Simple Barley Pilaf
High-protein, high-fiber barley makes a delicious simple baked barley pilaf that is flavorful, tender and pairs wonderfully with many dishes.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, discussing pilaf isn’t the most scintillating food-talk we could be having, especially in light of treats like this and this.
But it is absolutely necessary if you are looking for simple, healthful, delicious side dishes to compliment a myriad of main entrees.
This barley pilaf is no exception.
Not only does it introduce a nutritious grain into your diet, but the high-protein, high-fiber barley makes a delicious baked pilaf that is flavorful, tender and pairs wonderfully with many dishes, not the least of which I’ll be sharing later this week (think: broiled parmesan and lemon chicken – yum!).
My kids, the ultimate skeptics, didn’t bat an eye at devouring this tasty side dish.
Granted, they’ve become accustomed to eating barley in one of our favorite chilis, but I also helped alleviate their worries by telling them it was like rice – just chubbier and chewier – and for some reason, that sealed the deal and they gobbled it right up.
One Year Ago: Skillet Chicken Parmesan
Two Years Ago: Roast Pork Tenderloin with Asian Glaze
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Cake
Simple Barley Pilaf
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup medium pearl barley, not quick cooking barley
- ¼ – ½ cup pine nuts or almonds, optional
- 2 cloves garlic , finely minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the barley, nuts (if using), garlic and onions. Saute the mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender and the barley is golden.
- Scrape the mixture into a 3-quart baking dish and stir in the salt, pepper and chicken broth.
- Bake uncovered for 60-80 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender. Garnish with green onions, if desired.
Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe that Michele B. sent me and that is a family favorite of theirs – thanks, Michele!
43 Comments on “Simple Barley Pilaf”
Excellent! The whole family enjoyed! I subbed beef broth for the chicken, because that is what I had on hand. It wasn’t low-sodium, so I omitted the salt. I also used 3/4 of an onion because of picky kids. Will definitely make this again!
What a great change in pace. Paired this with shrimp, scallops and peas with a spritz of lemon. We’d normally do brown rice, but I had barley that needed cooking and I’m tired of brown rice. Based on comments below I did this in the instant pot too, but I kept all the measurements the same, my pot runs hot. Except I didn’t have nuts, which I didn’t miss and I added a tsp of better than bullion. The family loved it!!!
I switched the butter and broth for vegan items and this was so delicious!. I didn’t have an onion so I used onion powder plus I added parsley. My daughter and I really enjoyed this recipe. I can’t believe I waited so long to try barley.
Amazing! admittedly however i didn’t have an onion and subbed 2 shallots, also didn’t have any broth- only beef bouillon so i also omitted the salt, no need for extra.
added almonds, next time i will definitely be springing for pine nuts as i threw this together with ingredients offhand for some flavorful, healthier comfort food.
Will definitely be making this again!!!
This smelled absolutely delicious while it was cooking. I thought it was ok. I finished the serving that was on my plate. I didn’t think it was bad, but didn’t think it was anything to rave about either. My husband didn’t finish his serving, but that’s not really a surprise. 2 of my kids didn’t like it, and my third who loves all things food, said it was good but bland. He did have a slight cold, but with all the amazing ingredients that were in it, even I was shocked that it wasn’t MORE flavorful.
Easy to make! Goes with most dishes we’d normally serve over rice. Salmon is our favorite to pair it with!
Made this for the first time tonight and it wont be the last time! Absolutly delicious and easy to make. Served with instant pot lemon garlic chicken and fresh corn on the cob. Had a very happy family tonight!
Very easy and dlicios
Absolutely easy to make, absolutely delicious. Loved the alternative to rice or potatoes. A nice change.
I make this recipe several times a year. I credit it for helping my teen son enjoy barley. It is delicious. A perfect side dish for a winter night!
This was simple yet amazing. Thanks.
I’ve made your recipe many times and love it. The last few times I’ve done it in the instant pot – 1 cup of barley to 2 1/4 cups water (I use pot barley for pearl it’s 2 cups water). Per instructions it’s 35 minutes on high and 10 minutes for release.
This was absolutely delicious! I am not fond of rice, and this is so much tastier. Thank you. I made the full recipe and even though it’s only for hubby and me, but we are enjoying it so much. Next time I will add mushrooms to the mix.
YUM! Mushrooms would probably have been a wonderful addition.
I used quick cooking barley & cooked according to cooking instructions after sautéing the onion, garlic, barley and chopped pecans (instead of almonds).
if i want to add almonds to this what type would you add? slivered? or? thanks! can’t wait to try this!
Yeah, probably slivered.
I was looking for another way to use barley after your Beef and Barley Soup (which was awesome) and found this. For such a simple side dish it sure knocked my socks off! As in, I couldn’t stop sneaking forkfuls and hoping my kids wouldn’t love it so I could have theirs. 🙂 Thanks for another awesome recipe for my arsenal, Mel!
I just tried this today, and it worked great! I’ve never cooked with barley before. Thanks for the easy recipe!
Could you not just bring it to a boil on the stove and simmer it, instead of baking it?
Sure, that would probably work, too.
No idea what happened here, but mine was not cooked all the way. The flavor was there, the barley was just a little al dente. I’m going to save the leftovers and try to cook it down with some water.
I have made this several times now and my whole family enjoys it. To make it a meatless meal I serve it with steamed broccoli, black beans and garbanzo beans and eat it all together. It is delicious!!! Thanks, Mel!
Mel, it would be a great help to have a serving calculator to change the servings. I can do it but just adds more work. I prefer 60 – 100 serving sizes.
In my kitchen I have to serve a lot of different individuals. I found barley to make a nice variation in pilafs. It usually does take longer than rice but has a lot of potential in healthy applications and variety. If there is too much liquid left just drain it out when the barley reaches the tenderness you desire. I also experiment with faro, spelt, black rice and quinoa. I like to add different varieties together for unusual flavours.
I made this today with almonds and it is so yummy! Thanks for a great recipe!
I made this tonight with the pine nuts and it was so so good! We had it with salmon that had a very strong-flavored cream sauce and it was the perfect mild accompaniment.
yum. Oh I loved this. I did make it with the Broiled Parmesan chicken as suggested and did a side of broccoli. So tasty and easy to throw together- I will for sure be adding this to my collection. 🙂
Hi Katie – I’m not sure why you would have had to bake it for so much longer! Maybe a variance in oven temperature?
I made it tonight and everyone liked it! It probably took closer to 2 hours to cook though! My chicken broth had been in the fridge – do you think that could have had something to do with it? I followed the recipe exactly, skipping the pine nuts. Thanks!
I wish I could break my man of his rice.with.every.single.meal habbit but he is stubborn and won’t budge, unless it is potatoes- mashed, baked, or fried. I guess I will have to try harder because I can’t look at another grain of rice without losing my mind!
This was awesome!! Even my skeptical friend and husband loved it!
I’ve never tried barley but i feed it to my babies as cereal so i’m making this now to give it a shot!!
Made this last night and its delicious! For lunch today I plan on adding a ton of roasted veggies to it and putting it in a wrap – LOVE this!!
I haven’t tasted this yet, but I can already tell I NEEDED this in my recipe repertoire. Thank you!
No way!!!! One of MY recipes featured on this awesome blog!? I am so honored you liked it Mel. And just seeing it here makes me want to make it even more now that it’s passed your high bar. You are the best Mel!
Will be making this tonight. Thank you for posting this healthy and delicious recipe! You are my official ‘go-to’ online cookbook.
This is the exact kind of recipe I love turning to you for. I know you will take a simple ingredient and make it the absolute best. I can’t wait to try this!
Hope you & sweet baby are doing wonderful 🙂 xo
My mom makes this and adds mushrooms…sooo good!!
Sounds yummy! I, too, love barley 🙂 Just gotta get some pine nuts & I’ll be set!
I love barley in soup, but have never tried it in a recipe where it is the star! I can’t wait to try this!
I love, love, love barley. I can’t wait to try this one.