Monday, 12 March 2012 | 27 comments

Spiced millet breakfast bowl

Let’s talk about honestly about millet, because the truth is, millet is birdseed. Yeah. I said it. We can wax poetic about various non-wheat grains and seeds as much as we want, but at the end of the day, when I hear the word “millet”, I remember my maternal grandmother filling her birdfeeders. Which isn’t a bad memory, per se, it’s just not evocative of…people food.
I’ve talked about millet here before, but the truth is that it was a side note, an important but unsung contributor. Here millet is front and center. And this is not so much for its flavor or texture, both of which are pleasant, but subtle. Rather, it’s for the fact that millet is one of the best grains (or grain-like seeds, if we’re being particular) of which to cook an enormous pot and eat throughout the week. Generally, I think many of us agree that this is sound advice—to always make more rice, couscous, or farro than is necessary for one meal, so as to have easily reheated leftovers on hand. Millet, though, has been my go to for awhile now—equally as good stirred into the ends of a pot of soup as it is tossed with roasted veggies. For breakfast, millet offers a less-dense option than oatmeal. Lately, I like it tossed in a hot pan with butter and spices, then served with maple-kissed yogurt, dried fruit, and nuts. Louise was here this weekend (these photos were snapped during our breakfast), and we topped ours with pecans. Everything comes together quite quickly, so this is an option for me on non-weekend mornings, too.

Spiced millet breakfast bowl

As you can probably tell, this is a recipe with endless variation possible. For me, that’s what makes it such a workhorse—I just dig out whatever’s in my pantry and have breakfast. It’s worth noting that I think this flavor combination is really particularly good; especially the inclusion of cloves, which I grind up quickly with my mortar and pestle.

You will need

    1 tablespoon butter
    2 cups cooked millet*
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 cup plain yogurt
    Maple syrup
    1/2 cup chopped dried figs (this is what I have in my pantry; also figs are my FAVORITE, but you could use dried currants, cranberries, even raisins)


  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the millet and spices, tossing to coat and warm through. While millet is heating up, stir a few tablespoons of maple syrup into the yogurt, flavoring to taste (I happen to really like maple, so mine might have a bit more than you’d like).

    When the millet is hot, scoop it into bowls. Top each with a big swirl of the maple yogurt, dried figs, and pecans.

    If there is leftover yogurt, serve it on the side.

    Serves 2-3.

    *To cook millet:
    In a pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 cups millet, give a quick stir with a wooden spoon, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until water is mostly absorbed and millet is tender.

    After you turn off the heat, keep the lid on the pot, and let steam for 10-15 minutes.

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§ 27 responses to Spiced millet breakfast bowl

  • I’m so glad I’m not the only who thinks bird seed and millet are one in the same! I’ve been cooking more grains in the morning and this is going on my to-try list.

    (Ps- it was great to see your grapefruit olive oil cake on Heidi’s favorites list yesterday!)

  • I’ve been cooking a creamy orange millet topped with yogurt and stewed prunes for breakfast this winter. I love its texture and flavor. This sounds delicious!

  • I love your honest talk about millet. I had it once in a summery casserole, and I keep meaning to buy some and try it in other dishes. This sounds splendid.

  • Honestly, I haven’t tried millet yet. I need to. I like birds so the bird seed aspect doesn’t throw me at all.

    • Try it. It’s pretty inoffensive. I often call myself a ‘magpie’ because I go around picking up little trinkets…so maybe the bird seed thing shouldn’t bother me either :)

  • Chloe

    Lovely photos here, Sarah. This looks wonderful, I will definitely try it soon.

  • I almost never comment on blogs but here I am again! I was happy to see your millet post. It’s actually eaten by many people all over the world and is as a staple in their diets. For some reason in this country it was relegated to birdseed! Maybe that helps keep the cost of it low. As I understand it, there are many seeds of grasses eaten in the world and all of them are collectively called millet even though they are not the same plant from one region to another. I use millet a lot as a fresh ground flour in a gluten free flour mix. I also love it for breakfast with yogurt etc. Your spiced version sounds great!

  • I hadn’t put it together until recently about the birdseed bit, fortunately for me. I love millet in muffins and quick breads, and how you can toss it in uncooked. this looks really nice for breakfast; I will have to try it someday (I already have yogurt every morning anyway so this is a good way to jazz it up!)

  • I just bought some millet the other day. I’m going to try this recipe.

  • I’ve never cooked with millet before. After being slightly put off by your bird seed comment I’m now keen to try it! I eat a lot of bircher museli and porridge so would love to try a different grain at breakfast.

  • I love grains for breakfast. This recipe looks great. I’m loving millet these days. It has great texture and is so versatile.

  • This looks delicious! I’ve been making large pots of wheat berries lately, for a multitude of uses throughout the week–with dried fruits for breakfast, on salads for lunch, under roasted veggies for dinner, etc. But I think the next pot will be millet! Perhaps the birds are wiser than we think :)

    • Wheatberries = also good for breakfast! You can use them cooked similarly to this recipe! Definitely different though….chewier…a bit heavier.

  • Something new to try. I am partial to eating oatmeal cooked in milk in the cold months and polenta cooked in milk in the summer, but I am curious about the millet toasted in butter with spices — I’ll get some next time I go to the bulk bin store.

  • Millet is on my list of gluten free grains to try; I do used flaked millet in my muesli and granloa recipes but I have yet to buy it in it’s bird seed form! Your recipe is similar to how I prepare oatmeal, so you’ve inspired me to change it up a bit. Beautiful blog!

  • I have been experimenting with millet recently as well. There is a cookbook I like called, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I have been eyeing this recipe in it for a birthday cake made with cooked millet, orange juice, and maple syrup.
    I will definitely be trying your flavor combination- looks perfect!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • I clearly don’t eat enough millet :-) Need to get my hands on some soon! This looks wonderful.

  • Susan

    You just motivated me…saw this on Pinterset which I am new to. I have had millet in my cabinet for awhile and this is the first time I have tried it…cooking on stove now. This recipe looks great. Thanks for the share.

  • I love it when I find something intriguing and I just happen to have everything on hand. This will be my breakfast tomorrow.

  • wow, this sounds so good! i’ve recently discovered quinoa and am excited to try other “alternative” seeds/grains. they’re so healthy! thanx for sharing!

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