How Do You Cook Whole Grains?

If you like rice, you’ve likely mastered your own special technique. Whole grains, on the other hand, can be a bit more involved depending on the type of grain, dish you’re making, and desired texture. So what’s the best way to cook whole grains?

It turns out there’s no blanket answer. Many people cook whole grains much like pasta by adding the grains to a large pot of water, bringing it to a boil, reducing it to a simmer, and letting it cook until the grains become tender. At the very end, you simply drain away any excess water.

Truthfully, I don’t rely on that method (often called “the pasta method”) very often because I prefer simmering the grains in an appropriate amount of water. I find that figuring out the exact liquid-to-grain ratio makes for a perfectly-cooked pot of whole grains each and every time. If you’re unfamiliar with the liquid-to-grain ratios for some of your favorite grains, there are many great charts that can help you determine the amount of water necessary per cup of raw grain.

Depending on the grain you’re cooking, you can also make more of a risotto by adding flavor with broth or herbs, or experiment with half broth and half water. I also often toast my grains in a little bit of butter before cooking them which prevents potential sogginess and helps them develop more of a toasty flavor. (Steel cut oats are particularly wonderful when toasted in a bit of butter.)

How about you: what’s your go-to way to cook whole grains?

(Images: Megan Gordon)