Healthy Recipes




How To Cook Barley Perfectly, 3 Ways

Cooked peeled barley grains in wooden plate

How To Cook Barley Perfectly, 3 Ways

Barley is used in soups, cereals, and many other foods. It is a grain that is known for offering some health benefits. It's high in fiber, which is great for your gut health, and it also has been studied to reduce the risk of obesity and developing diabetes. It is the fourth most produced grain in the world coming after corn, rice, and wheat. If you have barley at home that you're ready to cook, here are three ways to make sure you cook your barley perfectly.

Barley field in summer
Hulled barley offers more nutrients than pearled barley since it is processed less.


Hulled and Pearl Barley

There are two different kinds of barley you can cook: hulled and pearl barley. The main difference between these two is how they are processed. Hulled barley is less processed and has only had the outer husk removed. This makes the barley a tan color. Pearl barley, on the other hand, has had both the outer husks and the bran layers removed.

These barley options require different preparation when cooking. Because pearl barley has been more refined and processed, this is considered the “no-fuss” barley. It doesn't require any preparation, and you can cook it as it is. Hulled barley should be prepared before cooking by soaking it in water for a few hours. It's also important to note that hulled barley will take longer to cook, approximately twice the amount of time it takes pearl barley to cook.

Below, when talking about different methods of cooking barley, I'll be referring to pearl barley. If you have hulled barley, soak your barley before cooking and expect to double the cooking time unless stated otherwise.


Boiling your barley on the stovetop is very easy. You can cook it in water, or if you want to add extra flavor, you can use broth. To cook one cup of barley, boil three cups of water or your choice of broth with a dash of salt. Add your barley, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. The barley should be tender and have a slightly chewy texture.

  • Boil three cups of water or your choice of broth.
  • Add a dash of salt and one cup of barley.
  • Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Simmer for 25-30 minutes.
    • Add an additional 25 minutes for hulled barley.
  • Check that all or most water has been absorbed by barley.
  • Remove from stove and serve once barley is tender.
barley grain on the wooden background
Barley's fiber content is beta-glucan. This is a soluble fiber that forms when mixed with fluid.


Instant Pot

To cook your barley in the instant pot, add one cup of barley and two cups of water or your choice of broth to the instant pot. You can also add any desired seasonings like salt, bay leaf, or cinnamon. Stir any seasonings and then seal the instant pot lid. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. If you're cooking hulled barley, add an extra half cup of liquid and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. After the designated cooking time, allow the instant pot to pressure release for 15 minutes.

  • Add one cup of barley and two cups of water or your choice of broth to the instant pot.
  • Add and stir any desired seasonings.
  • Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
    • Add half a cup of liquid and 5 minutes of cooking time if cooking hulled barley.
  • Allow pressure to release for 15 minutes.
  • Serve.


To cook your barley in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using an oven-safe dish with a lid, add one cup of barley and two cups of water or your choice of broth. Add any preferred seasonings like salt or pepper and stir. Then, place the lid on and place it into the oven. Cook for one hour. Check that the barley is tender.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place one cup and two cups of water or your choice of broth into an oven-safe dish with a lid.
  • Add in any preferred seasonings and stir.
  • Put the lid on and place into the oven.
  • Cook for one hour.
  • Check that the barley is tender and serve.
barley grains as background, top view
Barley grows wild in Northeast Africa and Western Asia but has been widely cultivated and is produced in many countries.


Recipe Card

If you're looking for well-rounded meals that include barley, here is one of our favorite recipes:

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Barley and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 4 large bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges for serving


  1. Cook the pearl barley according to the package instructions. Once cooked, set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  3. Combine cooked barley, black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Place the bell pepper halves in a baking dish.
  5. Spoon the barley and vegetable mixture into each pepper half, pressing down gently to pack the filling.
  6. Top each stuffed pepper with shredded cheddar cheese.
  7. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
  8. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  9. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired, and serve with lime wedges on the side.


  • Calories: 300
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 350 mg
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 50 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Protein: 12 g
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