With a nutty flavor, Wheat Berries are a hidden gem of whole grains that are a versatile and nutritious addition to your diet. Follow this guide below and learn how to cook wheat berries on the stove perfectly every time!
What are Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries are the unprocessed, whole kernels of wheat.
They are the edible part of the wheat plant and contain all three parts of the grain: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
Unlike refined wheat products like white flour, wheat berries have not been stripped of their nutritional content through processing, making them a highly nutritious whole grain option.
Because of the nutty flavor and chewy texture, wheat berries can be used as a standalone side dish, mixed into salads (swap it for the farro in this Summer Farro Salad), incorporated into soups, or used as a base for various grain-based recipes.
No matter how you choose to enjoy them, wheat berries can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your meals.
Cooking wheat berries may take a bit longer than more processed grains, but the result is a hearty and nutritious addition to your meals that’s well worth the time and effort!
Health Benefits of Wheat Berries
Because wheat berries contain all parts of the grain, they offer a wide range of health benefits. Here are some notable health benefits of wheat berries*:
- Rich in Fiber. Wheat berries are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber supports healthy digestion and can contribute to weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness.
- Heart Health. The fiber, minerals, and antioxidants in wheat berries can promote cardiovascular health. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. Whole grains are also associated with a decreased risk of heart disease due to their beneficial impact on blood pressure and inflammation.
- Stable Blood Sugar and Energy. The complex carbohydrates in wheat berries are digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. This can help prevent sudden spikes and crashes in energy. These complex carbs are a great energy source, too!
- Nutrient Powerhouse. Wheat berries are packed with essential nutrients, including B vitamins like niacin, thiamin, and folate, which are vital for energy metabolism and overall well-being. They also contain minerals like magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, which play roles in various bodily functions.
Should I Toast My Wheat Berries?
Toasting wheat berries is not mandatory. It’s up to you whether to toast or not to toast. Here are some reasons to consider:
- Enhances the Flavor. Toasting wheat berries before cooking can add a depth of flavor and enhance the nutty aroma of the grains.
- Texture and Crunch. Toasted wheat berries often have a slightly crunchier texture compared to their untoasted counterparts, adding an enjoyable contrast to salads, soups, and other dishes.
- Recipe Considerations. Toasting wheat berries might worth trying if you want to experiment with new flavors and textures in your recipes.
How to Make Wheat Berries on the Stove
- Wheat Berries. The two varieties available most often are soft or hard white or red wheat berries. Both can cooked as directed below. If you use pearled wheat berries, cooking times may vary.
- Water. The water-to-wheat berries ratio is 3:1 (3 parts water to 1 part wheat berries). For more flavor, you can boil the wheat berries in broth.
- Salt. If using broth, omit the added salt.
- Rinse the Wheat Berries. Use a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear.
- Toast the Wheat Berries (Optional). Toast the wheat berries in a dry skillet.
- Boil the Water Then Add the Wheat Berries. Make sure your saucepan can hold the wheat berries and water without boiling over.
- Partially Cover and Simmer. Reduce the heat and partially cover the pot. Cook wheat berries for 45-60 minutes stirring occasionally. At 30 minutes, start checking periodically for doneness.
- Remove from Heat and Fluff with a Fork. Remove from heat and after drain any excess liquid. Fluff and top with fresh herbs as desired. ENJOY!
- To Store. Let the wheat berries cool before storing in an airtight container. Refrigerate cooked wheat berries for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Add the wheat berries 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 wheat berries in a freezer-safe storage container for up to 3-6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Ways to Use Wheat Berries
- 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 the quinoa in this Quinoa Salad, or for the farro in Italian Farro Salad.
- Main Dishes. Add cooked wheat berries to Italian Stuffed Peppers; the Italian Turkey Sausage Skillet with Farro, Greens, and Beans in The Well Plated Cookbook is another favorite (swap the farro for wheat berries).
- Stir Fries. Wheat berries can make a great rice-swap in stir-fries with veggies and proteins. Serve wheat berries with Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry, Tofu Stir Fry, Bourbon Chicken, or any of these other stir fry recipes.
Meal Prep Tip
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mesh Strainer. Perfect for rinsing grains like wheat berries and rice.
- Wooden Spoons. The best wooden spoons.
- Measuring Cups. Perfect for getting the wheat berries-to-water ratio.
Wheat Berries Tips and Tricks
- Rinse. This removes any debris and excess starch and helps the wheat berries cook with a better final texture.
- Ratios. Remember the proper water-to-wheat berries ratio The ratio is 3:1 water to wheat berries. (So 3 cups water for every 1 cup of wheat berries).
- Yield. 1 cup dry wheat berries yields 2 to 3 cups cooked.
- Enhance the Flavor. Experiment with adding herbs, spices, and seasonings to elevate the taste of your wheat berries dishes.
- Cook in Broth. Enhance the flavor of the wheat berries by cooking in the broth of your choosing. If using broth, omit the added salt.
- Consider Toasting. Toasting wheat berries is an optional step but it does build extra flavor and texture.
How to Cook Wheat Berries
- 1 cup wheat berries
- 3 cups water or vegetable or chicken broth broth
- Pinch kosher salt omit if using broth
- In a mesh sieve, rinse the wheat berries under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris.
- In a medium-sized pot, bring the water or broth to a boil. Add the wheat berries to the boiling water. Add the salt if using.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot.
- Cook the wheat berries for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but still slightly chewy. At 30 minutes, start checking periodically for doneness. To test, scoop out a few berries, let cool a bit, then carefully taste. They should be chewy but not tough. If they are not quite done to your liking, continue cooking and check the wheat berries every 5 minutes. If at any point the pot looks dry, add more water as needed.
- Once the wheat berries are cooked, remove the pot from the heat and drain any excess liquid. Fluff the wheat berries with a fork.
OPTIONAL: Toast Wheat Berries Prior to Cooking
- Rinse the wheat berries under running water to remove any dirt or debris. Shake off as much excess water as you can.
- Place the wheat berries in a dry skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Toast the wheat berries, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and fragrant.
- Once the wheat berries are toasted, remove them from the heat and let them cool for a few minutes.
- Add the toasted wheat berries to the boiling water or broth and cook as directed above
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*Health benefits of wheat berries found on healthline.com.