How to Cook Millet

Barbara Rolek
Boiling millet porridge

Millet is a gluten-free powerhouse in the kitchen with an impressive nutritional pedigree. It's a great source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamin B3. The way you intend to use millet will dictate how you prepare and cook it.

Boiling Millet

Probably the most common way to cook millet is by boiling. In most cases, the ratio of millet to water is the same as for cooking rice - 1 cup millet to 2 cups water or broth - but the yield will be 3 1/2 cups cooked millet as opposed to 3 cups cooked rice. In the case of a millet porridge, for example, the ratio would be 1 cup millet to 3 cups water or broth. Unlike rice or quinoa, it isn't necessary to rinse millet before cooking it, but doing so won't hurt it.

Simple Side Dish

Millet is delicious as a simple side with butter.

  1. Bring 2 cups water or stock to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste, 1 tablespoon optional butter and 1 cup millet.
  3. Stir, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover, fluff with a fork, adjust seasonings, and serve.

Pilaf

Another common approach is to create a pilaf with millet.

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium.
  2. Add 1 cup millet and sauté, stirring continuously, until the individual grains are well coated with oil and you smell a nutty aroma.
  3. Add 2 1/2 cups hot water and 1/2 teaspoon salt or stock (omit the salt if the stock is salty) all at once, taking care not to be spattered by hot oil.
  4. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the millet is tender.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. After 10 minutes of standing, remove the lid, fluff with a fork and adjust any seasonings.

Porridge

Cooked as a breakfast cereal, millet porridge is a great alternative to other hot cereals.

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 3 cups water or milk to a boil.
  2. Add 1 cup millet, stir and return to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and cover, stirring frequently for a creamy consistency, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Serve in a bowl with milk or cream.

Any leftovers can be poured into a pan, refrigerated and then cut into squares and fried in much the same way polenta is done.

Steaming Millet

The steaming method for cooking millet produces a good-looking product because the grains absorb moisture slowly and cook evenly.

  1. Rehydrate the millet by soaking 2 cups in a large amount of water overnight. When ready to steam, drain the millet and fill the base of a steamer with water to the "full" line.
  2. Add 2 cups of water to the steaming bowl along with the soaked and drained millet.
  3. Place the lid on the steamer and cook for about 1 hour.
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and turn steamed millet out into a bowl. Season as desired.

Grinding Millet for Baking Uses

Turning millet into flour is perfect for gluten-free baking and other cooking applications. It can be ground with a mill or a spice or coffee grinder. Whole-grain flours become rancid quickly, so grind just as much as your recipe calls for and then mix and bake according to recipe instructions.

Grinding With a Mill

Following the manufacturer's instructions, set the mill to medium grind. Slowly pour the millet into the hopper in a steady stream. Repeat until you have the desired amount of flour. Refrigerate or freeze any portion of unused fresh-ground flour.

Grinding With a Spice or Coffee Grinder

To a clean grinder that doesn't smell of coffee or spices, add1/4 cup millet or as much as the grinder will accommodate. Replace the lid and start the grinder. At first, there will be a high-pitched whining sound as the grains are ground. When it becomes less noisy, shake the grinder gently to make sure all the grains are being ground. Unplug the grinder and remove the lid. Shake out the millet flour into a fine-mesh sieve and sift. Return any coarse millet to the grinder and repeat the process until you have the desired amount you need.

Millet Chickpea Burger Recipe

This meatless burger gets a boost from aromatic spices, wholesome grain, sweet potatoes and good-for-you chickpeas (garbanzo beans) to make a filling meal with or without a bun.

Millet burgers

Ingredients

Yield: 6 burgers

  • 1 cup uncooked millet
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces peeled and roughly chopped sweet potato
  • 1 medium quartered onion
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 (15-ounce) can drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco or to taste
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil like canola or vegetable for pan frying
  • 6 lightly toasted hamburger buns
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, dry roast the millet until golden brown. Remove millet and set aside.
  2. In a 1-quart saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add the toasted millet. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool completely.
  3. In a food processor, place the sweet potato, onion, garlic, and drained chickpeas and pulse until finely chopped.
  4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sweet potato-onion-garlic-chickpea mixture until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro, apricots, almonds, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, salt and the hot sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  5. Add the sweet potato-chickpea mixture from the skillet to the cooked millet in the bowl along with the breadcrumbs and eggs. Stir thoroughly to combine. Form into 6 patties, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours to firm up.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons neutral oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the patties and cook until brown and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Turn the patties only once to keep them from falling apart.
  7. Serve the patties on optional toasted hamburger buns or as is with sliced red and yellow tomatoes and a sprig of cilantro. A side of green vegetables would go well with this dish.

Other Uses for Millet

Millet can be added to cookie dough or bread batter for extra crunch and used to thicken soups or eaten as a warm-grain salad. The health benefits and gluten-free properties of millet make it a good choice at any meal.

How to Cook Millet