How to Cook Millet

Millet spread - Millet, cheese and onion bake

Uncooked millet seedsRaw millet seeds

Learning how to cook millet will add a useful ingredient to your gluten free diet. But what is millet?

This small, round, yellow seed is easily digested and one of the least allergenic "grains" available. It is often referred to as a grain because its texture, when cooked, resembles other grains. I will use these terms interchangably on this page. 

For one third of the world's population it has been a staple food for thousand of years. However, many others have never heard of it, let alone cooked it. Those of us on the gluten free diet are perhaps more adventurous and prepared to experiment with naturally gluten free grains and seeds such as millet.  

So what can you use it for?

The seeds can be ground into a mild flavoured gluten free flour that doesn't overpower other ingredients in recipes such as millet bread.

In its seed form it can be added to soups, stews or casseroles as a replacement for pearl barley (which is not gluten free). It serves to thicken the food and also add nutrition. 

It can be served as an accompaniment, in the same manner as couscous or bulgar wheat, which are not gluten free. In fact any savoury meal where you would use rice you can substitute millet, for example in pilaff, paella, and risotto.

Millet flakes are also available, making it easy to prepare porridge for a gluten free breakfast option.

How much millet do you need?

One cup, or 7 ounces, of raw millet would serve 4-6 people when cooked, as an accompaniment to a meal. If you are following a recipe that was created with rice as the main grain then use a similar amount of millet. 

Keep in mind that the seeds will fluff up to about 4 times the original amount once they are cooked. 

How to cook millet - preparation

Before cooking millet you may like to soak it in boiling water for about 10 minutes. This will reduce the cooking time. 

Alternatively, you can toast the seeds in a pan without any fat for a few minutes first, to enhance the mild, nutty flavour. 

Step by step for cooking millet

As an accompaniment to a meal

Measure out your required quantity of seeds and place in a saucepan with 3-4 cups of water or stock (don't add too much!). Bring to the boil. 

Turn down the heat and do either of the following, depending on the texture you require...

  • For fluffy millet - put the lid on and simmer for 15-20 minutes without lifting the lid
  • For creamy millet (like a risotto) - leave the lid off and stir frequently, adding more water (or even milk) at regular intervals

Serve straight away or cool and refrigerate for later. 

As a substitute for oatmeal porridge

Cook in a similar manner to the fluffy millet above, but use a mix of half water, half milk (or milk substitute if you are lactose intolerant). 

You can add flavourings such as vanilla essence, grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon during the cooking process. 

Serve with sugar, honey, dried or fresh fruit.

Millet, cheese and onion bake


  • raw millet; 1/2 cup
  • water; 2.5 cups
  • onions; 2 (chopped)
  • dried sage, thyme or marjoram; 1 teaspoon

  • milk; 1.25 cups
  • cheese; 2.5 cups (grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
millet, cheese and onion bake

One of my favourite millet recipes is this tasty bake (shown above), which is quick and easy to put together and then popped in the oven to finish cooking.

  1. Cook the millet until tender, which will take about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the onions and herbs. Pour in the milk and add most of the grated cheese.
  3. Lightly grease a shallow ovenproof dish, pour in the mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top and pop it in the oven for about half an hour at 180 degrees C until the top is golden brown.

Now wasn’t that easy?

Using leftover millet

Learning how to cook millet is so simple you might want to prepare a larger batch and use up the leftovers in other ways. 

Fluffy leftoever millet is ideal as a base for a salad. Cooked, it has a similar consistency to the "off limits couscous" so you can substitute millet for that in any recipe. Add some curry flavourings to spice up your salad, along with raw or cooked, cold veggies of your choice. 

With the addition of an egg and some fresh herbs, you can make croquettes to fry and serve with your next meal. 

You can even make a dip or spread! Recipe below.

Millet dip or spread

I devised this versatile recipe the night before our weekly grocery shopping trip. 

I didn't know how it would turn out, but that is half the fun of cooking for me; experimenting with good, wholesome ingredients. After the family gave it the thumbs up, it will definitely be repeated!


  • Leftover cooked millet
  • Cooked chickpeas (home cooked or tinned)
  • Ground Almonds
  • Milk (or milk substitute) 
  • Herbs or flavourings of your choice

I didn't measure the ingredients when creating this recipe, I just used what I had. But for those of you that need a bit more guidance, I would estimate that there were about equal quantities of the millet and chickpeas, and about half the amount of ground almonds.

Put the millet, chickpeas, almonds and herbs in a blender and blend together until smooth. During this process pour in a little almond milk at a time, until the dip/spread is the consistency you require. You might want to leave it a bit stiffer if you are going to use it as a spread.

How to serve

I served this spread thickly on hot gluten free toast. The spread itself is creamy enough that you do not need to use any butter or margarine on the toast first, helping to avoid those nasty, saturated fats. Trust me, you really won't notice that they are missing!

I warmed my spread up a little for 30 seconds in the microwave before spreading on the hot toast.

By adding the millet and pulses (chickpeas) the spread provided nutritious protein and tasted great.

I added a little more almond milk to what was left, and it made a wonderful dip for sticks of raw vegetables.


Millet Nutrition

Millet grain is highly nutritious. It is a good source of protein, and if served with pulses (dried peas or beans) it makes a well balanced protein meal.

Another one of the benefits of millet is that it is a good source of magnesium, helpful for asthma sufferers and for those for whom migraines are a problem. Magnesium is also known to lower your blood pressure thereby reducing the risk of a heart attack.

On the same theme, millet is rich in phytochemicals, in particular Phytic acid, which is believed to be helpful in reducing cholesterol.

So, unless you have thyroid problems, learning how to cook millet is certainly worth while.

Millet, of course, is only one of the nutritious grains that you can use in your diet in place of wheat.


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