Pressure cooking barley in the Instant Pot is the quickest and easiest way to prepare this healthy whole grain.
Barley is a delicious and healthy whole grain. It's easy to make and can be added to a variety of recipes. The downside, however, is that it takes longer to cook than other grains. Using the Instant Pot is the best way to cut down cooking time. It's also great because you can just add all the ingredients and walk away.
Don't have a pressure cooker? No worries, this grain can be made on the stove too! Check out "How to Cook Barley on the Stove."
✨ Top Tips
- The most important thing to know when cooking barley in the Instant Pot is to know what type of barley you are using. It will most likely be either Hulled Barley or Pearl Barley. These two types have been processed differently from one another, so the cooking times vary between the two. For a full run down of how these two types are different check out "A Complete Guide to Cooking with Barley"
- The most common form found in a regular grocery store is Pearl Barley, so if you are unsure, I would assume that is what you have.
- Barley does not need to be soaked before cooking.
- It is a good idea to rinse the grain before cooking. Barley has a lot of starch on it and in it. Rinsing it prevents it from become a sticky blob of grains. But if a sticky blob is what you're going for, no need to rinse.
- You can even rinse the grains again after cooking to make it less sticky if desired, but this is not necessary.
- Instead of using water, broth could be used to give the barley a savory flavor. Or consider adding spices or seasoning in with the water to give the barley extra flavoring in your recipe. For example, sometimes I add cinnamon in when I'm making barley for breakfast.
Cooked barley should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Cooked barley can also be frozen. It's a great idea to make a large batch and freeze portions so you can always have a healthy whole grain ready to go.
Make sure your cooked barley is completely cool before transferring to a freezer-friendly container. (Making sure they are completely cool will help prevent freezer burn). Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
For best results, allow frozen barley to defrost slowly in the fridge, but it can also be defrosted in the microwave. Use a low heat setting on your microwave and stir the barley every 2 minutes until it has reached your desired temperature.
Barley has a ton of nutrients, like manganese, selenium, copper, chromium, magnesium, niacin, and other B vitamins. It's also really high in fiber and low in fat. While it does have some protein (3.6 g per cooked cup), this is lower than several other whole grains, like brown rice (4.5 g) or quinoa (8 g).
Barley does contain gluten.
1 cup of cooked barley contains 193 calories.
For a full rundown of barley's nutritional values, check out the USDA's website.
👪 Serving Size
1 cup of dried barley makes about 3 cups of cooked barley.
Ok, so you did it, now how to use it? Barley can be used as a substitute for most other grains, like rice, oatmeal, wheat berries, orzo pasta, etc. It's great in soups and salads. I love a warm bowl of barley for breakfast on cold mornings. Here are some recipe ideas:
How to Cook Barley in the Instant Pot
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 cups water (or broth)
- 1 cup hulled barley
- 2 ½ cups water (or broth)
Optional add ins for desired flavoring
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- etc. etc.
- Thoroughly rinse the barley grains to prevent sticking.
- Add barley, water and any desired seasoning to the Instant Pot. Stir and seal the lid.
- Cook on high pressure (pressure cook or manual setting) for 20 mins for Pearl Barley, 25 mins for Hulled Barley.
- Let Instant Pot naturally release for 15 minutes. Serve as desired!
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I'd love to hear your favorite way to eat barley. Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for this easy recipe! I had some barley that needed to be cooked
Such great tips! I always think of barely being a soup or stew ingredient, but I can see that it's also a flavorful cold ingredient too!
Jessica Stroup says
Such a good idea...and so yummy!
Kim Guzman says
So glad to have found an easy Instant Pot recipe for barley! It worked perfectly!
Such a great recipe! So delicious!
Ksenia @ immigrantstable.com says
The InstantPot has become my go-to kitchen tool lately, and I'm so glad for this guide to cooking a kitchen staple grain like barley. Thanks for this!
Awesome! Thanks for the ratios and ideas. My new fave grain because it doesn't get mushy for recipes like risotto etc. Thank you for your culinary inspiration!
You're welcome! And thanks for commenting!
Beef barley soup. 1/2c pearl barley, 3 stocks diced celery, 1 medium onion, 1/2 bay leaf. 1/2 tsp. Garlic powder, pinch of pepper. 1lb small cubed left over steak, roast etc. Or pre seared fresh in insta pot before liquid is added. 4cups water or beef broth. High pressure 20 min. Natural release, season to taste, enjoy!
Thank you! Very handy, great additional tips, and not so much gobbledygook to dog through to find the actual instructions. Much appreciated!
I enjoy barley but rarely make it because of the long cooking time. That's why I'm glad I came across this recipe. Today I gave it a try, and it came out perfectly cooked and fluffy. Thank you!
Super tasty thanks for this perfect recipe for pearl hulled barley. First time cooking barley and it came out fluffy like brown rice. I had to wash (soak-drain-repeat) the barley several times to get the cloudy water to clear up.
I added: 1/2 cup pearled barley (washed), 1 cup (filtered) water, 1/2 tbsp avocado oil, a pinch of Himalayan salt, a pinch of cumin (5-10 seeds), and the tiniest pinch (the size of one cumin seed) of turmeric. Instant Pot on 15 minutes manual with natural pressure release.
This could become a staple!
I'm so glad it turned out great! The seasonings you added sound amazing. Cumin is my favorite spice! Thanks for sharing.
I'm new to cooking barley. Do you dextrinize your hulless barley before cooking? If not, do you think it would affect the cooking time.
I did dextrinize for 11 and half minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. The directions said 15 minutes but I was afraid of burning the grains. My stove top directions said to cook for an hour, but it took more than 2 hours and the grains were somewhat like sticky rice.
I can't wait to try cooking them in the instant pot, but wondered if it would be advisable to dextrinize the grain first.
I was wondering if you had a suggestion? I did dextrinize(dry roast for 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven) the hulled barley grain then cooked for 25 minutes and 15 minute natural release in the instant pot.
It came out really chewy. I was wondering if dextrinizing the grain was the problem. I want to try again. Do you have a suggestion for how much longer I should cook it along with the rest time.
I actually kept cooking for an additional 5 minutes with 15 minute rest time and my grain is still chewy along with becoming more sticky.
Also, do you think purple barley would have the same cook time?
Hi Deborah, thanks for your comments. I have to admit that I'd never heard of the term "dextrinize" before, but after some research, it sounds like it's essentially just toasting the grains. I've never tried dextrinizing myself, but from what I read about it, it shouldn't affect cooking time.
No matter how long you cook barley, it will always have a bit of chewiness to it. It never gets as soft as rice or noodles. You said you're new to cooking barley, so maybe you aren't familiar with the texture?
As far as getting sticky, the best way to prevent that is to rinse the grains before cooking. You can even rinse them after cooking to remove some of the extra startch.
From the research that I did, it looks like purple barley does have a similar cook time.
Recipe came out great! Thank you! Will definitely make it again.
Just wondering if I was going to double it would I double the liquids as well?
Yes! You would double the water along with the barley. I'm glad it turned out great!
KR Health says
I used pearl barley. This worked perfectly! After it was cooked, I combined it with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peas. It was delicious. Thanks for an easy pantry staple recipe.
I'm so glad to hear it! And the mushrooms, onions and peas sound delicious!
I have been cooking Barley on the stove top for a long time. Just like my Mom used to.
However, I now own a 3qt Instant Pot and was looking for the liquid ratio and TIME required to cook it that way.
Thanks for the info. 2:1 liquid to barley is perfect. And the time, 20 minutes on HIGH with 15 minutes NPR gave me EXCELLENT results.
First time in the Instant Pot and it was perfect. Thanks for doing the ‘test’ cooking for me!
I am so happy to hear this! Thanks for commenting.
My husband recently discovered barley & wants me to make it all of the time now & I can't say how grateful I am to have come across your recipe. I would like to know if you double the amount do you have to adjust the cooking time?
Thank you so much for the kind comment. You do not have to adjust the cooking time if you double the amount.