Looking for a substitute for farro? You’ve come to the right place! There are incredible ways to substitute it while keeping the same flavor and textures
This versatile grain can be found in recipes such as soups and salads and if you don’t have it on hand (or can’t have it!) there are some great alternatives.
And if you are looking for more ideas make sure to heck this post about amaranth flour!
What is farro
Farro is an ancient grain of the wheat family, harvested from Einkorn. It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture making it great for dishes such as soups & salads.
You can substitute for farro in recipes calling for brown rice, barley, couscous and freekeh.
When shopping for farro you can find different types
Pearl farro is the most common and easiest to find in grocery stores and online. It’s whole grain that has been polished and cut into pieces.
Farro “bites” (or semi pearled farro)
This type of farro is a whole grain but has been processed at a much lower temperature than pearl farro, preserving more nutrients such as fiber, iron, magnesium and vitamin B.
Whole farro is exactly what it sounds like- the whole grain, complete with bran and germ. You will find that it takes longer to cook than pearl or semi-pearled farro.
How to Cook Farro
While most people prefer cooking pearled & semi-pearled farro; the whole grains require a little extra care and time.
To prepare: Rinse the whole grain under cold water and drain it in a fine mesh strainer. Bring 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil; add the farro, cover with lid and reduce heat to simmer for 40-50 minutes or until tender (you may need to add more water if cooking longer). Drain any excess liquid and fluff with a fork. Use it in your favorite soups, salads or risotto!
Is farro gluten free
No, farro is not gluten-free. It is a relative of wheat and contains gluten, making it an unsafe grain for those who suffer from Celiac disease.
Best Substitutes for Farro
Pearl barley has a similar size and texture as farro, but take much less time to cook.
Cook as you would the whole grain farro.
Honestly this is the best substitute as you would get a flavor, texture and cooking time very similar to farro so you don’t need to change your recipe
You can use brown rice instead of pearled & semi-pearled farro.
Barley works best for soups, risottos and salads while brown rice is good for casseroles, paella or stuffed vegetables.
Cous Cous can be used in place of farro when making salads or sides.
This is best for dishes that will be served hot or warm as the grains can easily clump together. If you are making a cold farro salad, prepare couscous according to package instructions and mix with desired ingredients.
Freekeh is made from green wheat which means it has a much lower gluten content than normal wheat. It has a hearty and smoky flavor, making it great in dishes such as soups and stews.
Prepare freekeh like you would farro by rinsing and draining the grains before cooking according to package instructions (1:2 ratio of water to grain). You can also try using it in your favorite risotto recipe.
Though not a common grain to use in cooking, rye berries make a great farro substitute.
They have an incredible similar flavor to farro but less gluten and a lower glycemic index as well.
If you are looking for a gluten free alternative to farro, oat groats can be prepared in a similar fashion.
Oat groats are the whole oat kernel with only the inedible outer husk removed.
They are gluten free so if you are cooking for someone with Celiac disease, you can feel safe preparing this.
This is a wheat based grain that has been steamed, dried and crushed which removes the bran layer. Bulgur is used in dishes such as tabbouleh, kibbeh and pilafs.
You can use bulgur wheat instead of farro without needing to change your recipe or prepare it differently.
It has a similar texture and flavor to farro.
This is a gluten free grain that is very similar to farro in both size and flavor. Teff contains more calcium, fiber, iron and protein than most other grains which makes it a great addition to any diet.
Teff has a rich, earthy flavor which makes it great for soups, salads and side dishes.
Kasha is another grain that contains gluten, so it is best to use if cooking for someone with Celiac disease. It has a nutty flavor and texture.
Winter wheat is another name for soft wheat berries. They are similar in texture and flavor but require more liquid (i.e., water) when cooking; around 1 1/2 cups per cup of grain.
Triticale is a hybrid grain with both wheat and rye. It is similar to farro in both flavor, texture and cooking time.
Spelt berries are another great substitute as they have a similar taste and texture to farro.
Rinse the spelt before cooking according to package instructions (similar ratio of liquid to grain as farro).
This is a great grain to use as a substitute for farro.
While quinoa can be used in place of any whole grain, it works best as a substitute for farro because it is also gluten free and cooks faster than most other substitutes (i.e., around 15 minutes).
Quinoa is a great source of protein, vitamin E and fiber. It is also a good source for all nine essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein.
The bran layer of the wheat berry is a great source of fiber and iron.
This makes these berries a nutritious option for those whose diets may lack in either or both of those areas.
How to substitute Farro in your favorite recipes
If you have a particularly great recipe that calls for farro and want to substitute, there are a few things to consider when doing so.
The Texture of the Grain
For dishes like salads, risottos or soups, you want to keep similar sizes of the grain so that the ‘bite’ is retained.
In casseroles, paella and stuffed vegetables you can mix farro with longer cooking grains such as brown rice to balance out the textures in your dish.
The Flavor of Farro
Farro has a very distinctive flavor that might not always blend well with your dish.
When swapping it out for something like barley or freekeh, you will get a very similar flavor profile which can then be balanced out when adding ingredients in the recipe or choosing sides.
Frequently asked questions about Farro
Substitute for farro in soup
If you are looking to replace farro in your soup, I would recommend either quinoa or spelt.
Both of these options have a similar texture and flavor profile to farro so they will provide you with great results.
Substitute for farro in salad
Farro is delicious in salads and thee substitution will depend on what you are looking to match. If it is just the overall texture you are interested in replacing, then freekeh or barley will be an excellent swap.
However, if you are looking to substitute in place of the flavor profile as well, barley would be the closest alternative.
Cous cous is also another excellent grain option for salads.
What is the closest grain to farro
Barley! While many grains can be substituted for farro, barley is very similar to farro in both texture and flavor.
Like farro it is often used in hearty soups and stews.
As with most grains, barley can be easily paired with various flavors to create different recipes.
Can you use quinoa instead of farro?
Quinoa is a great substitute if you are looking to keep the same texture and a somewhat similar profile as farro.
It pairs well with dishes that have similar flavors and can also be mixed with heartier grains such as brown rice and barley.
Can you substitute orzo for farro?
It won’t be the same when it comes to flavor and texture but it can definitely work.
There are many great alternatives for farro, depending on what your dish is. Barley works best for soups, risottos and salads.
Brown rice is good for casseroles, paella or stuffed vegetables.
Couscous is best used in hot dishes like soups, stews and mezze while freekeh and oat groats are ideal for cold salads.
As so you can see there’s a perfect alternative for your recipe.