A Guide to Cooking with Whole Grains & Baking with Whole Grain Flours

updated Dec 8, 2022
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(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

With fall just around the corner, now is the time to stock your pantry with hearty, healthy whole grains! From amaranth to wild rice, get the skinny on whole grain ingredients and whole grain flours below.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Quick Guides to Whole Grains

Amaranth – A tiny poppy seed-sized grain. Malty, grassy flavor. (The leaves of the amaranth plant are also good to eat.) Gluten-free.

Barley, Hulled and Pearl – Chewy, tender grains. Especially good in soup.

Brown Rice – Rice with the hull still partially on. Higher in protein and fiber.

Buckwheat – Also called kasha. Small flower seeds with very toasty, nearly bitter flavor. Gluten-free.

Bulgur Wheat – Dried, precooked particles of wheat.

Farro – Chewy grain very similar to wheatberries and spelt.

Millet – Mildly sweet and nutty, and very small grains. Often used as birdseed. Gluten-free.

Oats – Sold as steel-cut or Irish oats (the whole oat groat, or grain), or rolled into quicker-cooking flakes. Technically gluten-free but often contaminated with gluten, and some GF folks find they can’t digest oats well.

Quinoa – Ancient grain of South America. Complete protein, and gluten-free.


– Important drought-resistant crop in central Africa. Gluten-free, with mild sweet taste. Can be popped like popcorn!

Spelt – A species of wheat that cooks up chewy and hearty.

Wheat Berries – The whole grain version of whole wheat flour! Great in risottos, soups, and casseroles.

Wild Rice – An intact grain, including the bran, endosperm, and germ, and a distant cousin of white rice varieties.

How To Cook Whole Grains

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Quick Guides to Whole Grain Flours

Baking with Whole Grain Flours

What are your favorite whole grains for cooking and baking? Any special tips or good ideas you return to?

(Images: Elena Schweitzer/Shutterstock; Faith Durand; Emma Christensen)