11 Types of Whole Grains

And How to Use Them in Your Cooking

  • 01 of 11


    Teff Porridge Nuts and Berries on Top

    Yuko Yamada / Getty Images

    Teff is considered to be an "ancient grain" that has been eaten in parts of the world for generations and has recently made its way into American grocery stores and home kitchens. Like quinoa, teff is gluten-free, but because of its small size, it tends to be a little less versatile. 

  • 02 of 11


    Bowl of boiled Quinoa

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    Quinoa is a popular favorite whole grain for a couple of reasons. First, it's much quicker-cooking than other whole grains. Quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook, and quinoa flakes cook in just a few minutes. Second, it's high in protein with 18 grams per cup, cooked, making it perfect vegetarians and vegans.

    It has a chewy, mildly nutty flavor similar to pasta which makes it perfect for soaking up stir-fry sauces or salad dressings. If you haven't already, try this popular whole grain. It might just top the list of your favorite whole grains, too!

  • 03 of 11


    Photograph of a wooden spoon full of farro salad

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    It looks like barley, it tastes like barley, it cooks like barley, but it's not barley; it's farro! Farro is an ancient grain which has long been part of traditional Italian meals.

  • 04 of 11


    Kaniwa in a wooden spoon

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    While it seems like every grain has, at one time or another, been declared "the new quinoa", kaniwa, a close relative of quinoa, might actually be it. With nearly as much protein as quinoa and an excellent boost of iron, kaniwa is a smart choice for vegetarians and vegans. 

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Bulgur Wheat

    Raw Bulgur

    Angelafoto / Getty Images

    Most people have heard of bulgur wheat since it's the main ingredient in a traditional Middle Eastern tabouli salad, but for most of us, that's probably the only way we've ever tried it. Instant bulgur, also called fine-grain bulgur, cooks in just five minutes. Use it instead of rice in a rice salad or rice pilaf recipe, and you'll probably never go back to plain white rice again.

  • 06 of 11


    Bowl of millet

    Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Getty Images

    If you like cooking with whole grains, try using millet! Although it may be most widely used as birdseed, millet is a whole grain that can be used like rice in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes.

  • 07 of 11


    Whole Grain Salad with Freekeh, Chicken and Fresh Herbs

    PoppyB / Getty Images

    The latest grain to join the "ancient grain" trend is freekeh, which is gaining popularity, thanks in part to its promotion by the queen of all media, Oprah herself. Long eaten in the Middle East, freekeh is whole wheat that has been harvested while still green and young, then roasted and cracked.

    It's incredibly high in fiber and, since it's high in protein, it's a perfect choice for vegetarians and vegans. Try adding a bit to a salad or soup for a nutritional boost. It just might be your new favorite type of whole grain.

  • 08 of 11


    barley from above


    Michelle Arnold / Getty Images

    Chewy and nutty, barley may be more widely enjoyed as an ingredient in beer than in its whole grain state, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try!

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Israeli Couscous (Pearl Couscous)

    Israeli couscous

    Lew Robertson / Getty Images

    If you haven't already added Israeli couscous to your whole grains list, you just might have a new favorite. With a larger shape, like barley, but rounder, Israeli couscous is characterized by a bit of a nutty, savory flavor, and a chewy texture.

    Israeli couscous is made from semolina flour, so it is not technically a whole grain. Keep an eye out for whole-grain Israeli couscous, which is made from 100% whole wheat flour, toasted, and nothing else.

  • 10 of 11

    Wheat Berries

    Sprouted Wheat Berries

    Mattie Hagedorn/Flickr

    Although everyone's probably heard of whole wheat bread and whole wheat products, very few people have ever actually eaten wheat berries–which are whole kernel wheat grains. They take quite a bit of time to cook, but they're well worth the effort if you've got time to simmer them on the stovetop for a while.

    Try adding a handful to a favorite soup or chili recipe in order to add extra fiber and nutrition or pair it with a vegetable stir-fry as you would with rice. 

  • 11 of 11

    Buckwheat or Buckwheat Groats

    Bowl with cooked buckwheat on table

    belchonock / Getty Images

    Buckwheat is not technically a whole grain, but it's used much like other grains and is just as healthy. It's actually a healthy high-protein gluten-free seed. If you've ever had Japanese soba noodles, you've probably had buckwheat, since these noodles are usually made from buckwheat flour.