Instant Pot Barley is pressure cooked easily using no special tools and little preparation. Season and enjoy as a side dish or toss in salads, soups, stews and other dishes.
Cooking barley in your Instant Pot is a quick and easy way to prepare this nutritious grain. The pressure cooking method is a little quicker than the stovetop, with just a minute of hands-on time and around 20 minutes of cook time.
Save even more time and pressure cook a big batch of barley to freeze for use later on. Barley is perfect for meal prepping, adding to soups and stews, tossing with healthy green salads, and mixing into grain bowls. It can be used interchangeably with the grain farro.
The Instant Pot makes it incredibly easy to make perfectly cooked barley. This recipe includes instructions for the 2 common types of barley: pearl and hulled.
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1 cup of uncooked barley is equivalent to 3 cups of cooked barley. The recommended serving size per person is approximately ½ cup.
Pressure Cook Times
Pearl: 22 minutes
Hulled: 25 minutes
*Do not change the cooking time when increasing or decreasing the quantity of barley.
Use any size pressure cooker to cook barley. I have an 8 quart Instant Pot Duo but 3, 6 and 10 quart pots all work here. One cup of uncooked barley is equivalent to 3 cups of cooked barley, so keep this in mind when changing ingredient amounts. Always account for the size that the recipe will create and not how much will fit uncooked in your Instant Pot!
There are no special tools needed when pressure cooking barley.
Commonly Asked Questions About Cooking Barley
Barley is a cereal grain of the grass family that has a mild nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It's one of the oldest grains and has a fantastic nutritional profile. Barley is high in fiber, protein, B complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium and iron. It also has a low glycemic index and is a great food to include in many diets. Unfortunately, barley is not a gluten-free food because it is a grain.
Pearl Barley: Also known as pearled barley, is the processed version of the grain. It's the most common form of barley but is slightly less nutritious than hulled barley because it's outer bran layers have been removed. It has a neutral taste, has a shorter cook time, and is lighter in color than hulled barley.
Hulled Barley: Also known as hulless barley, hulled barley is a whole grain that's been minimally processed to remove just it's outer husk. It's used interchangeably with pearled barley in recipes but does have a longer cook time.
Yes! The grain to water ratio varies slightly, as does the cook time so it's important to know which barley you have. Pearl barley is pressure cooked with a 1:2 ratio in 20-22 minutes. Hulled barley is pressure cooked with a 1:2.5 ratio in about 25 minutes.
There is no need to soak barley before pressure cooking.
You should rinse barley under cold running water before pressure cooking to remove excess starch, dust and other debris. This will also prevent sticking.
It's fine to use a quick release when pressure cooking barley. But if you've walked away from the pot and lose track of time and end up letting the pressure release naturally that is fine! The barley will continue to cook as pressure naturally releases but not significantly enough for it to matter much.
Basil, dill, parsley, chives, tarragon, and mint all go well with barley. A simple barley side dish seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil is a great way to enjoy it too.
- As with other grains, it's a good idea to rinse barley under cold running water before cooking to remove excess starch, dust and other debris, and to prevent sticking.
- To enhance the flavor of barley, cook in broth. A dash of salt, a bay leaf, or other seasonings can be added prior to cooking for extra flavor too.
- Salt is optional. Adding salt before cooking will draw out the flavor of the grain but isn't necessary if you are on a sodium restricted diet or otherwise don't want to add any salt to your barley.
- There is also no need to add oil or butter to the barley before pressure cooking. While doing so may prevent sticking, simply rinsing the barley in water like recommended above will take care of this. But if you don't mind the extra calories and fat, then go ahead and add it if you'd like.
STEP 1: Rinse the barley under cool running water to remove dust, debris, and excess starches. Put barley and water (or broth) into the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Stir, close the lid and seal the vent. Set to pressure cook/manual on high for 22 minutes. If using hulled barley, change the time to 25 minutes.
STEP 2: Complete a quick release of the pressure (or natural release if preferred). Remove the lid and fluff barley with a wooden spoon. Serve or store for use later on.
How To Use Barley
Use your leftover barley in a variety of dishes, from breakfast to dinner. Here are some ideas:
- Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup- add already cooked barley to this beef barley soup at the very end to cut down on time.
- Make vegetable barley soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Barley Soup
- Add to dinner salads
- Use in grain bowls
- To make a healthy and wholesome breakfast
- As a stuffing in stuffed peppers instead of rice
- Serve as a side dish with baked chicken and corn on the cob
Fridge: Store cooked barley for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Freezer: Store in freezer safe bags for up to 6 months.
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Instant Pot Barley
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 cups water or broth
- 1 cup hulled barley
- 2.5 cups water or broth
- Rinse the barley under cool running water to remove dust, debris, and excess starches. Pour barley and water into the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Stir, close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook/manual on high for 22 minutes. If using hulled barley, change the time to 25 minutes.
- Complete a quick release of the pressure (or natural release if preferred) Remove the lid and fluff barley with a wooden spoon. Remove from inner pot and transfer to a serving or storage bowl.
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