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Cooking Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Barley

Finding the perfect barley substitute can feel like a treasure hunt in your pantry.

We’ve all been there. You’re halfway through your recipe and boom, you realize barley is missing.

No need to dash to the store or scrap your meal plan.

We’ve got the scoop on the top five swaps that’ll save your dish.

And guess what? You might even like these alternatives better.

They add that same hearty texture and earthy flavor.

Plus, they’re super easy to find or you probably already have them.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Barley

If you’re looking for a gluten-free or low-carb alternative to barley, you have several options.

Here are the five best substitutes for barley.

1 – Quinoa


Quinoa is a delicious and nutritious grain that can be used as a substitute for barley in many recipes.

Though, there are a few things to keep in mind when substituting quinoa for barley.

First, quinoa is a bit sweeter than barley, so you may want to adjust the amount of sugar or honey in your recipe accordingly.

Second, quinoa doesn’t have the same chewy texture as barley, so it’s important to cook it longer if you’re looking for that particular texture in your dish.

Finally, quinoa is also more absorbent than barley, so you’ll need to add more liquid to your recipe when cooking with quinoa.

With these tips in mind, you can easily substitute quinoa for barley in any recipe.

2 – Farro


Consider farro if you’re looking for a nutty, chewy grain to add to your next dish.

This ancient grain has been around for centuries and is a staple in many traditional cuisines.

Farro is similar to barley in terms of texture and flavor, making it a good substitute in recipes that call for barley.

It’s also a great source of fiber and protein, making it a nutritious addition to any meal.

To cook farro, simmer it in water or broth until tender.

Then, use it in place of barley in soups, stews, or salads.

You can use it as a base for a grain bowl or stuff it into roasted vegetables.

Whether you’re looking for a new grain or a delicious way to add more fiber to your diet, give farro a try.

3 – Buckwheat


Buckwheat is a versatile grain that can be used as a substitute for barley in many recipes.

While it has a similar nutritional profile to barley, buckwheat is higher in fiber and protein.

It is also a good source of magnesium, manganese, and copper.

When cooked, buckwheat has a nutty flavor and chewy texture.

To use it as a substitute for barley, cook the buckwheat according to the package directions.

Then add it to soups, stews, or casseroles in place of the barley.

You can also use cooked buckwheat as a side dish or pilafs and salads.

With its hearty flavor and nutritional benefits, buckwheat is an ideal substitute for barley in any recipe.

4 – Freekeh


Freekeh is a type of green wheat that is harvested while the grains are still young and tender.

It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in recipes from the Middle East and North Africa.

If you’re looking for a substitute for barley, freekeh is a good option.

Freekeh can be used in place of barley in most recipes, though it will need to be cooked for a shorter period of time.

To cook freekeh, simmer it in water or broth until tender.

Then, add it to soups, stews, or grain salads.

In terms of flavor, freekeh has a slightly smoky flavor that comes from the process of roasting wheat grains.

5 – Millet


For anyone who has ever cooked with barley, millet may seem like an unlikely substitute.

After all, barley is a hearty grain with a distinct nutty flavor, while millet is light and bland in comparison.

However, millet can actually make an excellent substitute for barley in many recipes.

The key is to cook the millet in vegetable or chicken stock instead of water, which will give it more flavor.

Additionally, adding a few tablespoons of chopped nuts or dried fruit to the grain will help to give it some extra flavor and texture.

Overall, millet is a versatile grain that can be used as a substitute for barley in many recipes.

While it may not have the same strong flavor as barley, it can still be a delicious and healthy component of any meal.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Barley

Looking for alternatives to barley? Look no further! We've compiled a list of the 5 best substitutes that will seamlessly replace barley in your recipes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Buckwheat
  • Freekeh
  • Millet


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for barley
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