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Here’s how to cook farro, an ancient grain with a chewy texture! Plus, browse our top farro recipes: side dishes, salads, soups and more.

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Looking for a fun side dish idea, or a whole grain to make a killer salad? Farro is a whole grain that can be used as an alternative to rice, barley or other grains. We love it for its chewy texture and nutty taste. There’s nothing better than tossing this grain with butter, garlic and fresh herbs as a simple side dish! You can use this grain to whip up all sorts of recipes, and it’s become easy to find at the grocery. Here’s how to cook farro so it’s perfectly tender, and some of our favorite farro recipes for using it.

What is farro?

Farro is a whole grain that’s plump and chewy, with a texture similar to barley. It’s an ancient grain that was eaten in the Roman empire and even found in Egyptian tombs. Farro has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries, and spread to global popularity with the recent interest in whole grains. Farro can be boiled on the stovetop, cooked in a rice cooker or in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot). There are a few types you can find in American grocery stores:

  • Pearled farro has all of the bran removed from the grain, making it quicker to cook but removing some fiber. The cook time is 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Semi-pearled farro has part of the bran removed, retaining some additional fiber. The cook time is 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Whole farro is the whole grain and takes the longest to cook. It’s the hardest to find in grocery stores. The cook time is 30 to 40 minutes.

The recipe in this article is for pearled and semi-pearled farro. As a note, the labeling of this grain in the grocery store can be confusing. Many packages don’t contain the words pearled or semi-pearled. Check the cook time on the package as a guide, then follow our recipe below.

Uncooked farro in measuring cup

How to cook farro

Farro is easy to cook on the stovetop. For every 1 cup of farro, you’ll need 3 cups of water or broth for it to fully cook through. Then drain any excess liquid once it is tender, which is different from grains like rice or quinoa. Here are the basic steps for how to cook farro (or jump to the recipe below):

  1. Rinse: Rinse the grains under cold water in a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Add water: In a large saucepan, place 1 cup farro, 3 cups water and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and bring it to a boil.
  3. Simmer: Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the grains are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for pearled and 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled.
  4. Drain: Drain any excess water. Stir in an additional ¼ teaspoon salt.

More FAQ

Here are a few more facts about farro:

  • How much does 1 cup dry farro make? About 2 to 2 ½ cups cooked.
  • What are other names for farro? Spelt, emmer, and einkorn are other names for the grain in English that denote different sizes, from largest to smallest. Emmer is what you’ll find in most American stores. In Italy farro is labeled to denote its size as farro grande, farro medio, and farro piccolo.
Farro in bowl with lemons and uncooked farro

How to season as a side dish

Want to serve farro as a simple side dish? Transform it into garlic herb farro! It’s fast and easy, and it makes this grain taste irresistible. Here’s what to add to the pot once you’ve drained it:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, like fresh thyme, chives, oregano or basil

Top farro recipes

Want to cook up a pot of this whole grain to use in recipes? Farro is an especially great base for grain salads. Mix it with some fresh or cooked vegetables, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Or add it to soups and stews as an alterative to barley! Here are a few of our top farro recipes and serving suggestions for this ancient grain:

This farro recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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How to Cook Farro

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Learning how to cook farro is quite straightforward. In this recipe, we show you how to cook farro and how we like to flavor it with garlic and herbs.

Note: For how to cook farro in a pressure cooker, go to Instant Pot Farro.


  • 1 cup uncooked farro, pearled or semi-pearled (not whole)
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, chives, or basil), optional
  • 1 garlic clove, minced, optional


  1. Rinse the farro under cold water in a fine mesh strainer. In a large saucepan, place the farro, water and ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and bring it to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the grains are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for pearled farro and 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled farro. Taste test a grain to see if it is tender (if the package is unmarked, just cook until tender).
  3. Drain any excess water. Add the additional ¼ teaspoon salt and the olive oil or butter. If using, stir in the minced garlic and herbs. Taste and add additional salt if desired. 
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Allen Kwawer says:

    Hi: To the best of my recollection I have never eaten, or thought about eating, farro but I just registered for a zoom lecture on whole grains which is going to feature a recipe for a farro risotto. A quick Google search led me to your site and your discussion on how to cook farro which was very informative. I was left with two questions: what is the contribution the salt makes to the dish (I believe the other elements of my diet already supply the recommended amount of dietary sodium and for many years I have not added salt to my meals)? and secondly, is there any reason that one should not cook the farro in a microwave?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


      Thanks for the comment. You definitely don’t need the salt for it to cook thoroughly, it is just there for flavor. We haven’t tried the microwave before so I’m not sure!

      Thanks for reading.

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