Using a Pressure Cooker to Cook Grains

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2010

Whole grains like brown rice, barley, and wheat berries can take anywhere from 35 minutes to a whopping 1 1/2 hours to cook. Could adding a little pressure help speed things along?

We cooked a batch of each grain in a pressure cooker, combining 1 cup of grain with 5 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt. After bringing the cookers to high pressure over high heat (about seven minutes), we reduced the heat just to the point where the cookers maintained high pressure. Although the time it took to create tender, al dente texture varied by type of grain, using the pressure cooker reduced the cooking time by up to two-thirds compared with simmering in an ordinary covered pot. (Note: To serve cooked grains following this approach, drain them in a colander first to remove excess water.)

GRAINCOOK TIME (Pressure Cooker)COOK TIME (Simmered)
Brown Rice15 minutes35 minutes
Barley18 minutes50 minutes
Wheat40 minutes90 minutes