How To Cook Barley in an Instant Pot: The Ultimate Guide

How To Cook Barley in an Instant Pot: The Ultimate Guide

Updated on - . 6 min read

Do you want to learn how to cook barley in an Instant Pot?

If so, you have landed on the right page!

In this blog post, we will teach you everything you need to know about cooking this healthy and nutritious grain. We will discuss the different types of barley, as well as provide a step-by-step guide on how to cook it perfectly in your Instant Pot.

Let's begin!

Table of Contents

Recipe Key Ingredients

To make Instant Pot barley, you will need the following ingredients:


This is the main ingredient in the recipe. Barley is a grain that is high in fiber and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. Its texture is chewy and has a slightly nutty flavor. You can use either pearl barley or hulled barley for this recipe. Pearl barley has been more processed and has the outer layers removed, so it cooks faster and has a softer texture. Hulled barley has more of the outer layers intact, so it takes longer to cook and has a chewier texture.

There are two main types of barley that are widely available on the market: pearled and hulled. Here is a little more information about each type:

Pearled Barley

Pearled barley is a more processed form of barley in which the grain's outer layers have been removed. This process reduces the cooking time and results in a softer, more refined texture. Pearled barley is often used in soups, stews, and grain salads, as it cooks faster and is easier to chew than other types of barley. It is also a good choice for making porridge or other dishes that require a softer, creamier texture.

Hulled Barley

Compared to pearled barley, hulled barley is less processed and has more of the grain's outer layers intact. As a result, it takes longer to cook and has a chewier, more rustic texture. Hulled barley is often used in dishes where a more robust texture is desired, such as in grain bowls or as a base for salads. It is also a good choice for making barley flour, as it has more of the nutrients and fiber of the whole grain.

Pot Barley

Pot barley is somewhere between hulled and pearled barley in terms of processing. It has had the outer husk removed but retains more of the bran layer than pearl barley. This means it has a slightly longer cooking time than pearl barley but is less chewy than hulled barley. It's versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes.


You will need to add water to the Instant Pot to cook the barley. The amount of water you need will depend on the type of barley you are using. For pearl barley, you will need 3 cups water for every 1 cup. You will need 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of hulled barley.


Add a pinch of salt to the water for taste, which will help season the barley and bring out its flavor. You can adjust the amount of salt to your taste.

Optional Ingredients

You can get creative and add other ingredients to the Instant Pot to flavor the barley. Some options could include broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable), herbs (such as thyme or rosemary), spices (such as cumin or coriander), or vegetables (such as carrots or onions). These ingredients are not necessary, but they can add an extra layer of flavor to the finished dish.

Oil or butter

Oil or butter can be an optional ingredient in the recipe for Instant Pot barley. These ingredients can be added to the Instant Pot before cooking the barley to add flavor and richness to the dish.

Toasting the Barley

Some people like to toast the barley in a pan with a little oil or butter before adding it to the Instant Pot. This can bring out the barley's nutty flavor and give it a slightly crispy texture.


  1. Over medium heat, heat a pan and add a tablespoon of oil or butter.
  2. Once the oil or butter is hot, add the barley and toast it for a few minutes, frequently stirring, until it becomes fragrant.
  3. Transfer the toasted barley to the Instant Pot and proceed with the recipe.

Step By Step Instructions: Instant Pot Barley

Here are step-by-step instructions for making barley in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker:

  1. Rinse the barley: Begin by rinsing the barley. You can use a fine-mesh strainer and run it under cold running water. This will remove any dirt or debris from the grains.
  2. Add the barley and water to the Instant Pot: Next, add the rinsed barley and the appropriate amount of water to the Instant Pot. For pearl barley, use 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of barley. Use 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of hulled barley. You can also add a pinch of salt to the water to help season the barley.
  3. Optional: Add any additional ingredients: If you want to add any additional ingredients to the Instant Pot, such as broth, herbs, spices, or vegetables, this is the time to do it. Stir them into the barley and water.
  4. Cook the barley: Close the lid on the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve to the "sealing" position. Press the "manual" or "pressure cook" button in order to set the cooking time according to the type of barley you are using. For pearl barley, set the cooking time to 10 minutes. For hulled barley, set the cooking time to 25 minutes.
  5. Allow the pressure to release naturally: Once the cooking time is finished, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes. This means that you should leave the Instant Pot alone and not try to open the lid or release the pressure manually. The pressure will release on its own over time.
  6. Fluff and serve the barley: Once the pressure has been released, carefully open the lid of the Instant Pot and fluff the barley with a fork. The barley should be fully cooked and tender. Serve the barley hot, with any additional ingredients or toppings of your choice.

Additional Finishes to the Dish

Another option is to add a little oil or butter to the finished barley after it has cooked in the Instant Pot. This can add a creamy, silky texture to the dish and enhance its flavor. Stir in a tablespoon of oil or butter into the cooked barley before serving. You can also add some chopped herbs or spices for extra flavor.

Remember, these are optional ingredients and can be omitted if you prefer a healthier or oil-free version of the recipe. The recipe will still work without oil or butter; you can always add other flavorful ingredients to compensate.

That's all you need to make Instant Pot barley! It's a simple recipe that is easy to customize to your own taste.

Serving Suggestions

Once you've perfectly cooked your barley in the Instant Pot, there are numerous ways to enjoy this versatile grain. Here are some delightful serving ideas:

  1. Barley Salad: Combine cooked barley with roasted vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with a lemon vinaigrette and sprinkle with feta cheese for a refreshing salad.
  2. Barley Soup: Use cooked barley as a hearty addition to soups. Whether it's a vegetable broth or a meaty stew, barley adds a wonderful texture and depth.
  3. Barley Risotto: Instead of rice, use barley to make a creamy risotto. Cook with mushrooms, garlic, and parmesan for a rich and comforting dish.
  4. Breakfast Barley: Think of it as an alternative to oatmeal. Serve cooked barley with milk, honey, fresh fruits, and a sprinkle of nuts for a wholesome breakfast.

Storage and Reheating

Cooked barley is not only delicious fresh out of the pot but also stores well for future meals. Here's how to store and reheat your barley:

  1. Refrigeration: Place leftover barley in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 4-5 days.
  2. Freezing: If you've cooked a large batch, you can freeze barley for longer storage. Spread the cooked barley on a baking sheet to cool, then transfer to freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing. Stored this way, barley can last up to a month in the freezer.
  3. Reheating: To reheat your stored barley, warm it on the stovetop, adding a touch of water or broth to retain its moisture. If frozen, let it defrost in the fridge overnight before warming. You can also use a microwave, stirring periodically for uniform heating.

When it comes to making barley in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, there's nothing complicated about the process. Not only does it require minimal effort, but it also yields a tasty and healthy addition to any meal.

If you follow the instructions from this guide, you'll be well on your way to enjoying barley made in your kitchen.

And even if you don't like the results on the first try, remember that practice makes perfect - plus, the best part is experimenting with different cooking methods to find one that works for you!

Now get out there and break up some barley for dinner tonight!

Further Reading

  • For more detailed information, recipes, and tips on using your appliance, visit the official Instant Pot website.
  • Want to learn the quickest way to boil water using your appliance? Check out our article 'How To Boil Water in an Instant Pot: Steps Made Easy.'
  • For expert advice on mastering rice preparation, dive into our comprehensive guide titled 'The Best Pot to Cook Rice.'