Photo: Hélène Dujardin, Styling: Nathan Carrabba
Hands-on Time
30 Mins
Total Time
2 Hours 40 Mins
Makes about 3 cups

If you keep the oil temperature as hot as specified, the grains don’t absorb much oil: This does not take whole grains into unhealthy territory. More importantly, frying turns whole grains into the crunchiest, most wildly delicious little nuggets with amazing recipe versatility. They’re great on creamy soups, in salads, on casseroles, and as breading. They’re also great substitutes for nuts—good for folks with allergies.

Fried grains keep beautifully: up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature, or for 3 to 4 months in the freezer. We always keep at least two types on hand (in the freezer)—one finer/smaller grain like quinoa, and a larger one like farro—and we’ll sprinkle a little over yogurt, stir some into ice cream, top mac and cheese with it, and use it anywhere else where we yearn for some crunch. The technique works best with quinoa, barley, farro, spelt, millet, and brown rice, and the frying time is the same for all.

How to Make It

Step 1

Line a jelly-roll pan with several layers of paper towels. Spread cooked grains out into a thin layer on paper towels. Let stand 1 to 2 hours to dry out surface moisture, stirring grains occasionally.

Step 2

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven until a thermometer submerged in oil registers 375°F. Do not use a smaller pot (moisture in the grains will cause the oil to bubble up vigorously). Add 1/2 cup cooked grains to oil; do not add more than this, or oil may bubble over. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until grains are browned and crisp; do not allow temperature of oil to drop below 350°F. Remove fried grains from pan with a fine wire mesh ladle; drain on paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining grains, 1/2 cup at a time.

Chef's Notes

Executive Editor at Cooking Light, Ann Pittman, explores whole grain's all-around awesomeness in her new book, Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice. This complete guide to healthy, hearty, and incredibly versatile whole grains includes something for everyone and offers innovative new techniques to ensure the most flavorful results. From simple, delicious sides to satisfying mains and sublime desserts, this James Beard Award-winning author educates, inspires and does not disappoint. Discover a whole new way of looking at whole grains, how they are prepared, and how they can be incorporated into a healthy diet at every meal.

Also appeared in: Oxmoor House, March, 2016,Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice