What is buckwheat?

Despite its name, buckwheat is actually a seed, rather than a grain (like wheat). Surprisingly, it's related to rhubarb, not other grasses such as wheat, grass or maize. It’s also known as a ‘pseudocereal’ for this reason. As it’s wheat-free, it’s used most commonly as a gluten-free alternative in baking, or as a grain.


Where can I buy buckwheat?

You'll see buckwheat in supermarkets alongside grains like spelt and barley, or in health food stores. It usually comes dried as a ‘grain’, but you can also buy it milled as a flour, and it has a relatively long shelf life. There are also noodles and pastas made from buckwheat, which are a suitable alternative for coeliacs – though do check the label.

What does buckwheat taste like?

It has a nutty, slightly bitter flavour, similar to wholewheat flour or rye. Because of its strong flavour, a lot of recipes call for both buckwheat and wheat flours for better flavour and texture. Buckwheat grains add nuttiness to salads and a chewy texture to veggie burgers or stews. It’s also a source of protein and magnesium.

Is buckwheat healthy?

Buckwheat is rich in heart-healthy nutrients as well as antioxidants and is thought to be beneficial for blood sugar management. It is also a source of insoluble fibre plus resistant starch, both of which are of particular benefit to gut health. Furthermore, buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with coeliac disease. For more information, read our nutritionist's guide to the health benefits of buckwheat.

How do I cook buckwheat?

Buckwheat flour is most commonly used to make pancakes such as French galettes, with savoury fillings such has ham, cheese or egg. The sides are folded over rather than rolled like crêpes.

More like this

Buckwheat ‘grains’ or seeds, are also known as ‘groats’ and can be simmered until tender. It’s common practice to wash the grains well before use, but when soaked and then baked, they add crunch to granolas and salads. When soaked and blended before simmering, the buckwheat breaks down into a porridge.

How to cook buckwheat

  1. Rinse well through a sieve until the water runs clear.
  2. Toast in a dry frying pan for 2-3 mins until nutty and fragrant (this adds a roasted flavour to the buckwheat, but you don't have to toast it).
  3. Simmer in boiling water for 5-10 mins until the grains are tender but still have a little bite.
  4. Drain well.

How to reheat cooked buckwheat

The best way to reheat cooked buckwheat is to warm it in a microwave.

  1. Place the buckwheat in a microwaveable bowl and add a tablespoon of water to add moisture.
  2. Cover the bowl with microwave-safe wrap or a lid.
  3. Heat for 30 second intervals until the buckwheat is warmed through. You may wish to stir it after the first or second interval to help distribute the heat.

Alternatively, buckwheat can also be reheated in a non-stick frying with butter or oil. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on medium for 3-5 minutes until heated through.

5 ways to try buckwheat

See our five favourite buckwheat dishes below, then check out more ideas in our collection of buckwheat recipes, from fluffy pancakes to satisfying salads.

1. Buckwheat with charred baby aubergines

Aubergine and buckwheat salad on plate with spring onions

Try serving up a sensational warm salad filled with tender, nutty grains and satisfying summer veg. Our buckwheat with charred baby aubergines makes a satisfying veggie family lunch. With crunchy toasted walnuts and creamy goat's cheese, this healthy dish is full of colour and texture.

2. Poppy seed buckwheat porridge

Porridge with blueberries in bowl

Serve up a warming breakfast bowl of thick poppy seed and buckwheat porridge. Buckwheat adds a lovely nutty flavour to your morning pick-me-up. Top with a fruity blueberry compote.

3. Buckwheat & spelt chrain blinis

Blinis with trout on tray

For your next party, serve up a tray of buckwheat & spelt chrain blinis topped with soured cream and smoked trout. These tasty savoury pancakes require a little more effort, but we guarantee they'll be snapped up in no time.

4. Salad-stuffed blackened peppers

Stuffed peppers on plate

Make a colourful salad to use in our stuffed blackened peppers, a great vegetarian option for barbecue season. Blackening the skins gives them a deliciously smoky flavour. To get ahead, make the salad the day before you need to serve.

5. Goat's curd & spring greens salad with popped buckwheat

Broccoli and goat's cheese salad with buckwheat on plate

Add some colour and texture to your plate with 'popped' or fried buckwheat – it adds irresistible crunch to dishes like our goat's curd & spring greens salad. Make the most of seasonal veg and present an eye-catching starter for your next dinner party.

Found this useful? Read more expert cookery advice...

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