Guide to Cooking Whole Grains with Printable Chart

'015/366 - Brown rice' photo (c) 2008, Arria Belli - license: Complete Guide to Cooking Dry Beans from Scratch remains one of the most popular posts, so  I wrote up this companion piece for whole grains. Since most of use use white rice from time to time, I included it.

Guide to Cooking Whole Grains

Note: Cooking times are approximate and depend on the age and size of the grains. Spread dry grains on a plate to inspect for insects or stones. Soak or rinse as indicated (grains in the upper half of the chart).

Use a large pot as grains boil over.

Pot on gas or electric stovetop:

  1. Toast grains in two teaspoons of oil, if desired.
  2. Add water or stock. Cooking water from vegetables can be included as well. You can also sauté chopped onions and garlic.
  3. Heat to boiling.
  4. Add salt or other spices as desired.
  5. Cover pot and lower heat for time specified. Most grains improve with sitting a little longer so that all water is absorbed.
  6. Extra water can be drained off if preferred.

Pressure cooker:

  1. Toast grains in two teaspoons of oil, if desired.
  2. Carefully add boiling water in specified amount and stir.
  3. Add a teaspoon of salt or other spices, as desired.
  4. Cover and seal cooker. Heat until maximum pressure, set timer for first time listed.
  5. Turn off the heat and release the pressure. If second time is listed, remove the cooker from the heat and let the cooker cool down before opening the lid after the allotted time has passed.


  1. Use a microwave-safe utensil. A glass or ceramic plate can work as a cover, when require. For more details see http:/
  2. Microwave strengths differ, so keep track of cooking times for future reference.
  3. Use containers that allow a lot of extra room, as the water tends to boil over.
  4. Use pot-holders to remove from oven. There will be a lot of steam when you release the cover.
The chart below is too wide for this page. You can download a printable chart here: Printable Grain Cooking Chart

Cooking Times for Whole Grains

For tasty recipes and smart cooking tips, visit

Grain (1 cup unless specified) Prep. Cups of liquid Stovetop times Microwave (High setting). Times vary according to microwave wattage. Pressure Cooker
Time #1: High pressure. Time #2: Rest before releasing pressure
Brown rice (1 cup) Inspect for insects and foreign objects, then rinse carefully. Quinoa should also be soaked. 2¼ cups liquid.30
  • Cover with 4 cups liquid, cook until boiling.
  • Carefully remove cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Let sit until all water is absorbed.
1-3/4 cups liquid. Cook 15-30 minutes. Shorter time results in stickier rice. Let rest for 10 minutes before releasing pressure.  
White rice 2 cups 17 min. 12 minutes, covered 5 minutes, let rest 5 Not whole grain
Quinoa 2 cups 3 3 1 minute, let rest 10 Quinoa should be chewy.
Pearl barley 2 cups 40 40 18-20, let rest 10  
Hulled barley 4 cups 60 55 35-40, let rest 10  
Bulgur: These grains need only inspection. 2 cups  
  • Coarse
10 5 minutes, let rest 10  
  • Medium
  • Fine
Pour boiling water over bulgur and turn off heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Buckwheat 2 Cook 3 minutes with oil. Add liquid, cover, cook for 20 minutes 3 minutes, let rest 7  
Oatmeal 1 cup  2 5 5 2  Not instant
Cornmeal ¾ cup 3, stir, 3-5 1  
Millet (1½  cups) 3 25 Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes 10 minutes, let rest 10 Stir, let stand for 5 minutes
Couscous 2   Add boiling water to couscous and let stand 5 minutes.


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All rights reserved. Hannah Katsman  ©2012

You may also enjoy:

Printable Grain Cooking Chart (download)

Complete Guide to Cooking Dried Beans from Scratch

Thirteen Smart Ways to Manage Your Leftovers

Is This Food Safe to Eat (Chart)


  1. I dont agree with the cooking time of brown rice
    I add about 3 cups of water and let it cook for at least an hour and half. But if you like hard rice I 20 min would be ok, for myself I prefer the hour and half. But luckily we all differ!

  2. On the stove, 30 minutes. It’s not hard by that point but some prefer it chewier.

  3. Ms. Krieger says

    It depends on the rice. Round-grain brown rice will take longer to cook, thin-grain brown rice less time. I’d say 30 minutes thin grain, 60 minutes fat grain. Soaking the rice for several hours in advance makes it cook more quickly than those listed times. Also, I find brown jasmine rice cooks most quickly of all. I can most easily substitute it for white long grain rice in recipes.

    As for oatmeal…are you referring to rolled and pre-cooked oats? Oats might be more popular here, we have lots of choices in texture. Thickly rolled oats are common, they take about 10 minutes to cook. Steel-cut oats (not rolled) take 30-40minutes to cook and are tastiest with the best texture, if you have the time.

    And in response to Jennie’s query on Facebook — I find that oatmeal is creamier if you use tap water and bring the oats and water to boil together, instead of boiling the water first then adding oats.

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