Polyphenols in cereal samples are distributed as free, soluble-esterified, and insoluble-bound forms either esterified or etherified to cell wall constituents. In the evaluation of total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of cereals, rather difficult and time-consuming acid, alkaline and enzymatic treatments of residue have been applied to complete the extraction of bound phenolic compounds. Thus, this work is aimed to measure the TAC of cereals (i.e. barley, wheat, rye, oat) by the 'QUENCHER procedure' (involving forced solubilization of bound phenolics by oxidizing TAC reagents) with the direct use of copper(II)-neocuproine (Cu(II)-Nc) reagent of the CUPric Reducing Antioxidant Capacity (CUPRAC) assay. In this novel 'QUENCHER-CUPRAC' method, reaction time and solvent composition parameters were optimized, and the method was applied to cereal samples with CUPRAC reagent dissolved in 1:1 (v/v) ethanol-water mixture. The antioxidant capacities of soluble and insoluble fractions were simultaneously measured to give a hierarchic TAC order of cereals as: barley > rye > oat > wheat. The TAC values of cereals measured by QUENCHER-CUPRAC were higher than those of original QUENCHER method using ABTS(center dot+) and DPPH center dot reagents. Polyphenolic mixtures in a cellulose matrix gave additive TAC values with QUENCHER-CUPRAC. The proposed method correlated linearly with QUENCHER-ABTS(center dot+) (r=0.956) and QUENCHER-DPPH center dot (r=0.976). (c) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.