Cooking barley (hulled and pearl ) in Instant Pot or pressure cooker is the fastest and efficient way to cook these hearty ad healthy grains in 20 minutes! Use cooked barley in place of rice, salads, soups, casseroles and all kinds of recipes that call for grains.
Barley is a nutty, earthy grain with impressive health benefits. It has a chewy texture and compliments many dishes.
Packed with wonderful flavour and full of minerals and nutrients, barley aids in digestion and is also known to be lowering cholesterol levels. There are many benefits of consuming barley and importantly, this humble grain is very inexpensive.
The texture of barley is in between oats and rice, it is less mushy and less slimy making it ideal for soups, casseroles and many more dishes.
- Types of Barley
- Why use an Instant pot to cook barley?
- Cooking Pearl Barley vs Hulled Barley
- Instant Pot Pearl Barley – Ingredients
- What kind of pressure cooker to use?
- Instant Pot Barley Water Ratio
- How to cook pearl barley in Instant Pot
- How to serve cooked Barley?
- Storage and Freezing
- Tips & FAQ
- Instant Pot Barley(Pearl and Hulled)
Types of Barley
Pearl barley is a more polished version of whole grain with the outer bran along with the hull removed. although it is technically a refined grain, it is much healthier than some of the common grains consumed by us. Pearl barley has still some of the bran present and the fibre in barley is distributed throughout the kernel and not just in the outer bran layers.
Hulled barley is the healthiest and fibre rich grain with all its nutrients preserved. It is the minimally processed unpolished version of the barley with only the inedible outer hull removed. Cooking hulled barley is a slightly longer process compared to pearl barley.
Other varieties of Barley
Barley flakes, barley grits, barley flour, quick pearl barley are some other varieties. Even though they are more polished, I consider them to be still healthier than other refined grains and flour.
Why use an Instant pot to cook barley?
Barley can take up to an hour to cook on the stovetop. But if you use a pressure cooker or an instant pot, it will only take 20-25 minutes of completely hands-off time (plus the time it takes to come to pressure). no need to stand by the stove, stirring and checking the water etc.
Instant pot barley can be stored for a longer time and is ideal for batch cooking and meal prepping. Having cooked barley ready in the fridge can save a lot of time during busy weekdays ensuring you eat healthy hearty grains throughout the week.
Cooking Pearl Barley vs Hulled Barley
Pearl barley takes less time to cook and has a more neutral flavour than hulled. Hulled barley takes longer and has a more firm, nutty flavour as the outer bran is still present.
I’m showing you how to cook pearl barley in an instant pot here with detailed step by step photos and tips. You can follow the same procedure with hulled barley too with different water ratios(check recipe notes).
I consider pearl barley to be still healthier than other polished grains even though it is not a complete wholegrain.
Instant Pot Pearl Barley – Ingredients
Uncooked Barley grains – hulled or pearled, wash them before using as grains contain dirt usually.
Water – I used water at normal room temperature.
Vegetable broth or stock – I use this to flavour barley and is completely optional.
Salt -again is optional.
What kind of pressure cooker to use?
I used a 3 qt instant pot to test this recipe, you could use your 6 qt capacity electric pressure cooker or normal pressure cooker too. I would assume the normal pressure cooker requires more water usually, from my experience.
Instant Pot Barley Water Ratio
Even though my recipe calls for the pearl barley to water ratio of 1:1.25, I would suggest taking it as a guideline as the cooking time depends on the type, age, brand and quality of grains plus the type and size of the pressure cooker you are using. it wouldn’t hurt to add a little more water as the excess liquid can be drained easily.
If using an instant pot, add 1.25 to max 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of grains.
If using a normal pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water to 1 cup of barley.
If using hulled barley, I would use 2 cups of water to 1 cup of barley for instant pot and 2.5 cups of water for a normal pressure cooker.
How to cook pearl barley in Instant Pot
- Wash the grains well before using.
- Add 1 cup pearl barley and 1.25-15 cups (see notes for water ratio)water to the inner pot.
- close the lid, turn the seal to cooking mode and press the ‘pressure cook’ button. Set the timer to 20 minutes.
- Once done, wait for 5 minutes before you can release the pressure manually.
- Fluff the grains with a fork. If you notice any excess water, drain them completely as you would do for pasta.
How to serve cooked Barley?
Cooked barley can be served just like you would rice. Barley can be served as a side with curries, stews, salads, casseroles etc.
I started using barley in place of rice while serving the most famous Indian Rajma curry which is a repetitive dish in my house.
If you are trying to lose weight or are diabetic, try making barley fried rice instead of normal rice. more filling and more nutritious. check out the barley fried rice recipe.
Storage and Freezing
cooking barley in the instant pot means you can make it in bulk for the whole week and use it readily for many recipes. cooked barley keeps well for a week when stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Pack it in a zip lock bag and freeze up to 3 months, Microwave/defrost thoroughly before using or add directly from frozen in fried rice, soups and casseroles.
Tips & FAQ
Use barley within the expired date as old expire grains may not cook well or take exceptionally longer.
Use a maximum of 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of pearl barley in the instant pot. Few brands took just 1.25 cups of water. So always test your brand of grains a couple of times before fixing the water ratio. Anything more than that will leave the excess liquid behind.
Hulled barley takes more water than pearl barley to cook, see recipe notes below for instructions.
No need if using an instant pot. You could soak it for 3-4 hours if using a normal pressure cooker.
I recommend soaking barley grains overnight. Follow the same procedure by adding 4 cups of water to 1 cup of pearl barley and cook on a medium flame for over 40 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid.
Other instant pot recipes you may be intereted in
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Instant Pot Barley(Pearl and Hulled)
- Pressure Cooker
- Isnant Pot
- 1 cup pearl barley uncooked, see notes for hulled barley
- 1.25-1.5 cups water or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon sea salt optional
- Wash the barley grains well under cold running water to remove any dirt
- Add 1 cup of washed barley grain and 1.5 cups of water to the inner pot.
- Close the lid and turn the seal to cooking mode.
- Press pressure cook button on the instant pot and set the timer to 20 minutes.
- Once cooking done, wait for 5 minutes before releasing the pressure manually by turning the seal to vent mode.
- Open the lid and fluff the grains using a fork.
- If there is any excess liquid left, drain it like you would normally do pasta
- Use barley within the expired date as old expire grains may not cook well or take exceptionally longer.
- Water ratio Use a maximum of 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of pearl barley in the instant pot. Few brands took just 1.25 cups of water. So always test your brand of grains a couple of times before fixing the water ratio. Anything more than that will leave the excess liquid behind.
- Hulled barley takes more water and longer than pearl barley to cook, follow the same instructions use 2 cups of water, and set the time to 25 minutes instead of 20.
- Soaking No need if using an instant pot. You could soak it for 3-4 hours if using a normal pressure cooker.
- Stovetop –I recommend soaking barley grains overnight. Follow the same procedure by adding 4 cups of water to 1 cup of pearl barley and cook on a medium flame for over 40 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Serve cooked barley instead of rice, use in salads, soups etc.
- Serving size depends on how barley is served and the nutritional value is approximate and calculated as if it is served as a side dish.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in a fridge or freeze for up to 3 months.