Wholegrain sorghum is a fantastic protein-rich, naturally gluten-free grain that is high in fibre and antioxidants with a wonderful chewy texture. Easy to cook in the Instant Pot or on the stove, cook up a batch of sorghum at the weekend to use during the week for salads and buddha bowls or to serve alongside curries and stews as an interesting alternative to rice.
Why You Will Love Wholegrain Sorghum!
- Full of nutrients.
- Chewy and delicious.
- Naturally gluten-free.
- Easy to cook in the Instant Pot.
- Can be used in so many ways to change up your weekly menus!
What Is Sorghum?
Sorghum can be a wonderful nutritious addition to your diet. Dry sorghum grains are small round balls that look a little like giant Israeli couscous. When cooked, it has a firm, slightly chewy texture a like pearl barley or brown rice.
Since it is naturally gluten-free, whole-grain sorghum makes a great substitute for the gluten-containing grains: bulghur wheat, barley, and couscous. Sorghum flour is also a fantastic substitute for wheat flour in gluten-free baking. Perfect for those who have celiac disease or who are gluten-intolerant.
Where Does Sorghum Come From?
Although many Westerners have never heard of sorghum, it is in fact the fifth most important grain crop in the world! Originally coming from Africa, it is commonly eaten throughout India (where it is known as Jowar or cholam) and West Africa (known as Egyptian millet, great millet or guinea corn).
Sorghum is also an environmentally-friendly grain to consume due to its relative ease of farming and in fact is also grown for producing biofuel. It may well become an even more important crop over time due to its drought-resistance, its nutritional benefits and its versatility.
Sorghum is a high protein grain like quinoa (in fact they have the same amounts of protein). Great for digestive health, sorghum is high in fibre and resistant starch (which is a type of starch that acts like fibre as it goes undigested through the gut and feeds your gut bacteria rather than turning into sugar and passing into your blood stream).
As for antioxidants, sorghum is abundant! It is a great source of various B vitamins, iron (¼ cup contains 12% of your recommended daily amount) and other minerals like phosphorus, potassium, manganese and magnesium. It is also particularly high in other antioxidants like phenolic compounds, flavonoids and tannins, all of which can have anti-inflammatory effects. So this is really a super food to add to your diet! See this interesting article on the many wonders of sorghum and this Healthline article to learn more about the health benefits.
How Is Sorghum Used?
Those who follow a gluten-free diet will likely already know about sorghum flour which makes a fantastic gluten-free alternative flour for making bread. (See my best vegan and gluten-free bread recipe or this vegan GF loaf made in the bread machine).
Other than making gluten-free bread, sorghum is used in the following ways:
- ground to a flour and made into various types of flatbreads.
- slow-cooked as porridge.
- popped to make a tiny, tasty version of popcorn! You can make popped sorghum in your microwave or a pan just like you pop corn.
Where Can You Buy Whole Grain Sorghum?
You can buy whole-grain sorghum in some good supermarkets or health food stores or in Asian supermarkets (it is known as Jowar in Indian cooking) or, of course, Amazon.
Sorghum is sold either as flour, or whole grain or pearled.
- Sorghum flour is great for making gluten-free breads but not used in this recipe.
- Pearled sorghum is where some of the husk has been removed to make it easier to cook.
- For this recipe you want the true wholegrain sorghum which has all the nutritional benefits of the husk and, hence, takes longer to break down in cooking.
If you are celiac or particularly sensitive to gluten, you should buy sorghum labelled as gluten-free to ensure that there is no cross contamination at packing facilities that also pack gluten products. I use Bob’s Red Mill whole grain sorghum for this reason.
How To Cook Whole Grain Sorghum
The Instant Pot is my favourite way to cook sorghum as I can just set it and leave it to do its thing without worrying about it boiling dry or boiling over. You can easily cook it on the stovetop though and it doesn’t take much longer once you factor in the pressure build-up and release time in the Instant Pot method.
To cook wholegrain sorghum using either method, use the following guidelines to give you nutty little sorghum grains that are firm, intact and chewy but perfectly cooked through:
Ratio – 1 : 3 – use 1 part wholegrain sorghum to 3 parts water (and a pinch of salt).
Yield – 1 : 3 – 1 cup of dried wholegrain sorghum cooked in 3 cups of water will give around 3 cups of cooked sorghum.
- As for most whole grains, it is always a good idea to soak the sorghum first, ideally for 6-8 hours, so that it is easier to digest. However, if you don’t have time for this, it will be fine to cook without pre-soaking.
- Also, it is best to rinse the sorghum grains in a sieve before cooking, to make sure that they are cleaned. Again, this is not essential but helps to remove any impurities.
Instant Pot Sorghum
For cooking in the Instant Pot, add the sorghum grains, water and salt into the inner pot, put the lid on, lock it and turn the sealing knob to seal, then set to pressure cook.
Instant Pot cooking time – 30 mins. HP + 10 mins. NR + QR
You need to pressure cook the sorghum in the Instant Pot on high pressure for 30 minutes. Then leave it for 10 minutes to naturally release the pressure. After that turn the sealing knob to quickly release the rest of the pressure. This gives a total cooking time, including pressure build-up time, cooking time and pressure release time, of about 45-50 minutes.
The Instant Pot instructions for this recipe were created in the Instant Pot Duo (Ad) and should work in the same way with all pressure cookers that allow you to manually set your own pressure cooking time. Please check the user manual for your own Instant Pot.
For stovetop cooking, place the whole grain sorghum in a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low to keep it at a lower simmer for about an hour. To make sure you don’t lose all the water to evaporation, put the lid on but slightly ajar so that some steam can escape.
Stovetop cooking time – 1 hour
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full instructions. Instant Pot instructions are also included in the recipe card.
How To Use Cooked Sorghum
There are so many ways to incorporate whole grain sorghum into your diet! Use this fantastic gluten-free grain wherever you might use other similar grains. It works particularly well in salads, buddha bowls, soups or as a side dish alternative to rice.
- Use instead of bulghur wheat to make a gluten-free tabbouleh;
- Replace the quinoa with sorghum in this herby quinoa salad;
- Replace the millet with sorghum in this spiced millet salad with pistachios;
- Replace the wild rice with sorghum in this wild rice salad with cranberries and pecans.
My favourite soup when I was little was a vegetable soup my mother used to make with pearl barley. As barley contains gluten, I haven’t eaten that soup since I discovered I couldn’t tolerate gluten, but sorghum has a very similar size and texture so I think it would make a fantastic substitute! You could also use this tasty vegetable noodle soup recipe and simply replace the noodles with the cooked sorghum instead.
Pilafs and Rice Substitutes
- Use instead of rice as a side dish to curries and stews. It goes really well with this mung bean curry and this hearty vegan stew with smoked tofu and vegetables.
- Use partially cooked sorghum (cook for half the time first) in place of rice for pilaf recipes.
- You could also substitute cooked sorghum for the wild rice in this delicious stuffed pepper recipe.
Whole grain sorghum is perfect for batch cooking! Cook up a batch of sorghum at the weekend and store some in the freezer and some in the fridge for using in meals throughout the week. You can keep cooked sorghum in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost by dropping the sorghum in boiling water until it is warmed up (or microwave).
Yes! Sorghum freezes really well so it’s always worth making more than you need and then popping any leftovers in a bag in the freezer. Re-heat by boiling again until warmed through or microwaving.
Sorghum benefits from 6-8 hours of pre-soaking to help make it more easily digestible. However, it is not essential for cooking as the sorghum will cook without pre-soaking within 1 hour on the stove or ½ hour pressure cooking.
Yes sorghum is naturally gluten-free, making it a useful grain for celiacs and those with gluten intolerance. However, look for the gluten-free label on the packaging to ensure it was packed in a gluten-free facility or one that prevents cross-contamination.
Yes. Cook in a slow-cooker on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
📖 Recipe 📖
How to Cook Whole-Grain Sorghum (Instant Pot or Stovetop)
- 1 cup dried whole grain sorghum
- 3 cups water
- 1 pinch salt
- Place the sorghum grains in a saucepan with the water and salt. Put the lid on and place on a high heat to bring to the boil. Once it starts boiling, pull the lid slightly ajar, turn the heat down to medium-low and leave to simmer for an hour until the sorghum grains are still holding their shape but soft enough to bite and with a slightly chewy texture. (taste one to check!).1 cup dried whole grain sorghum, 3 cups water, 1 pinch salt
- Once cooked to your liking, drain through a sieve and use as needed.
- Place the sorghum grains in the inner pot with the water and salt. Put the lid on, lock, turn the valve to seal, then set to pressure cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.1 cup dried whole grain sorghum, 3 cups water, 1 pinch salt
- Leave the Instant Pot to naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes and then turn the valve to quickly release the rest of the pressure. When the little silver valve drops, open the lid and drain the sorghum. Use as required.
- Soaking: if you have the time, you can pre-soak your sorghum grains in a jug of water for 6-8 hours before cooking. This will make them easier to digest.
- Variations: You can add additional flavourings to the cooking process by substituting vegetable stock for the water and adding some aromatics like garlic cloves, a bay leaf or curry leaves, cumin seeds or other spices.
- Uses: Use as a gluten-free alternative to couscous, bulghur wheat and farro in soups, salads and buddha bowls. Or use instead of rice as a side dish to curries and stews or in rice pilafs.
- Storage: Batch cook and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
If you like this whole grain sorghum recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes too:
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If I soak my sorghum and then cook in instant pot is it still 30 minutes of cook time?
Camilla Sanderson says
Hi Sandy. For sorghum, I don't think soaking makes much difference to the cooking time, it's more that it will cook a little more evenly and will be more easily digestible. I'm sure you could take 5 minutes off the cooking time if you soak them for a long time though.