Creamy barley risotto is a nutritious variation of a famous rice dish. 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 said “wow” when I first tried making this barley mushroom risotto. Now, this is my favorite pearl barley recipe. 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.
This creamy barley risotto recipe is a great alternative to traditional risotto.
If you like Mediterranean inspired meal, try our Yellow Rice with Vegetables.
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 – barley and mushrooms do not cost much, and the rest of the staple ingredients you probably already have at home.
- I always make recipes that have nutritious value. Who likes to eat empty calories? Barely 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.
Pearled 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.
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 chicken broth. I am not a big fan of store-bought veggie broth, but it’s up to your preference. Use store-bought or homemade broth of your choice, same as you use in a traditional risotto.
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: If you use regular broth, you can skip the salt or add only ⅛ teaspoon (not more). When using low sodium broth, add ¼-1/2 teaspoon of salt. Consider all the sodium that will come from broth, soy sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Better to under-do than over-do it. Salt can be added later individually by taste.
Butter: unsalted butter will make the dish even creamier.
Grated Parmesan: I also tried to use shredded Parmesan. Both work well, but grated Parmesan is much better for risotto dishes.
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: very optional, but I added a few twigs at the very end for some light rosemary flavor.
White Pepper: I like to use milder white pepper for serving my barley risotto. You can also use black pepper instead.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Measuring Cup
- Measuring Spoons
- Cutting Board and a Knife
- 2 Medium Bowls
- High Sided Pan with Lid
How to make creamy barley risotto
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 for about 3 minutes. Add a little more olive oil if needed, so the onions do not get burnt. 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.
Add the Broth: pour all the required amount of broth in a frying pan, add salt and garlic powder. Cover and bring to boil. Turn the heat on low and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the barley is soft and almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Do not cook the risotto until there is no liquid, it will taste dry. The barley package instruction states pearl barley cooks in 12 minutes, but I cooked for about additional 10 minutes and added one extra cup of broth to make this barley risotto tender and creamy.
Finishing Up: once the barley is tender, add the cooked mushrooms, butter, grated Parmesan, lemon juice and a few twigs of rosemary to the pan. Mix, cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit covered for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with some extra Parmesan and white pepper on top. I also like to add few slices of lemon on top for decorative purposes and more lemony flavor.
For creamier and tender barley risotto: add the suggested amount of liquid plus one extra cup and cook your pearl barley 10-15 minutes longer than suggested on the package.
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 chicken or fish.
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.
You do not need to soak pearl barley. If you have 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.
Other healthy dinner ideas you may like
- Air fryer turkey meatloaf
- Red Lentils with Pasta (one pot dish)
- Chicken and broccoli lasagna
- Mango salmon salad
Creamy barley risotto
- 1 high sided pan with the lid
- 1 Measuring Cup
- 1 set measuring spoons
- 2 medium bowls
- 1 Cutting board and a knife
- 1 pound baby portobello mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ medium onion
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt add ½ teaspoon of salt if using low sodium broth
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 fresh rosemary twigs optional
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper or by taste, for serving
- Wash and slice the mushrooms. Dice the onion.1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, ¼ medium onion
- In a large pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms and soy sauce. Brow mushrooms until soft. Transfer them to a separate bowl and set aside.1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- In the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, onions and cook until translucent. Add barley and cook for another 2 minutes stirring well so the barley is coated in oil.¼ medium onion, 1 cup pearl barley
- Pour 4 cups of broth. Add garlic powder, salt. Cover and bring to boil. Simmer on low for 20-25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender.4 cups chicken broth, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Add cooked mushrooms, butter, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and rosemary. Stir the risotto, cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit covered for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with extra shredded Parmesan and some white peppers.1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, 3 Tablespoons butter, 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 2 fresh rosemary twigs, ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- 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.
Leave a Reply