Pearled Barley Pilaf

Pearl barley with spoon and bowl
Crystal Cartier Photography / Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
203 Calories
12g Fat
19g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 203
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 374mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 2mg 10%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 233mg 5%
*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.)

Barley 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 is removed. While pearled barley is lower in nutrients than hulled barley, it cooks more quickly. A side dish like this 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.

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. If you have extra plain cooked barley, it's a great hearty breakfast. Serve it warm with some fruit, nuts, and/or warm syrup or honey.

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. Use this pilaf recipe or make up your own version with fall flavors and vegetables and enjoy the fall season.


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 cup pearled barley

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, 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 to 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 salt and pepper. Stir in onions, garlic, and barley. Reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 45 minutes or until the barley feels tender.

  4. Remove from heat. Keep covered for another 5 minutes. Uncover and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon zest. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.


  • The 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. Try other herbs instead of, or in addition to, parsley. Dill would work really nicely with the lemon flavors.