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Breakfast Cereal Cooking Times for 20 Porridge Grains

Cooking Times for 30 Cereal Grains

Eating whole grain porridge for breakfast is a great way to add more protein, fiber, B vitamins and other nutrients to your diet. Preparing hot breakfast cereal on the stove-top is also easy and fast: most whole grain cereals and gluten-free pseudocereals cook in a regular pot in less than 20 minutes on the stove-top, and some instant or quick-cooking cereal flakes take less than 5 minutes to cook.

The table below lists the approximate cooking times for 20 common porridge grains. We've included both common porridge ingredients – such as rolled oats, steel-cut oats, Scandinavian rye flakes, and barley flakes – as well as a number of less common hot breakfast grains, including buckwheat, quinoa, spelt, kamut, teff, millet and spelt (dinkel wheat). The chart also shows which grains are naturally gluten-free in order to help those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease to make better decisions.

Basic Cooking Instructions for Breakfast Porridge on the Stove-Top

The basic porridge cooking instructions are more or less the same for all common breakfast cereals: First, fill a heavy-bottomed pot with clean, filtered water, using the water-to-cereal ratio indicated in the table below and add a pinch of salt (the amounts of water and salt are shown per 1 U.S. cup of uncooked grains; if you want to use more grains, adjust the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly). Put the pot on the stove, and bring the lightly salted water to a boil.

Next, stir in the grains using a wooden spoon, and wait until the mixture returns to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the all the water is absorbed and/or the cereal mixture reaches the desired consistency (for approximate cooking times, see the chart below). Keep in mind that the ideal cooking times and liquid amounts can vary from brand to brand, which means that you may have to add more water – or drain off excess water – a few minutes before the expected end of the cooking time if the mixture seems too thick or thin.

When the porridge reaches the desired texture (typically thick and creamy), remove the stock-pot or sauce pan from the stove, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes in the pot. Stir before serving.

Chart: Cooking Times for Breakfast Cereals

Uncooked cereal (1 cup) Gluten-free* Cooking time (minutes) Water in cups Salt in teaspoons
Barley flakes, quick-cookingno4 to 82½
Barley flakes, regularno18 to 223½
Buckwheat groats (kasha)yes10 to 153 ½¼
Dinkel, thick flakesno18 to 222 ½¼
Kamut, flakes, thick-rolledno18 to 223¼
Kamut, flakes, thin-rolledno8 to 122 ½¼
Millet, grits or mealyes10 to 153½
Millet, whole (hulled)yes20 to 303½
Oats, instant or quick-cookingyes **3 to 52¼
Oats, old-fashionedyes **12 to 203¼
Oats, pinhead or Irishyes **10 to 203¼
Oats, rolled, medium-thickyes **7 to 153¼
Oats, steel-cutyes **10 to 203¼
Quinoa, flakesyes2 to 33¼
Rye flakes, thick-rolledno10 to 203½
Rye flakes, thin-rolledno4 to 53 ½½
Spelt, thick flakesno18 to 222 ½¼
Teff, whole grainyes15 to 203¼
Triticale, flakes, thickno18 to 223½
Wheat, crackedno15 to 203½
Wheat, flakes, thick-rolledno25 to 353 ½½


* The cereals indicated as gluten-free in the chart above do not themselves contain any gluten. However, any grain can become contaminated with gluten during processing or storage if it is exposed to gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye, kamut or farro.

** Oats are naturally gluten-free; however, they are typically processed with equipment that is also used for processing gluten-containing crops, which makes oats unsuitable for people with celiac disease. Oats can also become contaminated with gluten if they are grown close to wheat fields.

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Cooking Times for 30 Whole Grains
Cooking times chart for whole grains, covering both stove-top and pressure cooking times.

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