Farro is a delicious, healthy grain that can be enjoyed hot or cold. If you’ve never tried this ancient, Middle Eastern favorite, you are missing out.
But before you hop over to your local health food store, there are a few things you need to know about this chewy grain. In particular, you should be aware that there are three types of farro: whole grain, semi-pearled, and pearled. Each type requires different cooking times and preparation.
To help you sort out the differences between products and how to best cook each of them, we’ve created this handy guide. We’ll show you some of the easiest ways to cook farro as well as our absolute favorite method for healthy, wholegrain goodness.
So what is the best way to cook farro? In short, the best way to cook farro is to bring the grain and a generous amount of water to a boil on the stovetop, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Then drain the farro in a colander and spread it out to dry a bit before adding it to your recipe.
Different Ways to Cook Farro
Like brown rice, farro takes a decent amount of time to cook. For that reason, you’re more limited on which techniques you can use. Here are the three methods we recommend for cooking perfectly chewy farro every time.
1. How to Cook Farro on the Stove
All three types of farro can be cooked to perfection on the stovetop following the same basic process.
- Fill a small pot with water, add your farro, and bring everything to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
- Allow the grains to simmer undisturbed. Whole-grain farro will need to cook about 30 minutes and pearled will need about 20.
- Once your grains have reached the right consistency (chewy without being mushy), drain the pot into a colander.
If you plan to use the farro in a cold salad or dish, rinse it then spread it out on a sheet tray and allow it to dry. For warm dishes, toss the farro back into the pot until you are ready to serve it.
The Pasta Method
The above method is widely known as the “pasta method.” It works best for cooking whole farro since it takes such a long time to cook and it can be hard to get the water ratio correct.
One step you can add to the above method if using whole-grain farro is to rinse the grains in cold water first to help remove the bitter flavor that clings to the outside of the husk. Or, if you’re going to be in a hurry during dinner prep, soak the grains overnight to cut your cooking time down to just 10 minutes.
The Rice Method
If you’re cooking with pearled or semi-pearled farro, you may want to give the rice method a try. Because this type of farro lacks much of the fiber in the whole grain version, it cooks quicker and it is easier to get the water ratio correct.
With the rice method, simply add 2 cups of water for each 1 cup of farro. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer as above. After 20 minutes, most of the water should be absorbed. Any extra can be drained off as needed.
2. How to Cook Farro in a Rice Cooker
Cooking farro in a rice cooker takes substantially more time than on the stovetop, but if you experiment a little, you can really perfect the final product.
Here are the basic directions for cooking pearled farro in a rice cooker.
- Add 3 cups water for each 1 cup farro.
- Set the rice cooker to cook for 45 minutes. You will want all the water gone before you remove it from the pot.
- After the farro has reached the desired texture, remove it and prepare it as needed.
Whole farro can also be cooked in a rice cooker but will take more cook time–closer to an hour–before it is done.
3. How to Cook Farro in an Instant Pot
Using a pressure cooker is the best way to cook farro if you are in a hurry and didn’t have time to soak the grains overnight. Both pearled and whole farro will cook faster in an instant pot than they will on the stovetop.
- Add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of farro.
- Manually set pressure to high and seal.
- Cook pearled and semi-pearled farro for 8 minutes. Cook whole farro for 10 minutes.
For softer grains, allow the pot to sit pressurized after cooking for about 5 minutes. For more al dente grains, manually release the pressure and serve immediately.
Why You Don’t Want to Use a Microwave
Because farro takes such a long time to cook―especially whole farro―cooking it in the microwave is not recommended. Not only would it require an exorbitant amount of energy, but it would also require constant tending to keep the water from bubbling over, even in a very large bowl.
How to Freeze Cooked Farro
In general, leftover farro will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. But if you’re not going to use it that soon, you can freeze it.
The best way to freeze cooked farro is to spread the grains out in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about two hours. Once the grains are hard and frozen to the touch, scrape them off into a reusable container with a lid, and place them back into the freezer for future use. When frozen, cooked farro should last about 3 months.
For quick and easy meal prep, place single servings in reusable storage bags, then place them in the freezer.
How to Toast Farro
The best way to toast uncooked farro is in the oven at 350 degrees. Spread the grains on a baking tray and cook them for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to assure even browning.
You can also cook farro in oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Stir frequently and pull the grains off the heat once they have browed slightly and released a nutty aroma.
Once your farro is toasted, you can cook it using any of the methods above. Your final product will have a deep nutty flavor that is much more noticeable than with untoasted farro.
How to Use Farro in Recipes
Once you’ve mastered cooking this ancient grain using any of the methods above, try making one of these delicious recipes:
- Stuffed Zucchini Boats. For a filling meal, add farro to the stuffing for these zucchini boats.
- Cooked Tempeh. Pair tempeh with farro for a delicious and hearty dish.
- Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers. Toss farro into the cauliflower rice stuffing.
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup. Farro is the perfect partner for this comforting autumn soup.
- Spring Roll Bowl. Instead of noodles, serve this spring roll bowl with farro.
- Vegan Cobb Salad. Add farro to a cobb salad for a heartier version of the salad.
The Best Way to Cook Farro, Step By Step
The “pasta method” is the best, easiest way to cook farro perfectly. As suggested by the name, cooking with this method is a simple matter of adding farro to a pot of boiling water, then draining it like pasta once it’s cooked.
By contrast, with the rice method, you’re adding just enough liquid for the farro to soak up. However, the farro will be more likely to stick to the pot, as it can soak up the liquid before it’s cooked. The pasta method avoids that problem and is nearly foolproof.
Key Ingredients and Supplies
- Uncooked farro. In the supermarket, you can choose from whole farro, semi-pearled farro, and pearled farro. Whole farro contains the entire bran, or the outside of the grain, which contains most of the grain’s nutrients. Semi-pearled has some of the bran removed, while farro has all the bran removed. The less bran there is, the faster it will cook. This method can be used for all types of farro.
- Water. Of course, you’ll need water to cook the farro. Avoid using broth, as you’ll be draining the farro once it’s cooked.
- Aromatics. To add flavor, you can use aromatics like fresh garlic, onion, ginger, and herbs. This is optional but great for adding more flavor.
- Salt. Similarly, salt adds flavor to the dish.
1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the uncooked farro, aromatics, and salt. Reduce to a simmer until tender, about 25 to 35 minutes. (Cook for 20 to 25 minutes if using semi-pearled farro and 15 to 20 minutes if using pearled farro.) The best cooking time depends on your desired level of tenderness.
2. Drain the farro.
3. Spread the cooked farro onto a large baking sheet. Let dry for 15 to 20 minutes. This technique lets the farro continue steaming but minimizes the risk of mushiness.
Tips & Variations
- Toast before cooking. To an enhance farro’s nutty flavor, lightly toast it in a skillet (without oil) for 10 minutes. Then, cook the farro as usual.
- Mix up the aromatics. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your aromatics. In addition to garlic and herbs, you can also use onion, ginger, leeks, bay leaves, and even cinnamon sticks.
- Toss with olive oil. After cooking the farro, toss it with olive oil to prevent sticking. This tip is especially useful if you plan to store leftover farro in the refrigerator.
How to Cook Farro Perfectly
- 1 cup uncooked farro rinsed
- Garlic, onion, or fresh herbs optional
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the uncooked farro, aromatics, and salt. Reduce to a simmer until tender, about 25 to 35 minutes. The best cooking time depends on your desired level of tenderness.
- Drain the farro.
- Spread the cooked farro onto a large baking sheet. Let dry for 15 to 20 minutes, then add to your recipe.
- To enhance farro’s nutty flavor, toast it in a skillet without oil for about 10 minutes.
- If you’re using semi-pearled farro, cook for 20 to 25 minutes. If using pearled farro, cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Letting the farro dry on a baking sheet helps prevent mushiness.
- Store leftover farro in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 5 days.
- To prevent sticking, toss the cooked farro with olive oil.
About the Author
Sara Seitz is a freelance writer living with type 1 diabetes. Her search for better health and better control of her blood sugars led her to a plant-based diet. When she isn’t experimenting with new vegan recipes, she’s helping spread the word about how plant-based is better for people and the planet. More articles by Sara.