Farro is a grain with a nutty, earthy flavor and hearty, slightly chewy texture. This recipe will answer all your questions about how to cook farro, using a stovetop or Instant Pot.
The mild earthy flavor of farro is really versatile. You can add it to almost any salad, soup or stew. Farro is easy to cook and it's a wholesome addition to vegetarian and plant-based meals that you want to make more filling.
For dinner or lunch, I love farro bowls with salmon, sweet potato and parsley-lime dressing. You can also make a healthy, filling meal from Instant Pot Farro Soup with Lemon Ginger broth.
How to Serve Farro
Make a Salad: I often add farro to a green salad or toss farro with any vinaigrette (or just lemon and olive oil) to make a quick grain salad. Add your favorite raw or roasted veggies, beans, nuts and seeds, cheese, olives... whatever you like!
As a Side Dish: Serve farro with Mediterranean grilled chicken with cucumber yogurt sauce, or vegetarian shawarma sheet-pan dinner, or chickpeas and spinach, or easy weeknight tofu.
Farro Cheat Sheet
- Most Common Type of Farro Sold in Stores: Pearled or Semi-Pearled
- Farro Water Ratio: 3:1 (water:farro)
- Instant Pot Cooking Time for Pearled/Semi-Pearled: 10 to 12 minutes, high pressure and quick release
- Stovetop Cooking Time for Pearled/Semi-Pearled: 20 to 30 minutes, simmered in water
- How Much Should I Cook? 1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked
Types of Farro
Whole Grain Farro: Contains the germ and the bran, which means it retains more nutrients and takes longer to cook, anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes on a stove top. This is the most hearty type of farro, and is less likely to become mushy when cooked.
Pearled and Semi-Pearled Farro: The most common type of farro sold in grocery stores. Often the package will just say “farro” on the front and you’ll have to look at the back ingredient list to see “pearled farro.”
Semi-pearled farro has part of the bran removed and pearled farro has all of the bran removed, so neither one is considered a whole grain. Pearled and semi-pearled farro cook faster than whole grain farro. The texture is slightly softer than whole grain farro.
Quick Cook Farro: Quick cooking farro cooks in just ten minutes, which is really convenient! It has been partially cooked and dried, so it’s considered the most processed.
Honestly, there isn't an exact ratio that's correct. It's easiest to cook farro using "pasta method" which means cooking farro like pasta in a lot of water, then simply draining off any remaining water in a colander when the grain is cooked.
If you'd like an exact measurement, then a 3:1 ratio is about right (3 cups lightly salted water + 1 cup farro), for both the stove top or in a pressure cooker.
No matter how much water you use, don't let the cooked farro sit in the extra water when it's done cooking, or it will continue to absorb the water and get mushy.
Cooking Times (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
Farro is cooked when the texture is tender but still chewy. Undercooked farro is very firm or hard and overcooked farro is mushy.
Use the cooking times below as a starting point and a guide. Farro doesn’t have an exact cooking time. Rather, it has a range of cooking times depending on the type of farro and your own preference for how soft or firm you like it. This is why you'll see a wide range of cooking times when you read different recipes.
I recommend always buying the same brand of farro, or getting it from the same bulk bin, so you can find exactly the right cooking time for "your" farro. The brand of pearled farro I use with these cooking times is Bob's Red Mill.
Farro can be cooked on the stove top or in a pressure cooker. I usually cook it in my Instant Pot because it’s the most convenient method.
Farro can also be cooked in a slow cooker, but the only real reason to do this is if you're making slow cooker soup with farro in it.
This will be labeled “quick cooking” or “10-minute” farro on the package. I always simmer this type of farro on the stove top, for 10 minutes.
Instant Pot Pearled/Semi-Pearled
10 to 12 minutes, high pressure and quick release
Simmer about 20 to 30 minutes
This is the trickiest farro to cook and the most likely to come out undercooked. Soaking whole grain farro overnight will reduce the cooking times below.
Instant Pot Whole Grain Farro
About 25 minutes
Stovetop Whole Grain Farro
About 40 to 60 minutes
Farro has a mild flavor that's earthy and nutty. You can boost the flavor by adding flavorful ingredients when it's cooking.
- Simmer farro in broth or apple cider
- Add whole spices to the simmering water, like bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander seeds or fennel seeds
- Add fresh herbs to the simmering water, like sprigs of parsley and thyme
- Add garlic and onion to the simmering water
- Before simmering farro, toast the grains in a dry skillet for 3 to 5 minutes until the grain is lightly browned and fragrant
There are three varieties of farro: emmer, spelt and einkorn. Packages of farro don't always indicate which variety of farro is in the package. All three varieties of farro are very similar in taste.
For any of the three varieties, I think the best farro substitute is barley. Barley has a mild, nutty flavor and looks very similar to farro. The two grains also have similar cooking times. You can swap out the barley and use farro in Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew or Instant Pot Mushroom Barley Soup.
Wheat Berries are another possible substitute. The texture is chewier and the flavor is both nutty and earthy. Bob's Red Mill has a good explanation of wheat berries and how to cook this variety of wheat.
Buckwheat could be a farro substitute as well. It has an earthier flavor and is a bit heavier than farro or barley.
Frequently Asked Questions About Farro
No. Farro is an ancient strain of wheat and is not gluten-free
Yes, Emmer is a variety of farro. There are actually three varieties of farro: emmer, spelt and einkorn.
Farro is considered an ancient grain, which means it hasn't been modified or crossbred extensively. It's high in protein and fiber.
It's a good idea. Before cooking, give it a quick rinse in a fine mesh strainer under water to remove dust and debris.
No, farro doesn't need to be soaked. However, some cooks like to soak farro so that it cooks faster. This is especially true for whole grain farro, which takes the longest amount of time to cook. Some people also feel that soaking farro makes it easier for the body to digest the nutrients.
All three varieties of farro (emmer, spelt and einkorn) can be ground into whole grain flour. Farro flour can be used in baking recipes in the same way that whole wheat flour is used. The flour is not gluten-free.
Cooking Rice and Grains
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