Whether you choose the traditional stove top method or the time-saving Instant Pot, this pearl barley risotto will become your new favorite way to enjoy this nutritious grain.
Pearl barley and portobello mushrooms are cooked in chicken broth and finished with some butter, Parmesan cheese, and a touch of lemon to make this delicious and healthy dish.
I enjoy the creaminess of traditional risotto, but it is also fun to experiment with different ingredients.
This recipe is one of a few that turned out amazingly good on the first try.
It's a delicious and easy weekend meal with some great leftovers (if any left) for tomorrow's lunch.
Why you will love this recipe
- It's different, we always cook the same things over and over. But how often do you cook with pearl barley?
- Affordable and filling.
- Barley is super nutritious: rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
- Unlike traditional rice risotto, barley risotto does not require constant stirring.
All the ingredients are very affordable, and most of them you probably already have in your kitchen.
- Pearl Barley: for this recipe, I used quick Italian barley. It cooks in 12 minutes. Depending on what brand you get, check the instructions on the package. But it's usually between 12-30 minutes. Barley is hard to overcook.
- Onion: yellow or sweet onion will work great. You can also use shallot or leeks for a milder flavor.
- Mushrooms: I used baby portobello mushrooms. They have great flavor and are easy to find. You can also use dried mushrooms..
- Olive oil: I used extra virgin olive oil.
- Soy sauce: you will need just a little bit of soy sauce to add to the mushrooms for extra flavor and color.
- Broth: I use store-bought or home-made chicken broth. Vegetable broth works too.
- Garlic Powder: add a little bit of garlic powder to your dish while cooking for some great flavor. Garlic powder has a milder taste compared to fresh garlic. But if you are a big fan of fresh garlic - add some finely diced to your barley risotto.
- Salt and pepper: add it at the very end to taste.
- Butter: it will make the dish creamier.
- Grated Parmesan: add at the end for taste and creaminess.
- Lemon: I always add a little bit of lemon juice to my pearl barley risotto. Add few slices of fresh lemon on top for more lemony flavor and a great look.
- Rosemary: optional, but I added a few twigs at the very end for some light rosemary flavor.
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Cutting Board and a Knife
- 2 Medium Bowls
- High Sided Pan with Lid, dutch oven or instant pot.
Stove top method directions
Prepare the Ingredients. Wash the baby portobello mushrooms in cold water. Tap them dry with some paper towels. Slice the mushrooms and set them aside. Dice onions into small cubes. Set aside. Measure one cup of pearled barley.
Cook the mushrooms. In a large frying pan, heat up olive oil over medium heat. When it's hot, add sliced mushrooms and soy sauce.
Cook the mushrooms on medium heat for about 5 minutes until soft and browned.
Transfer cooked mushrooms to a separate bowl and set them aside for now.
Saute the onions. In the same frying pan you cooked the mushrooms, add diced onions and cook them for about 3 minutes. Add a little more olive oil if needed, so the onions do not get burnt.
Add pearl barley. Once the onions get translucent, add the pearl barley. Cook barley and onions together stirring well for another few minutes, so all the barley gets coated in oil.
Now, you can add about ⅓ cup of dry wine (if using) and let it evaporate for about 3 minutes over medium heat.
Add the broth. Pour the broth into a pan, add salt and garlic powder. Cover and bring to boil.
Turn the heat on low and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the barley is soft and almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
Finish up. once the barley is cooked, take it of the heat. Add back cooked mushrooms. Stir in butter, grated Parmesan, and lemon juice. Give it a taste and add salt, pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Instant pot directions
Turn on Instant pot and select "saute" function. Heat the olive oil in the pot, and add chopped onions, mushrooms, and garlic powder (or fresh diced garlic).
Saute for about 3 minutes, until the onions become translucent.
Add rinsed pearl barley to the pot and stir well to coat it with oil.
Pour in the dry wine (if using) and let it cook for another 2 minutes, allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
Now, pour the broth, soy sauce, add rosemary (optional), and stir it well, scraping any bits that might have stuck at the bottom of the pot.
Close the pot with the lid and set the valve to a "sealing" position.
Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" setting. Set the cooking time to 20 minutes at high pressure.
Once the cooking time is complete, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and perform a quick release.
Carefully open the lid and stir in butter, lemon juice, and grated Parmesan cheese.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
How to serve pearl barley risotto
Pearl barley risotto is a great meal on its own. If you choose to serve it with some protein, I suggest pairing it with poultry or sea food.
For a lighter meal, serve it with some fresh spring mix salad.
Storing and reheating
Refrigeration. When barley risotto cools down, transfer it to an airtight container and store it for 3-4 days in the fridge.
To reheat. This barley risotto: in a pan, add the needed amount of risotto, ¼ cup of water. Cover and reheat on low until the risotto is steaming hot. Alternatively, you can use a microwave.
Freezing. You can store this pearl barley risotto in a freezer for about 2 months.
Frequently asked Questions
No, barley grain contains gluten.
No, you do not need to soak pearl barley. If you use hulled barley, it is recommended to soak it before cooking.
Check out my detailed article "Pearl Barley vs Hulled Barley" to learn what is the difference between the two types.
More risotto recipes
More barley recipes
Pear barley risotto
- 1 high sided pan with the lid
- 1 Measuring Cup
- measuring spoons
- 1 Cutting board and a knife
- 1 pound baby portobello mushrooms
- ¼ medium onion
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder or diced fresh garlic optional
- 1 fresh rosemary (optional)
- 1 cup pearl barley
- ⅓ cup dry wine, optional
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- to taste salt, black pepper
- Wash and slice the mushrooms. Dice the onion. Rinse pearl barley.1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, ¼ medium onion
- In a large pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms. Brow mushrooms until soft. Transfer them to a separate bowl and set aside.1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- In the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, onions and cook until translucent. Add barley and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes stirring often so the barley is coated in oil. Add wine (if using) and let the alcohol evaporate over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes.¼ medium onion, 1 cup pearl barley
- Pour 4 cups of broth and fresh rosemary (if desired). Cover and bring to boil. Simmer on low for 25-30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender. Take it off the heat.8773860039 365444 cups chicken broth
- Add back cooked mushrooms. Stir in butter, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Taste barley risotto and add some salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy.1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, 2 Tablespoons butter, ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, to taste salt, black pepper
Instant Pot Directions
- Select "Saute" function and let the pot heat up. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add diced onions, mushrooms and garlic powder. Saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of rinsed barley and stir well to coat it with oil.
- If using, pour ⅓ cup of dry white wine and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour 4 cups of broth, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Add fresh rosemary if desired. Stir it well.
- Close the pressure cooker with the lid and set the valve into "Sealing" position.
- Select the "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" , and set the cooking time to 20 minutes at high pressure.
- Once cooking time is complete, allow release naturally for 5 minutes, and then perform a quick release.
- Carefully open the lid. Stir in butter, grated Parmesan and lemon juice.
- Season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
- cook the barley longer than suggested on a package for more tender and creamy risotto.
- Add no or very little salt if using regular broth. Add ½ teaspoon of salt if using low sodium broth.