What Can You Substitute For Wheat Berry? Try One of These 8 Great Options

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A handy list of substitutes always accessible for your favorite recipes is a must. Some ingredients can offer a pleasant and subtle alteration to various menus.

We found a great list of eight options you can use in every situation calling for wheat berries. Whether you recently ran out or prefer to make your recipe gluten free, here are a few wheat berries substitutes you can try:

  • Rice
  • Qenua
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Couscous
  • Freekeh

Keep reading to learn more about each ingredient!

What is Wheat Berry?

image of Wheat Berry

When you hear wheat berry, you might think sweet and juicy fruit, but you couldn’t be further from the truth.

A wheat berry is the edible part of whole wheat grain before it goes through any processing—this small ingredient income from the endosperm, bran, and germ.

Also known as wheat seeds, these small kernels provide tons of health benefits. They are full of vitamins and minerals essential to your health. You can use wheat berries in various recipes while cooking or baking. You can also eat the berry raw.

What does a wheat berry taste like? Despite being a “fruit,” the wheat berry flavor is more like a nut. It comes with an earthy, natural, mild, sweet flavor profile.

What Can You Do With It?

You can use wheat berries in various dishes, from dinners to desserts. You can use this grain in almost any recipe that calls for rice, barley, corn, oats, etc.

Wheat berries can offer a nutritious and delectable breakfast, boiled in a bit of milk. You can cook them up and add them to salads, stir fries, soups, and much more.

The 8 Best Wheat Berries Substitutes

If you don’t have any wheat berries on hand, but the recipe you are looking forward to calls for it, you have options.

Below is a list of eight different ingredients that can cover wheat berries when you are in a crunch.

1. Rice Will Absorb the Flavors of other Ingredients

Rice is one of the best wheat berry substitutes for dishes that use a lot of spices and other flavors.

It offers a similar texture and consistency to wheat berries but doesn’t have much taste. It is a bland food that can easily take on the flavors of other ingredients.

If you have a gluten allergy, white rice is one of the best ingredients to use as an alternative to wheat berries.

Quick facts:

  • Rice is gluten free
  • Absorbs the flavors of other ingredients well
  • Great in stuffed peppers, hot salads, and chili

2. Quinoa Makes a Delicious Breakfast Ingredient

Quinoa is a popular type of edible seed used as a grain. It is an ancient crop that farmers have cultivated for more than 5000 years. Quinoa is a fantastic substitute for wheat berries for a multitude of recipes.

You use quinoa like hot cereal or porridge for breakfast or as a risotto. This particular ingredient pairs very well with most meats and veggies. This makes it versatile and easy to use.

Quick facts:

  • Boil quinoa before use
  • Great as a substitute for breakfast meals
  • It pairs well with most types of meat dishes.

3. Try Barley in Place of Your Wheat Berry

Barley is one of the first grains used in ancient civilizations. It is a common item in the grocery store, placed near beans and lentils.

Barley has a nutty taste and earthy flavor profile, and you can use it with or without the husk. This ingredient is an excellent base for many different dishes. It is most common in soups and stews.

Vegetarians often use barley to replace meat in recipes because of the chewy texture. It also works as one of the better wheat berry substitutes in these meals.

Quick Facts:

  • Barley is chewy with a nutty flavor.
  • You can use barley with or without the husk.
  • Barley is also used for medicinal purposes.

4. Farro Has a Similar Texture to Wheat Berries and Tastes Great

You can use farro in place of Wheat Berries in almost any recipe. Farro will give every dish an earthy taste with hints of cinnamon and nutty undertones.

Farro does not offer the same sweet, robust and nutty taste as wheat berries. But it accentuates the flavors of other ingredients very well.

We often see farro taking the place of wheat berries on salads, soups, and stews.

Quick facts:

  • Farro has a nutty, spicy profile.
  • It is chewy like wheat berries.
  • It pairs well with cheeses, fruits, and meat.

5. Oats Are Versatile and Easy to Find

Oats weren’t always popular in human consumption. They were more often found in the live-stock food aisle.  This cereal grain comes from the Avena sativa plant and is rich in fiber, calcium, and protein. (*)

Oats are the ideal replacement for wheat berries in breakfast foods and desserts. You can add oats instead of wheat berries in things like hot cereal, cookies, and trail mix.

Once processed, you can use oats as is, cook them, boil them, or mix them into almost anything.

Quick facts:

  • Oats are a great source of fiber.
  • You can cook oats or eat them plain.
  • Oats are good in baked goods, desserts, and hot cereal.

6. Corn (Maize) is a Sweet Wheat Berry Substitute

Corn can’t take the place of wheat berries in all recipes, but it is an excellent option for many.

You can use corn as a substitute in dishes with a wide variety of flavors and textures. It works well in things like bean salads, casseroles, and stews.

Corn is fabulous for anyone looking for a wheat berry replacement that is gluten free. It is also easy to find and affordable.

Quick facts:

  • Corn is gluten free
  • You can find it at almost any store.
  • It has a sweet flavor and a rubbery texture.

7. Give Couscous a Try

Couscous is small granules that come from crushed durum wheat. This ingredient is full of gluten which creates firm pasta. You must boil these granules before eating them.

Because of its texture, couscous is a great wheat berry substitute in watery dishes. This is because of how well it absorbs liquid.

You can also use couscous in salads and other recipes that call for wheat berries. Once cooked and maintains a chewy texture.

Quick facts:

  • Couscous is not gluten-free
  • It is a form of pasta.
  • You can use it as a base with stews, meats, and sauces placed on top.

8. Freekeh is Super Food Substitute

Freekeh is another product that comes from durum wheat. It provides a similar texture and flavor profile as wheat berries.

This ancient grain is a healthy option with many benefits packed into each bite. These health benefits placed freekeh on the list of superfoods. This label makes it more popular among the masses.

Using the same ratio, you can use freekeh in place of wheat berries in almost any recipe. You can use them whether adding to hot or cold recipes too.

Quick facts:

  • Freekeh is a healthy alternative.
  • It can replace wheat berries in any dish.
  • Freekeh comes from durum wheat.

Learn more: 6 Amazing Freekeh Substitutes That Will Make Your Dish Delish!

How Do You Cook Wheat Berries?

There are many ways to cook wheat berries, depending on the recipe you are attempting to make.  You can boil them in a pot of water until they are tender and chewy. You can also place them in a rice cooker or instant pot.

If you choose the rice cooker or Instapot, always read the directions from top to bottom. Over or undercooked wheat berries do not work well in any recipe.

Some people like to soak their wheat berries overnight, which helps them cook faster. We have noticed that it shaves off a little time but only a little.

When cooking your berries, you can also flavor them ahead of time. Do this by adding a little salt, olive oil, etc. 

You can place them in a saucepan with broth instead of water if you use them in stews or soups.

Once on the stovetop, allow the berries to reach a boiling point. Then let simmer for around 30-45 minutes or until they are soft and have a rubbery texture. (*)

When finished, add them to any recipe for a nutty, earthy, rich flavor profile.


Are Wheat Berries and Spelt Berries the Same Thing?

No, wheat berries are not the same as spelt berries. The two ingredients come from different plants and have different flavors and textures.

What Are Gluten Free Substitutes for Wheat Berries?

Some better wheat berry substitutes include quinoa, rice, and corn.

What is the Best Wheat Berry Substitute?

Barley, farro, and quinoa are some of the best substitutes for wheat berries.

Summing Things Up

Wheat berries are a great ingredient to have on hand for many delicious recipes. But if they are unavailable, try one of the great wheat berries substitutes listed above.

All the ingredients in our list can give your dish a delicious flavor and great texture. These options will make you forget you ran out of wheat berries.

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