How to Cook Barley in the Instant Pot

Emily Woodward
by Emily Woodward
3 cups
42 min

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 Barely 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.

🥣 Storage

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.

💪 Nutrition

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.

🥘 Uses

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:

Mediterranean Barley Salad

Mexican Bean and Barley Soup

📖 Recipe

Need a Pressure Cooker? There are a lot of great options out there, but the Instant Pot Ultra is my favorite. I love being able to make yogurt in it!

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I'd love to hear your favorite way to eat barley. Let me know in the comments below!

How to Cook Barley in the Instant Pot
Recipe details
  • 3  cups
  • Prep time: 2 Minutes Cook time: 40 Minutes Total time: 42 min
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Pearl Barley
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups water (or broth)
Hulled Barley
  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 2 1/2 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!
  • 1 cup of dried barley makes about 3 cups of cooked barley.
  • You can adjust the amount of barley made with the following ratios:
  • Pearl Barley: 1 cup barley to 2 cups water.
  • Hulled Barley: 1 cup barley to 2.5 cups water.
Emily Woodward
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