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How to Cook Barley & 3 Recipes

How to Cook Barley & 3 Recipes

Last Updated on 17th December 2021 by

Barley is a nutty grain with a texture that’s a little bit chewy. It’s probably a grain you don’t think too much about, and it’s one that’s often overlooked in comparison to wheat and rice grains.

This food offers plenty of nutritional value, making it worthwhile to seek out and learn how to cook. The nutritious grain is a good source of manganese, selenium, and phosphorus.

There are two kinds of barley available on the market, you should know the difference between them. These two kinds are called pearl barley and hulled barley. The pearl version is one that has been completely polished.

The bran has been eliminated, and it gets its creamy color from removal of the endosperm layers. The benefit to this kind of barley is that it will cook quickly and it’s not as chewy. It cannot be classified as a whole grain at that point, and it lacks the nutritional value that barley is known for. It’s no longer a good source of fiber.

Hulled barley has a darker color and plenty of bran to offer. It has a tough outer layer that you cannot digest, it’s considered a whole grain, and it is quite chewy, with a nutty flavor to it.

How to Cook Barley

If you’ve not used this grain before, you may be wondering how to cook it. I’ll share with you the best way to prepare barley, and then I’ll cover a few recipes you can use the grain in.

Start with a medium size saucepan that you can cover with a lid, and place a cup of barley (hulled or pearl) and three cup of water in it. You can use vegetable or meat stock instead of water, if you like, for a more flavorful grain. You can also add salt if you like.

Cook the water and barley on high heat until the water starts to boil. The foam produced when boiling could overrun the pot, so watch out for that.

Once the barley has reached it is boiling point, you can reduce the heat and cover the pot.

Allow it to simmer for an additional 25 minutes, if you are cooking pearl barley. Remember that it cooks faster than hulled barley.

For the hulled variety, you can check it at 40 minutes to see if it is done.

Barley will be completely cooked when it has become soft, chewy and about three times as large as when you put it into the pan.

If the barley is not completely cooked but it is drying out, you can add some more water in.

Once the barley has cooked as long as the times I suggested, you can check it for doneness every five minutes or so.

If there is any water left when the barley is cooked, you can drain that off or allow the barley to sit with the water for about 10 minutes to absorb as much water as possible.

Fluff the barley with a fork to separate the grains at that point and then it will be ready to eat.

Now, I want to share some recipes with you that use barley as one of the main ingredients.

Barley Recipes

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Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time5 hours
Servings: 4 people
Cost: 7


  • 3 lbs Beef Chuck Roast
  • 1/2 cup Barley
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 3 stalks Celery
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Onion Chopped
  • 3 Carrots Chopped
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 16 oz Frozen Vegetables
  • 4 Beef Bullion Cubes
  • Salt
  • 28 oz Stewed, Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper


  • Start by placing the chuckroast in to slow cooker and cooking until tender. This will take about 4 1/2hours on high.
  • Adding bay leaf and barley for the last hour of cooking, and then take out the meat and chop it up into small pieces. Get rid of the bay leaf.
  • In a large pot on medium heat, warm your oil. Add in onions, celery, frozen mixed vegetables, and carrots, and sauté until tender.
  • Add sugar, black pepper, beef boiling cubes, water, stewed tomatoes, and the mixture of beef and barley.
  • Cook all of that until it starts to boil, and then lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10-20 minutes.Add in salt and additional pepper to season.


How to Cook Barley & 3 Recipes
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Barley Rissotto Primavera

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Servings: 4
Cost: 6


  • 2 Carrots Diced
  • 1 Zucchini Diced
  • 1 tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Yellow Squash Diced
  • 1 Onion Diced
  • 4 1/2 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 cup Pearl Barley
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Ina large skillet on medium heat, warm up a teaspoon of vegetable oil.
  • Add in carrots and cook for 2 1/2 minutes.
  • Add in yellow squash and zucchini and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
  • In a large saucepan on medium heat, warm up the chicken broth.
  • Once it is warm, lower the heat and allow it to continue to warm while doing the other steps.
  • In another skillet, warm up another teaspoon of vegetable oil on medium heat.
  • Add in onion and cook for about 10 minutes come until the onion is tender and light brown.
  • Add in thyme and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add in barley and cook for about 3 minutes, until the barley is a little toasted.
  • Add two cups of warm broth into the barley next, lower the heat, and simmer.
  • Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring every so often.
  • Add in the rest of the broth-just half a cup at once, letting the broth absorb.
  • Add in the rest of your ingredients and cook for an additional 2 minutes.


How to Cook Barley & 3 Recipes
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Barley Bean Salad

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes


  • 1/2 cup Pearl Barley
  • 1 cup Canned Black Beans Drained
  • 1 cup Canned Kidney Beans Drained
  • 1/2 cup Green Onions
  • 1/2 cup White Rice
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper Chopped
  • 1 cup Corn Kernels Cooked
  • 8 Lettuce Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro Chopped
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 Garlic Clove Chopped
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes


  • Boil2 cups of water on high heat in a large saucepan.
  • Then, add in barley and lower heat to medium
  • Cover your pan and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the barley's cooked and tender.
  • Pour 1 1/2 cups of water in another saucepan, and then add in the rice.
  • Lower the heat and simmer well covered for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and tender.
  • Allow the barley and rice to cool and then combine them in a large bowl, along with corn, kidney beans, onions, cilantro, and red bell pepper.
  • Make a dressing for your salad in another bowl by whisking together garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, vinegar, and chili powder.
  • Add in oil and pour over your rice and barley.
  • Line a separate bowl with lettuce and transfer your mixture to that bowl.
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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

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