Barley, one of the oldest cultivated grains, has long been valued for its versatility, nutritional benefits, and hearty flavor. It’s found in several forms, including hulled barley (with only the outermost hull removed) and pearl barley (hulled and polished), each offering a slightly different texture and cooking time.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: A 1-cup serving of cooked barley (157 grams)

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 193 kcal
Protein: 3.5 g
Fiber: 6 g
Fats: 0.7 g
Selenium: 13.5 mcg (19% of the DV)
Manganese: 0.8 mg (40% of the DV)

Where to Buy Barley:

Barley is widely available in grocery stores, health food shops, and online. Hulled barley, which retains more nutrients, might be found in the natural foods section, while pearl barley is typically located with other grains.

Foods Made with Barley:

  • Soups and Stews: Barley adds a satisfying heft and texture to soups and stews.
  • Salads: Cooked and cooled barley can be tossed with vegetables and a vinaigrette for a nutritious salad.
  • Side Dishes: Similar to rice, barley can be cooked and served as a side, seasoned with herbs and spices.
  • Risottos: Pearl barley makes a great substitute for Arborio rice in risotto recipes, offering a creamy texture with a pleasant bite.

Flavor Profile:

Barley has a rich, nutty flavor and a wonderfully chewy texture. Hulled barley tends to have a more intense taste and hearty texture than the softer, milder pearl barley.

Health Benefits of Barley:

  • Fiber-Rich: Particularly high in beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that can improve cholesterol levels and heart health.
  • Nutrient-Dense: Provides a good source of minerals like selenium, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • Supports Digestion: The high fiber content helps promote healthy digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Barley’s soluble fiber can help control blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for managing diabetes.


Barley’s nutritional profile, satisfying texture, and culinary versatility make it a grain worth incorporating into your diet. Whether used in traditional dishes like soups and stews or explored in salads and sides, barley offers a wholesome, flavorful base that complements a variety of ingredients. Embracing barley in your cooking enhances your meals and contributes to a balanced, healthy diet.