Rice Cookers

How to Cook Barley in a Rice Cooker [11 Easy Steps]

How to Cook Barley in a Rice Cooker
Written by Jules Whitman

If you want to make some delicious meal with barley but need to know how to cook Barley in a rice cooker, don't worry, we've got you covered!

Barley is a healthy and versatile grain that often doesn't get the recognition it deserves. However, cooking it on the stovetop can be tedious and time-consuming.

Luckily, cooking barley in a rice cooker is a great alternative that yields perfect results every time.

It's easy to do and allows you to meal prep easily by storing the cooked barley in the fridge or freezer for later use.

Cooked barley is a great addition to stews, soups, salads, or a side dish. It's high in fiber and has a satisfying, chewy texture with a nutty flavor.

If you want to try cooking barley in a rice cooker, follow the step-by-step guide for the best results.

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How to Cook Barley in a Rice Cooker

How to Cook Barley in a Rice Cooker

What You Need

  • 2 cups of pearl barley (not soaked)
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt
  • 6 cups of water
  • Rice cooker
  • Sieve or mesh strainer
  • Wooden spoon or rubber spatula


  • Measure out how much barley you want to make. This recipe is for 2 cups (about 4 cups when cooked) that serve about four people.
  • Using a sieve, rinse and drain 2 cups of pearl barley under cold running water. Continue rinsing the barley until the water runs clear.
  • Put the rinsed barley in the bottom of the rice cooker and spread it out.
  • Add 6 cups of cold water.
  • Add one teaspoon of salt.
  • Turn on the rice cooker and set it on the ‘cook’ setting (30 minutes) or the ‘brown rice’ setting.
  • Alternatively, check the manual to see if there is a recommended setting for barley and use that.
  • When the barley has finished cooking, the rice cooker will switch to a ‘keep warm’ setting.
  • Allow barley to rest for 5-10 minutes with the lid closed before serving. This will allow grains to absorb any of the remaining liquid.
  • Fluff the barley with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and serve.
  • Enjoy your tasty and nutritious barley side dish cooked perfectly in your rice cooker!


Grease the rice cooker pot slightly before placing the water and barley. This prevents the barley from sticking and makes cleaning up much easier.

You can cook more barley at a time if there is enough space in the rice cooker. Remember to stick to the ratio of 1 part barley to 3 cups of water to ensure the perfect texture.

The cooking time varies depending on the type of barley you are using. Pearl barley takes about 30 minutes, while Hulled barley takes 50 minutes.

It's important to note that Hulled and Hull-less barley must be soaked overnight in cold water before cooking.

Recommended rice cooker:

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Aroma Housewares Digital Cool-Touch Rice Grain Cooker and Food Steamer

Other Ways to Cook Barley

There are different ways to cook barley that can yield delicious results.

1. Stovetop

One common method is stovetop cooking, which takes 30-45 minutes, depending on the grain's texture and soaking time.

To cook barley on the stovetop:

  • Boil two cups of water or broth per cup of grain,
  • Stir in one cup of dried barley kernels slowly.
  • Cook for 30 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the kernels are tender, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

2. Steaming

Another method is steam cooking using a rice cooker's steam function, which takes about 30 minutes and requires less liquid than stovetop cooking.

However, this method suits flavorless, slightly sweet barley side dishes such as breakfast cereal or cake filler.

The stovetop method is recommended if you prefer chewy barley for soups and stews.

3. Using Instant pot

Barley can also be cooked in an Instant Pot, which takes the same time as stovetop cooking but requires twice as much water and a longer soaking time of one hour.

Recommend product:

Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
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Related Question

What is the Estimated Cooking Time for Barley in a Rice Cooker?

It can take around 40 minutes to cook barley in a rice cooker fully, but the time may vary depending on the type of barley being used.

Can Hulled Barley Be Cooked in a Rice Cooker?

Yes, hulled barley can be cooked in a rice cooker using a ratio of one cup of barley to one cup of water.

Does Eating Barley Cause Gas or Bloating?

It can, but cooking barley in plenty of water that has been boiled before soaking can help your body digest it more easily.

Some people find they can eat pearl barley without experiencing any problems.

How Much Does Barley Expand When Cooked?

Pearl barley will expand to about two times its size when cooked, while hull-less and hulled varieties will expand quite a bit once they're soaked in water. This means that one cup of raw barley yields two cups of cooked grains.

Should Barley Be Cooked Before Adding to Soups or Stews?

Yes, cooking barley before adding it to soups or stews is recommended. The amount of water to use and how long to soak the barley will depend on how it will be served.

Is Barley Better Than Rice?

It depends on personal preferences. Barley has a hearty flavor and chewy texture and is a good source of fiber and essential nutrients.

Rice is lighter, fluffier, and a good source of complex carbohydrates for lasting energy.

What Is the Recommended Soaking Time for Barley Before Cooking in a Rice Cooker?

Answer: Soaking barley for 30 minutes before cooking in a rice cooker is a great way to control how chewy the kernels are.

If you have time, soaking it overnight will give you even softer results.

What Is the Ratio of Water to Barley When Cooking Barley in a Rice Cooker?

When cooking any barley in a rice cooker, the recommended ratio is a 3-to-1 ratio of 3 cups of water to 1 cup of barley.

Do Hulled and Hull-Less Barley Need to Be Soaked Before Cooking in a Rice Cooker?

Yes, both Hulled and Hull-less barley must be soaked overnight in cold water before cooking in a rice cooker.

Is Barley Gluten-Free?

No, Barley is not gluten-free. Like rye, wheat, triticale, and spelt, barley is a glutinous grain unsuitable for individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Where Can I Buy Pearl Barley?

Pearl barley is available in most supermarkets and grocery stores; however, other types of barley, like pot and hulled varieties, are mostly found at health food stores or online.

What Does Barley Taste Like?

Pearl barley is slightly sweeter and has a softer texture, while hulled barley is slightly nuttier and chewier.

How Can I Eat Barley?

Cooked barley is versatile and can be eaten in different ways; you can add it to soups, stews, and salads, use it as a side dish instead of rice or potatoes, or use it as a breakfast cereal instead of oats.

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Wrapping Up

Barley is a nutritious and versatile grain that can be used in various dishes, from soups and stews to salads and porridges.

Using a rice cooker to cook barley is relatively easy and can make the cooking much more manageable and enjoyable.

There's no need to keep an eye on the barley, stir it, or worry about burning it, as the rice cooker takes care of everything.

Also, using a rice cooker can save you a lot of time, you can set it and forget it, leaving you free to do other things while the barley cooks.

Furthermore, cooking barley in a rice cooker yields consistent results every time. As long as you add the right amount of barley and water, you can rely on getting perfectly cooked barley each time you use the rice cooker.

Overall, using a rice cooker to cook barley is a convenient, efficient, and reliable way to make cooking a stress-free and enjoyable experience.


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About the author

Jules Whitman