List of Whole Grains: Suggested Uses and Cooking Methods

Are you interested in increasing your intake of whole grains but are unsure where to start?

Check out the table below for a list of some common whole grains, their uses and suggested cooking methods.


Grain Description Uses and Cooking Methods


Very small seeds with slightly peppery flavor.

Boil in 2-1/2 cups liquid such as water or half water and half stock or apple juice until seeds are tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Add some fresh herbs or ginger-root to the cooking liquid for more interesting flavor.


Hulled barley and pearled barley are the most common types of barley. Hulled is more nutritious, but also chewier.

Add to soups or stews, or use as basis for salad or side dish.

Brown and wild rice

Brown rice has a tasty, nutty flavor. As well as regular brown rice, you can try several other varieties including brown basmati rice

Brown rice takes longer to cook, but can be precooked, frozen and reheated. Some stores carry ready-cooked brown rice in frozen form. Try as a substitute for any white rice dish. Especially good as a side-dish. Wild rice is actually a grass, but can be served in place of rice and is even more flavorful than brown rice.

Buckwheat (Kasha, Soba noodles)

Full of good nutrients and high in protein with a rich, nutty flavor.

Use in place of rice as side dish. Buckwheat flour is good for pancakes. Also try Japanese Soba noodles which are made from ground buckwheat.

Bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)

Made from whole wheat that's been soaked and baked to speed up cooking time. Cracked wheat takes longer to cook.

Use in Middle Eastern dishes like Tabouli and pilafs.


Corn is the only grain eaten as a vegetable.

Popped corn makes a good high-fiber snack. Corn grits (popular in the South) are not whole grain but are made from hominy, which is refined corn stripped of the bran and germ.

Couscous (whole wheat)

Couscous is a form of wheat pasta. Only whole wheat couscous is wholegrain

Couscous is easy to cook. Bring 1 cup of water to the boil, remove from the heat, and add 1 cup of couscous with some dry stock for extra flavor.


Has a mild flavor and pleasant, slightly crunchy texture. There are several different colored varieties.

Rinse before using to remove the bitter coating. Boiling in water, stock or fruit juice for 12 to 15 minutes or until the rings around the center of the grain detach themselves. Use quinoa in place of rice as a side dish, in pilafs, stuffing, or salads.

Wheat Berries

These are wheat kernels that have been stripped only of their inedible outer hulls.

They can be cooked for use in casseroles and soups or as a nutritious nutty-tasting side dish. They can also be sprouted for use in salads and breads.

Whole wheat

Most common form is whole wheat flour

Use instead of white flour in baking. Try substituting 25 to 50% of white flour for whole wheat.

Whole oats and oatmeal

Several varieties of oats including steel cut oats (Irish oats, pinhead oats), oat groats, and rolled oats.

Usually used for breakfast cereal and cookies.

Other whole grains available in the US include kamut, whole rye, millet, spelt, teff and triticale.