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If you’re wondering how to cook farro, you’ll be happy to know that you have several options. To make the best choice, you need to know the type of farro you’ll be cooking (whole grain, pearled, or semi-pearled) and how farro fits into your recipe. Is it the main component (as in a farro salad or pilaf)? Or does it play a supporting roll (as it does in many soups and stews)? 

cooked farro

Among many delicious whole grains, farro is an ancient grain that stands out for it’s nutty flavor and chewy texture. It works beautifully as a base for salads, a hearty addition to soups and stews, and a nutritious alternative to processed grains for pilaf and risotto.

Farro FAQ

What is farro?

There are three types of farro that the term refers to and all are species of hulled wheat: einkorn, emmer, and spelt . Or in Italian, respectively: farro piccolo, farro medio, and farro grande. In Italy and the United States, Emmer is the most common variety.
What is the difference between Whole Farro and Semi-Pearled Farro?

What is the difference between whole farro and semi-pearled farro?

Whole grain farro is hulled, but has the bran intact. It’s the most nutritious option and has 5 grams of fiber in a 1/4 cup. It takes longer to cook than the pearled varieties, but has the most nutty flavor and pleasantly chewy texture.

Semi-pearled farro has part of the bran removed. It has a faster cooking time than whole farro, but has fewer nutrients and fiber.Side by side image of whole farro and pearled farro.

Is farro gluten free?

Farro of all three varieties (einkorn, emmer, and spelt), are types of wheat and are not gluten free. For a gluten free farro substitute in recipes, use brown rice, oat groats, or quinoa.

Should farro be soaked before cooking?

Farro contains phytic acid which binds to nutrients and blocks their absorption. Cooking whole grains, including whole farro, reduces this acid, but soaking reduces it even further making grains more nutritious and digestible. Soak farro in enough water to cover (and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to be even more effective) for several hours or overnight. 

Soaking also reduces cooking time and lends a more even texture in the cooked grain.Soaking farro in water

What are the health benefits of farro?

Farro is very nutritious. It’s not only a good source of fiber and antioxidants, but high in protein, zinc, magnesium and some B vitamins.

Does farro need to be rinsed?

Farro typically has a powdery coating that should be rinsed off before cooking.Rinsing farro

How much does 1 cup of farro yield?

1 cup of dry farro yields about 2 cups cooked.

How to Cook Farro

When cooking farro, you have several cooking methods to choose from: stovetop rice method, stovetop pasta method, instant pot, and rice cooker. 

In the basic recipes below, note that water can be swapped out for broth or other flavorful liquids and aromatics (like apple cider and bay leaves in the Charlie Bird Farro Salad). And salt is optional, but it does enhance the nutty farro flavor.

Whole Farro: Stovetop Pasta Method (not pre-soaked)

Add 1 cup of farro (rinsed) to 2 quarts of boiling, salted water (salt as you would if you were making pasta). Boil uncovered until tender or al dente (your preference), 25 to 35 minutes. Drain and serve.

Cooking farro using the pasta method
Cooking Farro Using the Pasta Method

Pre-Soaked Whole Farro: Stovetop Pasta Method (soaked for several hours or overnight)

Bring 1 cup of rinsed and soaked farro, 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and serve.

Drained, Cooked Farro

Whole Farro: Stovetop Rice Method (not pre-soaked)

Bring 1 cup of farro (rinsed), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 1/2 cups cold water to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered 5 minutes. Drain excess water and fluff with fork. Serve.

Farro cooked using the rice method
Farro Cooked Using the Rice Method

Pre-Soaked Whole Farro: Stovetop Rice Method (farro soaked for several hours or overnight)

Bring 1 cup of rinsed and soaked farro, 2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain excess water and fluff with fork. Serve.

Whole Farro: Rice Cooker Method (Not Pre-Soaked)

Place 1 cup rinsed farro, 1 1/2 cups cold water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium (6-cup) rice cooker. Stir to combine; let soak 1 hour. Close cover and set machine to Regular/Brown Rice cycle. When machine switches to Keep Warm cycle, allow farro to steam for 10 minutes before fluffing with a wooden rice paddle or spoon. Serve. (Adapted from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook)

Note that this method calls for a substantially lower water to farro ratio than other methods as the water cooks into the farro completely, nothing to drain. It has a firm, pleasant bite. If you prefer softer farro, increase the water to 2 cups or more per 1 cup of dry farro.

cooking farro in a rice cooker
Cooking Farro in a Rice Cooker

Whole Farro: Instant Pot (Multi-Cooker) Method (Not Pre-Soaked)

Place 1 cup farro (rinsed), 3 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt in an instant pot. Set valve to sealing. Set for 12 minutes on manual setting and high pressure. Quick release pressure; drain excess water and serve. (adapted from Bob’s Red Mill)

Semi-Pearled Farro: Stovetop Rice Method

Bring 1 cup of semi-pearled farro (rinsed) and 2 2/3 cups of cold water to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered 5 minutes. Drain excess water, fluff with fork, and serve.

Must Try Farro Recipes

Charlie Bird Farro Salad

Charlie Bird Farro Salad

5 from 10 votes
The famed farro salad from Charlie Bird restaurant in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Recipe adapted from Melissa Clark and the New York Times.
View Recipe

Greek Farro Salad

5 from 6 votes
A mouthwatering combination of nutty farro, crunchy vegetables, cheese and olives in a simple tangy dressing make Greek Farro Salad hearty enough for a main meal.
View Recipe
smoked salmon salad served on a white platter

Smoked Salmon Salad with Farro and Goat Cheese

5 from 6 votes
This salad comes together quickly if you’ve cooked the farro ahead of time. And, not only is it delicious, it’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own.
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Summer Farro Salad

The ultimate feel-good salad loaded with crunchy, raw vegetables, kale, and pecans.
View Recipe

Farro, White Bean and Vegetable Soup

5 from 2 votes
If you want to make this soup vegetarian, use vegetable broth and parmesan rinds instead of pork and chicken broth.
View Recipe

Tuscan Farro Soup

Look for cranberry beans in US stores – they’re the same thing.
View Recipe

Farro Salad with Green Olives, Hazelnuts and Raisins

View Recipe

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12 Comments

  1. Valentina says:

    Okay, I feel a bit guilty saying this — but, when my gluten-free son isn’t home for dinner, I whip out the farro. (I think he’s a little bummed when we all partake in something he can’t try. I totally get it.) Next to rice, farro is my favorite grain. I’ve only done your stove-top pasta method (not pre-soaked), and I’m happy to have these other methods to choose from. I especially love mixing it into salads. Bookmarking this one for sure and just scheduled to pin to my “how to” board. 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’d be the same way, Valentina – no fun to eat something delicious in front of someone you love when they can’t enjoy it too! I’m with you on mixing it into salads – love the texture and nutty flavor it adds.