Barley is an ancient grain that's nutritious, affordable, and easy to cook. The pleasantly chewy and lightly nutty grain can be incorporated into a wide variety of dishes. Use it to add texture and heft to soups and stews, pilafs, porridge, and stuffing. Barley can even be used to make a nourishing tea.
To cook barley for a recipe that calls for the grain to be cooked, combine one cup of barley and two cups of water or broth in a pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Barley is also delicious added to salads or tossed with fresh herbs and lemon for a simple side dish.
Note that all of these recipes call for pearled or pearl barley. This type of barley has the outermost layer of bran removed, making it much quicker and easier to cook. It's also the most common variety found in the grocery store.
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Tender barley makes this vegan soup a meal in a bowl. Flavored with tomato, bay leaves, and parsley, vegetarian barley soup is easy to customize to suit your tastes. Use your favorite mix of vegetables in this soup—as long as you cook them until tender, any veggies will work in this versatile dish. Mushrooms would add a nice earthy element, and sausage can be added if you're not vegetarian. Use vegetable broth for the best flavor.
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Crock pot turkey barley soup is a nice rustic spin on chicken noodle soup and is a tasty way to use up leftover turkey. After quickly sautéing the vegetables, simply add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and let it fill your house with a delicious aroma. Instructions are included for cooking the dish on the stovetop if you don't have a slow cooker.
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Nutty, chewy barley pairs up with wild rice for a healthy and delicious vegan pilaf. Orange juice, lemon juice, and dried cranberries add a fruity touch. Walnuts add a delicious crunch and, if you're not eating vegan, feta cheese adds salty creaminess. The festive side dish is worthy of a Thanksgiving spread but simple enough for an autumn family meal.
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Barley stuffed squash is an attractive vegetarian main dish that's easy to make. The barley is cooked with vegetables and vegetable broth for a flavorful filling. Stuffed into acorn squash halves and roasted, it's a filling dish that's easy to embellish. Add dried cranberries, sautéed mushrooms, or chopped fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Beans provide delicious protein in this barley vegetable soup. The recipe calls for pinto beans, but white beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans also work nicely. A mix of dried spices adds fragrant flavor to the warming soup. Add whatever vegetables you like, such as cauliflower, zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, or cabbage.
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Lemon barley water is a nourishing drink that tastes great hot or cold. Pearled barley is boiled along with lemon zest, and then the liquid is strained. Mixed with fresh lemon juice and honey, it's a sweet and tart drink with a nutty, bready flavor from the grains. If you'd like a little spice, add some fresh-grated ginger.
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Mushrooms and barley frequently appear in recipes together, and for good reason—they are an excellent flavor combination. The two ingredients come together in mushroom barley soup for a vegetarian main dish that's always a favorite. Using both dried, reconstituted mushrooms as well as fresh mushrooms gives this dish layers of flavor.
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Barley provides a pleasantly chewy base for this Greek-style salad. Bell pepper, tomatoes, red onion, and parsley make this dish super fresh, and crumbled feta cheese and olives amp up the flavor. A simple, healthy vinaigrette brings the whole dish together. Add some spinach or baby greens if you like and serve as a light lunch or as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Barley adds a natural creaminess to soup broth, giving this shrimp, barley, and lemon stew body. Sweet potato brings a little sweetness and spinach adds color and a different texture. Fresh lemon zest and juice adds brightness and pairs perfectly with the tender shrimp. Don't add the shrimp until the end so that they don't overcook.
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Sloppy joes are usually made using ground beef, but barley, mushrooms, and caramelized veggies are used to make a vegetarian version that's just as tasty. Use canned sloppy joe mix for a quick and easy dish or make your own sauce. Add the saucy filling to slider buns for a party snack or to regular size hamburger buns for a main dish. Vegetarian sloppy joes are especially good topped with pickles.
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Lentils and barley are a nutritious and filling base for a high-protein vegetable soup. They also cook for about the same amount of time, making this dish mostly hands-off. Mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce add rich flavor and lemon juice and parsley keep the soup light. Serve with crusty bread or a green salad for a satisfying lunch.
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Bori cha, or roasted barley tea, is a popular beverage in Korea. Served hot or cold, barley tea is nutty and toasty. If you can't find roasted barley or barley tea, you can make your own at home. Roast barley in a sauté pan just until browned and toasted, careful not to burn the grains since it will produce a bitter taste in the tea. Refrigerate any leftovers.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Barley doesn't just make great savory dishes. The grain also takes well to sweet applications like this breakfast delight. Cooked with pear nectar, honey, brown sugar, and cinnamon, it's like a fruity and spiced oatmeal. But unlike oats, barley grains tend to retain their texture while still creating a thick, porridge-like consistency. Top with a sprinkle of nuts and dried fruit for a healthy morning meal.