9 Vegetarian and Vegan Barley Recipes

A collection of simple healthy homemade barley recipes to try: all entirely vegetarian and mostly vegan. Pearled barley is a healthy high-fiber and cholesterol-free whole grain ingredient that should have a regular place in your kitchen. Barley can be used in soups, salads, stir-fries, casseroles, pilafs or just about anything you can imagine!​ If you like cooking with whole grains, you might also want to check out some quinoa recipes and maybe even some Israeli couscous recipes, or, explore even more whole grains, such as kaniwa and teff. 

Scroll through these barley recipes to get ideas for how to use and how to cook barley in your home kitchen. Enjoy!

  • 01 of 09

    Vegetarian Greek Salad with Whole Grain Barley

    Vegetarian whole grain Greek-style barley salad - isn't it beautiful?
    Vegetarian whole grain Greek-style barley salad - isn't it beautiful?.

    I love Greek salad, and filling it up with various different things. Barley stretches the other pricey ingredients, such as feta and olives, to make this barley Greek salad both suitable for a budget, and more filling. Plus, isn't it beautiful? For a vegan version, use a nice baked or marinated tofu instead of feta, or just omit it - it will still be delicious. Transform it into a gourmet entree by swapping out the feta for grilled halloumi cheese

  • 02 of 09

    Vegan Barley, Wild Rice and Cranberry Pilaf

    Nutty barley and lentil salad
    Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst / Getty Images

    Toss in a handful of cooked barley to your usual green salad to give it a bit of a punch and make it more filling, or, try a barley salad that is complete in and of itself, such as this lovely barley pilaf salad with wild rice and cranberries. Want to try your own barley salad? Take cooked barley, add a few steamed or fresh veggies, then top it off with any store-bought vinaigrette or a vegan salad dressing.

  • 03 of 09

    Barley Baked Beans

    Vegetarian baked beans with barley
    Vegetarian baked beans with barley.

    Who doesn't love homemade baked beans? Add some extra texture and fiber and stretch your usual recipe by adding barley for barley baked beans! You could also make these saucy beans in a slow cooker set on medium for about six hours. Stick it in a thermos and take it to work for a healthy whole grain and heart-healthy lunch, use the leftovers on a bun like sloppy joes for the kids, or, if you're not eating vegan, add a bit of extra flavor by topping it off with some shredded cheese.

  • 04 of 09

    Barley tomato soup recipe

    Barley, tomato and vegetable soup
    Barley, tomato and vegetable soup photo by Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images

    Most vegetarian barley soup recipes pair barley with plenty of mushrooms to carry the flavor, but this barley soup recipe uses tomatoes and plenty of traditional soup ingredients, such as carrots, celery, onions and garlic. It's a simple enough recipe, but the folks I've served this soup to eat it right up and love it. If you're looking for something gourmet, this isn't it, but, if you're looking for a filling, high-fiber and tasty tomato soup, vegetable soup or barley soup, this one combines all three.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Barley and mushroom pilaf

    Closeup Mushroom Barley Meal
    cheche22 / Getty Images

    Just like rice and most other whole grains, barley makes an excellent pilaf served warm. There's not much difference between a whole-grain pilaf and a whole grain salad, so enjoy the leftovers the next day served cold. In this barley pilaf recipe, the earthy and nuttiness of the barley is a perfect pair for mushrooms and rosemary. You can top it with Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, but as one recipe reviewer noted, "it's sooo big on flavor!" just as it is. Enjoy!

  • 06 of 09

    Bean and barley vegetable soup

    Vegetarian bean and barley soup

    The Spruce


    For a meatless alternative to beef and barley soup, try this vegetarian version of barley soup made with beans instead. It's cholesterol-free! The flavor comes from plenty of Italian seasonings instead of meat, cream, or lots of oil. It's flavored with oregano, celery salt, basil, thyme and bay leaves. Like many soup recipes, this bean and barley soup makes plenty, so plan on having leftovers, or, invite the neighbors to come over to slurp up this soup with you. Believe it or not, this barley soup recipe is consistently one of the most popular vegetarian recipes every year.

  • 07 of 09

    Vegetarian Barley Stuffed Squash

    Vegetarian stuffed acorn squash
    Vegetarian stuffed acorn squash

    Looking for something a little bit different than the usual barley recipes? Try stuffing barley into a sliced acorn squash, and roasting it in the oven for a full meal as in this easy barley stuffed acorn squash recipe. Top it off with a nice Italian cheese, if you'd like, add a side green salad, and you've got yourself a full meal. 

  • 08 of 09

    More healthy whole grains to try

    Raw Organic Brown Bulgar Wheat
    bhofack2 / Getty Images

    How many different kinds of whole grains can you name? How many are in your usual kitchen cooking repertoire? Expand your list of usual go-to foods by browsing through this list of seven whole grains. Next time you're thinking of making pasta or rice, think about using one of these healthy grains instead. Pictured: Bulgur wheat

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Easy vegetarian recipes to try

    Vegetarian Baked Pasta

    The Spruce

    Love healthy cooking or exploring more vegetarian meal ideas? You might love some of these other vegetarian recipe ideas. Browse through this huge collection of healthy vegetarian recipes, new vegetarian recipes, gluten-free vegan dinner ideas, vegetarian recipes, vegetarian dinner ideas, and more. Pictured: Oven-baked pasta casserole with spinach