Pearled Barley Pilaf (Meat or Parve)

Pearl barley with spoon and bowl
Crystal Cartier Photography / Getty Images
Ratings (9)
  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 55 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
267 Calories
11g Fat
38g Carbs
7g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

"Barley," explains Giora Shimoni, is a grain with a nut-like flavor and a pasta-like consistency. Pearled barley is hulled barley that has been polished so that the outside (bran) of the kernel are removed. While pearled barley is lower in nutrients than hulled barley, it cooks more quickly. Pearled Barley Pilaf is a great way to upgrade your next chicken dinner. As a less familiar side dish than rice, couscous, falafel or potatoes, barley can dress up a meal. By the way, this recipe also makes a great tongue twister. Try to say Pearled Barley Pilaf with Parsley three times fast!"

Miri's Recipe Testing Notes and Tips

Shimoni's original recipe called for pareve chicken soup mix instead of stock, but the latter is more flavorful, lower in sodium, and less likely to contain MSG. If you don't have stock on hand, you can also use water, though you may wish to season the barley with more parsley and lemon zest. 

Make It A Meal: With its toothsome texture and subtle flavor, barley makes a great accompaniment to beef or chicken. Try it with Roasted Chicken with Baharat, Garlic, and Mint and a side of Green Beans with Pecans and Date Syrup. A smooth Butternut Squash Kugel rounds out the meal and ups the comfort fare factor. Finish with a slice of whole grain Jewish Apple Cake and tea or coffee. 

Did You Know? Barley is counted among the 7 Species of Israel, garnering a special mention in the Torah as an agricultural product vital to the land and its people. As such, it makes a fitting addition to menus celebrating the harvest holidays of Sukkot and Shavuot. 


  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a chef's pan or large skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  Add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

  2. Add the pearled barley to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until toasted, about 3 minutes more

  3. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in soup mix, salt, and pepper. Stir in onions, garlic, and barley. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until tender.

  4. Remove from heat. Keep covered for another 5 minutes. Uncover and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon peel.