Beef & Barley Stew : Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

close up Beef & Barley Stew in a white bowl with spoon

Site Index Barley Beef Instant pot beef Stew

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A deep, dark confession: Mr Magpie hates barley and I made this beef & barley stew despite his protestations. I was convinced that this was similar to many other things that he had eaten before and hated – the problem was simply that it wasn’t MY beef and barley stew. That sounds like my ego talking but it’s true in a lot of cases when it comes to Mike trying out food that he’s disliked since childhood.

Beef & Barley Stew in a white bowl with spoon
Beef & Barley Stew

I swore that if he only would try MY Beef & Barley Stew that he’d love barley.

Since I started this blog and started really learning how to cook I have won Mike over to the dark side of many foods. He hated Brussels Sprouts – until I make him crispy, oven baked ones like my Roasted Garlic Parmesan Brussels Sprouts. He hated turnip and loves my Roasted Olive Oil Turnips.   I have a pretty solid track record when it comes to changing Mike’s mind about certain foods that he swears he doesn’t like.

Not this time my friends, not this time.

close up Beef & Barley Stew in a white bowl with spoon

What Exactly IS barley?

Barley is a cereal grain that belongs in the family of grasses. It is one of the most cultivated crops in the world, along with flour, corn and rice of course. To learn more you can head to GoBarley for more information and recipes!

Is Barley Good For Me?

Heck yes! Barley is full of heart healthy goodness such as fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, folate, and vitamin B6.  The high fiber help to lower cholesterol as well. When coupled with iron rich beef and vegetables it’s a power meal for people like me that can’t get enough iron and magnesium in their diets. (I am always very low in iron and supplements make me sick, so I try to couple red meat with healthy grains and vegetables to balance it out.)

It’s something that I just can’t comprehend, this not liking barley thing. That just sounds made up to me. Barley is amazing in soups and stews, it’s my favourite thing to add- and I’ve missed it for many years. You all know that now I have a half bag of barley sitting in my cupboard to use up – and I will be using it up. I’m planning on making an oxtail soup soon and it has barley written allllll over it. I guess that my son and I will eat it as my daughter has also inherited this crazy non-barley loving gene.

delicious beef and barley stew in a white soup bowl, garnish with fresh parsley leaves

Beef & Barley Stew Tips & Tricks

  • Since barley takes quite a while to cook make sure that you chop your vegetables quite large, otherwise they can get too soft.
  • You can omit the red wine and replace with a splash of red wine vinegar – which should be a staple in your pantry if you don’t always have red wine on hand for recipes. Basically if you are like me and drink the wine instead of cooking with it. Red wine vinegar is very good for you as well.
  • You can add celery to this recipe but make sure to chop it large!
  • To make this more of a soup, add 2-3 cups of additional beef broth.

So here’s a recipe for the barley lovers. I chose to make a beef and barley stew instead of soup because I wanted this to be a real winter meal, the full meal deal for supper in the middle of this cold weather. We didn’t even really need the biscuits with the stew as a bowl of this was seriously hearty enough to be dinner.

So who’s a fellow barley lover? Anyone else have a spouse like mine?

Happy cooking!



Pin This To Your Soups/Stews or Supper Ideas Board!Hearty and delicious beef and barley stew, perfect for a comforting dinner at the end of the day. Make it in your Instant Pot or your slow cooker. #instantpot #slowcooker #stew #soups #recipes

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Beef & Barley Stew : Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

Hearty and delicious beef and barley stew, perfect for a comforting dinner at the end of the day. Make it in your Instant Pot or your slow cooker.
4.9 from 38 votes
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Total Time
1 hour
Instant Pot, Slow Cooker / Crockpot
Karlynn Johnston



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 pounds of stewing beef cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour

Remaining Ingredients

  • 1 medium white or yellow onion diced
  • 3-4 carrots washed and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 large russet potatoes cubed
  • 1 7 oz. package white mushrooms sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • fresh parsley to garnish if desired


Slow Cooker Instructions

  • Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. In a large frying pan heat the oil. Add in the beef and fry until it's browned.
    Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Serve with biscuits or garlic bread.

Instant Pot Directions

  • Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Place the beef in the flour mixture and toss until the beef is coated. Shake off the excess. In the bottom of your Instant Pot, heat the oil using the saute button. Add in the beef and cook until browned.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients and then stir until combined. Use the soup button and cook for 30 minutes. You can either release the steam manually or let it naturally release, the choice is up to you.  Stir and serve. 

You can also simmer this on the stove top until the barley is cooked and the vegetables are soft.

    Recipe Video

    Recipe Notes

    All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods etc.

    Nutrition Information

    Calories: 314kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 692mg, Potassium: 809mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 3890IU, Vitamin C: 8.4mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 3.4mg

    All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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    Karlynn Johnston

    I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

    Learn more about me

    Site Index Barley Beef Instant pot beef Stew

    Reader Interactions

    Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

    1. Rachel says

      Yum. This worked out great for me. I only had pot barley so I pre-cooked it for 20min in the instant pot. Manually released the pressure, rinsed put the pot, and proceeded with the recipe, adding in the precooked barley when called for. I also only had homemade chicken broth (unsalted) so I added a tbls of fish sauce (which I do often for stews) as well. 2 thumbs up.5 stars

    2. Amy says

      Absolutely delicious! Only changes I made were to add a can of drained green beans. Next time I will add more salt. So hearty and awesome.5 stars

    3. Nina says

      Made this with beef shank in an instant pot. Turned out fantastic. My husband says that this is in top 3 favorite soups I’ve ever made. Will definitely make it again. It was thick enough that when cold, you could cut it with a knife. That’s how we like it.5 stars

    4. Peggy says

      I love thick stews but this was too thick even for me. I also would like to find something to add to kick the flavor up a little. I will definitely make it again but with more broth and less barley.4 stars

    5. LW says

      How would I adjust the liquid without the barley? I have some frozen cooked barley and figured I could add it in after.

    6. Maggie's Mom says

      I totally love Beef Barley Stew. Your recipe turned out really well with all the flavour blending in together. I am a particular fan of barley so this is the perfect dish for me. This is the 3rd time making Beef Barley Stew using your recipe and for a non-cook like me, it is fool-proof. It almost makes me feel like a cook 🙂5 stars

    7. Mrsculp says

      The stew smells great…but my instant pot kept saying it was burning and the barley kept burning to the bottom of the pot! So it’s getting finished in the slow cooker tomorrow…any idea why it keeps giving me the burn warning, even after making sure the bottom was scraped clean?!

      • DeeJayZee says

        I had the same issue with “burn” showing up on the display. When I removed everything from the pot, the barley was burnt to the bottom. Is this because after sauteing the beef in flour I didn’t clean the pot? I followed the directions and added the remaining ingredients to the pot after sauteing the beef, the liquid being the first thing I added, and I stirred very well. Still, the barley burnt to the bottom.

    8. Darcey says

      This is amazing!!!! I personally am more of a stew, than a soup person. I cannot express how great this is. My husband really isn’t a barley person. Let’s just say 90% ended in his belly ?? Making more today. Second batch in 2 months!! Thank you sooo much!!!!5 stars

    9. Baba says

      Made the stew in my new InstaPot & could not believe the wonderful flavour. Love the addition of barley. Four days later I am making another batch. Mmmmmmm!5 stars

    10. Jennie says

      Thanks for the brilliant reminder, Karlynn. I’ve got some barley that keeps getting forgotten in the back of the pantry. And I LOVE barley, so you get big hero points for giving me a great kick in the pants/inspiration to use it. ?
      A rare Vancouver snow sprinkle: perfect timing for your stew recipe. Cheers!

    11. Margo Haynes says

      I love a beef barley stew & I too do not mind if the barley takes over. There are very few beef dishes I care for because I’m more of a chicken, seafood person. maybe Mike’s aversion to barley is like mine to stew meat. I have no idea how gristly it is today but eons ago when I was a child it had a great deal of gristle to it so I buy a small chuck roast & cut the lean meat in the roast into bite sized pieces & use that in place of the stew meat. There are only two of us so my IP is a 6 qt. but Gordon loves stews & soups & alas my 6 qt. is not big enough, so my 6 qt. will go to my daughter & Mom gets a bigger one because they are so time efficient & everything that cook in this comes out so delicious! I remember when I was a child in the 1940’s & my daddy’s mother always cooked her pinto beans in a pressure cooker. They were the most delicious beans! Mother would never use a presser cooker because she was always terrified that it would “blow up” on her. Pinto beans was the very first thing I cooked in my IP & they were heavenly, the taste was the very same in Ma’s kitchen when I was 8 or 9 years old!5 stars

    12. Margo Haynes says

      I love a beef barley stew & I too do not mind if the barley takes over. There are very few beef dishes I care for because I’m more of a chicken, seafood person. maybe Mike’s aversion to barley is like mine to stew meat. I have no idea how gristly it is today but eons ago when I was a child it had a great deal of gristle to it so I buy a small chuck roast & cut the lean meat in the roast into bite sized pieces & use that in place of the stew meat.5 stars

      • Frank howe says

        I did the same and added a little more barley and liquid. I thought it was very good ! I’m going to also try 25 mins next time

    13. Theresa A Ivey says

      This looks great! However, I’ve found that cooking barley and other grains IN the soup or stew, they seem to expand and take over! There’s only 2 of us and we don’t mind left overs or freezing portions. Any suggestions? Thank you!

      • Karlynn Johnston says

        This is a really thick stew so I don’t mind the barley taking over but you can halve the amount of barley if you want less!5 stars

        • Susan Burney says

          Just made your stew tonight and it’s delicious, I love the thickness of the broth and The barley cooked perfect. The only problem I had is my carrots I cut them an inch thick but they came out really really mushy, I did it for 30 minutes on soup and I went ahead and let it completely naturally release I guess because of a bad experience I had with flour in a pressure cooker before. Could it be that I let it took too long I should have quick released? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Everything else was delicious.4 stars

    14. Ann McMaster says

      This is my favourite go to recipe and it turns out great each time. Chicken works just as well as beef.5 stars

    15. David says

      I made this a week ago, forgot to add the wine,.
      It was awesome!! Martha and I ate on it. She loved it!
      Then my neighbor came over and we finished it off.
      He said it was the best stew he’s had.
      I used venison instead of beef.
      I use the 6 qt instant pot.
      So I’m making it again tonight, but didn’t forget the wine!
      Thank you for a great recipe!5 stars

      • Karlynn Johnston says

        That is awesome to hear and I bet the venison was AMAZING! Thanks for letting me know!5 stars

        • Amy White says

          Too many ingredients for a 6 quart instant pot. It kept burning because of the barley. I would add after cooking everything else. There are so many other great instant pot recipes. I would skip this one. Not worth the hassle.4 stars

    16. Bev Ross says

      I love beef barley stew. It’s my favorite. I haven’t tried it in my Instant Pot yet since I just got it recently. But I always have barley on hand so once I buy my stew meat I’m ready to go.5 stars

    17. Sandra | A Dash of Sanity says

      This looks really comforting! It deserves a spot on our regular dinner rotation for winter!5 stars

    18. Demeter says

      This comes together so easily in an IP. Such a hearty meal for when it’s cold outside!5 stars

    19. Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says

      This stew is so fantastic! My family would love this for sure!5 stars

    20. Dee says

      I need to try this in my Instant Pot. It looks amazing!

    21. Dorothy at Shockinglydelish says

      There isn’t much more satisfying then a big bowl of stew! That barley is a great addition!

    22. Patricia @ Grab a Plate says

      What a fabulous stew! I’m a big barley fan, so I’m really in love with this! And I got an IP for Christmas, so this is on my to-make list!

    23. eat good 4 life says

      Loving all about this recipe. The fact that you are using barley is genius. I can’t get enough of barley lately.

    24. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says

      I love making stews in my IP! This beef and barley stew is going to be a huge hit here!5 stars

    25. Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says

      I will definitely try this stew! Perfect!5 stars

    26. Allyson Zea says

      This stew looks so fabulous for dinner! I can’t wait to try it!

    27. Abeer says

      This is my type of dinner! Perfect for this cold weather!5 stars

    28. Katerina @ diethood .com says

      Such a hearty and delicious stew!! Perfect for the cold weather!

    29. Dorothy at Shockinglydelish says

      I got my first Instant Pot for Christmas! I am loving it so far, but need more good recipes! This looks like a winner!

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