Buckwheat is a nutritious grain-like seed with an earthy flavor that can be used as a wheat or other grain substitute. By following my guide below, you’ll gain the confidence and knowledge needed to make buckwheat on the stove for delicious and healthy buckwheat dishes in your own kitchen.
What is Buckwheat?
If you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons and add a healthy twist to your meals, look no further than buckwheat.
This versatile grain, despite its misleading name, is not a form of wheat at all!
In fact, it belongs to the family of pseudo-cereals and offers a host of health benefits.
From its high protein content to its gluten-free nature, buckwheat has become a popular choice for those seeking a nutritious and delicious addition to their diet.
Buckwheat has a distinct earthy flavor and a triangular shape.
It can be cooked and enjoyed in various forms, such as groats (whole grains), flour, noodles, or used as an ingredient and recipes like buckwheat porridge, Buckwheat Pancakes, and more.
Buckwheat can make a great addition to stir-fries and salads, or be served as a side dish.
Health Benefits of Buckwheat
Buckwheat offers a range of health benefits due to its nutrient composition and unique properties. Here are some notable health benefits of buckwheat:
- Gluten-free. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for people with gluten sensitivities or those following a gluten-free diet. It provides a nutritious alternative to wheat-based products.
- Nutrient-rich. Buckwheat is packed with essential nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamins (B-complex vitamins, vitamin E), and minerals (magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus). Buckwheat is also a great source of potassium.
- Heart Health. Buckwheat contains rutin, a flavonoid known for its potential to support cardiovascular health. Rutin helps to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy blood vessel function.*
- Blood Sugar Management. The fiber and protein content in buckwheat contributes to a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream, promoting balanced blood sugar levels. This could make buckwheat beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar.
- Digestive Health. The high fiber content of buckwheat supports healthy digestion and acts as a prebiotic.
- Antioxidant Properties. Buckwheat contains antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which help protect cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals. Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer and age-related conditions.
- Lower Cholesterol Levels. Studies suggest that buckwheat may help lower cholesterol levels. The fiber and compounds like plant sterols in buckwheat can inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
Should I Toast My Buckwheat?
Toasting buckwheat can add a delightful nutty flavor and enhance its overall taste. However, toasting buckwheat is a matter of personal preference and depends on the specific recipe or dish you are preparing.
- Flavor Enhancement. Toasting buckwheat in a dry skillet or pan before cooking can bring out its natural nutty flavor. This toasting process adds depth and richness to the grain, enhancing the overall taste of your dish.
- Texture. Toasting buckwheat can also impact its texture. It can make the grains slightly firmer and give them a pleasant, chewy texture.
- Recipe Considerations. Toasting is particularly beneficial for dishes where the nutty flavor can complement and enhance other ingredients. For example, toasted buckwheat can work well in salads, stir-fries, or as a base for pilafs.
- Cooking Time. Toasting buckwheat may slightly increase its cooking time as the grains become firmer.
That being said, toasting buckwheat is not mandatory.
If you prefer a milder flavor or are short on time, you can skip the toasting step and cook the buckwheat as is. It will still provide you with its nutritious benefits and can be enjoyed in various dishes.
How to Make Buckwheat on the Stove
- Buckwheat. The most common type you’ll find in most grocery stores is raw untoasted or toasted buckwheat groats. (I like Bob’s Red Mill.)
- Water. The rice-to-buckwheat ratio is critical. It’s 2:1 (2 parts water to 1 part buckwheat).
- Toast the Buckwheat (Optional). Toast the buckwheat groats in a dry skillet.
- Rinse the Buckwheat. Use a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear.
- Boil the Water Then Add the Buckwheat. Make sure your saucepan can hold the buckwheat and water without boiling over.
- Cover and Simmer. Allow to simmer for about 13-15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Remove from Heat and Fluff with a Fork. Remove from heat and after 10 minutes, fluff and top with fresh herbs as desired. ENJOY!
- To Store. Let the buckwheat cool before storing in an airtight container. Refrigerate cooked buckwheat for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Add the buckwheat and a small amount of water or broth (or an ice cube!) to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes until reheated.
- To Freeze. Freeze cooked, cooled buckwheat in a freezer-safe storage container for up to 3-6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Ways to Use Buckwheat
- Salads. Add a scoop of buckwheat to any salad for a boost of filling fiber and nutrition. Or swap it for other whole grains like wheatberries or the quinoa in this Quinoa Salad.
- Main Dishes. Add cooked buckwheat to Italian Stuffed Peppers.
- Stir Fries. Buckwheat can make a great swap in stir-fries. Serve buckwheat with Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry, Tofu Stir Fry, or any of these other stir fry recipes.
Meal Prep Tip
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mesh Strainer. Perfect for rinsing grains like buckwheat and rice.
- Wooden Spoons. The best wooden spoons.
- Measuring Cups. Perfect for getting the buckwheat-to-water ratio.
Buckwheat Tips and Tricks
- Rinse. This removes any debris and helps the buckwheat cook up with a better final texture.
- Ratios and Cooking Times. Remember the proper water-to-buckwheat ratio and cooking times for various buckwheat preparations. The ratio is 2:1 water to buckwheat. (So 2 cups water for every 1 cup of buckwheat).
- Enhance the Flavor. Experiment with adding herbs, spices, and seasonings to elevate the taste of your buckwheat dishes.
- Storage and Shelf Life. Store buckwheat in a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 months, or freeze for 6 months or longer.
- Consider Toasting. Toasting buckwheat is an optional step but it does build extra flavor if you’re looking to maximize your buckwheat experience.
How to Cook Buckwheat
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup buckwheat toast if raw*, or use toasted buckwheat
- Chopped fresh cilantro parsley or herbs of choice (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt optional
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter optional
- In a medium-large sauce pan, bring the water to a boil over high heat.
- Rinse the buckwheat: Place buckwheat in a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear.
- Once the water is boiling, add buckwheat, salt, and butter (if using) and stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan. Allow to simmer for about 13-15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Once the buckwheat is fully cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes with the lid still on. This will allow the buckwheat to absorb any remaining moisture and become fluffy.
- After 10 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with fork. Avoid too much stirring to prevent buckwheat from becoming mushy. Top with herbs as desired.
- *Toast buckwheat (recommended for raw buckwheat groats) before cooking: Heat a dry skillet over medium heat, add the rinsed buckwheat and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the grain turns golden brown.
- TO STORE: Let the buckwheat cool before storing in an airtight container. Refrigerate cooked buckwheat for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Add the buckwheat and a small amount of water or broth (or an ice cube!) to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes until reheated.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze cooked, cooled buckwheat in a freezer-safe storage container for up to 3-6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
One cup of uncooked buckwheat yields roughly 4 cups cooked.
Buckwheat needs to be rinsed. Rinsing buckwheat before cooking is recommended for a couple of reasons including removal of debris and reduction of bitterness.
Buckwheat groats, especially when purchased in bulk, may contain small debris or foreign particles. Buckwheat groats also naturally contain compounds called saponins, which can contribute to a slightly bitter taste.
Rinsing helps remove any dirt, dust, or other impurities that may be present and helps to remove some of these saponins, resulting in a milder flavor.
Buckwheat flour is made from grinding the seeds of the buckwheat plant, specifically the buckwheat groats.
Buckwheat flour is naturally gluten-free, making it a popular choice for those following a gluten-free diet. It is commonly used in baking recipes to make bread, pancakes, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods.
Buckwheat flour is also used in non-baked recipes, such as noodles and pasta. In Japanese cuisine, buckwheat flour is specifically used to make soba noodles.
*Health benefits of buckwheat found on healthline.com.