Let’s talk about farro! Have you tried it? Farro is a whole grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. In fact, it may be the world’s oldest cultivated grain. We’ve even found it in Egyptian tombs.
I love farro for its reasonably quick cooking time, nutty flavor and satisfying chewy texture. 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. As a bonus, it freezes and defrosts well. So, you can make a big batch to enjoy over the next few months.
Today, I’m clearing up some common farro misconceptions and sharing my go-to farro cooking method. Keep on reading for more about farro!
Let’s Clear Up Some Farro Confusion
Farro is pronounced FAHR-oh. It sounds a lot like Egyptian pharaoh, but with more of an “ah” sound in the first syllable. I’m not sure I ever get it quite right.
Farro is not gluten free, so it is not suitable for celiacs. Farro is an ancient strain of wheat. Some people with gluten sensitivities tolerate farro better than conventional wheat, but experiment at your own risk.
Farro can actually be one of three whole grains that fall under the Triticum genus. Most often in the U.S. and Europe, the term farro refers to emmer wheat, also known as farro medio, medium farro or Triticum dicoccum. Farro can also refer to einkorn (also known as farro piccolo, small farro or Triticum monococcum), or spelt (also known as farro grande, large farro or Triticum spelta).
Farro can be entirely unprocessed (whole) or processed to varying degrees. True whole grain farro retains all of its nutrients and fiber, but is hard to find and takes longer to cook. Pearled farro has been stripped of its outer layer of bran, so it contains less fiber and nutrients, but cooks a lot faster. Semi-pearled farro is in between the two, so it’s lightly processed and cooks at a medium rate.
Typically, your bag of farro won’t say if it’s pearled, semi-pearled or whole. Frustrating, right? We’re going to cook the farro in an abundance of water until it’s cooked through, so the only variable is the cooking time.
How to Cook Farro
You’ll find the simple recipe below. The key to cooking farro is to cook it in an abundance of water, which prevents it from getting gummy from the starches. The extra water also gives you more leeway with the cooking time (you won’t run out of water by the time the farro is done, even if it takes longer than expected).
Here are a few more notes and tips:
- Before cooking, add some salt to the water to enhance farro’s inherent flavor.
- Pearled farro will be done in about 15 minutes, while semi-pearled or whole processed farro will take 25 to 40 minutes.
- Some recipes suggest soaking whole-grain farro in water overnight. I’ve never soaked and always just cook for as long as necessary.
- Season with additional salt, to taste. For even more savory flavor, stir in a splash of olive oil and a small clove of garlic (pressed or minced).
How to Cook Farro
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 3 cups 1x
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Cooked
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
- Diet: Vegan
Learn how to cook perfect farro with this simple technique. One part raw farro yields twice as much cooked farro. As written, this recipe yields 2 cups cooked farro. Multiply as needed.
- 1 cup dry farro
- 4 cups water
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt, to taste
- Optional flavorings: Light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and 1 small clove garlic (pressed or minced)
- Rinse the farro in a fine mesh sieve under cool running water (this step is important to remove any dust and excess starch).
- In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed farro and at least 4 cups water, or enough to cover the farro by several inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook until the farro is tender to the bite but still pleasantly chewy. Pearled farro will take around 15 minutes; unprocessed farro will take 25 to 40 minutes. Drain well.
- If desired, stir in the olive oil and garlic while the farro is still hot. Season with additional salt, as needed. Serve as desired.
Storage suggestions: Leftover farro will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days. Or, freeze farro in small portions for up to 6 months. I simply transfer frozen farro to a bowl and microwave until defrosted. Or you can gently drop the frozen farro into a pot of boiling water and cook just until warmed through, then drain well.
▸ Nutrition Information
3 Recipes Featuring Farro
Here are just three recipes that feature farro, my favorite chewy whole grain. It is a hearty addition to salads, soups and grain bowls. View all of my farro recipes here.
Easily gluten free and easily vegan
“I made this with Christmas dinner and wow this was certainly my signature dish! It was scrumptious and so pretty. I was so intrigued by it, I had to make it and so glad I did!” – Leslie
“Made this tonight….quick, easy and SOOO DELICIOUS. Added a couple extra teaspoons of red wine vinegar per your suggestion and that put it over the top. It will be easier to use more of that never ending kale from the garden this summer!! Thank you!” – Cathy
“This soup is delicious! I found your recipe on Friday, made it on Sunday, and am eating it right now and for lunch allll week long. It is sweet, spicy, and hearty. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)” – Christy