What Is Freekeh?

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2017

This Middle Eastern grain has recently become popular in American supermarkets. Here's what it is and how to cook it.

Freekeh, a traditional Middle Eastern grain popular in Mediterranean and North African cuisines, has recently started appearing on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves in the United States.

Freekeh is made from roasted durum wheat that’s been harvested while the grains are still young and green. The grains are polished (freekeh is a colloquialization of farik, which means “rubbed” in Arabic) and sold whole as well as cracked into smaller pieces. Simmered pasta-style in a large amount of water and then drained, whole freekeh took 45 minutes to cook, while cracked freekeh took about 20 minutes. Once cooked, both styles remained slightly firm and chewy and boasted smoky, nutty, earthy flavors. The freekeh also tasted surprisingly savory: Though it was cooked in only salted water, many tasters thought it had been simmered in chicken broth.

Freekeh can be substituted for other grains such as wheat berries or farro (try it in our recipes for Wheat Berry Salad with Orange and Scallions and Warm Farro with Cranberries, Pecans, and Herbs. It’s also great in soups or hearty stews.

WHOLE: Cooks in 45 minutes

CRACKED: Cooks in 20 minutes