How to Cook Barley 

Learning how to cook barley will add a whole new experience if you are trying to get more grains in your diet. Barley is a grain grown around the world, and incredibly versatile. You can find it in anything from animal fodder and beer to soups and breads. While you can make barley flour to use instead of wheat, it isn’t a gluten free substitute. You may wonder what is pearled barley used for and how it’s different to other forms of barley. It’s simply barley without its bran layer, meaning that it cooks quicker and less chewy.

How to Cook BarleyHow to Cook Barley

The History Of Barley

Barley has been part of the human diet for over 10,000 years in various forms, and has been touted as the reason behind the European conquest of much of the globe due to the fact it can be grown anywhere and is highly nutritious. It is claimed that barley beer was the first alcoholic drink, and that it formed the basis for bread in early civilizations like the Egyptians. In medieval times in Europe, barley was used as a social divider due to its cheapness. Wealthier people would show off their riches by eating wheat products, while the peasants developed a whole series of recipes using barley. In modern times, it’s used all over the world and is widely recognized for its energy levels and high fiber content.

Common Uses Of Barley

Learning how to cook barley is very simple, as there are plenty of different uses for it. You could try these barley recipes:

  • Adding it whole to soups or stews. Barley is naturally high in bran, so will make you feel full more quickly. This makes it an excellent addition to broths and stews as it will bulk out the rest of the ingredients as well as adding its own taste to the mix.

  • Making porridge with flaked barley. Use the barley as you would do with traditional porridge oats, and the hot water helps to break down the complex carbohydrates in the barley to make a comforting thick porridge.

  • Using pearl barley as part of a healthy salad. You will need to cook the barley for around 45 minutes beforehand and give it time to cool down. It will have a soft and smooth texture, and will readily absorb the flavors of whatever you cook it with. For a simple salad, cook it with whatever leftover vegetables you have and water to make a simple stock.

You don’t need to know how to cook barley to be able to use it, as you can get it pre-cooked in cans in your supermarket. However, dried barley is cheaper and more versatile, giving you more cooking options.

How to cook barley in a tasty vegetable recipe.


This is the first recipe I learned how to cook barley in.

  • 1 ½ cups pearl barley
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups of stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Vegetables such as celery, mushrooms or zucchini
  • ½ cup of garden peas

1. Fry the onions over a medium heat until they’re soft

2. Add the pearl barley and cook until the leftover oil has been soaked up

3. Add the white wine and cook it off. The alcohol will burn off leaving the flavor of the white wine.

4. Ladle in the stock little by little, allowing each ladleful to be fully absorbed by the barley before adding the next. This technique of how to cook barley can be used as a soup base.

5. Keep going until you’ve got the barley in a creamy sauce, and then add the rest of the vegetables in. Cook until the vegetables have softened.

6. Serve with parmesan cheese and a simple side salad.


  • 7 Cups vegetable stock
  • ½ Cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Pound spinach
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Cups yogurt
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper

In a large pot bring soup stock to a boil over high heat; add barley and cover.
Reduce heat to medium low and cook until barley is tender about 1 hour.
Clean and sort spinach discarding any tough leaves; cut crosswise into ½ inch pieces.
In small saucepan combine and blend cornstarch and water until smooth; stir in yogurt and sugar.
Cook while stirring often over medium low until mixture boils; remove from heat and set aside.
Add spinach to cooked barley and continue to simmer 3 minutes longer.
Thin soup with more stock or water if needed; season to taste.
Makes about 12 cups.


  • 1 ½ Cups pearl barley
  • ¾ Cup butter
  • 1 Cup mushrooms in quarters
  • 2 Medium chopped onions
  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • Salt/pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy skillet; sauté mushrooms over medium high heat about 4 minutes.
Transfer mushrooms to small plate; add remaining butter to skillet and heat until foam has subsided.
Add onions to butter and cook just until wilted.
Add barley and stir over medium high heat until golden brown.
Combine barley and onions with mushrooms in casserole baking dish.
Add about 1 ½ cups hot chicken broth, cover and bake at 350F degrees for 30 minutes.
Add another 1 ½ cups chicken broth and bake another 30 minutes; season to taste.
If barley absorbs too much liquid add a little more broth; sprinkle with parsley before serving.

› Barley

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