variety sold in grocery stores and the one we use in this recipe. Pearled farro has its bran removed, making it the easiest and quickest to cook.

Semi-pearled: This type of farro is not as readily available as pearled. The bran is partially but not completely removed, meaning it takes longer to cook than pearled.

Whole:
Whole farro (also called “berry” or “whole-berry”) contains the entire husk and bran. This type of farro takes the longest to cook and benefits from being soaked in water overnight in the fridge. This is the second most common variety of farro sold.

Is Farro the Same as Spelt?

It’s a common misconception that farro and spelt are the same grain, but they’re actually quite different in taste and texture. Spelt berries take significantly longer to cook (sometimes hours), while most farro can cook in less than 45 minutes. Spelt is also more commonly ground into flours and used in baking.

Read more: Farro Is Not Spelt, and Spelt Is Not Farro

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

The Best, Easiest Way to Cook Farro

While farro is often cooked in a specified amount of water until all of the water is absorbed (similar to cooking rice or quinoa), our method cooks it like pasta in a big pot of boiling water. Not only does this mean there’s less of a chance of it coming out undercooked, but it also means you don’t need to worry about getting the ratio of farro to water just right. As long as the farro is completely covered in boiling water, you’re good! Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you get started.

1. Rinse your farro. Farro is sometimes covered in a dusty residue as a result of processing. To remove it (and any other unwanted debris that might be present), always rinse your farro under cool, running water in a fine-mesh strainer before cooking it.

2. Salt your cooking water. Just like pasta, farro benefits from being cooked in heavily salted water. The farro absorbs the water as it cooks, allowing you to season it from the inside out. A good rule of thumb is to use 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt per 1 quart of water.

3. Toss with olive oil if saving for later. If you’re planning to cook your farro in advance and store it in the fridge, toss it with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. You can also use sesame oil, peanut oil, or any other oil depending on what flavor profile you’re going for.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

What Can You Make with Farro?

Cooked farro can be used similarly to brown rice or quinoa. It has a wonderful chewy texture and holds it shape well, making it ideal for adding to soups and stews. Unlike rice and pasta, it won’t get soggy when sitting in hot broth and can withstand being reheated. We especially love farro in risotto recipes to make farrotto — it lends the risotto a chewy texture and rich, nutty flavor. It’s also great served cold, tossed into a salad, or as the base of a grain bowl.

Ready to give farro a try? Here are some of our favorite ways to cook with it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell
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Here's the easiest and best method to cook farro.

How to Cook Farro

A simple recipe for cooking perfect farro every time.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 32 minutes to 52 minutes

Makes 3 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 cup

    pearled farro (see Recipe Notes)

  • 1 quart

    (4 cups) water

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon

    extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Equipment

  • Fine-mesh strainer

  • Small saucepan with lid

  • Wooden spoon

  • Slotted spoon

  • Measuring cups and spoons

Instructions

  1. Rinse the farro. Place 1 cup farro in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse thoroughly under cool, running water, swishing the farro around with your hand while rinsing. Hold the rinsed farro over the sink for a few seconds to drain off the excess water and transfer into a small saucepan.

  2. Bring to a boil. Add 1 quart water and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.

  3. Cover and cook. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. If the water starts to boil over, reduce the heat slightly, give it a stir, and continue cooking.

  4. Check for doneness. After 25 minutes, check for doneness by scooping out a few farro grains with a slotted spoon and tasting them. The farro should be tender yet chewy and not hard in the center. They should have a similar texture to pasta cooked al dente. If not ready, continue simmering, checking on the farro every 5 minutes. You may need to cook the farro up to 20 minutes longer depending on the type of farro you use. Add more water as needed.

  5. Drain the farro. Drain the farro in the fine-mesh strainer, then return to the saucepan.

  6. Season to taste with salt. Taste the farro and season with more kosher salt if needed. (Keep in mind you can always add more salt to the final preparation.) If storing the farro for later use, add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and stir to coat the farro to prevent the grains from sticking together.

Recipe Notes

Pearled versus whole farro: Pearled farro is the most common variety of farro sold. This type of farro has its outer bran removed to make cooking quicker. Whole farro (also called berry or whole-berry farro) can also be found in some specialty grocery stores and requires some additional steps to prepare.

If using whole farro, soak the farro overnight in water in the refrigerator first and increase the cooking time to about 45 minutes. Most farro will be clearly labeled on the front of its packaging, but if you’re unsure look at the ingredient list and see if it specifies “pearled” or “whole.”

Storage: Leftover cooked farro can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.