Barley Risotto Recipe
Barley Risotto Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Barley Risotto Recipe

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Low in fat, but high in fiber, this delicious dish from our Test Kitchen puts a twist on typical risotto. With its nutty undertones, barley provides the perfect backdrop for lemon and parsley.
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. Cook: 30 min.
MAKES:4 servings
Healthy Diabetic Exchange Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. Cook: 30 min.
MAKES: 4 servings


  • 3 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons sodium-free chicken bouillon granules
  • 3/4 cup medium pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine or additional water
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Nutritional Facts

1/2 cup equals 175 calories, 2 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 84 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 4 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fat.


  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil; add bouillon and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat and keep warm.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook and stir the barley for 2-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a small bowl. In the same skillet, saute onion in oil for 2 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute longer or until onion is tender. Stir in barley and wine. Cook and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add heated bouillon, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to absorb between additions. Cook just until barley is almost tender (cooking time is about 20 minutes). Add the parsley, lemon peel and salt; cook and stir until heated through. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
Originally published as Barley Risotto in Light & Tasty December/January 2008, p63

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.

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Reviewed Sep. 21, 2015

"Oh yum! I needed to add a little more broth to fully cook the barley, but wow! This is so delicious. I also added some sauteed mushrooms like another reviewer suggested. Today I topped a bowl of this with feta cheese. This is a keeper."

Reviewed May. 18, 2014


Reviewed Nov. 11, 2012

"Can someone please tell me where to find sodium-free chicken boullion granules? This recipe sounds delicious!"

Reviewed Nov. 10, 2012

"I really like barley and have been looking for recipes that use it other than in a soup. This was VERY tasty. I wasn't sure how barley would turn out as a risotto but it worked great. The lemon zest adds a wonderful flavor and aroma. I agree with one of the other reviewer, taste it at the end before adding salt. Mine didn't need any added salt either. Try it, you won't be disappointed!"

Reviewed Nov. 8, 2012

"I was really happy with this recipe. My husband loves the regular (rice) risotto that I make and so I wasn't sure how excited he would be about this but we are trying to eat a little healthier so I thought I'd try it. It was really good. I made a few substitutions and additions but nothing too major. I used unsalted chicken broth instead of the water and bouillon and I used a couple of splashes of lemon juice instead of lemon peel. I also added baby bella mushrooms and some celery to the dish. It was very tasty. Thanks!"

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