How to Cook Farro in 3 Easy Steps (2024)

Whether your end goal is a hearty salad or grain bowl, warming side dish for chicken or fish, or sturdy grain addition to soup, farro is a terrific back-pocket whole grain that’s simple, fast and forgiving to cook. We love it in everything from breakfast to dinner. Here are some of our favorite recipes from Farro and Sausage Parmigiano to Farro Breakfast Porridge with Raspberries.

What is farro?

Also known as emmer wheat, farro is an ancient whole-grain wheat that resembles oblong barley. (Note: It is not gluten-free.) Farro is high in fiber and protein, with a magnetically chewy texture and nutty flavor that bears traces of cinnamon. It’s as easy to cook as pasta, though you can prepare it in a few other ways depending on desired active time.

Types of farro

You might run into a few varieties of farro at the supermarket, the main difference being in their level of processing.

Whole farro is the entire grain encased in the bran, which is the tough outer shell that’s a good source of fiber, protein and fat.

Semi-pearled farro is processed to remove some of the bran.

Pearled farro (probably the most common in U.S. grocery stores) has all the bran removed.

Farro with the bran takes longer to cook, unless you soften it by soaking it overnight in the fridge, which trims the cook time down by more than half — meaning lunch in a tight 10 minutes. Because all the bran has been removed from the pearled version, it’s the quickest to cook without soaking. (Regardless though, soaking is nonessential.)

Processed farro is dusty, so it’s generally a good idea to rinse it. If you like a deeper nuttiness in the final product, you can also toast the farro in the pot over medium heat with a little olive oil for about five minutes before adding the liquid, which negates the rinsing step as it also helps tame dust.

How do you cook farro?

If you’re cooking farro on the stove, treat it just like pasta. Bring a generous amount of salted water to a boil (we like a ratio of at least four cups water to one cup farro), add the farro, stir then bring it back up to a boil. (Note: It’s nice to add lemon zest, a dusting of bouillon in place of some of the salt, or a smashed garlic clove to the cooking liquid before you start cooking.) Turn the heat down to a fast simmer, and cook the farro until it’s soft, about30 minutes. Drain it and serve, or use it in this Farro and Green Olive Salad with Walnuts and Raisins. If you forget it for an extra five minutes, don’t panic. Farro is sturdy enough to maintain a pleasant bounce even when overcooked.

If you prefer a more hands-off approach, consider preparing farro in the oven or in a slow cooker. For oven cooking, preheat to 350°F. Toast the farro in an ovenproof pot, such as a Dutch oven in a little olive oil and salt. Add water, preferably a three-to-one ratio of water to farro in this case, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and slide it into the oven. Cook until the farro is soft and chewy, 35 to 45 minutes.

To slow cook, put rinsed or oil-toasted farro into a slow cooker with a pat of butter or glug of olive oil. Add water or broth in a three-to-one ratio to the farro and cook on high until soft and chewy, about 1 ½ hours.

How do you store farro?

Store the leftover cooked farro in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and use it within three days — an easy task with such a satisfying, toothsome grain on hand. Or place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to six months.

How to Cook Farro in 3 Easy Steps (2024)


How is farro supposed to be cooked? ›

Bring it to a boil and then carefully add the farro. Bring the water back to a boil, then lower the heat so it maintains a fast simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until the farro is softened through, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether it's pearled or whole farro.

What is the ratio of water to farro? ›

The typical farro to water ratio is 1:3. For example, 1 cup of dry farro to 3 cups water. That said, using the pasta method is a bit more flexible as the water isn't meant to all be absorbed. So long as you have at least a 1:3 ratio, you'll be ok!

How do you keep farro from getting mushy? ›

The farro will absorb a lot of the water, but the excess should be drained off. You can either use a colander or just carefully tilt the pot while using the lid to hold the grains in place. Drain off as much water as possible to prevent it from turning mushy.

Do you eat farro hot or cold? ›

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.

What is the downside of farro? ›

Also, be advised that farro contains gluten. If you have celiac disease or are otherwise gluten intolerant, avoid the grain. As you may have guessed, you'll also want to sidestep farro if you have a wheat allergy.

Is farro better for you than rice? ›

All grains have a place in a healthy diet. Farro and barley, being whole grains, contain more fiber and health benefits than white pasta or white rice.

How much does 1 cup of dried farro make? ›

One cup of uncooked farro makes about 2.5 cups of cooked farro. As stated before, cooking farro is like pasta. When it is finished cooking, the extra water is drained away so there is not an exact ratio of water to farro used. However, I like to add at least 3 cups of water for 1 cup of farro.

Is farro a carb or protein? ›

Farro is a grain, and most people use it as a carbohydrate source in meals. But when compared to popular refined carbohydrates, farro's health benefits make it a superior choice for healthy living. Here are just a few of the impressive health benefits of eating farro.

Does farro expand like rice? ›

It doesn't expand as much as rice or pasta. "You can use the cooked farro in an added recipe, whether it's risotto or cereal, hot cereal, in soups or in stews, or even on top of a salad."

How do you know if farro has gone bad? ›

If you notice that your once fresh grains have changed in color, texture or odor, don't eat them. This usually means that your grains have spoiled and are no longer safe to ingest. If you've prepared grains and wonder how long they will last, the shelf life of already-cooked grains is much shorter than dried grains.

Is farro good for your gut? ›

Research suggests that farro's unique combination of fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients contributes to a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is linked to reduced inflammation, improved digestion, and even better mental health.

Can diabetics eat farro? ›


Farro has a low glycemic index, meaning it does not cause as much of a rise in blood sugar compared to refined carbohydrates, such as potatoes or pasta. This keeps blood sugar levels more stable, which can be useful for those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Do you cook farro covered or uncovered? ›

Bring 2 quarts of water or broth to a boil in a pot with salt. Add rinsed farro, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and boil uncovered until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain off cooking water, then serve.

How to tell if farro is done? ›

Cook the farro: Fill a medium pot half full of water and bring to a boil. Add the farro, reduce the heat and simmer until the farro is tender, chewy, but still has an al dente bite - 15 to 20 minutes for pearled farro; 20 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled farro; up to 40 minutes for whole farro.

What is the best way to eat farro? ›

Farro is a hearty addition to salads and soups. It's especially wonderful with some garlic and olive oil stirred in while it's still warm. Farro is a nice alternative to wild rice, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains. It's a healthy plant-based source of protein, iron and fiber.

Does farro need to be soaked before cooking? ›

Soaking farro is not required, but it can help to reduce the cooking time and some say it improves the texture of the cooked grain. Others also say that soaking the farro can also help to make it more digestible by breaking down some of the complex carbohydrates and proteins that can be difficult to digest.

Is it OK to eat raw farro? ›

Raw grains may be eaten whole as a breakfast food if soaked overnight. Whole farro may be flaked and used as a breakfast cereal or added to baked goods.

Should farro be a little crunchy? ›

Honestly, the best way to tell if farro is done is to taste it. The texture should be chewy yet tender. That said, if you would like your farro to be softer (less chewy), just simmer it a few minutes longer until it reaches your desired consistency.

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