How to Cook Wheat Berries

Learn how to cook wheat berries perfectly every time! This chewy, nutty whole grain is a delicious addition to soups, salads, bowls, and more.

Wheat berries

When I lived in Austin, I bought wheat berries all the time from the bulk bins at our grocery store. But when we moved to Chicago, I couldn’t find them anywhere – not in bulk, not pre-bagged, nothing. Finally, this fall, I noticed a local wheat grower selling organic wheat berries at our farmers market. I love pairing this earthy whole grain with autumn ingredients like squash, kale, and dried cranberries, so I knew I had to get some.

Since then, I’ve been tossing wheat berries into salads and side dishes like crazy! For how delicious they are, I don’t think they get nearly enough attention. They have a delightful chewy texture and sweet, nutty flavor. Plus, they’re chock-full of nutrients. They’re the least processed, whole grain form of the wheat that we often eat in wheat flour and wheat bread. (You could even use them to mill your own flour if you wanted!) In any case, because the whole wheat kernel is left intact, wheat berries have a high protein content, and they’re rich in iron, dietary fiber, and vitamins. If you’ve never cooked with them, I highly recommend you try it!

Soft and hard red spring wheat berries in jars

How to Cook Wheat Berries

Wheat berries are easy to cook, but cooking times can vary widely based on the type you buy. The two varieties I see available most often are Soft and Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries. I cook them both according to this method:

  1. Bring at least 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add 1 cup rinsed wheat berries, and reduce the heat.
  3. Simmer until tender, checking periodically for doneness. I start checking at the 25 minute mark and continue checking every 15-20 minutes. Soft wheat berries can cook in as little as 30 minutes, whereas hard ones sometimes need as much as 90. Have patience, and keep simmering until the grains are tender.
  4. When the wheat berries are soft, drain any excess water. Enjoy them right away, or store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Note: Pearled wheat berries are sometimes sold in stores and online. The pearling process removes the outer layer of bran from the wheat kernel. While it strips away many of the grain’s nutrients, it also shortens the cooking time considerably. If you have pearled wheat berries, start checking them earlier, after just 15 minutes on the stove.

Cooked wheat berries

Wheat Berries Serving Suggestions

If you’re new to cooking wheat berries, the number of ways you can use them will delight you. As a general rule, they work well in any recipe where you might use farro, as they’re both types of wheat. Substitute them for the farro in my Farmhouse Farro Salad, my Pomegranate Salad, or in these Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Otherwise, these are my favorite ways to use them:

What are your favorite wheat berry recipes? Let me know in the comments!

wheat berries

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How to Cook Wheat Berries

rate this recipe:
5 from 3 votes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
to: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves 6
We love wheat berries! This chewy, nutty whole grain is a delicious addition to soups, salads, bowls, and more.


  • 1 cup dry wheat berries
  • 3 cups water, more as needed


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  • Rinse the wheat berries and add to the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 to 40 for soft wheat berries, 45 to 90 minutes for hard wheat berries, or until tender. The timing will depend on your wheat berries. Add more water if necessary. Drain.


Yield: 3 cups cooked wheat berries


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Carla

    I bought some wheatberries but they are a solid rock in the package. Is this normal? I am not even sure I can break it up it is so hard


    • Pam Heil

      Are the wheat berries in a vacuum pack? I would open it and see if the berries separate once the vacuum is broken. Also smell them to see if there is an off odor. If you are at all in doubt I would not use them. The wheat berries I have are very loose in the jar, dry and separate. Hope this helps you, Pam

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Carla, they should come dry (they’re found in the dried grains/rice aisle)

  2. Niamh

    Are these the same as wheatgrass grains??? Not sure…

  3. Laura

    My mom used to use these as a meat substitute or meat stretcher. The most common use was to substitute at least half the burger in a given recipe: spaghetti, sloppy joes, tacos, pot pies.. She had nine kids to feed. Helped us stay healthy and full but made the dollars stretch too.


      I love that! Stretching meat with substitutes like wheat berries, mushrooms, tofu– all great ways to save money and improve the health level of food. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Georgia Kuhen

    My family loves them as a pasta/rice substitute with a little butter and Parmesan cheese and some fresh parsley.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Sounds delicious!

  5. Gary Baker, PhD

    I learned about wheatberries in SE Kansas. 4H kids would hand select the most perfect wheatberries from mounds of them, place in a one-gallon glass jar for competition at their county fairs. Wheat berries are great for breakfast with cream and sugar. Try it.


  6. Richard

    So I now have a bag of wheatberries that does nnot say whether they are ‘hard’ or ‘soft’. Is there a way to differentiate the two kinds other than cooking time needed?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Richard, they’re not always labeled, you just have to test them for doneness early, if they’re hard, keep going until they’re tender.

    • Jim Dunkle

      put the berry on a hard surface and use a spoon to smash it. If it smashes it’s soft. If it shatters it’s hard wheat. That’s how I was told.

  7. Laura D

    Have you ever made this in the instant pot or a pressure cooker??

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Laura, I haven’t, but I bet that would cut the time down.

      • Mary Catherine

        5 stars
        I have made them in my instapot – I put them on the “beans” setting which is high for 20 minutes and they come out great!

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          thanks for the tip!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.