Here’s how to cook millet in 20 minutes using just three ingredients and links to our favorite millet recipes! A gluten-free alternative to couscous and pasta, millet is incredibly easy to make.

how to cook millet

Ever heard of millet? I hadn’t, until we started getting into whole grains. Millet tends to take a back seat to the fancier-sounding trendy whole grains like quinoa. On a whim, we recently bought some with no idea what to expect. We were both pleasantly surprised with the result – instead of being extra chewy like most whole grains, millet has a light, almost couscous-like texture! I was excited to learn that it cooks in just 20 minutes, which is half the time of brown rice. (While our package instructions said to cook for 35 to 40 minutes, we found it needed much less time.)

What is millet?

Technically a seed, millet is an excellent gluten-free substitute for couscous, or even pasta. Millet is fairly high in protein, and it’s a good source of various vitamins and minerals. It’s also highly alkaline, which makes it easier to digest. Millet comes in many different varieties, but your local grocery store most likely sells yellow proso millet. It has a slightly nutty flavor and makes for an easy side dish as well as a hearty breakfast cereal with milk and honey or sugar, much like oatmeal.

How to cook millet

For a fluffy, light millet, you want to use 1 part dried millet to 2 parts water (the instructions on your package of millet may differ from ours, but we’ve found this ratio works best for us). Before adding water to the millet, toast it over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Once the millet has been toasted, add the water and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover the pot. The millet will need to bubble away for 15 to 17 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. I know it’s tempting, but don’t open the lid during the cooking process or else you’ll let the steam escape!

To make millet that’s creamier, like mashed potatoes, you’ll need to add more water and stir the millet frequently during the cooking process. Creamy millet makes for an excellent alternative to oatmeal, or it can be dressed up with fresh herbs and some butter and served alongside your dinner.

Millet Recipe

Some great millet recipes:

Looking for more whole grain recipes? 

This recipe is…

Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.

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How to Cook Millet

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


A gluten-free alternative to couscous and pasta, millet is incredibly easy to make. Here’s how to cook millet in 20 minutes using just three ingredients.


  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Pour the millet into a dry pan. Toast for about 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it smells toasted and you start to hear the millet pop.
  2. Pour in the 2 cups water (it will spit as the pan is hot, so take care). Add the olive oil and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for about 17 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed.
  3. Allow to stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff the millet with a fork. Add more salt to taste if desired. 
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: how to cook millet, millet recipe

Millet Recipes

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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    1. Oh, that sounds delicious – what a great idea! Thanks on the bowl – it is on loan from a friend, so we can’t take any credit :)

    1. I just took a look at the beet risotto – that looks awesome! Great idea on substituting in rice pudding too — we’ve never made rice pudding, but will definitely consider this when we do!

    1. Wow, that is a great idea! We’re still working on a perfect falafel recipe, so we’ll have to consider that in our testing :)

  1. I use millet flour to make sometimes since I am GF. they are great for baking scones because it is a pretty hefty flour. I’ve also had Ethiopian stew with millet added as a grain which was pretty delicious.

  2. Gosh, the last time I ever had anything to do with millet was feeding it to my pet budgie when I was about 10 years old. This looks great though, and a great substitute for couscous or quinoa – I can’t wait to try it.
    Sue :-)

  3. I just made this millet for your stuffed peppers recipe, and my millet didn’t come out fluffy at all … it was quite mushy. After 17 minutes there was still a lot of water left in the pan, so I turned up the heat a little and cooked it uncovered for a bit. Any pointers?

    We loved the flavor of the stuffed peppers, but really want to get the millet right for next time. Thanks! Love your recipes!

    1. Hmm, how interesting! I tried this several times and 17 minutes worked every time! However, it does depend on the heat setting that you use, so it’s possible that you used a lower heat setting than I did. You did the right thing though — just cook until the water is all absorbed (you can leave it covered for the entire time if you’d like)!

      I’ll try it again and see if I see if I can find out anything else – thanks for the note! Let me know if you try it again at all (perhaps at a tad higher heat?). Do you remember how long it took overall?

      1. Amanda — wanted to let you know that I tried this again with some different millet and I also had to cook it longer! I talked to Alex and we’re thinking it must depend on the type of millet! I ended up having to cook it about 5 minutes longer. I did notice it was barely simmering, so I’m going to make sure to keep it at a constant simmer next time and see what that does for the timing. Thanks again for mentioning this!

    1. Millet tabbouleh is a great idea! I’ve heard of quinoa tabbouleh too — but I am such a fan of the traditional bulgur wheat that I haven’t made it to any variations yet :)

      I had no idea millet came in a puffed cereal form – thanks for the tip! And I love the bird food concept – that’s right up my alley :)

  4. I used to loathe millet because my super healthy mom used to make me eat it every morning for breakfast (I have always thought of it as a breakfast food and not as a replacement for rice or pasta). Recently I went home and my mom made me millet early in the morning, served warm with milk, blueberries and some maple syrup – I LOVED it! Now I make it for myself in the mornings and have a nice little reminder of home and being fed by my mom every day :)

  5. “Couscous-like” is not really fair – for the first millennium of its existence couscous was made with millet. Only during the 20th Century did wheat couscous become the common variety, and in North Africa, where couscous is thought to have originated around 1000 A D, couscous is still usually made with millet.

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