How To Cook Barley

Barley is a nutritious and versatile grain that is commonly used in soups, stews, salads, and as a side dish. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture that makes it an excellent substitute for rice or pasta. It is considered a superfood due to its high fiber content and numerous health benefits.

Cooking barley is easy and can be done in several ways. The following steps will guide you on how to cook barley to perfection.

1. Rinse the Barley

Before cooking barley, it is important to rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. This helps to remove any dirt or debris that may be present on the grain. Use a colander to rinse the barley and shake it to remove any excess water.

2. Soak the Barley (Optional)

Soaking barley is optional but it helps to reduce the cooking time. If you decide to soak the barley, add it to a bowl and cover it with water. Let it soak for at least one hour or overnight. Drain the water and rinse the barley before cooking.

3. Boil the Water

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water to enhance the flavor of the barley.

4. Add the Barley

Once the water is boiling, add the barley to the pot. Use a wooden spoon to stir the barley to prevent it from sticking together. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the barley simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until it is tender.

5. Drain the Excess Water

Once the barley is cooked, drain any excess water using a colander. Shake the colander to remove any excess water and transfer the barley to a bowl.

6. Fluff the Barley

Use a fork to fluff the barley and separate any clumps that may have formed during cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Other Methods of Cooking Barley

Apart from boiling, barley can be cooked using an instant pot or a rice cooker. Below are the steps to follow when using these methods.

Instant Pot

1. Rinse the barley and place it in the instant pot.

2. Add water or broth to the pot.

3. Close the lid and set the instant pot to cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.

4. Once the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before opening the lid.

5. Fluff the barley and serve.

Rice Cooker

1. Rinse the barley and place it in the rice cooker.

2. Add water or broth to the rice cooker.

3. Turn on the rice cooker and let the barley cook.

4. Once the cooking cycle is complete, fluff the barley and serve.


1. How much water do I need to cook barley?

The ratio of water to barley is typically 3 cups of water to 1 cup of barley. However, this can vary depending on the recipe and the method of cooking.

2. Can I use broth instead of water?

Yes, you can use broth to cook barley. This enhances the flavor of the grain and makes it more nutritious.

3. Can I cook barley in advance?

Yes, you can cook barley in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to six months.

4. Can I use barley flour to cook?

Barley flour is not suitable for cooking as it is not a whole grain and lacks the texture and nutritional value of whole barley.

5. Is barley gluten-free?

Barley contains gluten and is therefore not suitable for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

In conclusion, cooking barley is easy and can be done in several ways. Rinsing, soaking, boiling, and fluffing are the basic steps to follow when cooking barley. To enhance the flavor, you can use broth instead of water and add seasoning like salt and pepper. Using an instant pot or a rice cooker is an alternative method of cooking barley that saves time and provides consistent results. With these tips, you can cook perfect barley every time.

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