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Here's a wheat berries recipe that's both filling and full of fall flavor. It's chewy wheat berries, butternut squash, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, raisins, and pecans tossed in a tangy-sweet dressing. It's a festive side for holiday dinners, and it's easy to make, too!
This recipe was originally published in 2014. We've updated the post with some new photos and more information but we've left the delicious recipe exactly the same.
If you've ever seen wheat berries in the bulk section of your grocery store and wondered what to do with them, here's a recipe you'll want to try.
We make this wheat berries recipe in the fall and winter when we're craving something healthy that's also hearty and flavorful. With whole grains, vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, and a simple homemade dressing, it's full of texture and taste, and it's loaded with nutrients, too!
It's really easy to make and most of the cooking time is hands-off. Serve it warm or at room temperature for a satisfying side or lighter main on weeknights. With a festive feel, it's also perfect for holiday gatherings or cozy dinner parties.
Why you'll love it
- It's healthy and hearty
- It's easy to make
- Leftovers taste great the next day
- It can be served warm or at room temperature, so it's perfect for dinner parties
What are wheat berries?
If wheat berries are new to you, they might be more familiar than you think! A wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel in its natural form before it’s been ground and processed into cereal, bread, or pasta. It's what's used to make whole wheat flour.
Since they're unprocessed, they're loaded with nutrients including dietary fiber, protein, and b vitamins. Cooked wheat berries have a wonderful toothsome texture and a slightly nutty flavor making them a great addition to salads, side dishes, and stews.
What you'll need for this wheat berry recipe
Here's what you'll need for the salad:
- Wheat berries – this whole wheat kernel is slightly nutty in taste, with a chewy texture when cooked.
- Spinach – we use spinach in this dish but other greens like chopped kale, chard, or arugula also work great.
- Butternut squash – roasting butternut squash makes it deliciously sweet and tender.
- Olive oil
- Bacon – the salty, smoky taste of bacon is the perfect addition to this dish.
- Onion – for that mellow yet sweet caramelized onion flavor.
- Raisins – we use raisins but you could also use dried cranberries or dried cherries.
- Pecans – for added crunch and their distinctly buttery taste. You can substitute toasted almonds or walnuts instead.
How to make this fall grain salad
This satisfying wheat berry salad recipe is easy to make by following a few simple steps:
- Start by cooking the wheat berries in a small pot until tender. Drain them, then add the spinach to the pot to wilt the leaves.
- Chop the squash and bake it on a baking sheet until soft.
- Cook the bacon in a frying pan until almost crispy, drain off any excess oil, then add the onion and cook until it's wonderfully soft.
- To make the delicious dressing, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pour the wheat berries and spinach into a large bowl, add the roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions and bacon, raisins, pecans, and dressing and mix well. Season the whole deal with sea salt and pepper and then serve warm or at room temperature.
Can I use a different grain?
Yes! Farro and Israeli couscous make delicious alternatives to wheat berries.
Are wheat berries gluten-free?
No, they are not. If you want to make this dish gluten-free, try it with cooked brown rice or millet.
How long does it keep in the refrigerator?
It will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. We like the taste and texture best at room temperature so we recommend leaving it on your counter for about 20 minutes before serving.
Where can I find wheat berries at the grocery store?
Look for wheat berries amongst other ancient whole grains or in the bulk section of your grocery store.
What to serve with wheat berries
It's perfectly festive for holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving or Christmas and can be served hot or at room temperature.
It's also great on its own for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Top it with some crumbled goat cheese or shredded chicken for a heartier meal.
Also, try this easy farro salad!
More wheat berry recipes
- 1 cup wheat berries
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 ½ lb butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 strips bacon (chopped)
- 1 large onion (finely sliced)
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 pinch EACH: sea salt and pepper
- Place the wheat berries in a small pot and cover them with several inches of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes, or until the wheat berries are soft. Drain then add the spinach to the pot and set it aside. (The heat from the wheat berries will soften the spinach.)1 cup wheat berries, 2 cups baby spinach
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash into small, bite-sized pieces. Toss the pieces with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are soft.1 ½ lb butternut squash, 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Add the bacon to a frying pan over medium heat and cook until it is almost crispy, about 10 minutes. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan, drain some out. Add the onion to the pan with the bacon and cook until it is very soft, about 10 minutes.4 strips bacon, 1 large onion
- Make the dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 clove garlic, 1 pinch EACH: sea salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Pour the wheat berries and spinach into a large bowl. Add the roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions and bacon, raisins, pecans, and dressing and mix well. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup pecans
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.