Farro is an ancient whole grain with a delicious, nutty flavor and a wonderfully chewy texture. Best of all, it’s easy to cook and toss into salads, stir into soups, or just enjoy all by itself as a simple side.

Farro in a white bowl.

Recipes using farro may be relatively new to the U.S., but Middle Eastern and Italian cuisine has included farro for thousands of years. Some people use the name “spelt,” but that’s not always 100% accurate. Technically, farro and spelt are two distinct types of wheat grain, neither of which are gluten-free.

Once you know what to look for and how to read the labels on different packages of farro, cooking is a breeze.

Ingredient notes:

Here are the three main types of farro commonly found in stores:

  • Pearled farro: The most common type found in American groceries. It has more of the outer husk removed and cooks the fastest, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Semi-pearled farro: About half of the grain’s husk and bran has been removed in the pearling process, making semi-pearled farro cook a little bit quicker than whole grain.
  • Whole farro: The entire grain is left intact (with little to no extra processing). Whole farro has the most flavor (and the most nutrients). However, that also means that it takes the longest to cook, 30 to 40 minutes.

Step-by-step instructions:

These instructions are for pearled and semi-pearled farro.

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add farro and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
    Farro in a large pot.
  2. Measure out 2 cups of cold water for every 1 cup of farro you plan to cook. Add it, along with some salt, to a saucepan. Then bring it to a boil over medium heat.
    Farro cooking in water in a large pot.
  3. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the grains are tender but not mushy– 10 to 20 minutes. Make sure you taste for tenderness as you go. Drain off any excess water.
    Farro being drained in a colander.
  4. Spread the cooked farro out on a baking sheet to cool.
    Cooked farro on a baking sheet.

Tips and variations:

  • Yield: One cup of dry farro yields about 2 to 2 ½ cups cooked.
  • Shopping: Farro is usually found in well-stocked grocery stores with other whole grains (rice, quinoa, wheat berries, etc).
  • Cooking whole farro: Add farro to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Bring the pot back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the grains are tender but not mushy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Pull out a grain after the 15-minute mark to test for tenderness. Drain off the excess water and spread the cooked farro out on a baking sheet to cool.
  • No rinsing required: Unlike quinoa, you don’t have to rinse farro before you cook it.
  • Soaking it cuts down on cooking time: If you soak whole farro overnight in a bowl of water in the refrigerator, you can reduce the cooking time down to 10 to 15 minutes. When ready to cook, replace the soaking water with fresh water, then boil, then simmer (no need to soak pearled or semi-pearled grains).
  • Pre-toasting: Toasting the grains before cooking adds so much flavor. You can lightly toast farro grains in the oven (spread the dry grains out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in an oven set at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes) or on the stove (cook the dry farro in a dry skillet over medium heat stirring frequently, until lightly browned).
  • Add aromatics: This healthy grain is a healthy blank canvas for whatever flavors you want to incorporate. Simmer it in some broth, sweet apple cider, or add some savory mirepoix vegetables (carrot, celery, bay leaf, herbs, onion) to the pot as it cooks.
  • Cool it: Be sure to let the cooked farro cool before adding to a salad. The outer layer of the grain benefits from a chance to dry out a bit, which prevents it from getting too soft. That makes it stand up to vinaigrettes and sauces better.
  • Make ahead: Chill the cooked farro in the refrigerator to get some advance prep out of the way. Cooled, cooked farro keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Dress right before serving: Toss the grains in dressing just before you plan on eating. That way, the flavors of the dressing stay the brightest.
  • Batch prep and freezing: To keep the grain from clumping together as it freezes, spread it out on a sheet tray in the freezer. Once frozen, store in a freezer-safe container. Microwave to reheat, or let thaw in the fridge. The future you will be happy you planned ahead.
  • Serving: Serve warm as a twist on rice pilaf with a drizzle of good olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and a squirt of lemon juice. Or, you can add a scoop or two to any brothy soup. And of course, you can toss it in with just about any salad.

Farro salad with peas and feta on a white platter.

More delicious salads:

Farro in a white bowl.

How to Cook Farro

Learn how to cook farro perfectly and enjoy its wonderful nutty flavor in salads, soups, or all by itself as a simple side.
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 10 servings (½ cup each)
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 153

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups farro pearled or semi-pearled (see note 1)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • Salt

Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add farro and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add water and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon) and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until farro is tender, about 15-18 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve, then spread farro out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet to cool to room temperature.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Here are the three main types of farro (farro is usually found in well-stocked grocery stores with other whole grains such as rice, quinoa, and wheat berries).
    • Pearled farro: The most common type found in American groceries. It has more of the outer husk removed and cooks the fastest, about 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Semi-pearled farro: About half of the grain’s husk and bran has been removed in the pearling process, making semi-pearled farro cook a little bit quicker than whole grain.
    • Whole farro: The entire grain is left intact (with little to no extra processing). Whole farro has the most flavor (and the most nutrients). However, that also means that it takes the longest to cook, 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Yield: This recipe (2 cups dried farro) makes about 5 cups cooked farro, or 10 servings (½ cup each).
  3. Storage: Cooked, cooled farro keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  4. Freezer: To keep the grain from clumping together as it freezes, spread it out on a sheet tray in the freezer. Once frozen, store in a freezer-safe container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave.
  5. No rinsing required: Unlike quinoa, you don't have to rinse farro before you cook it.
  6. Pre-toasting: Toasting the grains before cooking adds so much flavor. You can lightly toast farro grains in the oven (spread the dry grains out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in an oven set at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes) or on the stove (cook the dry farro in a dry skillet over medium heat stirring frequently, until lightly browned).
  7. Cooking whole farro: Add farro to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Bring the pot back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the grains are tender but not mushy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Pull out a grain after the 15-minute mark to test for tenderness. Drain off the excess water and spread the cooked farro out on a baking sheet to cool.
  8. Add aromatics: This healthy grain is a healthy blank canvas for whatever flavors you want to incorporate. Simmer it in chicken broth, apple cider, or add some vegetables (carrot, celery, bay leaf, herbs, onion) to the pot as it cooks.
  9. Cool it: Be sure to let the cooked farro cool before adding to a salad. The outer layer of the grain benefits from a chance to dry out a bit, which prevents it from getting too soft. That makes it stand up to vinaigrettes and sauces better.
  10. Serving suggestions: Serve warm as a twist on rice pilaf with a drizzle of good olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and a squirt of lemon juice. Or, you can add a scoop or two to any brothy soup. And of course, you can toss it in with just about any salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 153kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 4gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 8mgPotassium: 112mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 9IUCalcium: 14mgIron: 1mg
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