Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Never cook too many grains again. 

Arielle Weg
September 15, 2017

Autumn is in the air, which means I’m making steamy stews, hearty lentils, and grain bowls galore. But as I mark recipe after recipe to add to my cool weather to-cook list, I’ve found that not every recipe works exactly for my lifestyle, especially when it comes to cooking grains and beans.

I generally follow recipes that fall into one of two categories - quick shortcuts for the busy cook or money-saving meals. This means that sometimes I have to make decisions on what’s worth my time, and what’s worth my dime. I’ve recently come into this problem when opting to cook with dried grains and beans.

It started with the Lentil-Tahini Burgers with Pickled Cabbage. I chose the cheaper route and made lentils from dry instead of picking up the pre-cooked package, leaving me with containers full of extra legumes. Then it happened again when I was making the Farro, Green Bean, and Kale Salad for lunch this week. I tried to use up uncooked farro from my cabinet, instead of using precooked farro like the recipe called for. Now I have farro for days.

Realistically, every home cook has different priorities when cooking, and we at Cooking Light know that’s true. We created a guide to some of our more popular grains and beans. Read on to learn everything from how to cook them to how much to make if you’re cooking from scratch. 

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Lentils

For lentils and other dried beans that don't require pre-soaking, 1 cup (about 7 to 8 ounces) will make about 2.5 to 3 cups of cooked.

Try a lentil recipe: Curried Lentil-and-Vegetable Stew

Photo: Linda Pugliese

Brown Rice

Brown rice takes about 30 to 45 minutes to cook. The most effective rice cooking method is to stir 1 cup of rice (about 7 ounces) into 8 cups of boiling water or stock. When done, drain like pasta to make about 3 cups of cooked rice. 

Try a brown rice recipe: Skillet Red Beans and Rice

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Wild Rice

Place 1 cup of wild rice (about 5 1/2 ounces) into 6 cups of boiling water, cook on low for 45 to 50 minutes, and drain like pasta when done. This will make approximately 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cooked wild rice.

Try a wild rice recipe: Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Farro

Farro takes about 25 to 60 minutes to cook, depending on the variety. Pour 1 cup of uncooked farro into 6 cups of boiling water and cook and drain like pasta. This will make about 3 cups of cooked farro.

Try a farro recipe: 15-Minute Shawarma Bowls

Photo: Greg Dupree

Quinoa

Rinse and drain dry quinoa before cooking to avoid bitterness. Place 1 cup of quinoa in 1 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for about 12 minutes or until almost all water has absorbed. Let stand covered on a cool surface for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This will make about 3 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa.

Try a quinoa recipe: Quinoa Bowls with Avocado and Egg

Photo: Linda Pugliese

Beans

If you're looking to use dried beans instead of canned, it's important to note that one 15-ounce can of beans is about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of drained beans. Make 1 cup of dried beans to yield approximately 2 1/3 to 3 cups of cooked beans, depending on the variety. 

Try a bean recipe: Quick Green Chicken Chili

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Wheat Berries

Cook 1 cup of dried wheat berries (about 7 1/2 ounces) for 50-60 minutes in 8 cups of water once boiled, and drain like pasta. This will yield about 2 1/2 cups of cooked wheat berries. 

Try a wheat berry recipe: Herbed Wheat Berry and Roasted Tomato Salad with Grilled Chipotle Chicken Breasts

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Couscous

Cook 1 cup of dry couscous like you would any other pasta to yield approximately 4 cups cooked

Try a couscous recipe: Cauliflower-Couscous Toss

All information on grains in this article is provided by Everyday Whole Grains: 175 New Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice by Ann Taylor Pittman and Food FAQs: Substitutions, Yields & Equivalents by Linda Resnik and Dee Brock unless otherwise noted.