Beef & Barley Stew : Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

4.86 from 48 votes
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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.
4.86 from 48 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

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    1. Jenn says

      Unfortunately I didn’t like this recipe. It had quite a bitter taste. I think that there is way too much rosemary and thyme. It should tell you to use ground rosemary because the texture of the little twigs is like having pine needles in your stew.
      The vegetables came out a perfect consistency.3 stars

    2. Kirsten says

      I cooked it high pressure 6 minutes and it was delicious!

    3. Bill says

      Nothing like Rosemary and Thyme to ruin a good stew. This is a crap recipe!4 stars

    4. Leslie Bowman says

      I made this recipe as written, in my 8 quart instant pot, except for adding a handful of peas to the stew at the end. It was the perfect thickness, flavorful, and the veg were soft but not mushy. Would definitely make this again!5 stars

    5. Amy says

      This recipe is sooooo good. I added a can of drained green beans but followed everything else. Yum!!5 stars

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