10 Best Substitutes for Barley


Barley is one of the oldest and most commonly used grains across the world.

There is a wide variety of dishes where you can add barley. And not only will it be a filling and delicious meal, but it will also be packed with nutrients. However, if you can’t get your hands on any barley, there’s no need to worry.

There are many substitutes for barley that will give you your favorite dish a match for its taste, texture, and health factor. So, what are some substitutes for barley?

Some of the best substitutes for barley include farro, brown rice, oats, quinoa, sorghum, teff, buckwheat, whole wheat millet, brown lentils, and amaranth.

Let’s learn more about each substitute below!

What Is Barley?

Barley was first cultivated in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Surely, there’s no need for us to tell you that the cultivation and use of barley have now spread across the world.

Barley is a cereal grain that you can use to prepare a variety of dishes such as bread, soup, stew, risotto, salads, etc. It is very nutritious and is one of the best sources of dietary fiber.

Barley has health benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease, improving digestion, boosting the immune system, controlling cholesterol levels, etc.

Best Barley Substitutes

Now that you’re clear about what barley is, let’s take a look at some of the substitutes that you can use in its place.

1. Farro


Farro is an ancient grain that can be used as a substitute for barley in dishes such as soups and salads. It originates from the Middle East and has nutrients like protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, and more.

Farro is one of the healthiest substitutes for barley and can give the same texture and taste as barley. Farro has a nutty earthy taste. Moreover, farro also has the same chewy texture as barley.

Therefore, interchanging farro and barley in dishes would not make much of a difference when it comes to the taste and texture of your dish. In fact, if you are looking for a healthy substitute for barley, farro is your best option.

2. Brown Rice

Brown Rice

Brown rice is whole grain rice with the inedible hull of the grain removed.

Needless to say, brown rice is extremely healthy and is one of the most nutritious substitutes for barley. It boosts heart health, aids the nervous system, and provides antioxidants to the body.

Brown rice has a slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture that will remind you of barley. On the other hand, normal rice would not have a taste similar to barley and tends to be unhealthier than brown rice. Therefore, when it comes to foods like risotto, salad bowls, and even soup, you can always substitute barley with some brown rice.

3. Oats

Old Fashioned Oats

Oats are one substitute for barley that you probably already have in your kitchen.

We don’t need to tell you how healthy oats are. They are packed with antioxidants, boost digestion, lower blood sugar levels, etc. The best part about using them as a substitute for barley is that they are gluten-free and suitable for people with allergies.

Therefore, next time you are making dishes such as soup, strew, or even bread and have run out of barley, you can always grab some oats instead. Although they do not taste as nutty as barley, nuts will add a similar chewy texture to your favorite barley dishes.

4. Quinoa


Quinoa is another healthy, gluten-free, and very versatile substitute for barley. It is rich in protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin B.

An equal amount of quinoa can be substituted for barley in many different dishes such as stews, soups, salads, etc. Quinoa has a similar nutty flavor as barley but tends to be slightly sweet.

However, while substituting quinoa for barley, you might see a difference in the texture of your dish. Although quinoa also tends to be chewy, it also has a fluffy and light texture that you might feel is different than barley.

5. Sorghum


Sorghum is a type of grain originating from Africa and is eaten as a cereal.

Although sorghum might be difficult to find, it can be a good substitute for barley because it has the same texture and taste.

Sorghum has a slightly nutty taste and chewy texture that will remind you of barley.

Like barley, sorghum can make a hearty meal and can be substituted in dishes like salads, soups, sides dishes, or even consumed on its own. Moreover, sorghum is gluten-free and has nutrients like potassium, vitamin B, manganese, magnesium, and more.

6. Teff

Teff Flour

Teff is a fine grain with edible seeds that can successfully replace barley. It has a deep, earthy, and nutty flavor that will remind you of barley in whichever dish you add it to.

Originating from Ethiopia, teff is now cultivated and eaten in cuisines all around the world. You might have not heard of teff before but you definitely need to include this grain in your diet for healthier, more hearty meals.

Teff is very nutritious and has health benefits such as improving digestion, lowering blood sugar levels, improving bone health, and even preventing anemia. Therefore, it is safe to say that teff is one of the healthiest substitutes for barley.

7. Buckwheat


Buckwheat is one of the most versatile substitutes for barley.

You can add buckwheat to different soups, stew, bread, pancakes, salads, and pretty much any other dish you can think of. It has a soft and chewy texture that will give you the same mouthfeel as barley in any of these recipes.

Also, buckwheat has a slightly bitter yet earthy tone that you would want in a barley substitute. The best part? Buckwheat is gluten-free and has many nutrients such as complex carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, etc.

8. Whole Grain Millet


Millets are easily one of the most versatile foods that you can use in your kitchen.

Whole grain millet can be an excellent substitute for barley as it has the same texture and taste. Moreover, as already mentioned, whole grain millet can be used in a large variety of dishes where you would have added barley.

It is also one of the healthiest substitutes for barley. Millets contain antioxidants, prevent muscle degradation, and even improve digestion and sleep.

9. Brown Lentils


You might have been brown lentils and barely grouped together in many meals like salads and soups. In fact, many people even confuse barley and brown lentils for each other.

Needless to say, the reason for this is that barley and brown lentils are very close when it comes to texture and taste. Note that this is only true of brown lentils as they have an earthy taste. Red and green lentils, on the other hand, have a savory and sweet taste.

Brown lentils have a slightly softer taste than barley, but you can easily substitute them in any dish while also enjoying the many benefits that this healthy grain has.

10. Amaranth


Amaranth is an earthy grain that originates from Argentina that has many uses.

Not only can you add amaranth to foods such as bread, soups, salads, but you can also use it to make pasta, add it to sandwiches, and serve it as a side dish.

Amaranth is a good substitute for barley as it has a similar texture, taste, as well as many health benefits.

Amaranth can actually give you the same chewy texture and nutty taste as barley but with much fewer carbohydrates and a higher proportion of proteins. Not only this, but amaranth also cooks very easily and is suitable for those with gluten allergies.

What Can You Use Instead Of Barley In Soup?

A soup with barley and veggies is one of the healthiest and tastiest meals. However, if you ever run out of barley, you use some substitutes in the soup.

Clearly, anything you use in place of barley in soup needs to have the same heartiness in texture and in terms of how filling it is. Therefore, some of the best substitutes for barley in soups are oats, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and sorghum.

Can You Replace Barley With Rice?

You can easily replace barley with rice in most dishes.

Barley has an earthy, nutty flavor as well as a chewable texture. Normal rice or brown rice might not be the best substitute when it comes to having the same taste but it is suitable for a number of other reasons.

Firstly, rice can be added to almost any dish you like. It can be cooked, fried, or boiled and given any flavor that you wish. Also, rice has the same chewy texture as barley, so rice is easily one of the most accessible and versatile substitutes for barley.

Related Questions

Can I Substitute Oats for Barley?

You can substitute oats for barley. There are also two benefits to using oats as a substitute for barley. First of all, oats are much more versatile than barely and work well in any dish. Secondly, oats are a good barley substitute for people with gluten allergies as they are gluten-free.

What Are The Benefits of Barley?

Barley is an excellent source of fiber and has many essential nutrients that can give you benefits like decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving digestion, maintaining blood sugar levels, etc.

Can I Use Rice Instead of Barley in Soup?

You can use brown rice as a substitute for barley in different soups. In fact, brown rice is one of the healthiest substitutes for barley as it provides both protein and fiber.

1 comment
  1. Did I read right that the oven temperature for the Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Bars is 175 degrees Fahrenheit? Thank you

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