Nov 20, 2016 (Last updated Nov 29, 2023) by Hannah Sunderani
Switch up your morning with this Easy Barley Porridge Recipe! It’s equally as thick and creamy as a wholesome bowl of oats, but stars pearl barley as the main ingredient! All you need is 3 ingredients and 30 minutes to whip up this winter breakfast porridge!
Now that it’s officially freezing, I’ve been relying on this new vegan breakfast recipe to warm up my mornings. I must admit tthat I’ve perfected this barley porridge, and honestly I don’t know what took me so long to cast this gorgeous grain as the star of my breakfast bowl. It offers a deep, wheat-y, full-bodied flavour that is a welcome change from my typical Oatmeal Recipe or Overnight Oats.
Before getting into the details, I wanted to make sure to answer the question that might be rolling around your head right about now…is barley a type of oat? grain? seed?
Barley is a cereal grain that belongs to the grass family, Poaceae, and is closely related to wheat (not a recipe for my gluten-free foodies!), oats, rye, and millet. It’s actually one of the oldest cultivated grains and has been used as a food source on several continents for thousands of years and packs numerous health benefits and essential nutrients in every spoonful!
I had originally ruled out barley cereal as a breakfast porridge option due to the size of the large and pearly grains, thinking it was better suited as a great alternative to rice pudding or tossed in sweet and savoury salads. But, it’s actually quite easy to transform barley into a hearty porridge suitable for the first meal of the day. More importantly, it doesn’t require any special appliances or modifications!
Now, when you go to your local grocery store to pick up a bag, you may find that there are a few to choose from. For this porridge recipe, I recommend picking up pearl barley, not hulled barley. While hulled barley is technically more nutritious as it contains the outer shell, it’s similar to oat groats, and is barley in its most unprocessed form. It takes a lot longer to cook, and when it comes to making the best, creamy breakfast porridge, hulled barley isn’t as desirable in texture as pearl barley.
Cooked pearl barley is simply thick, creamy, and has a porridge-like consistency the whole family will crave all winter season long!
Before bringing to a gentle simmer, I highly recommend pulsing the barley in a high speed blender until coarsely chopped. The grains should be broken into smaller pieces, but not blended for so long that they become a barley flour! This is essential to helping it cook into a uniform creamy texture, very similar to a bowl of Instant Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal or Amaranth Porridge.
Once broken into smaller pieces, transfer the pearl barley to a medium saucepan, along with your choice of milk, maple syrup, if using, and a pinch of sea salt.
Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the barley porridge to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to help prevent the porridge from sticking to the bottom of the pot. After 25 to 30 minutes, this vegan barley recipe should be soft, thickened, and have a pleasantly chewy texture.
If as it cooks, it becomes too thick or you prefer a softer texture, add a few more splashes of almond milk to keep it thinned to your desired consistency and cook until softened to your taste.
Finally, transfer the creamy porridge to individual serving bowls, top with your desired toppings and serve while warm and comforting. Enjoy!
I love topping my porridge with pre-frozen mixed berries that have been thawed overnight in the fridge and a few fresh figs. It’s effortless, delish, and the perfect, affordable way to incorporate ripe berries into your diet during the winter season. The sweet, juicy berries pair with the deep and creamy flavours in the pearled barley and creates an amazing, thick jammy texture that’s so simple, yet decadent as can be.
Other favourite topping ideas of mine? Try other fresh fruit such as sliced banana (if you haven’t already, trying my Caramelized Bananas is a MUST), fresh berries or sautéed apples. Then, try sprinkling on some hemp hearts, chia seeds, chopped nuts, toasted coconut flakes, or a dollop of nut butters like peanut butter or almond butter. Any of these would add the perfect flavour and crunch!
Leftover barley porridge will keep for up to 5 days in an air-tight container in the fridge. Reheated porridge is just as good as day 1, so if you’re preparing this recipe for meal prep, I highly recommend making a big batch on Sunday, and warming yourself a bowl every day of the week!
Just add a little more creamy milk, stir, and reheat in the microwave or stovetop until warm and creamy again.
I hope you love this Barley Porridge as much as I do! If you do make this recipe, please let me know in the comments below what you think and check out The Two Spoons App for more wholesome vegan recipes like this! I truly love hearing from you, and I’m always here to answer any questions you might have.
And of course, tag me on Instagram with your pictures using the hashtag #twospoons. Nothing makes me happier than to see your recreations.
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