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Barley is a gluten-free grain that is often used in soups and sauces to thicken, add body, and provide a totally different feel than whole grains like brown or wild rice. It has a high protein, fiber, B vitamin content, iron, magnesium, and selenium content.

Furthermore, it grows in every part of the globe, and it is easy to cultivate from seed at home since it does not need a garden space; the seeds may be sown in pots.

Although barley is gluten-free, you should use organic products if you substitute pearl barley for whole barley. This article includes some of the finest pearl barley replacements available.

In a nutshell, you may substitute pearl barley for quinoa, millet, rice, spelled, mung bean flour, seeds, tofu, vinegar, buckwheat, sourdough starter, buttermilk, maize, chickpeas, and brown rice.

What is Barley?

15 Best Pearl Barley Substitutes

Since ancient times, barley has been utilized in daily cooking; it is one of the most common grains used in soups and beer fermentation. It is cooked and served as a grain, similar to rice, or it is used to stews or bread.

It comes in many varieties, including whole-grain barley, barley shavings, and barley biscuits with gravy. Pearl barley is the most well-known and appreciated of them.

Because exfoliation eliminates the bran and outer layers, some dietitians do not consider this type to be whole grain. That explains why it isn’t as nutrient-dense as other forms of barley.

Some individuals say that barley has a dull, bland flavor. This point of view is not always correct. When you cook meal barley, for example, it has a light nutty taste and a crisp texture. As a consequence, like yeast extracts, barley is categorised as a like or dislike food.

There are several medicinal advantages associated with barley nutritional facts. Barley’s cellulose content, in particular, is critical in decreasing the risk of developing diabetes, colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, since barley is cholesterol-free, it is very beneficial in decreasing blood cholesterol levels. Barley also has a low fat content. It is practically fat-free and is often used in egg-free desserts.

Pearl Barley Substitutes

1. Amaranth

Although it may seem weird, amaranth may be used in soups, vegetable dishes, and side dishes in lieu of barley. Although it is not a grain, it has gluten-free qualities that decrease cholesterol levels, comparable to barley.

Its nutritious content may rival that of other regularly eaten crops like as maize, rice, and wheat. Furthermore, the meal produces vital elements such as lysine and has a high protein content, which is double that of rice and nearly three times that of maize.

2. Buckwheat and Quinoa

Buckwheat and quinoa are other popular gluten-free barley alternatives in this sauce. Despite its association with wheat, buckwheat is gluten-free.

Buckwheat may be used in place of wheat cereal grains like wheat berries, freekeh, spelt, or chickpea flour. You can be certain, as indicated by the ingredients list for noodles, crepes, and pancakes.

It has a significantly stronger taste than barley and is disliked by some individuals. However, due to its low glycemic index, it is very advantageous for those with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

It has a higher concentration than other grains and a broad range of basic amino acids.

3. Teff

The last flaked barley option to explore is teff. It is available in a range of colors and sizes, increasing the adaptability and diversity of your courses.

It may be used as a main dish or a side dish in almost any meal, exactly like barley. Serve it as a garnish on muffins, porridge, steamed veggies, or soups.

While teff is gluten-free, several individuals have developed a method for turning it into flour with a larger range of properties for a number of purposes.

Users on diets that normally exclude grains containing gluten or allergenic amino acids from these other cereal plants may now consume the grain and its derivative products in snacks and pasta.

4. Tofu

Tofu may be a perfect substitute for barley alternatives in gluten-free sauces since it provides protein and an additional thick mouthfeel that you may have been missing in your low-cost barley alternative recipes.

To use the tofu, wring away the extra liquid.

Roll the tofu in paper towels first, then set it on a tray, cover it with another tray, and weigh down the top layer with numerous cans (approximately 40 ounces apiece).

Allow this to rest for at least 10 minutes, but up to an hour if you want an exceptionally dry barley substitute.

5. Farro

Farro and barley are both members of the grain family, however the question here is whether farro may be replaced for barley.

Farro, which has a mild earthy flavor and a crisp texture, may be used in lieu of barley in most recipes. Farro variants are often known as Emmer Wheat.

Pearl farro and pearl barley are two more kinds of farro. As a consequence, this grain may be used in lieu of pearl barley.

It has higher fiber and casein sources, as well as more carbohydrates and calcium, than quinoa.

6. Sorghum

Sorghum is another gluten-free substitute for barley. There is now an upsurge in the provision of healthful and gluten-free diets. Sorghum is currently one of the best wheat flour ingredients for making bread, regular flour, and a range of healthful dishes.

Sorghum may also be substituted for rice in recipes that call for other grains such as buckwheat or quinoa. Add them to soups or sauces whenever you want to improve the texture of your food!

Furthermore, the color and chewability of this gluten-free pearl barley alternative are attractive. It provides a variety of nutrients, including vitamin B, protein, and magnesium, which aids with glycemic management.

7. Brown Rice

Brown rice is more nutritious and fresher than white rice since white rice has been overprocessed, resulting in the loss of the rice husk and germ layers, which contain the bulk of the nutrients such as minerals, antioxidants, and vitamin supplements.

Brown rice is not unprocessed; it has been treated to remove the hull (hard protective shell), yet this results in minimal nutritional loss, making it a good substitute for barley and other whole grains.

Despite being healthful, brown rice is still rice, and as such, it includes a large quantity of carbohydrates and calories. It does, however, have a low glycemic index, which means it will not leave you feeling bulky and sluggish like other carbohydrate-rich items.

since of its high fiber content, brown rice will keep you feeling fuller for longer, which is advantageous if you are on a diet since it will reduce your appetite and lead you to eat less calories throughout the day.

8. Millet

Millet is yet another seed that may be eaten whole. It is most known for its flour, but the seeds are used in a variety of recipes across the globe, and in certain cultures, millet is a staple of the diet.

Like quinoa, these small maize kernel-like seeds are gluten-free, but far less expensive. Millet is possibly the most affordable whole grain available.

Millet not only looks like corn kernels, but it also tastes slightly like maize. It’s a sweet grain that rapidly absorbs the flavors of the dishes it’s put to.

Millet has an earthy flavor, similar to barley. Nonetheless, unlike barley, its consistency is more like mashed potatoes than chewy, making it suitable for individuals who can’t stand the sensation of barley.

Millet has a lot of minerals and nutrients, especially iron. Keep in mind that millet expands when boiling.

Millet whole grain may be difficult to get in a traditional grocery shop, but it is also accessible online.

9. Oats

Oatmeal is a gluten-free cereal grain that is used in baking, cereal, and soups. They serve several purposes and may be utilized in a variety of ways, which is why they are generally considered as a necessary dietary component.

However, because to their high fat content, they will not survive long on the shelf. That is why, if you are unsure when or how you will utilize oats, buy them in little quantities.

Oats are particularly advantageous to women because they include vitamin B6, which helps the endocrine system and may relieve premenstrual symptoms including period discomfort, fluid retention, and mood changes.

10. Buttermilk

This is the closest potential substitute for barley for making pastry alternatives such as biscuits or bread. It thickens your meal and gives it a sweet taste.

11. Chickpeas

Chickpeas may be used in lieu of pearl barley if you’re seeking for a plant-based alternative. Chickpeas are less prone than other legumes to go mushy after cooking because they contain more starch.

12. Mung Bean Flour

Mung bean, also known as green gram, moong dal, or mung bean, is a small legume native to warm climates. It merely takes gentle heating to soften.

13. Rice

This grain has significant quantities of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese, and selenium, making it one among the most nutrient-dense grains.

Despite the fact that a cup of white rice provides almost twice as much calcium as a cup of brown rice, it is nonetheless referred to as a replacement for barley.

Rice has lately had a bad image for being buttery, but utilizing brown rice in gluten-free recipes may actually aid with weight reduction by keeping you satiated for longer.

14. Spelled

A typical wheat alternative is characterized with its comparably small, pearl-like white grains and earthy flavor.

While it is gluten-free, some individuals are more sensitive to the gluten in it, just as they are to barley replacement or any other barley replacement option.

15. Seeds

If you want to substitute barley in a soup, try seeds instead. It may alter the taste of the dish, but it still functions as a thickening.

How Do You Select a Suitable Substitute for Pearl Barley?

Finding the best barley substitute based on a variety of parameters. The following are some ideas that may be suitable for your needs and preferences:

  • The Low-Cost Alternative: Because gluten-free items are more costly than ordinary ones, many individuals may be unable to purchase nutritional diets. Millet is the least costly of the pearl barley alternatives described above when compared to other gluten-free cereals.
  • The Energy Booster: Although barley and other grains are often utilized in everyday meals, certain grains, such as sorghum or brown rice, may include nutrients and carbs.The carbohydrate content of these cereals, on the other hand, is advantageous to your health. They may make you feel more invigorated while keeping your blood sugar stable.
  • The Most Effective Substitute: If you’re seeking for a barley-like substitute, farro is your best bet, since it has a comparable flavor and crisp chewiness to barley. Farro, on the other hand, possesses the pearl farro varied spectrum, making it the ideal alternative for pearl barley.
  • Gluten-free Alternatives: As the market for robust and sanitary food expands, people are continuously seeking for enhanced, gluten-free barley alternatives to replace wheat-based items. Some gluten-free grains, such as buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, or sorghum, may be effective barley alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between barley and pearl barley?

Barley is a grass family member that has been carefully maintained for hundreds of years. The grain looks like wheat berries, but the taste is quite different; barley is nuttier, better tasting, and earthier.

It might be used to add flavor to soups, stews, casseroles, and other foods. Pearl barley maintains some fiber since it is little processed.

How do you prepare Pearl Barley?

Pearl barley, like rice, may be cooked in a variety of ways. It’s high in fiber and low in gluten, making it a great gluten-free substitute for wheat berries or tofu.

What are the advantages of barley in regards to health?

Barley contains manganese, fiber, and B vitamins. It also seems to include chromium, which assists in glucose metabolism in the body. Barley reduces cholesterol while also being a healthy source of fiber.

Pearl barley promotes weight reduction by regulating blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

How should Pearl Barley be substituted in meals?

When the occasion calls for barley, you may substitute pearl barley. Pearl barley, like rice, requires longer time to cook.

Cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until soft, using three cups of liquid for each cup of dry pearl barley. 1 cup of dry wheat berries equals 2 cups of cooked wheat berries.


Despite the presence of gluten, barley is a superior and healthier grain in general. If you have celiac disease, it is preferable to substitute quinoa, brown rice, or teff with gluten-free barley.

These alternatives have a texture and taste similar to barley. However, they provide a great range of substances and nutritious quality for your well-being.

You can’t just glance at a product’s label and assume it’s free of all toxins (gluten included), so do some research before purchasing it.


What can I substitute for pearled barley?

Farro is one of the finest alternatives for pearl barley; it has a comparable nutty flavor and chewy texture like barley. Farro comes in many varieties, including whole farro and pearl farro, which has had its bran removed and hence cooks faster than whole farro.

What grain is most similar to barley?

Farro has a texture and taste comparable to barley, making it an acceptable alternative in recipes that call for barley. It’s also high in fiber and protein, making it a healthy complement to any meal.

What is a gluten-free alternative to pearl barley?

Buckwheat, amaranth, maize, millet, quinoa, teff, wild rice, and sorghum are some gluten-free grains that may replace barley.

Is farro the same as barley?

Farro, a high-protein, high-fiber ancient whole-grain wheat, resembles barley in appearance, but with a somewhat more oblong and bigger grain. Farro, like barley, maintains a noticeable degree of chew when cooked. In most recipes, farro and barley may be used interchangeably. Farro is made from wheat and includes gluten.

What is the same as pearl barley?

There are two kinds of barley: pot barley and pearl barley. Pot barley is the most nutritious of the two, but it is more difficult to get and prepare. It is less refined than pearl since just the outer husk is removed, giving it a nuttier flavor.

Can I use orzo instead of pearl barley?

Pearl barley has a mild taste and is shaped and sized similarly to orzo. Because of its mild flavor, it works well as an orzo substitute in soups–it simply takes longer to cook than orzo.

What grains are in the barley family?

Barley is an annual cereal grass and one of the world’s oldest meals. As a member of the grass Poaceae family (which includes rye, rice, oats, maize, sugarcane, and all species of wheat), barley is regarded as “the world’s single most important source of food” (Brittanica).

What is better than barley?

Quinoa has an advantage over barley since it does not contain gluten, while barley does. Although most individuals do not have a problem with gluten, persons with celiac disease get unwell if they consume gluten-containing foods.

What is the healthiest grain?

According to nutritionist Malena Perdomo, MS, RDN, CDE, these are the 11 healthiest grains to consume.
01 of 11. Barley, number two of eleven. Amaranth. 04 of 11. Quinoa. 03 of 11. Buckwheat (5 of 11), Teff (6 of 11), Oats (7 of 11), Farro (8 of 11). Wheat groats.

What to avoid if you are allergic to barley?

If you have a barley allergy, you should avoid foods containing barley or barley derivatives. Beer, bread, and other baked foods are examples of this. It is also critical to carefully study food labels to ensure that barley is not a component.

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