13 Best Substitutes For Barley For Your Cooking

substitutes for barley
17 min reading time

Are you looking for a creative, healthier way to liven up your favorite recipes? If so, switching out barley for some of its nutritious alternatives may be just what you need! Barley is an ancient grain with tons of great benefits, but it’s not something everyone has on hand.

And that’s okay – there are lots of other options that are similar in texture and bursting with wonderful flavors and health benefits.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some excellent substitutes for barley that can take the place of your go-to grain when you’re cooking or baking. So let’s dive in and see what tasty options await!

What Is Barley?

Barley grain is a cereal grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years – it’s been around for so long that it’s credited as one of the main grains used at the beginning of civilization.

It is small and offered in either a hulled or pearled form, from the whole grain itself to crushed, and can be used to make breads, soups, stews & many more.

For those who want to get the most out of their nutrition, barley grain has plenty to offer with its high fiber and protein content. It is also packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other great stuff.

Barley grain can be incorporated into many dishes, making it a great addition to any diet! Whether you are looking for breakfast ideas or just adding more plant-based proteins and fiber to your meals, barley grain is definitely worth trying out.

Barley’s Nutrition Profile

Barley is a type of whole grain that is often used in brewing beer or in soups and stews. Although it is not as popular as wheat or rice, barley provides a range of essential nutrients. For instance, barley contains fiber, which helps to regulate digestion.

It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, and magnesium. In addition, barley is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which may help to protect against chronic diseases.

While more research is needed, some studies have suggested that consuming barley can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

As a result, incorporating barley into your diet may offer some health benefits.

13 Best Substitutes for Barley

The best substitutes for barley are- Quinoa, Farro, Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Millet, Oats, Sorghum, Berry, Amaranth, Corn, Teff, Couscous, Bulgur Wheat. They are discussed below-

1. Quinoa

Quinoa - substitutes for barley

Incorporating quinoa into your diet is an easy, tasty way to get tons of essential nutrients. An ancient edible grain native to South America, quinoa contains twice the amount of protein as other grains and is gluten-free which can make it a great option for those with gluten sensitivities or coeliacs.

It is a great substitute for barley, as both grains have a similar texture and neutral flavor. Quinoa is slightly sweeter than barley, which means you may have to adjust the amount of honey or sugar in your recipes.

Quinoa doesn’t have as chewy a texture as barley, therefore it’s essential to cook it longer than barley also quinoa is less absorbent than barley, which means you’ll have to add more liquid in cooking with the quinoa.

Quinoa is unique because it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it one of the few plant-based complete proteins out there. It also provides ample minerals including iron, magnesium and manganese, making it a nutrient dense addition to your diet.

All in all, quinoa packs in as much (if not more) nutritional goodness as barley but with the additional bonuses of added protein and variety – giving you plenty of reasons to make the switch next time you need to stock up on grains!

2. Farro

Farro - substitutes for barley

Farro, an ancient grain that has been a staple in Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines for centuries, makes an excellent substitute for barley.

Because Farro is similar to barley in terms of texture and flavor and has fewer carbs than barley, it can help lower the calorie count of your favorite recipes without sacrificing flavor or texture.

In terms of taste, Farro has a chewy texture which makes it well-suited for a variety of dishes – from salads and sides to main courses – that both everyone in the family will love.

It’s also incredibly versatile, so you can switch up the flavors and spices to create something new each time. Farro is also higher in protein and dietary fibers and contains beneficial vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and manganese.

Whether you’re looking to lighten up your risotto game or make a healthier version of the soup, farro makes the perfect replacement for barley.

3. Buckwheat

Buckwheat - substitutes for barley

Making healthy food choices is a complex juggling act, but when it comes to grains, buckwheat offers an ideal substitute for barley. Although buckwheat is not a true grain, it is often used in the same way as grains like barley.

It has natural gluten-free status and a nutty taste that pairs nicely with sweeter flavors. It’s also high in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins and numerous minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron.

Buckwheat works perfectly as a replacement for barley in soups, stir-fries and other dishes. Cooking buckwheat is easy – simply toast the grains briefly before adding liquid to them.

In addition to being gluten-free, buckwheat is also packed with magnesium and manganese – both important elements for good health.

4. Brown Rice

Brown Rice - substitutes for barley

Who says that you have to sacrifice flavor when choosing a more nutritious substitute? Brown rice is an ideal substitute for barley, allowing you to make smart kitchen decisions while still enjoying delicious dishes.

It is one of the healthiest grains you can get your hands on, but its subtle nutty flavor also pairs perfectly with a variety of ingredients, including fish and sweet potatoes.

A great option for anyone looking for a healthier, more nutritious choice than refined grains such as white rice, brown rice still has many of the same benefits that barley does – it’s packed full of B Vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium.

What sets it apart from its grainy counterpart, however, is that brown rice is higher in fiber which means it helps with digestion and keeps you fuller for longer periods of time. Additionally, its lower glycemic index helps those with diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels.

Simply put – Brown Rice does not have to be seen as the cheap second fiddle to Barley; it standouts on its own as a nutritionally dense and delicious alternative.

5. Millet

Millet - substitutes for barley

With certain dietary restrictions on the rise, many people are looking for alternative grains to provide similar nutrients as normal staples like barley.

Millet is a great choice for those seeking a gluten-free option, as it not only provides an array of minerals and vitamins but is also delicious. For individuals avoiding staples such as barley and wheat, millet offers an alternative that is high in fiber and protein while being low in fat.

It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes such as bread, soups, pilafs, breakfast porridges, desserts, and more! But perhaps most importantly of all (and unlike barley) millet is sure to be a healthy addition to your diet that won’t leave you feeling bloated or uncomfortable afterwards.

One downside of millet is that it takes longer to cook than barley. However, this can be remedied by soaking the millet in water for several hours before cooking.

Overall, millet is a healthy and versatile grain that makes a great substitute for barley in many recipes.

6. Oats

Oats - substitutes for barley

Oats are a great alternative to barley, especially if you’re looking for a healthy ingredient that can replace barley in popular dishes.

You can easily incorporate them into recipes traditionally made with barley for a taste similar to what you know and love. Plus, if you have an intolerance or allergy to barley, oats offer a delicious substitution that won’t disrupt the enjoyment of your favorite meals.

Oats are highly nutritious, containing a good mix of carbs, fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Unlike barley, oats can be eaten in various forms such as oatmeal porridge, muesli mixed with yogurt or oat-based energy bars when on the go.

It’s easier to find oats than barley at most grocery stores too, making it a lot more accessible. Oats are also much easier to cook than other grains such as barley and quinoa – just add water and leave it to simmer!

As we move into 2021, using oats instead of barley is one small but significant way we can both reduce our carbohydrate intake whilst boosting our nutrient intake.

7. Sorghum

Sorghum - substitutes for barley

Sorghum is becoming one of the popular substitutes for barley in many contexts. Nutritionally, sorghum can offer even greater benefits than barley – with fewer carbohydrates and more healthful fats, it is an excellent choice for those looking to manage their dietary intake.

It also has a number of industrial applications; organic compounds derived from sorghum can be used to manufacture durable products such as bioplastics, paints, and oils.

The grain must be cooked before consumption so solubility in water is important for food preparations – luckily, the 1:4 ratio of sorghum to water allows for versatility in flavoring and texture.

It is also significantly cheaper, making it an attractive option for brewers looking to cut costs. While sorghum beer may not be to everyone’s taste, it could be the perfect solution for those who are looking for a budget-friendly way to enjoy their favorite beverage.

8. Berry

Berry - substitutes for barley

Many people are now turning to berries as a substitute for barley. Barley has been linked to numerous health problems, including diabetes and obesity, so it’s no wonder that people are looking for a healthier alternative.

Berries are a great choice because they’re low in calories and sugar, and they’re packed with nutrients. Plus, they’re delicious! There are many different types of berries to choose from, so you can find the perfect one to suit your taste.

Whether you’re looking for a tart flavor or a sweet treat, berries make a delicious and nutritious substitute for barley.

9. Amaranth

Amaranth - substitutes for barley

Amaranth is an excellent grain alternative to barley. Its flavor is also much milder than other grains, making it ideal for people who do not prefer the earthy taste of barley.

Amaranth can be cooked in multiple ways – hot or cold – so it can be used in dishes ranging from soups and stews to salads and sides. Its nutrient-packed composition includes essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Additionally, it has higher levels of dietary fiber than most grains, making it a great choice for those looking to maintain a healthy weight by filling up high-fiber foods. It is gluten-free and provides vitamins B6 and B2 which support energy levels.

Whether you are looking to incorporate additional health benefits into your diet or simply bored with the same ole grains, amaranth can help add some nutritional zest to your favourite recipes!

10. Corn

Corn - substitutes for barley

Corn offers a great alternative to barley for those looking for something different in their food and drinks. Not only does corn have a unique, slightly sweet flavour all its own acting as a great base in stews and soups, corn can provide the same hearty texture and consistency that barley does.

Corn is a much more budget-friendly option than barley when making large amounts of food, so it’s ideal for those who need delicious but affordable recipes.

It also has the added benefit of providing more dietary fiber than barley does; this makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to up their daily nutrition intake.

Corn isn’t just for cooking either – popcorn is a convenient snack that can be enjoyed with friends or family as well.

All in all, corn makes an excellent substitute for barley in any recipe, adding a delightful twist without compromising on texture or flavor.

11. Teff

Teff - substitutes for barley

Teff is a nutritious grain that is growing in popularity as a substitute for barley. Unlike barley, which can take over an hour to cook, teff cooks quickly and easily so it’s a time saver for those looking for a delicious side dish or the base of their meal.

Teff also has high levels of calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus and magnesium which makes it ideal for anyone looking to increase their intake of these important minerals while avoiding foods with large amounts of starch and fat. Additionally, its nutty flavor makes it great as an addition to soups, salads and baked goods.

It is also very versatile and can be used in the same way as barley. In addition, teff is more widely available than barley, and it is usually less expensive.

12. Couscous

Couscous - substitutes for barley

Couscous might be tiny, but it’s packed with flavor! When it comes to great substitute grains, couscous is a delicious option for barley.

Couscous is made from durum wheat semolina, making it gluten-free, healthy, and more filling than many grains. Though typically associated with North African cooking, couscous goes well with a variety of cuisines – from Moroccan tagines to Italian pasta dishes.

Its light subtle flavor pairs well with almost anything that could be made with barley as its base. Not only does it cook quickly compared to barley but it also holds its shape and texture well which makes it an excellent choice for side dishes.

It can take the place of rice in just about any dish and the other bonus is that you can add a range of spices and herbs to create unique flavors – something that brings variety to any dish.

13. Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur Wheat - substitutes for barley

Bulgur wheat is a great substitute for barley in any recipe, and it has some tasty benefits to boot. Bulgur wheat is a grains similar to couscous, and is made by partially or fully cooking wheat berries and then drying or cracking them into smaller pieces.

Bulgar wheat has the same amount of protein per serving as barley, while having extra fiber – about ten grams per cup compared to Barley’s six – so you get an added bonus of extra fiber which can help lower your cholesterol, reduce digestion issues, and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Bulgur wheat also cooks in half the time that it takes Barley, so you don’t have to wait as long to enjoy the finished dish.

If those reasons aren’t enough to convince you of its superior properties when substituting for Barley, there’s one more: taste! Bulgur adds a nice nutty flavor that gives dishes such as soups and salads an extra kick.

So stock up on the Bulgur Wheat next time you head out for groceries; it’s the perfect alternative for any recipe that needs those extra flavors plus all the benefits that come with increased fiber content.

What Can You Use Instead Of Barley In Soup?

If you’re out of barley or just looking for a change, there are several other grains you can use in soup. Rice, quinoa, and millet all make good substitutes for barley, and they’ll each give the soup a slightly different flavor.

You can also use bulgur wheat or couscous. Just simmer the grain in the broth for the same amount of time as you would barley.

If you want to add some extra texture to the soup, try adding some chopped nuts or seeds towards the end of cooking.

Finally, don’t forget that beans make a great addition to any soup, and they’ll help to boost the protein content.

Can You Replace Barley With Rice?

Barley and rice are two of the most widely consumed grains in the world. They are both used in a variety of dishes, from breakfast cereals to soups and stews. But what if you want to substitute one for the other in a recipe? Is it possible to replace barley with rice, or vice versa?

Generally speaking, you can substitute barley for rice, and vice versa. First, barley takes longer to cook than rice, so you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Second, barley is more absorbent than rice, so you may need to add a little extra liquid to your recipe. Third, barley has a somewhat chewy texture, while rice is softer; this may impact the overall texture of your dish.

Finally, keep in mind that the flavor of barley is slightly different from that of rice. With all of these factors in mind, you can decide whether to replace barley with rice in your next recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between barley and pearl barley?

The two grains are actually quite similar, but there are a few key differences. For one, pearl barley is polished and has had the outer bran layer removed, whereas regular barley still has the bran intact.

This gives pearl barley a smoother texture and makes it cook faster. Pearl barley is also generally smaller in size than regular barley.

Barley is a highly nutritious grain – it’s packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also a good source of protein and gluten-free.

Pearl barley has slightly less fiber than regular barley since the bran is removed during processing, but it’s still an excellent choice if you’re looking for a healthy grain option.

Is Barley the same as buckwheat?

Yes, barley and buckwheat are both grains. They have different flavors, but they’re both healthy and nutritious. Buckwheat is a little sweeter than barley, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something a little bit sweet. Both grains are high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients, so they’re a good addition to any diet.

Is Pearl wheat the same as barley?

Pearl wheat and barley are not the same. Pearl wheat is a type of white wheat, while barley is a type of hulled wheat.

Pearl wheat has a milder flavor and a finer texture than regular whole wheat flour. It can be used in place of regular flour in most recipes, but it will result in a slightly lighter color and texture.

Is pearl barley good for you?

Yes, pearl barley is a healthy grain that is high in fiber and nutrients. It can be eaten as is or cooked into dishes like soups, stews, and risottos. Pearl barley is also a good source of plant-based protein.

Is pearl barley good for diabetics?

A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that compounds in pearl barley helped to prevent blood sugar spikes in rats. Another study, this one from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that a barley-based diet improved insulin sensitivity in diabetic rats.

So it looks like pearl barley could be helpful for diabetics, although more research is needed to confirm this. If you’re considering adding pearl barley to your diet, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you.

Can I substitute oats for barley?

Yes, you can substitute oats for barley in most recipes. Barley has a slightly richer flavor than oats, so if you’re substituting them one-to-one, you may want to use a little less barley than the recipe calls for oats.

What are the benefits of barley?

There are many benefits to barley. It is a nutritious grain that is high in fiber and minerals, and it has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

Barley is a whole grain that is low on the Glycemic Index, meaning it releases sugar slowly into the bloodstream, helping to regulate blood sugar levels. This makes it an excellent food for diabetics or those at risk for diabetes. Barley is also high in soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels.

In addition, barley contains vitamins and minerals such as selenium, copper, and manganese which are important for good health. It also has antioxidant properties that can help protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

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18 Comments

  • Veritas

    Quinoa as a substitute for barley? Interesting, I’ll have to try that. 🌾➡️🌰

  • Carrol

    I’ve used brown rice as a substitute before and it worked pretty well. It’s a bit different in texture, but does the job.

  • Kamini

    Controversial opinion, but I think barley is overrated. There, I said it.

  • Elizabet

    I find farro to be an excellent substitute for barley especially in stews and soups. It has a similar texture and absorbs flavors well. Plus, it’s high in fiber and protein so it’s a great healthy alternative.

  • Itsaso

    Wow, I never thought of using oats as a substitute for barley. Thanks for the tip! 👍

  • Sofia

    This is really helpful! Being gluten intolerant, I often struggle with finding substitutes for grains like barley. Quinoa and buckwheat are my go-to options.

  • Delara

    Really, sorghum? I’ve never even heard of it. Where can you buy it?

  • Lize

    This article is great, but what about taste profiles? Barley has a unique flavor that these substitutes might not capture.

  • Arden

    As a professional chef, I must say that while these substitutes can mimic the texture of barley, none of them can truly replace its unique flavor and versatility in cooking. It’s simply irreplaceable in certain recipes. But for those who cannot consume barley due to dietary restrictions, these alternatives can certainly come close.

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