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How to Cook Millet: 4 Methods + Tips & Tricks

If you are not sure how to cook millet, you are not alone. Although millet is gaining in popularity in North America, many people still think that it’s only good for birds. In reality, this gluten-free whole grain is delicious and can be a great addition to a healthy diet.

In this post, I am sharing with you my tips and tricks and the basic principles of cooking millet on the stovetop and in the Instant Pot.

Cooked millet in a pot with a wooden spoon in it. The pot is standing on a marble background.

What is Millet?

Millet is a small round grain that looks similar to quinoa or couscous. Technically, it’s not a grain but a seed, although it’s used just like any other whole grain in cooking.

Millet has been a staple food in many countries around the world for thousands of years. This ancient grain is nutritious, delicious, budget-friendly, and easy to cook.

There are several different types of millet. The most readily available type of millet is called proso millet.

Close up of loose uncooked millet seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions About Millet

If you are new to cooking millet, here is some more information about it:

What Does Millet Taste Like?

Millet has a mild taste with a hint of bitter and sweet notes. It’s often described as having a “nutty flavor”. It has a creamy, slightly chewy texture. Thanks to its neutral flavor, millet is suitable for sweet as well as savory dishes.

How Do You Serve Millet?

Millet makes a great side dish or a base for vegetable and grain bowls. You can also serve it as a breakfast cereal.

Millet can also be added to soups. For example, millet is an ingredient in Russian Fish Soup.

What Is The Glycemic Index Of Millet?

The glycemic index of millet depends on the way it was prepared.

For example, millet porridge has a glycemic index of 62 and a glycemic load of 22. Boiled millet has a glycemic index of 71 and a glycemic load of 26 (source: glycemicindex.com).

Is Millet Gluten-Free?

Yes, millet is naturally gluten-free.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Millet?

Millet doesn’t take long to cook. Usually, you only need about 20 to 30 minutes to cook it.

What is the Ratio of Millet to Water?

The grain to water ratio of millet is pretty flexible. For 1 part of millet, you can use anywhere from 2 to 4 parts of water.

The amount of water will impact the texture of the cooked millet. The more water you use, the creamier will be the cooked millet.

Do You Have to Soak Millet Before Cooking?

It’s not necessary to soak millet before cooking it.

However, some people still prefer to do it because they feel that soaking grains improves the digestion and absorption of nutrients. If you decide to soak millet, you will need to slightly decrease the amount of liquid you use for cooking.

How Much Millet Do I Get If I Cook 1 Cup of Millet?

1 cup of whole-grain millet yields around 3 1/2 cups of cooked millet. 

Where Can I buy Millet?

Millet can usually be found in natural food stores. Some grocery stores also carry it. If you can’t get it locally, you can always order it online.

How Do You Store Millet?

The whole uncooked millet should be stored in airtight packaging in a cool, dry place. You can store it in the refrigerator or even a freezer.

Overhead shot of cooked millet in a white bowl standing on a marble background.

Tips for Cooking Millet

Millet is quite easy to cook. But there are still a few tips and tricks that will help you cook the best millet possible:

  • Give millet a good rinse before cooking it. Rinsing whole millet helps to remove impurities and improves the texture of the dish.
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pan for cooking millet to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Keep an eye on the millet at all times during cooking because it can spill over.
  • Resist the urge to constantly stir millet during cooking because stirring breaks down the grains.
  • Millet solidifies as it cools, so if you have some leftover millet, you may end up with large millet chunks. Just break the chunks with a fork before reheating the millet.
  • If all water has been absorbed, but the millet is still hard, you can take it off the heat, cover the pot with a thick terry towel or a blanket, and leave it for 15 to 30 minutes. The residual heat inside the pot will help soften the millet.

Side view close up shot of cooked millet in a bowl.

How to Prep Millet for Cooking

Step 1. Remove Any Black Bits.

Sometimes I came across millet that has small pieces of dirt or even stones mixed with the grains. So, I made it a habit to check the grain before rinsing it. The good thing is that millet is light in color, and anything dark will be easily visible.

So, before rinsing the grain, just look through it and remove any dirt or debris.

Step 2. Rinse the Millet

The secret to rinsing millet is doing it with hot water. Millet is relatively high in fat, and hot water helps to loosen up dust and residue that sticks to the grains. The water doesn’t have to be very hot. You can use hot tap water, which is still comfortable to the touch.

Rinsing also helps to start the process of rehydrating the grains.

Here is how to rinse millet:

  1. Place millet in a large bowl.
  2. Pour hot tap water over the grain to cover the millet by a couple of inches. Using your hands, give the grains a good swirl, gently rub the grains between your fingers. You will notice the water getting cloudy. Carefully drain as much water as you can. It’s fine if some water is left in the bowl. Repeat a few times. At this point, you will most likely notice that the millet will become fragrant.
  3. Transfer the millet into a strainer and rinse it under running hot water.
  4. Shake the strainer to get rid of the excess water.

Overhead shot of rinsed millet in a mesh strainer sitting in a white bowl.

How to Cook Millet

Millet can be cooked using different cooking methods. Below, you will find the basic methods of cooking this healthy grain – the absorption and pilaf methods, millet porridge, and Instant Pot millet.

Method # 1 – Absorption Method

The absorption method is the most basic method of cooking grains.

If you have ever cooked grains before, you most likely already used this method. Cooking grains using the absorption method means that all the water should be fully absorbed by the grain by the end of cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2.5 cups water
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Place the rinsed millet in a pot.
  2. Add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the millet for about 18-20 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and mixing the grain too often because it will cause the grains to fall apart.
  4. Take off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Method # 2 – Pilaf Method

If you want to add more flavor to millet, then the pilaf method is for you.

The pilaf method is similar to the absorption method. However, before adding the liquid, the grain is first sauteed in oil often with aromatics such as spices, herbs, onion, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, mushrooms, etc. To add even more flavor to the dish, you can use chicken, mushroom, or vegetable stock instead of water.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2.5 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rinsed millet and stir until the grains are coated in oil. Cook the millet in oil until the grain is heated through and becomes fragrant for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the liquid and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the millet for about 18-20 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and mixing the grain too often because it will cause the grains to fall apart.
  4. Take off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cooked millet in a pot with a wooden spoon in the millet.

Method # 3 – Millet Porridge

Breakfast porridge is one of the most popular ways to serve millet. Cooked millet is naturally creamy, so it’s perfect for making porridge.

Millet porridge can be served for breakfast or anytime when you want a light, comforting meal. To make millet porridge more delicious and nutritious, you can top it up with fresh fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, and/or nut butter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk of your choice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or another sweetener (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the rinsed millet into a pot.
  2. Add the water, milk, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the millet for about 20 to 23 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and mixing the grain too often because it will cause the grains to fall apart.
  4. Take the pot off the heat. If using the sweetener and butter, open the lid and put them on top of the porridge. Close the lid and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes.
  5. Open the lid again and mix in the melted butter and sweetener. Serve.

Overhead shot of the millet porridge in a white bowl standing on a marble surface.

Method # 4 – Instant Pot Millet

If you own an Instant Pot, I highly recommend using it for cooking millet.

It’s usually pretty hard to get fluffy millet because of the seed structure, which falls apart when cooked. Because a pressure cooker is sealed and millet cooks quicker than with other methods, Instant Pot millet turns out loose and fluffy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Add the rinsed millet, water, and salt to the cooking pot of the 6-quart Instant Pot. You will be cooking it on high pressure, so make sure the sealing ring is in place. Close the lid shut. Turn the nob to the sealing position. Turn on the Keep Warm function.
  2. Cook the millet on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  3. To release pressure, let the Instant Pot go into Keep Warm mode and wait for 10 minutes. Then, press Cancel and carefully position the steam release valve on the lid to the Venting position.
  4. Carefully open the lid. You will have a lot of condensation on the lid. Make sure that this water doesn’t get into the millet and dump it into the sink. Fluff the millet with a fork and serve.

Cooked millet inside an Instant Pot with a wooden spatula in the millet.

How to Store and Reheat Cooked Millet

  • Storing: Cooked millet can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight glass container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Millet can be reheated in a microwave or on the stovetop. If the cold millet is too dry, you can add a little bit of water or milk. If reheating on the stovetop, add some oil if needed.
How to Cook Millet

How to Cook Millet

Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

Learn how to cook millet in four different ways! Cook a perfect millet on the stovetop, make a creamy millet porridge or prepare a light and fluffy Instant Pot millet.

Ingredients

For the Absorption Method:

  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2.5 cups water
  • pinch of salt

For the Pilaf Method:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2.5 cups chicken, mushroom, or vegetable stock
  • pinch of salt

For the Millet Porridge:

  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk of your choice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or another sweetener (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil (optional)

For the Instant Pot Millet:

  • 1 cup millet, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

Absorption Method

  1. Place the rinsed millet in a pot.
  2. Add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the millet for about 18-20 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and mixing the millet too often because stirring breaks down the grains.
  4. Take off the heat and let it stand covered for 5 minutes.
  5. Flaff with a fork and serve.

Pilaf Method

  1. In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rinsed millet and stir until the grains are coated in oil. Cook the millet until the grain is heated through and becomes fragrant, for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the liquid and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the millet for about 18-20 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and mixing the millet too often because stirring breaks down the grains.
  4. Take off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Millet Porridge

  1. Placed the rinsed millet into a pot.
  2. Add the water, milk, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the millet for about 20 to 23 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and mixing the millet too often because stirring breaks down the grain.
  4. Take the pot off the heat. If using the sweetener and butter, open the lid and put them on top of the porridge. Close the lid and let it stand covered for about 5 minutes.
  5. Open the lid and mix in the melted butter and sweetener. Serve.

Instant Pot Millet

  1. Add the rinsed millet, water, and salt to the cooking pot of the 6-quart Instant Pot. You will be cooking on high pressure so make sure the sealing ring is in place. Close the lid shut. Turn the nob to the sealing position. Turn on the Keep Warm function.
  2. Cook the millet on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  3. To release pressure, let the Instant Pot go into Keep Warm mode and wait for 10 minutes. Then, press Cancell and carefully position the steam release valve on the lid to the Venting position.
  4. Carefully open the lid. You will have a lot of condensation on the lid. Make sure that this water doesn't get into the millet. fluff the millet with a fork and serve.


Notes

The nutrition information is for the millet cooked in water with a pinch of salt.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 189Total Fat 2.1gSaturated Fat 0.4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1.7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 41.3mgCarbohydrates 36.4gFiber 4.3gSugar 0.8gProtein 5.5g

Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.

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