How to Cook Pearl Barley – The Secret to Perfect Food

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Written By Alivia Stone

Pearl barley is known by both culinary and culinary circles as an ingredient with a truly rich nutritional profile. In pearl barley, there is a lot of fiber and vitamins. Pearl barley dishes contribute to the normalization of the digestive tract. Today we are introducing you to how to cook pearl barley while still retaining all the nutrients from this precious food!

How to cook pearl barley well
How to cook pearl barley well

All You Need to Know about Pearl Barley to How to Cook Pearl Barley Best

There are a lot of people who believe that cooking pearl barley is really difficult because it takes a lot of time. Do not worry! We will share with you the best tips on how to cook pearl barley and still do other jobs.

Basic Information about Barley

How to cook pearl barley best you need to know about barley first. This principle is important in everything you do, whether it’s cooking, building a house, or whatever.

Barley is classified by the world as a cereal rich in fiber and protein. Chefs often add barley to soups and stews or are used to make bread.
In terms of price, barley is consumer-friendly, delicious, and readily available in most grocery stores. Although with reasonable price and a long presence in the market, it is not as common as quinoa or rice.

Compared to rice or other grains, the glycemic index of barley ranges from 20 to 37. Barley’s glycemic index ranges from 9 to 12 (Source: You should consider this stat when using barley for patients with blood sugar problems! The specialty in barley that most people care about is that it is gluten-free.

If you’ve ever eaten barley you might have felt that barley has a unique chewy texture and mild flavor. With its unique chewy texture and characteristic barley flavor, it is often described as having a “nutty flavor“.

What is Barley Often Used for?

With its characteristics as well as nutritional ingredients in barley, it has a rather mild flavor that can be combined with almost any ingredient to create unique dishes.

One of the most common ways to use barley in cooking is to add it to soups and stews, helping to give them a creamy appearance and filling the enjoyment of the dish quickly.

While making the soup, you can add uncooked barley to the soup and cook it with other ingredients. In this case, the barley will continue to expand as you cook the soup and your soup will become thick with its own, very interesting flavor.

If you don’t like the sprouted barley and you like chewy barley, you can cook it separately and then add it to the soup as you go.

Barley is also a delicious side dish and can be used in salads as it tastes good when cold. It is also very popular as the best option for vegetarians and vegans. If you use barley as a cereal you can use it for breakfast.

What is the Difference Between Pearl, Pot, and Shell Barley?

  • Pot or Hulled Barley is a whole grain that has only the outer crust removed. It contains more fiber and takes an hour to cook. It has a denser chewing layer.
  • Pearl barley is a polished grain with part or all of the bran removed. It has a softer texture.
  • Unshelled or shell barley with no sheaths removed. It is chewier and more fibrous than pearl barley. It will ripen in about the same amount of time as the hulled barley if soaked overnight.
Looking at the picture you can see the three different types of barley
Looking at the picture you can see the three different types of barley

The most popular types of barley sold in grocery and online stores are perlite and pot barley. And you know, pearl barley is more processed than pot barley. When we compare it side by side, the pearl barley looks whiter, and the hot barley looks a bit tanned.

Hot barley and pearl barley are quite difficult to distinguish when comparing the color of the grain. The interesting thing about the difference between pearl barley and pot barley is that the pot barley becomes more prominent when the beans are cooked, the pearl barley will be lighter in color and the pot barley becomes darker color.

Bubble and barley taste quite similar and can be used interchangeably in almost any recipe. The only important difference is that the pot barley takes longer to cook, so be sure to adjust the cooking time when replacing.

Time to Cook the Barley to Make it Perfect

The time it takes to cook barley varies depending on the type of barley you’re cooking and the method you’re using. So please pay close attention!

Pot barley has a longer cooking time than pearl barley. It takes about 50 minutes to cook the pot on the stove and in the oven or 25 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot.

Pearl barley cooks faster than pot barley. It takes about 35 minutes to cook pearl barley on the stove and in the oven or 20 minutes in the Instant Pot.

Tips and Tricks for Cooking Barley

To make it easier to use pearl barley in your dishes, we’ve included a few very important notes. Try to remember and apply it when you cook!

  • Soak overnight the way you soak it with beans. This is optional but can help speed up cooking time.
  • Rinse well before cooking to wash off any dirt and excess starch.
  • Try cooking it with vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor. Alternatively, you can cook barley with dried mushrooms to give it some umami flavor. Or you can also season with herbs or chicken broth to make the dish more appealing.
  • Drain excess water after cooking and let it sit for 15 minutes in the pot, cover again. This allows it to absorb and absorb any remaining liquid.
  • Beat the fluff the way you wash the rice for the perfect texture.
  • Freezing cooked barley is our approach to making it easier to prepare your dishes. Frozen barley retains its full flavor and characteristic properties such as toughness, making it the perfect grain to freeze well. You can cook barley over the weekend, freeze it into pieces and then thaw as needed to add to salads, soups, and side dishes.

Prepare Pearl Barley Before Cooking

As with any cereal, you should usually rinse the pearl barley well before cooking, especially if you buy it in bales.

To rinse the pearl barley, put it in a bowl and add enough water to cover the barley seeds 1 to 2 inches. Then use your fingers to rub, rinse the water and repeat the action a few times. Finally, put the pearl barley beads in a sieve and rinse under the tap. Remember to shake to remove excess water and drain the pearl barley.

Getting delicious food from the pearl barley is easy
Getting delicious food from the pearl barley is easy

How to Cook Pearl Barley

Now comes the most important part! In this section, we will cover two absorption cooking methods and a mixed rice method in three ways to cook barley. Three ways to cook pearl barley are commonly used:

  1. Cook on the stove
  2. Cook in the oven
  3. Cook in the instant pot

1. Cook on the Stove

Method 1 – Absorption Method

The method of absorption is the most common method of cooking cereals. It is popular with many home chefs to choose from because it doesn’t require too much detail.

The method of absorption means that the seeds are cooked in a certain amount of liquid, like stock or plain white water. This water will be completely absorbed by the pearl barley at the end of the cooking process. It’s like we cook regular rice.


  • 1 cup pearl barley washed and drained.
  • 3 cups water or stock water.
  • A pinch of salt (or to taste)


First, as you cook any dish, wash the barley until the water is clear. Put the washed pearl barley in a saucepan and add water, you can also add a pinch of salt. (You will adjust the salt content later in the cooking process.)

Place the pan on the stove and heat over medium to high heat, until boiling. Now reduce the heat, cover, and cook over low heat.

Remember to test it a few times while cooking. Barley tends to foam and can easily spill out. So you may have to adjust the heat or move the lid aside to evaporate the steam.

Cook the pearl barley for about 35 minutes. You can use barley when the seeds have absorbed all or almost all of the water. The barley grain is now open in size and soft but chewy.

Once the barley is cooked, you can still see a small amount of liquid on the bottom of the pot. To make sure the liquid is completely absorbed, turn off the heat, stir the barley, cover the pot, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Method 2 – Mixed Rice Method

To cook barley using a mixed rice method, first, clean the pearl barley and lightly bake it in oil with herbs such as vegetables, herbs, and spices, then simmer with water or stock until it swells.

Mixed Pearl barley attracts all diners
Mixed Pearl barley attracts all diners


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup of pearls or barley, washed and drained
  • 2 fresh thyme or rosemary or 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 3 cups water or stock water
  • a pinch of salt (or to taste)

To make a fragrant mixed rice dish, you can use carrots, celery, green beans, dill, onions, shallots, garlic, ginger, dill, bay leaf, cumin, rosemary, grass musk, dried mushrooms, etc.


You put a pan on the stove, heat with olive oil over medium heat. Then add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions change color for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant for about 30 seconds. Now add pearl barley and toast until seeds are evenly coated in oil, stirring evenly for about 2 minutes. Next, you add herbs if you use them. Finally, add water or stock and a pinch of salt.

You cook this mixture over medium to high heat until it boils. Then reduce heat, cover, and cook. You cook while checking the pearl barley in about 35 minutes. Pearl barley is considered to be ripe when the seed has absorbed all or almost all of the water, expands to size, and is soft but chewy.

When the barley is cooked, you may still have a small amount of liquid left on the bottom of the pot. To make sure the liquid is completely absorbed, turn off the heat, stir the barley, cover the pot and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Cook in the Oven

Roasting barley in the oven is the same as baking on the stove using the absorption method. It produces beautiful fine barley.


  • 1 cup of pearls or barley, washed and drained
  • 3 cups hot water or stock water
  • a pinch of salt (or to taste)


Preheat the oven to 375F.

Like cooking on the stove, you need to clean the pearl barley then place it on a high rim plate. Add hot or stock water and a pinch of salt. (You will be able to adjust the salt content later in the cooking process.)

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and carefully place it in the oven. (Remember that you have hot water in the baking dish!). Turn on the oven and bake the pearl barley for 35 minutes. Barley is made when the seeds have absorbed all or almost all of the water, expanding in size and soft but chewy.

Now take the baking dish out of the oven. Take out the foil, and stir the pearl barley and taste the seasoning again. Finally, cover the barley with foil and put it in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes for the water to fully absorb.

3. Cook in the Instant Pot


  • 1 cup of pearls or barley, washed and drained
  • 2.5 cups of water or stock
  • a pinch of salt (or to taste)


Immediately add the washed pearls or barley, water, and salt to the Pot. You will cook it at high pressure, so make sure the washer is in place. Close the lid. Turn the knob to the sealing position.

Cook barley pearls at high pressure for 20 minutes, or cook barley in a high-pressure pot for 25 minutes.

Quickly remove according to the safety instructions of the instruction manual.

Carefully open the lid. You will have a lot of condensate on the lid. Make sure the water does not get onto the barley and fill the sink. Stir the barley. Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Note: If you want the barley dish to be creamy, you can add more water.

We’ve just shared with you all the information and secrets you need to make the best possible how to cook pearl barley. Thank you for reading the article and wish you great food with the pearl barley!

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About the author

Alivia Stone

Alivia Stone became a professional writer in 2010, and her work is published all over the web. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of MD, a certification in Communications, and oddly enough, a mixology certification. After several years of writing columns about the home and saving money, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the latest technology and she has tested and written about cookware and kitchen appliances.

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