7 Nutty Farro Substitutes You’re Looking For

Farro is an ancient seed that is a lot like wheat. However, whole-grain farro can be tooth-breakingly hard. So what is Farro lover got to do? If you want to enjoy farro’s cashew notes but don’t have enough time to make it, try your hand at a suitable farro substitute.

I sampled farro in restaurants and loved its taste. I was particularly impressed with how it tasted in risotto and salads. Therefore, I resolved to make this recipe at home too. Alas, I neglected a very important step and had to waste my farro batch.

farro substitute

But, you don’t have to go through all of that, as there are many substitutes that you can replace it with.

Overview on Farro

Farro is popular as the hulled wheat that we use in our recipes. However, the word farro refers to several kinds of ancient grains. These grains originated in the Fertile Crescent and were brought to Italy by Roman legions around 44 BCE.

There are three farro grains, namely, farro medio (emmer), farro piccolo (einkorn), and farro grande (spelt). Farro is believed to have fed the marching Roman soldiers. Moreover, it was also found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Hence, its believed origin.

Farro recipes

  1. Farrotto (farro risotto)
  2. Zuppa di farro (farro and bean soup)
  3. Greek farro salad

Types of farro grain

There are many ways to categorize farro. However, the most popular one is:

  1. Farro piccolo (Triticum monococcum): the small farro and is commonly called einkorn, a German word meaning ‘one kernel.’ This type is quite popular in certain regions. Many people believe that it was the first kind of wheat cultivated by humans.
  2. Farro Medio (Triticum dicoccum): second type, also known as emmer, is medium in size and most commonly used in the United States and Europe. This grain was first cultivated about seventeen thousand years ago by Babylonians. 
  3. Farro grande (Triticum spelta): the third and biggest sized grain. You may know this grain by its other name, spelt. It was first grown in modern-day south Germany about as early as 4,000 BCE.

Cooking Method

There are two main methods of cooking farro.

  1. The Absorption Method: this is the first and most popular method. It is a lot like cooking rice. However, the water proportions are a bit different. I use 1 cup farro for every 2 to 3 cups of water. The most useful thing about this method is that you don’t have to worry about draining water (as in pasta), and you can take it off the stove once all the water is absorbed. You may also cook it in a rice cooker using the brown rice setting.
  2. The Pasta Method: As the name suggests, this method is similar to cooking pasta. All you have to do is prepare your farro like you would boil pasta in a pot of salted water. The greatest thing about this method is that you can avoid having an overcooked or undercooked farro.

Farro Nutrition

Nutrition Amount per serving (½ cup)
Calories 150 kcal
Fiber 7 to 8 g
Protein 7 to 8 g
Fats 1 g
Iron 2 mg
Magnesium 60 mg

What can I use instead of Farro grain?

Many grains fit farro’s flavor and texture profile. My favorite farro substitutes include:

1. Barley

Barley is the best substitute on the list, hence the numbering. It is quite similar to farro when it comes to taste and texture. Therefore, if you desire the earthy farro flavor but can’t find any farro, use this grain instead. Barley also matches farro when it comes to their nutritional content.

Barley Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (¼ cup)
Calories 200 kcal
Carbs 44 g
Fiber 6 g
Protein 5 g
Fats 0.5 g
Iron 2 mg

Another great thing about this substitute is that you can use it in any farro recipe without having to improve at all. Pearled Barley (a less nutritious version of pure Barley) makes for a perfect pearled farro substitute.

Barley has a boatload of health benefits. It is a great grain for people looking to reduce weight. It reduces hunger by making you feel fuller. Moreover, Barley is also packed with soluble and insoluble fibers. These fibers improve digestion and prevent constipation. Some of its other advantages include reducing the risk of gallstones, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

Point to remember: 

Remember that Barley has a vastly different cooking time if your recipe requires pre-cooked farro. Therefore, make appropriate adjustments lest you mess up your dish.



2. Quinoa

Quinoa, a super grain, is part of a wide variety of foods, including soups, pasta, and baking items. It is a very healthy, nutritional, and gluten-free farro substitute.

Quinoa Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (1 cup)
Calories 222 
Carbs 39 g
Fiber 5 g
Protein 8 g
Fats 4 g


Quinoa lowers the risk of numerous chronic diseases, just as it eases the symptoms in those who already have them. In addition, it is great for losing weight and helps balance our body’s blood sugar levels. Moreover, unlike other grains, people with gluten intolerance and coeliac disease can enjoy it.

It is a versatile kernel that you can use in a boatload of recipes. In addition, it is packed with all sorts of minerals and vitamins. Quinoa is one of the few grains that provide our body with the complete set of proteins and essential amino acids.



3. Kasha

Kasha is traditionally a staple in Russia. Like Quinoa, it is also rich in protein and can replace protein meat. Therefore, it is a great protein choice for people who avoid animal-based protein.

Kasha Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (1 cup)
Calories 155
Carbs 34 g
Fiber 4.5 g
Protein 5. 7 g
Fats 1 g

Kasha is an extremely healthy grain. It is known to prevent certain cancers, asthma, anemia, and cardiovascular issues. Moreover, it is great for managing diabetes and improving bone health. Kasha was also found to reduce the risk of gallstone formation.

Not only this, the soluble fibers in kasha prevent bad cholesterol production in the body and promote the production of good cholesterol. Once again, like Quinoa, Kasha, too, is gluten-free. 

Point to remember:

take great care when measuring the grain to water ratio for kasha. As too little or too much can affect its texture and taste.



4. Freekeh

Freekeh, a whole grain, originated from North Africa. The grain is called Durum wheat. However, it is referred to as its bizarre harvesting process, i.e., freekeh. 

Durum wheat is harvested before being fully ripe, and the chaff is removed by burning the stalks. Later the surviving grains are rubbed together to free the toasted kernels. Freekeh takes about fifty minutes to cook fully. However, commercial cracked grains take less time.

Freekeh is rich with fibers that make us feel fuller and thus prevent overeating. It is also a source of carotenoids, lutein, and other antioxidants that prevent eye degeneration due to aging.

Freekeh Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (¼ cup)
Calories 130
Carbs 28 g
Fiber 4 g
Protein 6 g
Fats 1 g
Iron 20 %

Furthermore, it is also rich in insoluble fiber, which improves digestion, prevents irritable bowel syndrome, and relieves conditions like constipation by adding bulk to stool. Last but not least, freekeh contains glutamic acid, which lends muscle strength and increases endurance levels.

Point to remember:

Freekeh does not taste like farro. However, the two have an uncannily similar texture. Thus, it will add a diverse flavor to our recipe while preserving its look and texture.



5. Wheat Berries

Wheat berries are an excellent substitute for farro

. You can use it in various recipes such as soups, salads, high heat dishes like stir-fries or pasta. Wheat berries are quite versatile, so you can also use them as a substitute for wheat, Barley, Quinoa, and rice.

Wheat berries are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, the benefits of which we have already discussed. Moreover, it supports heart health and reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases.

Wheat Berries Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (48 g)
Calories 170
Carbs 32 g
Fiber 4 g
Protein 9 g
Fats 1.5 g
Sugar  0
Sodium  0

Incorporating wheat berries in your diet is a great way to manage blood sugar levels, as the fiber in it prevents sugar absorption in the bloodstream. Finally, it strengthens bones, aids weight loss, and prevents anemia.

Wheat berries are chewy, nutty, and a great source of proteins. They make for a perfect breakfast, especially when served with cinnamon, honey, and milk. I have also tried wheat berries in chili, and I have to say, the results were more than impressive.

Wheat Berries


6. Rye Berries

Rye berries may seem like a strange option on this list, and I won’t deny that I found Rye nuts quite strange too long ago. But upon using it, I realized how truly amazing this food is. It is said that rye is not easily available, but if you can find it, then you must use it at least once.

Rye berries have a grayish-brown color that transitions to dark brown upon cooking. Rye, too, is gluten-free, like Quinoa and kasha. Moreover, it is a healthy choice dense with nutrition and health advantages.

Rye berries carry very little glycemic load, which is great for diabetic and insulin-resistant consumers. In addition, rye berries prevent arterial blockages, purge toxins from the body, and reduce the risk of gallstones, certain cancers, and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, it is a great option for people trying to lose weight as it makes us feel fuller and stimulates metabolism.

Rye berries are also packed with nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

Rye Berries Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (¼  cup)
Calories 150
Carbs 34 g
Fiber 7 g
Protein 5 g
Fats 0.5 g
Iron 1.2 mg
Potassium  230 mg
Sodium  0 mg

Rye Berries


7. Oat Groats

Oat groats are plant-based grains produced by hulling oat kernels. They have a grain texture quite like farro. In addition, their taste is pretty similar too. However, I prefer soaking the groats overnight to obtain the best flavor. If you are a home cook looking to replace farro, then processed oats are a great choice. Oats make a great couple with meat and vegetables.

Oats Nutrition:

Nutrition Amount per serving (46 g)
Calories 170
Carbs 31 g
Fiber 5 g
Protein 6 g
Fats 3 g
Iron 1.8 mg
Sodium  0 mg
Potassium 0 mg

Oats are extremely healthful; they are dense with protein, fats, minerals, and soluble fiber. Moreover, they also contain numerous antioxidants and lipid-lowering substances like sterols, flavonoids, and saponins.

Oat Groats


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use orzo instead of farro?
Yes, you can. Ozro is a great alternative for farro in pasta and risotto.
Can I substitute lentils for farro?
I would not suggest using just any type of lentil. But green lentils are an excellent option to use instead of farro. They have a similar cooking time, appearance, and texture.
Can I use couscous instead of farro?
I will not go as far to call this farro substitute excellent. But it is a reasonable alternative if you can not find anything else to replace farro with.

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