The Best Way to Save Overcooked Grains

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

We’ve all been there: You forgot to set the timer, or you stepped away from the stove and got totally distracted by something outside the kitchen. Next thing you know, that pot of grains you were planning to serve with dinner is overcooked beyond belief — like, cooked into submission, there’s no going back, definitely cut it for dinner kind of overcooked.

But don’t jump to the compost bin so fast — there’s still hope for those overcooked grains.

Even though they’re not worthy of eating as is, or making their way to the table for tonight’s dinner, that batch of overcooked grains isn’t totally ruined. There’s still some life left in them — it’s all about repurposing. Here’s how to make the most of those extra-soft grains by transforming them into something new.

1. Stir into soup.

Grains are always especially soft after being added to soup. So the less-than-firm texture of overcooked grains really won’t make a difference. And as an added silver lining, these grains will help thicken the soup.

Recipe Inspiration: Chicken and Barley Soup

2. Use for veggie burgers.

Grains and rice are often used to bulk up and add texture to veggie burgers. This ingredient is at its best when it’s actually cooked slightly past the point of al dente.

Recipe Inspiration

3. Make into congee or porridge.

Congee, the comforting Chinese dish made from rice, is cooked way down until the grains practically disintegrate into a thick, creamy porridge. Use this as inspiration to transform your overcooked pot of grains. Add more liquid to the pot, and keep on cooking to make a similar sweet or savory porridge.

4. Cook into pudding.

Take a page out of rice pudding’s book. Whether you have farro, buckwheat, barley, or any other overcooked grain, get out the cream and sugar, and turn it into dessert.

Recipe Inspiration: Coconut Black Rice Pudding

What’s the most creative way you’ve salvaged a pot of overcooked grains?

We support our readers with carefully chosen product recommendations to improve life at home. You support us through our independently chosen links, many of which earn us a commission.