Bulking out on meals in a healthy way that doesn’t get boring can often be a difficult task. Too many rice meals in a row can get dull, but it’s hard to know how to cook other grains. If you want an easy-to-prepare grain that tastes delicious and has a fantastic fluffy texture, then you have to try millet.
Millet is an ancient grain that was once very popular but is less commonly consumed nowadays. However, it’s time for millet to make a comeback. Read this guide for everything you need to know about this incredible, versatile grain.
What is Millet
Millet is a cereal grain that looks similar to seed and can be cooked and eaten in all kinds of ways. Loaded with protein and fiber, millet is a healthy addition to a balanced diet.
It’s possible to cook millet using just water, millet, and a pan with a lid. In just 30 minutes, you can have a delicious side dish prepared. Millet has a slightly sweet taste that can turn nutty when toasted, but it tastes best absorbing the surrounding flavors.
Do You Have to Soak Millet Before Cooking?
Millet doesn’t have to be soaked before being cooked, but it does help improve the texture. Pre-soaking your millet can make it easier for the body to digest as well. This is particularly useful for anyone who might suffer from stomach issues.
Soaking the millet helps to break down the millet ever so slightly, softening the harder outer shell. When you come to eat the millet, you’ll find the texture is smoother and fluffier.
If you’ve forgotten to soak your millet, then it’s perfectly fine to cook from dry! However, once you’ve gotten used to the texture of soaked millet, you’ll struggle to go back.
How To Cook Millet
Millet is quick and easy to cook, and requires little effort for a fantastic result. It’s also a versatile grain to cook, and can adapt to whatever kitchen gadgets you might have on hand.
Different methods tend to produce similar results, but play around to find which works best for you.
Before You Begin
Millet can often be purchased in large bags from grocery stores and health shops. It should be clean, with no dirt, and almost no smell. If there’s a rancid smell, the millet has gone off and should be disposed of.
Cleaning millet is quick and easy. Place the millet in a fine mesh colander, and run it under cold water. Stir the millet with a spoon to ensure it all gets rinsed. When the water runs clear, check the grains for any dirt. Drain before cooking.
How To Soak Millet
Soaking is a useful step, but it does require some advanced planning. Millet should be soaked for around 4 to 8 hours before cooking.
- To soak your millet, place 1 cup of the grain in a bowl with 3 cups of water. Adjust the measurements as necessary, but always 1 part millet to 3 parts water.
- Leave for 4 to 8 hours. Soaking millet doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Do not leave for longer than 12 hours, or it can start to ferment.
- Drain well before cooking.
Cooking Millet on The Stove Top
- To cook millet on the stovetop, you need a thick-bottomed cooking pot or pan.
- Add the millet to the pan, and pour in cold water. For soaked millet, 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of millet is the preferred ratio. For unsoaked millet, 2 cups of water are needed for each cup of millet.
- Bring to a boil. This should take around 5 minutes.
- When the water has reached a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and leave to simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. For soaked millet, this will take around 7 minutes. For unsoaked millet, 13 minutes.
- When the water has been absorbed, turn the heat off. Leave the pan covered to sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, and use a fork to fluff the millet. It’s now ready to be served.
Cooking Millet In A Pressure Cooker
- A pressure cooker is a fast way to cook millet on the stovetop.
- Add the millet and water to the pressure cooker, using the same ratios as the stovetop. Add a teaspoon of olive oil as well.
- Close the lid, and cook on medium-high heat. Soaked millet will take around 5 minutes to cook, or 1 to 2 whistles. Unsoaked millet will need 7 to 8 minutes or 2 to 3 whistles.
- Remove the pressure cooker from the heat, and allow the pressure to release.
- Remove the lid, and fluff up the millet grains with a fork.
Cooking Millet In An Instant Pot
- An Instant Pot is similar to a pressure cooker but often easier and safer to use. If you have an advanced Instant Pot with multiple settings, cook your millet using the pressure cooker function.
- Add millet to the Instant Pot alongside the water. Soaked millet will need roughly 1.25 cups of water for each cup of millet. 1 cup of unsoaked millet will need 1.75 cups of water. A teaspoon of olive oil can be added as well, to improve flavor.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot. Adjust the steam release valve to the sealing position.
- Cook on high pressure in pressure-cook mode. Cook for 4 minutes for soaked millet, and 8 minutes for unsoaked millet.
- When it’s finished cooking, switch it off, and leave covered for 10 minutes.
- Release the pressure as normal.
- Remove the lid, and fluff up the millet with a fork.
- Please note that there are different types of Instant Pots available. Check the instructions of your model before cooking.
Cooking Millet In A Rice Cooker
- Millet is very simple to cook in a rice cooker, and the results are fantastic.
- Add millet and water to your rice cooker in the same ratios as the stovetop. For 1 cup of soaked millet, use 1.5 cups of water. For 1 cup of unsoaked millet, use 2 cups of water.
- Close the lid, and select the cook button.
- When the millet has finished cooking, turn the rice cooker off, and leave covered for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, and use a fork to fluff up the millet grains.
How To Get the Millet to Water Ratio Right
Soaked and unsoaked millet will need different levels of water to cook properly. Because the soaked millet has already been partially softened, it requires less water overall.
When cooking soaked millet on the stovetop, in a pressure cooker, or in a rice cooker, add 1.5 cups of water to every cup of millet.
When cooking unsoaked millet on the stovetop, in a pressure cooker, or in a rice cooker, add 2 cups of water to every cup of millet.
The Instant Pot requires slightly less water overall. Soaked millet should be cooked in 1.25 cups of rice, and unsoaked millet in 1.75 cups of rice.
Please note that the measurements for the soaked millet refer to the grain before it’s been soaked. As the millet soaks, the grain expands. When choosing the amount of water to add, do so based on the amount of millet before soaking.
Water measurements can be a slight estimate. Depending on the equipment used, and your own taste buds, you may prefer more or less water.
Tips for Quick Ways to Add Flavor to Millet
- If cooking on the stovetop, sauté your unsoaked millet grains in olive oil or butter before adding the hot water. It brings out the nuttiness of the grain.
- Cooking millet in broth rather than water is a fast way to add a lot of flavors.
- Alternatively, cook your millet in coconut milk. The coconut milk will bring flavor, and infuse the millet with a delicious creamy texture.
- Use herbs and spices to bring flavor to the millet, and a sprinkle of salt is always a good idea. Bay leaves, cardamom pods, and peppercorns are just a few things that can be cooked with the millet.
Tips for Making your Millet Fluffy
- Making perfectly fluffy millet begins hours in advance. Soaking your millet beforehand is a quick way to improve that finished texture.
- Throw in a spoonful of oil before cooking.
- Keep the pan covered, and resist the urge to stir. Doing so will only release steam, and cause the grain to clump.
- When the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat, and leave the grain to sit for 10 minutes. During this time, it will absorb the residual steam for that perfect fluffy finish.
- After the 10 minutes are up, lift the lid and use a fork to fluff up the millet.
Simple Millet Serving Suggestions
The easiest way to use millet is in place of rice or other grains. Next time you make a curry, try serving it with millet, instead of rice. The nuttiness of the grain adds a new depth of flavor, and the texture works perfectly.
Try adding some millet to a salad, in place of grain like quinoa. Cooled millet is the fluffiest millet, and it absorbs salad dressings perfectly.
Bulk up burritos and wraps them with millet, instead of white rice or beans. When cooking the millet, add a bay leaf for an extra hit of Mexican flavoring.
Storing Cooked and Uncooked Millet
Uncooked millet should be kept in an airtight container at room temperature. It can last for a while like this and is great to have on hand for throwing together quick meals.
Once cooked, millet can be kept at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
Cooked millet can also last in the refrigerator for around 2 to 3 days. Making a batch in advance is a fantastic way to bulk up meals when you might be running low on time. Millet is versatile, so it can be added to a range of dishes for some variety.
It is possible to freeze cooked millet, but be aware that it alters the texture. Defrosted cooked millet is best turned into porridge, or added to stews and soups.
If cooking with frozen millet, be sure to defrost thoroughly before using. Freeze in small, portion-sized batches, to make the process easier.
Old cooked millet will start to smell rancid. Throw it away if you notice an unusual smell.
Making Millet Porridge
Millet porridge has a runny consistency compared to regularly cooked millet, similar to that of oatmeal. The porridge is a nourishing and filling way to start the day, and it’s a wonderful base for other flavorings.
Millet porridge can be made using uncooked millet, cooked in a larger quantity of water. One cup of millet to 3 cups of water works well.
Cook as you would regular millet. Once cooked, add milk to reach the consistency you desire. Any sort of milk works well. Finally, add your sweeteners, and any toppings.
Another way to make millet porridge is using leftover cooked millet. For busy mornings, this quick breakfast will leave you full and satisfied.
Reheat the cooked millet over medium-low heat. Then, add milk to reach your preferred consistency. Top with whatever you like, and enjoy!
Making a Millet Grain Bowl
Grain bowls are a healthy and adaptable choice for lunch or dinner, and millet makes a perfect grain bowl base.
Use a scoopful of cooked millet to form the base of your bowl, alongside a scoopful of your favorite beans or pulses. Next, add a portion of cooked veggies, and some salad leaves. Finish with a drizzle of your favorite sauce or dressing.
11 Millet Recipes
- Millet Cakes by Love and Lemons
- Summer Millet Salad with Havarti by Pure Wow
- Vegetarian Stuffed Butternut Squash with Millet by Bon Jon Gourmet
- Lemony Millet Salad with Chickpeas, Corn, and Spinach by Edible Perspective
- Roasted Cauliflower and Artichoke Millet Grain Bowl by Darn Good Veggies
- Sweet Potato Millet Pancakes by The Full Helping
- Vegan Skillet “Cornbread” by DetoxInista
- Green Powerhouse Pesto Plate by Oh She Glows
- Sweet Potato and Millet Falafel by Oh My Veggies
- Coconut Millet Bowl with Berbere Spiced Squash by Feasting at Home
- Creamy Mushroom Risotto with Millet by Cotter Crunch
Frequently Asked Questions
Millet doesn’t have to be soaked before cooking, but it does help with the texture and can make the grain easier to digest. For 1 cup of millet, soak in 3 cups of water for 4 to 8 hours.
Yes, millet is good for you. The nutritious grain is also easy to grow with limited water, making it a sustainable choice. However, millet can affect the thyroid gland, so people with thyroid problems should avoid excess millet consumption.
Millet is full of protein and fiber, which makes it a healthier alternative to rice. But there’s room for both grains in a balanced diet.
1 cup of dry millet cooked will expand to roughly double the size, making just over 2 cups.
Millet doesn’t necessarily have to be washed before cooking, but rinsing in cold water can remove any dirt or dust hanging around.
The easiest way to eat millet is to use it as a rice substitute, or in place of your favorite grains. It also makes a wonderful base for a grain bowl. Millet can also be used to make patties, burgers, and risottos.
Millet is a healthy food, but eating it every day can cause stomach issues. The slow digestion of the grain can lead to delayed digestion. Millet should be eaten in moderation.