May 15, 2024 · Written by Foodtolive Team

Pearled vs. Hulled — How to Cook Barley

Barley, one of the oldest cultivated grains, has been a staple food in many cultures for centuries. Despite its rich history and numerous health benefits, barley remains underappreciated in modern diets. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about barley, from its nutritional value to cooking methods and delicious recipe ideas.


Barley Benefits

Barley is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Its high fiber content supports digestive health, aids in weight management, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Barley’s antioxidant properties reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Additionally, barley contains essential vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, which are vital for overall health and well-being.

Difference Between Pearled and Hulled Barley

When it comes to barley, there are two main varieties: pearled and hulled. Pearled barley has had the outer husk and bran layers removed, resulting in a smoother texture and shorter cooking time. Hulled barley, on the other hand, retains the outer bran layer, making it a whole grain with more fiber and nutrients. While pearled barley cooks faster, hulled barley offers superior nutritional benefits and a chewier texture.


Basic Cooking Instructions for Barley

Cooking barley is simple, but the method varies depending on the type of barley you’re using. For pearled barley, rinse it under cold water and simmer in a ratio of 1:3 barley to water for about 30-40 min until tender. Hulled barley requires a longer cooking time of 45-60 min and benefits from soaking overnight to reduce cooking time. Add flavorings like broth, herbs, or spices to enhance the taste of cooked barley.


Recipe Ideas for Both Types of Barley

Barley is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and salads to pilafs, risotto, and breakfast porridge. Furthermore, you can turn raw barley into flour just by grinding it in a blender and use it to bake bread, muffins, or cookies for a wholesome treat. By the way, you can also pop barley to enjoy it in a whole new way. Popping barley is a fun and tasty method that adds crunch and flavor to your dishes. To pop barley, you’ll need to heat it in a dry skillet or pot until it expands and pops similar to popcorn. 

Pearled Barley Salad with Roasted Vegetables


  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar



  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Rinse the pearled barley under cold water and drain well.
  3. In a large baking tray, toss the diced bell peppers, zucchini, and red onion with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for 20-25 min or until tender and slightly caramelized.
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil. Add the rinsed barley, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25-30 min or until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked barley and roasted vegetables. Add chopped parsley and balsamic vinegar, and toss to combine.
  7. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Hulled Barley Mushroom Soup


  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish



  1. Rinse the hulled barley under cold water and drain well.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for 5-7 min until softened.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms and minced garlic to the pot, and cook for another 5 minutes until the mushrooms are browned.
  4. Stir in the rinsed barley and dried thyme, and cook for 1-2 min to toast the barley slightly.
  5. Pour in the vegetable broth, increase heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45-60 min until the barley is tender.
  6. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley.


Incorporating barley into your diet is a simple and delicious way to boost your nutrition and add variety to your meals. Whether you prefer pearled or hulled barley, experimenting with different cooking methods and recipes will allow you to fully appreciate the versatility and benefits of this ancient grain.

Ready to experience the wonders of barley for yourself? Visit our website to explore a wide selection of barley products and discover mouthwatering recipes to inspire your culinary adventures.