Most supermarkets today offer a bewildering variety of formerly obscure grains, expanding our options far beyond the days of rice and potatoes. But this presents a fresh challenge: sorting out the best way to cook each. Individual grains require specific timing and liquid volumes, factors further influenced by whether they’re refined and whether you rinse them.

Grain Quantity (in cups)Liquid (in cups)Cook Time (in minutes) Rest Time (in minutes)
Long-Grain White Rice1 1/22 1/415-
Jasmine Rice 1 1/2215-18-
Basmati Rice1 1/22 1/415-18-
Short- or Medium-Grain Japanese White Rice1 1/21 3/41210-15
Long Grain Brown Rice11 3/42510
Short Grain Brown Rice1 1/4235-4010
Wild Rice11 3/425-35-
Quinoa1 1/42 1/415-205
Millet1 1/42 1/415-2010
Farro*1 1/2415-
Barley1 1/2425-30-
Coarse Bulger1 1/42 1/215-205

*Strain if water remains in the pan after cooking

To simplify this, we tested the 12 most widely available grains, cooking up many batches of each to determine optimal timing and liquid volume. We standardized the cooking process wherever possible, aiming for a yield of 4 cups cooked grains per variety. We rinsed and drained each grain before cooking (to remove debris and excess starch), and we seasoned the cooking water with ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt.

To cook, we combined the grain, water and salt in a saucepan, then brought it to a boil before covering, reducing the heat to medium-­low and cooking. Timing begins when the cover goes on the pot. Some grains had the best taste and texture when left to steam off heat after cooking.