Grains being added to a KitchenAid® stand mixer.

15 Types of Grains

Grains are not only an important nutritional ingredient to include in your diet, but they also offer a variety of flavors and textures. Whether you’re whipping up a savory dish or creating a sweet dessert, grains can be integrated into a variety of recipes that will please your palate. Follow this guide to learn more about the different types of grains and the best ways to use them.

KitchenAid® stand mixer with the all-metal grain mill attachment. KitchenAid® stand mixer with the all-metal grain mill attachment.

What Are Grains?

There are two main types of grains: cereal grains and pseudocereals. Cereals are considered “true grains,” as they’re derived from cereal grasses. Pseudocereals are not derived from cereal grasses and are often gluten free. Each grain brings with it a unique flavor, texture and nutritional profile.

Grains consist of three parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. Each carries important nutritional benefits, which can help you create delicious and nutritious recipes. The bran is the outermost layer of the grain and contains vitamin B, minerals and fiber. The endosperm is the middle portion of the grain, which is packed with protein and carbohydrates. The remaining, innermost portion of the grain is the germ, which contains vitamins, proteins, minerals, oils and antioxidants.

Measuring flour in a KitchenAid® stand mixer. Measuring flour in a KitchenAid® stand mixer.

What's the Difference Between Whole Grains and Refined Grains?

Whereas whole grains contain the entire grain kernel (the bran, endosperm, and germ), refined grains are milled to remove everything but the endosperm. Refined grains have a finer texture and a longer shelf life, since the oily germ in whole grains can become rancid once exposed to light and heat.

Understanding the difference between whole grains and refined grains can help you determine all the possible ingredients you can use in your recipes, allowing you to explore new flavors that can elevate your meals.

List Of Different Types Of Grains

Grains are fairly simple to include in your recipes, as they’re versatile and can be transformed into a delicious, stand-out dish by adding some savory oils, spices and sauces. Understanding the textures and flavors of each type of whole grain can help you incorporate these foods in your favorite recipes. 

This list of grains can give you a better understanding of the textures and flavors of whole grains, informing you of ways you can seamlessly incorporate them into both classic and experimental recipes. The all-metal KitchenAid® Grain Mill Attachment makes it easier to incorporate grain into your recipes by attaching directly to the power hub of your KitchenAid® stand mixer1 to grind wheat, oats, corn, rice and other low-moisture, low-oil grains.

1. Sold separately.

Whole grain bread on a plate.

1. WHEAT

Wheat is a commonly known whole grain with great potential in recipes. Wheat can be used to make some of the most beloved foods, such as breads, pastries and fresh pasta noodles.

 

There are a number of benefits to milling your own wheat flour for recipes. Wheat flour is a great choice for bread because of how well it develops the strong gluten strands that result in a more complex, dense and chewy crumb.

When crafting recipes surrounding this grain, you can keep it simple by opting to make delicious, homemade staples for your kitchen or to try daring new recipes that enhance your meals. Sweet apple whole wheat pancakes or warm whole wheat seed bread are recipes that require a just a few swaps to add more whole wheat into your diet. For a flavorful twist on a comfort classic try whole wheat biscuits with smoked paprika and chives for an appetizer or a whole wheat pear and apple crisp for dessert.  

Grain-based bowl with beets and mushrooms.

2. Barley

A hearty grain with a beautiful nutty flavor, barley is a classic addition to soups and stews. If you want to pack even more nutrients into recipes that call for barley, opt for hulled or whole barley.

 

To make barley that’s tender yet still has a little bit of bite, cook barley in a pot of water until it comes to a boil. Rich beets, earthy mushrooms and nutty pearl barley coalesce to create this grain-based bowl – a perfect rustic meal to enjoy during colder weather. 

Rhubarb pistachio baked oatmeal.

3. Oats

An extremely versatile item to have in your pantry, oats can be added to sweet and savory meals alike. Although oats are traditionally made into oatmeal by boiling them in milk and water, there are more creative ways to prepare this grain.


Ditch the dairy by making your oat milk at home or concoct one of the many delicious desserts that include oats, such as pecan coconut cups, a strawberry plum crisp or rhubarb pistachio baked oatmeal.

Spicy tuna rolls.

4. Rice

A popular gluten-free grain, rice is versatile as a complementary ingredient in a number of dishes across cuisines. Rice is fairly straightforward to prepare, most commonly prepared in a rice cooker or by boiling it in a pot of water.


Rice is naturally anti-inflammatory and a great source of energy, which makes it a nutritionally dense ingredient to add to meals. Try your hand at foods from around the globe by making chana masala, spicy tuna rolls and grape leaves.

Rye bread inside the KitchenAid® bread bowl.

5. Rye

Rye grain is higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals than most other whole grains and its distinct earthy flavor, along with its high gluten content, make it one of the most favored grains for bread-making. Making your own rye bread at home is incredibly rewarding. 

 

The flavors of rye grain make it a great addition to both sweet delights, such as honey rye pancakes with lemon ricotta, and savory dishes such as a rye bread sandwich served with whole grain mustard.

Lobster corn dogs with savory aioli.

6. Corn

Corn is commonly overlooked as a member of the grain family due to many refined corn products, such as tortillas and cornmeal being sold prepackaged and premade. Corn is rich in antioxidants, mainly vitamin C and can be woven into a number of recipes. 

 

The next time you’re in the mood for comfort food, buy fresh corn to add some sweetness to a warm seafood corn chowder or make a corn meal batter for lobster corn dogs with savory aioli, an upscaled homage to your childhood.

Quinoa-based granola bars.

7. Quinoa

The pseudocereal quinoa has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, becoming many foodies’ go-to side due to its nutritional benefits. Quinoa is a great healthy substitute in lieu of other refined grains, as it’s high in fiber, protein, essential amino acids and iron.

 

Brace yourself for busy mornings by baking quinoa-based granola bars from scratch, adding ingredients that work best for you and enhancing this typical breakfast bar. You can also add quinoa to salads, creating a fruit and vegetable quinoa salad that uses farm fresh and in-season produce. 

Middle Eastern veggie burger.

8. Bulgur

Bulgur is the dried, ground, precooked kernels of durum wheat and is most known for being the main ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes, such as kibbeh meat patties and tabouleh salad.

 

Create a unique bulgur dish inspired by classic Middle Eastern flavors, such as a Middle Eastern veggie burger. You can also incorporate bulgur into your breakfast by serving up some grain-based hot breakfast cereal

Farro rainbow salad made with fresh vegetables.

9. Farro

Farro is an ancient Italian whole grain that’s similar in flavor and texture to barley. Farro is the star of many Tuscan dishes, such as hearty zuppa di farro. Before you cook this grain, it’s important to be aware that you will need to let it soak before it’s ready to be woven into your unique recipes. 

 

Farro doesn’t get mushy like some cooked grains, which makes it the perfect addition to salads for some extra texture and a well-rounded nutritious meal. A farro rainbow salad will channel summertime fun during mealtime. 

Chicken, asparagus and freekah on a plate.

10. Freekah

Freekah is another Middle Eastern grain derived from green durum wheat. Unlike bulgur, which is made from durum wheat berries, freekah is harvested when the wheat is younger. This grain is most often sold cracked to decrease its cooking time.

 

Freekah is popular for its use in pilaf, a Middle Eastern dish. Next time you’re in the kitchen, swap out the rice for freekah in this chicken pilaf recipe to expand your palate and test new flavors.

Stuffed red peppers on a wood serving board.

11. Amaranth

Amaranth dates back to the time of the Aztecs, becoming popular more recently for its lack of gluten. Amaranth contains all nine essential amino acids, making this peppery-flavored pseudocereal a nutritional ingredient you won’t want to pass up.

 

Amaranth holds a similar resemblance to couscous and can be used in place of couscous in recipes that call for it. This can be in the form of a simple side, an ingredient in stuffed peppers, or something more bold.

Fine ground grains in the KitchenAid® sifter and scale attachment.

12. Spelt

Spelt is an ancient grain commonly found and used in German cuisine. Spelt closely resembles farro and can be used in recipes that would typically call for it. Because spelt has a much higher protein content than most other grains, milling this grain into flour for dough or adding the fully cooked grain to salads or soups can create a meal that will curb your hunger and leave your palate satisfied.

Vegetable fritters with creamy green avocado dip.

13. Millet

The gluten-free millet grain can be found in yellow, red, white or grey varieties. This grain is common in Indian dishes, specifically roti, a type of flatbread. Toasting millet before you cook it completely will bring out the flavor of the grain and add more depth to your recipes.

 

Millet can be used as a substitute for rice and is commonly incorporated into porridges. Use millet to create a plant-based, gluten-free fritter dish, like these vegetable fritters with creamy avocado dip.

Delicate crepes with strawberries and rhubarb on top.

14. Buckwheat

The small, triangular seeds of the buckwheat psuedocereal deliver a nutty, bitter flavor along with antioxidants and fatty acids. Like many grains, buckwheat can be milled into flour for baked goods, though it is not ideal for bread.

 

Japanese soba noodles contain a significant amount of buckwheat and making your own noodles can add freshness to this soba bowl recipe. Swap out the unbleached flour in this strawberry rhubarb crepe recipe for buckwheat instead and engage your guests by informing them that the buckwheat grain in your dish is actually a fruit relative of rhubarb. 

KitchenAid® stand mixer with pasta attachment.

15. Khorasan

Also known as kamut, khorasan is a grain derived from Egypt that is high in vitamin E and protein. Although this grain is typically milled into flour for doughs to make breads and pastas, you can use it to make a delicious breakfast cereal by puffing it before adding it into a bowl with milk.

Discover the Grain Mill Attachment for KitchenAid® Stand Mixers

The KitchenAid® Stand Mixer All Metal Grain Mill Attachment can easily grind a variety of grains, so you can explore the textures and flavors of different grain flours and combine them into a number of new recipes. This easy to clean attachment features 12 grind levels to help you achieve an ideal texture.

KitchenAid® stand mixer with freshly baked bread on the counter. KitchenAid® stand mixer with freshly baked bread on the counter.

Which Grains Are Healthiest?

Swapping out refined grains for whole grains will tend to be a better choice nutritionally. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, and therefore, pack in more nutritional value than refined grains. Among the most nutritious whole grains are amaranth, oats, barley and quinoa.

Quinoa and barley are excellent sources of fiber that can be tasty sides to any meal. Amaranth and teff are lesser known whole grains, however they’re rich in nutrients. Both of these whole grains are gluten-free and full of protein that can make an ordinary snack or meal a nutritional delight.

What Grains Can You Eat For Breakfast?

There are a variety of grains you can eat for breakfast, such as amaranth, polenta, oats, millet, kamut, rice, buckwheat and quinoa. Prepare these grains by boiling them in water until tender before topping with fruit, pure syrup, or adding milk to create an exciting new spin on classic oatmeal or porridge. 

You can also make homemade multigrain bread, breakfast muffins and rye pancakes by using grain flour you milled right in your own kitchen. 

Shop KitchenAid® countertop appliances

KitchenAid® countertop appliances can help you incorporate new ingredients into your meals. KitchenAid® food processors and blenders can help you process grains for everything from oat milk to rice flour. Mix and knead whole grain bread in a stand mixer bowl or create homemade soba noodles with a pasta attachment.1

1. Sold separately.

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