Go Back
+ servings
Logo of The Forked Spoon showing Spork
Shallow serving bowl filled with cooked pearl barley.
4.75 from 4 votes

How to Cook Pearl Barley

Learn how to cook pearl barley on the stovetop, Instant Pot, and slow cooker and enjoy this chewy, nutty, and all-around delicious pantry staple as a hearty side dish or in stews, soups, and salads.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 3 cups (approximately)
Calories: 235kcal


  • 1 cup pearl barley rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt optional



  • Combine the pearl barley, water, and salt in a pot set over high heat. Bring to a low boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. After 15 minutes or so, check for doneness and decide when the barley has reached your desired texture.
  • Once it has reached your desired doneness, remove from heat and drain any additional water.
  • Place the lid back on the pot for 5-10 minutes then remove and fluff the cooked barley with a fork to loosen it up.

Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker

  • Combine the pearl barley, water, and salt in an Instant Pot/ electric pressure cooker. Cover with the lid and turn the knob to the sealing position.
  • Cook on manual, high pressure for 20 minutes.
  • After the cooking time is complete, carefully do a quick release according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Remove the lid and drain any excess cooking liquid. Return the lid and allow the barley to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid again and fluff with a fork.

Slow Cooker / Crock-pot

  • Add the pearl barley, water, and salt to a slow cooker. Make sure enough water is added to fully cover the barley (you may need to add more than 3 cups).
  • Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.
  • Once the barley reaches your preferred doneness, drain any excess cooking liquid. Fluff with a fork before serving.


  • Pearl barley releases a lot of starch into the cooking water/liquid that it is cooked in. Hold on to the remaining cooking liquid and add it to soups or stews to thicken the broth. On the other hand, to prevent the thickening of soups or sauces from cooked or uncooked pearled barley, you may want to cook it separately and rinse it with warm water before adding it.


Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 405mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @theforkedspoon and hashtag it #theforkedspoon and please leave your star rating in the comment section on this post.