Barley Porridge

Barley Porridge

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 6 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Soak: 60 mins
Total: 106 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
79 Calories
2g Fat
13g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 79
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 52mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 115mg 9%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Long ago, porridges were made exclusively with the grains themselves. One of the reasons people never liked making barley porridge was due to the length of time it took for the grain to cook. This recipe uses whole barley and follows that tradition in needing a long cooking time. The result is a mild-flavored porridge with a slightly malted flavor (malted barley is used in making beer) and a hint of nuttiness.

Barley porridge is a satisfying breakfast that is traditional in Nordic countries, from which Vikings spread it to their settlements throughout Europe. It is also traditional in the islands of the Caribbean, where cane sugar is used as the sweetener.

“Switch up your routine and swap your morning oatmeal for this barley porridge. This porridge can be easily customized with whatever toppings you choose (I recommend fresh, in-season fruit) and is the perfect warm and comforting way to start your day.” —Kayla Hoang

Barley Porridge Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup whole barley

  • 4 1/4 cups water, divided

  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

  • Sugar, or honey, to taste

  • Milk, for serving

  • Dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, for optional garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Barley Porridge ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Soak the barley in 3/4 cup water for 1 hour.

    Soak the barley in water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. At the end of the hour, add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of water to a saucepan along with the cinnamon stick, cover the pot and bring it to a boil.

     cinnamon stick in a saucepan with water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add the soaked barley as well as the soaking liquid to the boiling water and cook on medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until the barley is soft.

    soaked barley cooking in a saucepan with cinnamon stick

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Remove the pot from the heat and sweeten with sugar and milk to taste, stirring until fully incorporated. Serve hot with toppings such as fruit and nuts, if desired.

    Barley Porridge

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • You can make many variations on this recipe in the fruit, nuts, and spices you can include. Chopped almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans will add some crunch.
  • Blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries are excellent choices to top your porridge, either fresh in season or using frozen fruit that you have defrosted. You can include chopped fruit such as pears, peaches, or apples and add them in the last three minutes of cooking to soften them. Similarly, dried fruit such as raisins, figs, or chopped dates can be added at the end of cooking. These can give the porridge enough natural sweetness that you can use less sugar or omit it entirely.
  • You can make the barley porridge the base for a savory dish, omitting the sugar, adding chopped ham, and topping it with a poached egg.
  • These days, the ground versions of grains such as barley, sago, and oats are readily available to make porridge. The cooking time is significantly reduced when using ground grains, so ground barley porridge cooks up quickly.