Cooking Barley in a Rice Cooker: A Complete Guide

How to Cook Barley in a Rice Cooker: A Step-by-Step Guide

Barley, a versatile and healthy grain, is often cooked on the stovetop, which can be time consuming and tedious. However, an efficient alternative is to cook barley in a rice cooker. This article provides a concise, step-by-step guide to cooking barley in a rice cooker, along with some useful tips to ensure perfect results every time.

Why cook barley in a rice cooker?

Cooking barley in a rice cooker offers several advantages over traditional stovetop methods. Here are some key reasons to consider using a rice cooker:

  1. Easy cooking: A rice cooker simplifies the cooking process by automating most of the work. Simply add the barley, water, and a pinch of salt to the rice cooker, select the appropriate setting, and let it do the rest.
  2. Saves time: Unlike stovetop cooking, which requires constant monitoring and stirring, a rice cooker lets you set it and forget it. This frees up your time for other tasks while the rice cooks to perfection.
  3. Easier to clean: Cleaning a rice cooker pot is much easier than scrubbing a pot used on the stove. The rice cooker’s non-stick surface ensures that there are no burnt bits to remove, making cleanup a breeze.
  4. Consistent results: The Rice Cooker ensures consistent cooking results every time, provided you use the correct ratio of barley to water. This guarantees perfectly cooked barley with every batch, unlike stovetop cooking, which can produce inconsistent results.

Step by step guide: Cooking Pearl Barley in a Rice Cooker

Follow these steps to cook pearl barley in a rice cooker:


– 1 cup pearl barley
– 2 cups water
– pinch of salt


1. Rinse the pearl barley under cool running water for a few seconds to remove any remaining powder. This will prevent the barley from having a grainy consistency when cooked.
2. Place the rinsed barley in the pot of the rice cooker.
3. Add the water to the barley in the rice cooker pot.
4. Add a pinch of salt to the water and barley and stir gently.
5. Cover the rice cooker with the lid.
6. Set the rice cooker to the “brown rice” setting and start the cooking process.
7. When the cooker switches to “keep warm” mode, turn off the cooker.
8. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.


– For best results, use the Brown Rice setting on your rice cooker. This setting will ensure that the barley is cooked to perfection, with a plump and slightly moist texture, rather than being too soggy.
– Lightly greasing the rice cooker pot before adding water and barley can help prevent sticking and make cleanup easier.
– If your rice cooker has sufficient capacity, you can cook larger quantities of barley using the same ratio of 1 part barley to 2 cups water. This ensures that the barley retains its ideal texture without becoming too dry or mushy.

Tips for cooking hulled barley in a rice cooker

Unlike pearl barley, hulled barley retains the germ and requires a longer cooking time. Here are some tips for cooking hulled barley in a rice cooker:

  • Allow an additional 20 minutes cooking time over pearl barley.
  • Use less water, about 1 cup of water for each cup of hulled barley, as hulled barley absorbs less water than pearl barley.
  • Fully cooked hulled barley has a nuttier and chewier texture than pearl barley. Some people prefer this texture and do not mind the extra cooking time.

Soaking Barley Before Cooking

Although it is not necessary to soak pearl barley, it can be soaked for softer results. Soaking for 30 minutes or more can help reduce the chewiness of the barley when cooked. However, the decision to soak barley before cooking is a matter of personal preference.
For hulled barley, soaking before cooking is recommended. Soaking for 30 minutes or more can help reduce cooking time and improve texture. Again, the length of soaking can be adjusted based on personal preference.

Different types of barley

There are several types of barley, each with different cooking times and characteristics. Here are the most common:

  1. Pearl Barley: Pearl barley is the most popular variety found in stores. It has been polished to remove the seed and outer hull. Although it is not considered a whole grain, it is still nutritious and versatile.
  2. Hulled Barley: Hulled barley has had only the tough outermost hull removed, leaving the bran and germ intact. It is considered a whole grain and has a chewier texture and nuttier flavor than pearl barley.
  3. Quick Cooking Barley: Quick-cooking barley has been partially precooked and then dried, reducing its cooking time. It is a convenient option for those looking to save time.
  4. Barley Grits: Barley grits are made by grinding hulled or pearl barley into coarse particles. They can be used as a hot cereal or as an ingredient in baked goods.
  5. Barley Flakes: Barley flakes are made by steaming and then rolling hulled barley. They can be cooked like oatmeal or used in recipes such as granola bars or cookies.

Bottom line

Cooking barley in a rice cooker is a convenient and efficient method that produces consistent results. By following the simple steps outlined in this guide, you can enjoy perfectly cooked barley without the hassle of stovetop cooking. Whether you choose to use pearl barley or hulled barley, a rice cooker will save you time and effort while ensuring a delicious and nutritious grain for your meals. Experiment with different recipes and variations to discover your favorite way to enjoy barley cooked in a rice cooker.


Can I use any type of barley in a rice cooker?

Yes, you can use either pearl barley or hulled barley in a rice cooker. However, keep in mind that hulled barley may require a longer cooking time than pearl barley.

What is the ideal water to barley ratio for cooking barley in a rice cooker?

The recommended water to barley ratio is 2 parts water to 1 part barley. This ratio ensures that the barley cooks to a perfect texture without being too dry or mushy.

Can I add seasonings or spices to the barley while it is cooking in the rice cooker?

Absolutely! You can enhance the flavor of your barley by adding seasonings, spices, or even stock to the water before cooking. Experiment with different herbs and spices to get the flavor you want.

Can I cook a large batch of barley in a rice cooker?

Yes, if your rice cooker has enough capacity, you can cook larger quantities of barley by following the recommended water-to-barley ratio. Just be careful not to overfill the pot to allow room for the barley to expand.

Is it necessary to rinse barley before cooking it in a rice cooker?

Rinsing the barley under cool running water for a few seconds will help remove any remaining powder and debris. While not essential, rinsing can improve texture and remove unwanted impurities.

Can I cook barley in a rice cooker with other ingredients?

Yes, you can add other ingredients such as vegetables, herbs, or even protein sources like chicken or tofu to the rice cooker along with the barley. Just make sure the additional ingredients have adequate cooking times and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
(Note: Remember to adjust the answers to fit the concise and academic tone of the article.)