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30 Best and Simple Barley Recipes to Try

Barley is a cereal grain grown in many parts of the world that can be used in bread, soups, and salads. Diets rich in whole grains can be beneficial for some, and barley is an excellent option.

30 Best and Simple Barley Recipes to Try

Barley is rich in B vitamins, potassium, and fiber; it’s low in cholesterol, making barley great for heart health.

When shopping for barley, it usually comes in two forms: hulled and pearled. Hulled barley is the grain with only the outer husk removed.

Pearled barley has a smooth pearl-like appearance. This is because both the outer husk and the bran layer have been removed. Pearled barley isn’t as nutrient-dense as hulled barley, but it does have a quicker cooking time. Knowing the difference will help in determining how long to cook each recipe.

Let’s take a look at 30 barley recipes you can add to your recipe collection today!

1. Popular recipes with barley

For any barley recipe, it’s essential to know whether you need pearled barley or hulled barley.

Pearled barley is used often for quicker cook time, but hulled barley has more nutrition. Most recipes allow you to use whichever you prefer.

Tender, Chewy Barley

For some barley recipes, you’ll need to have barley cooked ahead of time, so this recipe is a great place to start if you’ve never cooked with barley before.

This recipe walks you through the process of cooking barley without ingredients like meat or veggies. You’ll find tips on where to purchase it and how to use it in meals.

You can use hulled barley or pearled barley with this recipe. Incorporate the barley into a main course or use it as a side dish.

Mediterranean Barley with Roasted Vegetables

If you’re not a fan of veggies all on their own, barley is a great way to add some intrigue.

This dish is a great meal prep option and can be served as a main course or a side dish. Secret ingredients are smoked paprika and an all-natural harissa spice blend, a sweet North African paste traditionally made with a kick of red peppers.

This recipe calls for pearled barley, but you can use hulled barley. Just increase the cooking time by about 30 minutes or so. Add in chicken, salmon, or even hummus if you want some extra protein.

Enjoy hot immediately after cooking, at room temperature, or even chilled in the fridge!

White Bean and Barley Salad with Greek Vinaigrette

Who says you need greens to make a salad? This barley salad is the perfect way to mix up your salad routine, and it’s dairy-free! Using barley and white beans, this is a yummy and filling option for work lunch or busy weekends.

Instead of using store-bought dressing, you’ll create a vinegar- and oil-based dressing made with lemon juice, cloves, and oregano.

Before serving, chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!

Egyptian Barley Salad with Pomegranate and Feta

Egyptian cuisine is made up of legumes, vegetables, and other natural foods produced around the Nile River.

This Mediterranean and Egyptian-inspired recipe has warm spices, gluten-free and vegan options, and can be ready in fifteen minutes if you have cooked barley on hand.

Secret ingredients are pomegranate, raisins. You can customize the almonds, feta cheese, and barley with nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free alternatives.

Sprinkle parsley and cilantro if you want, and serve with a simple main course to maximize the salad’s flavor.

Summer Barley Salad with Corn and Blueberries

Enjoy this barley recipe on a bright summer day. In addition to the barley, you’ll also need corn, blueberries, goat cheese, and almonds.

The white wine vinaigrette is made with vinegar, olive oil, honey, and Dijon mustard for a delicious dressing.

If you don’t have fresh corn, you can use canned corn or even grilled corn for a nice, charred flavor.

Keep in mind that grilled corn will be chewier. Sub goat cheese for feta cheese if goat cheese isn’t your thing. Add in some cooked chicken or chickpeas for a protein-filled meal.

Barley Salad with Roasted Carrots

Carrots are spiced with cumin, coriander, paprika, and turmeric.

This barley salad is assembled with roasted almonds, fresh parsley, pomegranate, feta cheese, and a honey-lemon dressing made with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, and extra-virgin olive oil.

You can use ground coriander if you don’t have coriander seeds available. Just use one teaspoon.

Omit the cheese if you’d like a dairy-free meal, or replace the honey with maple syrup for a vegan meal. Assemble the salad, drizzle the dressing, and enjoy at room temperature or cold.

Pearl Barley Salad with Chickpeas, Feta, and Lemon

Here’s another nice Mediterranean meal, which you can enjoy all on its own or as a side with grilled meats.

Besides the barley, you’ll also need chickpeas, feta cheese, green beans, fresh dill, and extra-virgin olive oil, and the juice of two lemons.

This recipe uses one cup of pearled barley, which should be cooked according to the package instructions before creating the salad.

You’ll also need to boil green beans before assembling, but that’s it. Serve warm and enjoy!

2. Vegetarian and Vegan Barley

Since barley is a grain, it’s an excellent ingredient for vegetarians and vegans alike.

Here are eight nutrient-packed dishes that will keep you full and satisfied.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Some would say mushrooms are an acquired taste, but if you’re a big mushroom fan, this is the barley recipe for you!

You’ll need both cremini and oyster mushrooms for this one. The liquid for this soup is made with vegetable stock, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar for lots of flavors.

You’ll be using hulled barley instead of pearled barley for extra nutrition, so this recipe will take some time to cook. But the results are a meaty, flavor-filled meal.

When it’s ready, season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.

Golden Lentil Barley Soup

Here’s another nutrient-dense recipe that’s also easy to make! This soup is “gently seasoned” with spices, but you can add as many spices if you’d like! You will need to wash the barley well in hot water before you begin cooking.

This will help prevent a slimy, gluey texture of the soup. In addition to fresh ginger root, fresh turmeric root is used here, but you can substitute for ground if you’d like.

You’ll want to add the tomato paste after the lentils have cooked all the way, so the lentils don’t become too tender.

Squeeze a small amount of lemon juice if you want some tangy flavor and serve hot.

Vegetable Barley Soup

Add this recipe to your list of favorite soups! It can be tricky to find vegetarian and vegan options for soups, but this recipe has your back.

Vegetables, chickpeas, and barley are combined with tomatoes, basil, and oregano for a flavorful Italian taste!

You’ll need carrots, celery, mushrooms, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, green beans, corn, and peas, but you can customize the veggies any way you’d like.

This recipe even allows you to combine fresh and frozen vegetables if you need to. Serve hot with parsley sprinkled on top.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushrooms come in many different varieties and are super versatile when it comes to cooking.

White mushrooms are used for this soup recipe for the soft texture and complementary flavor with the nutty barley.

This recipe only has a five-minute prep time. This is the perfect “toss in and forgets” recipe with a cooking time of a little over an hour.

You can enjoy this soup as-is to keep it vegan or vegetarian, or you can add leftover roast beef or chicken for some extra protein. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Vegan Barley Asparagus Risotto with Peas

Unlike soups and stews, risotto is a thicker, creamier consistency. Risottos are traditionally made with rice, but barley is a delicious and higher-fiber alternative.

If you’re not an asparagus fan, sneaking them in recipes like risottos is a great way to get the nutrition without the turn-off.

For the peas, you can use fresh or frozen peas; either way works with this risotto.

Serve warm as-is to keep it vegan, or add a dollop of butter and sprinkle some parmesan cheese. You do you!

Chickpea, Barley and Butternut Squash Jar Salad

Jar recipes are an excellent way to meal prep for busy workweeks. Why? Layering! You can layer the more delicate ingredients on top to keep them from getting squished or soggy.

This barley recipe is vegetarian, vegan, and the perfect grab-and-go meal if you’re short on time!

You’ll be doing lots of multitasking with this recipe—like prepping the squash for roasting while the barley is cooking or creating vinaigrette while the squash is roasting—so plan ahead.

The chickpeas and vinaigrette will need to be cooked before starting this recipe. Layer the jars, store them in the fridge, and you’re all set for a busy week!

Vegan Roasted Garlic Mushroom and Barley Stew

Unlike soups, stews usually contain only enough cooking liquid to simmer the other ingredients. Along with parboiled barley, the stars of the show are mushrooms and carrots.

Garlic is used often in recipes due to its robust and intense flavor. But instead of sautéing the garlic or cooking it with the other ingredients, you’ll wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and roast it in the oven.

You can also roast it without the foil if you prefer. When the barley is soft, taste the stew and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Serve hot with fresh herbs on top and enjoy!

Barley Spinach and Mushrooms

Is it a salad? Is it a risotto? This barley dish is its own presentation, but it’s also delicious and packed with nutrition!

Ingredients include sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, white beans, and a hint of balsamic vinegar for extra flavor.

This is another excellent meatless option for vegetarians. For vegans, omit parmesan cheese and use vegetable broth.

For this recipe, you’ll cook the barley in both water and broth for extra flavor. It doesn’t get much better than that. Serve hot and enjoy!

3. Barley soup recipes

Soup is one of the most popular and versatile ways to use barley since you can always season the soup at the end to your liking.

Here are a few barley soup recipes to try!

Vegetable Barley Soup Recipe (Vegan and Super Quick)

Need a hearty meal in 15 minutes? Soups generally take time to make, but not if you have a pressure cooker!

In addition to the barley and a 16-ounce bag of frozen soup vegetables, you’ll also need onions, carrots, and fire-roasted tomatoes.

Sauté the onions and carrots before adding in everything else, then cook for only seven minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot!

Vegetable Barley Soup

Here’s another delicious vegetable barley soup, ready in 30 minutes if you have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

You can substitute the cannellini beans for chickpeas or kidney beans if you want.

Feel free to use dry beans or canned beans. Either way works! Seasonings like cayenne pepper, basil, and oregano give this soup extra kick and flavor.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, serve all on its own, or with a slice of bread for dipping.

Vegetable Barley Soup

We all love a recipe that’s not only easy to throw together but is also healthy, filling, and customizable.

Sauté the vegetables before adding the garlic and herbs. Before adding the broth, stir in the uncooked barley, tomato paste, and potato cubes. Due to the size and tenderness of the peas, you’ll want to wait until the end to add them in.

Once the soup is ready, season it as much or little as you’d like. Sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese, or serve it as is to keep it vegan. Enjoy!

Healthy Barley Soup

Barley soups are a great way to add healthy whole grains to your diet. Add in some veggies, and you have a nutrient-dense meal that will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day.

This barley soup is ready to serve in 30 minutes and tastes great as a leftover meal, too! Chopped ginger and garlic give this soup extra flavor. Garnish with spring onions and serve warm.

Simple Mushroom Barley Soup

Want a soup with a more subtly smoky finish? Try this mushroom barley soup! You’ll need two varieties of mushrooms—baby bell and white mushrooms—for maximum flavor, chopped into “meaty” chunks for a mouthful of texture.

This soup is spiced with coriander, cumin, and a hint of smoked paprika for a warm, subtle, smoky flavor.

Garnish with parsley and serve with a side salad for a complete, nutrition-filled meal.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom soup is made worldwide, but this recipe is inspired by the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Eastern Europe.

Mushrooms and barley are plentiful in European climates, so naturally, both would be popular ingredients in European cuisine.

The key to adding complex flavor to a somewhat simple soup is adding the white mushrooms and their soaking liquid to the broth. Strain it first for extra smoothness.

For even more flavor, you’ll also add shiitake mushrooms seared to a beautiful golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot!

4. Beef barley soup recipes

Mushrooms aren’t the only thing that goes well with barley.

Let’s explore some beef options with nine beef barley recipes!

Hearty Beef Barley Soup

Let’s start with a super-easy “toss in and forget” one-pot meal with easy cleanup.

This recipe calls for the liquid to be relatively thick, but you can add extra broth to thin it out to your liking.

You can use beef or chicken broth; either way, you’ll get lots of flavors. A seared boneless chuck roast is the recommended beef for this soup as it softens nicely in the liquid.

Ground beef is also doable, but you’ll want to reduce the cooking time. Serve as the perfect main course for the whole family!

Beef Barley Soup

Like the previous recipe, you’ll sear the beef in a bit of oil before simmering it in the liquid.

You don’t have to peel the carrots, but you can for a nicer look to the soup. Use low-sodium broth to control the salt flavor better. Add in some Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper if you want an extra kick.

You’ll need to remove the cooked chuck roast from the pot after it’s ready to cut or shred it to bite-sized chunks, then return it to the pot before serving. Enjoy it hot!

Beef Barley Soup (Stovetop, Crockpot, Instant Pot)

With Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to help build the broth’s flavor, you’ll never go back to the canned soup!

The key spices are fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, but you can use dried herbs instead. Add in as many kinds of veggies as you want, be sure to time it right.

For example, smaller, softer veggies like green beans and peas should be added toward the end since they cook in less time than carrots and celery. Serve with dinner rolls, bread, side salad, or fruit salad.

Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Did you know you can use barley instead of water or broth to adjust the thickness of the soup? Or, for an easier, beginner-friendly option, you can cook the barley separately and serve it with the soup in the end.

The classic mirepoix veggie combo is used for this recipe, but you can customize the vegetables to your preference.

For a creamy texture, add some heavy cream in the end and stir it in. Brown rice or quinoa is recommended if you have a gluten-free preference, but remember to omit the Worcestershire sauce as well. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and serve.

Instant Pot Barley Soup with Beef

Here’s another Instant Pot barley recipe with thick and hearty beef to create the perfect soup dinner.

When you’re ready to sear the meat, divide it into 2-3 batches instead of all at once to help meat boil in oil rather than its own juices.

This will provide extra flavor. While searing, try not to flip it too much. Instead of “stirring” the meat constantly, let the meat cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip on uncooked sides and repeat.

After the meat is cooked, sauté the onion, celery, garlic, then add the remaining ingredients. Cook 20 minutes, let the pressure release 10 minutes, add salt to your liking, and serve!

Beef Barley Soup (One Pot)

Don’t have an Instant Pot? That’s okay! Here’s a great beef and barley recipe with classic Italian flavors.

This recipe calls for barley to be cooked in the soup, but you can cook the barley separately and mix it into the soup in the final 5-10 minutes of cooking.

The best meat options for this recipe are chuck roast, stew meat, or even leftover pot roast or roast beef if you have any on hand. And with veggies like potatoes, celery, peas, and tomato sauce, this soup is packed with texture and nutrition.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with a salad, cornbread, or even a grilled cheese sandwich for a delicious family-friendly meal.

Crockpot Beef Barley Soup

You don’t have to sear the meat before cooking it in a pot of soup. But it’s highly recommended.

Ground beef is fine to use, just cook and drain the meat first. After browning, all you have to do is add the ingredients, stir, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

You’ll need thyme stems and bay leaves for a pleasant aroma and delicious flavor. For more variety of texture, add in some Yukon gold or russet potatoes. Serve with toasted bread.

Easy Beef Barley Soup Recipe

All out of chuck roast? Don’t worry; there are options! For this super-easy beef barley soup, you can use oxtail, chuck roast, stew meat, or even leftover steak. Or substitute the beef for another type of meat like pork, chicken, or lamb.

All you need for spices are bay leaves, salt, and pepper. The veggies will cook in the broth for about 45 minutes before adding in the barley. Add pearled barley and cook for another 20 minutes. Fresh bread is the perfect side for soaking up all the delicious broth. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

Meals that cook themselves? Yes, please! Slow cookers may take longer to make a meal, but they are an excellent option for cooking barley in a soup.

This slow cooker recipe only requires about fifteen minutes of prep work. Great for busy work weeks. And the soft nuttiness of the barley gives this soup a thick texture and nutrition all in one meal.

For picky eaters, you can customize the veggies any way you want. Add in some balsamic vinegar or even some ketchup at the end to “punch up the flavor” just a bit.

Stir in some fresh parsley and season to taste before serving.


Barley can be used in so many ways. While it may not be as popular around the globe as rice, corn, or wheat, barley is delicious and super easy to use. Add to your meal plan today!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy barley in a meal?

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