Woman in kitchen stirring a orange pot with wooden spoon

Today marks the halfway point of this year’s Whole Grains Month Celebration! Have you learned something new about whole grains this month, or perhaps tried a new-to-you whole grain?! If not, there is still plenty of time to go!  And remember, participation in our weekly challenges gives you a chance to win awesome prize bundles donated by our amazing members. The challenges are fun and easy, and posted weekly on our website.

It is always inspiring when a meal containing healthy whole grains comes together in a flash, so what better time than Whole Grains Month to introduce the world of quick-cooking whole grains? We often hear that a barrier to cooking with whole grains is cook time. It is true that some whole grains take longer to cook than their refined grain counterparts. There are helpful tricks to speeding up cooking times, like presoaking and the pasta method, but there are also whole grains and whole grain products that cook in under 30 minutes, perfect for quick, weeknight meals!

Quick Cooking Whole Grains



Quinoa is the protein powerhouse of the Andes! A complete protein, quinoa offers all nine of the essential amino acids the human body needs in a healthy balance. Quinoa is ready in about 12 to 15 minutes. Try these great quinoa recipes.


Amaranth is similar to quinoa, though a bit lesser-known. It is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids and at 14% protein, it contains close to double the amount found in rice and corn. Amaranth has a pleasant, peppery taste, and only takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Give these amaranth recipes a go.


Millets are considered to be one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops. Millet is versatile and can be made to be either mashable and creamy or fluffy and light depending on the amount of water added when cooking. Millet has a wonderful, warm and buttery flavor profile and is perfect for the cooler months ahead. Millets should cook for about 20-30 minutes. Check out our millet recipes for inspiration!



Teff is a type of millet. The name teff is thought to come from the word “lost” in Amharic because of its tiny size – a teff grain is less than 1mm diameter, the size of a poppy seed. Though tiny, teff leads all grains in its calcium content. A cup of cooked teff offers about the same amount of calcium as in a half-cup of cooked spinach or yogurt. Teff should cook for about 20-30 minutes. Check out our teff recipes for inspiration!

Whole Grain pasta with peas on wooden table surrounded by fresh flowers and veggies

Whole Grain Pasta, including Couscous

While of course not a grain itself, whole grain pasta is a quick-cooking source of whole grains perfect for busy weeknights. Most grocery stores now have a variety of whole grain pasta. Most whole grain pasta cooks in just 7-12 minutes. Simply sub whole grain pasta for refined pasta next pasta night, or try one of these tantalizing recipes!

We Get by With a Little Help from our Friends

Other whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat berries, are known to take a bit longer to cook than their refined counterparts. Manufacturers, however, have come up with ways to produce whole grain products that cut down on at-home cook times.

Precooking grains to some degree may be the most well-known way processing can cut down on longer whole grain cooking times. Grains are cooked or steamed for a short period, then dried. Oats are a great example of this. Take rolled oats: they are oat groats that have been steamed and flattened. Rolled oats cook in 5-10 minutes, a far cry from the 60+ minutes intact oat groats take to cook!

Parboiled brown rice is another very popular example of a quick-cooking whole grain product. Parboiling gives brown rice a head start in the cooking process, cutting down cook times from 45 minutes for raw brown rice to 20-25 minutes. Use parboiled brown rice as nutty side for any meal or as an upgrade to your stir-fry game — brown rice is much sturdier than white rice so doesn’t run the risk of getting mushy when stir-fried!

Another great product that takes advantage of this precooking technique is bulgur. Bulgur is not a distinct variety of grain, but rather a whole wheat product traditionally used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Bulgur is whole wheat that has been cooked, toasted, then chopped up into varying degrees of coarseness.

Black Bean Bulgur Orange Salad

Fine bulgur simply needs to be reconstituted in warm water, while coarse bulgur only needs to cook for around 10 minutes.
Check out these recipes for some bulgur inspiration!

PSA! Pearling is a popular process that refines a grain in order to cut down on cook times. The pearling process polishes off some of a grain’s bran layer, allowing hot water to permeate and cook the grain faster. “Pearled” grains, therefore, are not whole grains.

As you can see, cook-time need no longer feel like a barrier to cooking with whole grains! Have a tip or suggestion for a quick, whole grain meal? Have you tried a new grain recently? Please share with the community below! (Abby)

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