How to Microwave Barley

// Barley cooked and served in the glass Anyday dish, featuring perfectly tender barley grains, ideal for adding to soups, salads, or as a hearty side dish.

Prep Time

1 min

Cook Time

15-16 mins

Free Time

to schedule an eye exam

Looking for a new grain to jazz up your meals? Consider microwaving quick-cooking barley! This chewy, fiber-rich grain offers a flavorful and textured alternative to brown rice, quinoa, or farro.

Important: This recipe calls for quick-cooking barley, which can be found in most grocery stores. This par-cooked variety significantly reduces cooking time and doesn't require overnight soaking. If you are looking to microwave pearled barley, you will need to soak it overnight in water, or more cooking time. Read on for more instructions!

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What You’ll Need

What You’ll Need

The Medium Deep Dish

The best dish for 1-2 portions of grains, veggies, mac and cheese, ramen, and more.

The Anyhand Mitts

Handle hot Anyday dishes with care with these microwave mitts that double as trivets!
Try Anyday

Select your serving size and microwave wattage in the dropdown. The recipe will change accordingly.

1/4 cup quick-cooking barley

Select your microwave wattage in the dropdown. The cook times in this recipe will automatically change accordingly.


To find your microwave’s wattage, look at the front panel, the side of the door, in the back, in the user manual, or Google the model number. If both an input and output wattage are listed, use the output.

Wattage translates to how powerful the microwave is. The higher the wattage, the faster your food will cook. The lower the wattage, the longer the cook time.

When in doubt, start with less time — you can always add more.

Microwave oven by power - 700w



The Medium Deep Dish


  • ¼ cup (45g) barley
  • cups (360ml) water


  1. Add the barley and water to an Anyday Deep dish.
  2. Cook uncovered in the microwave for 15-16 minutes, or until the water is almost fully evaporated and the barley is tender but still slightly firm.
  3. Allow the barley to rest for 3-5 minutes with the lid on. Strain if needed and serve as desired.

Serving suggestions & tips

  • Add baby mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, store-bought pesto, and sliced olives for a Mediterranean-style grain salad.
  • Stir cooked barley into canned vegetable soup for extra fiber.
  • Toss in some chili crisp and top with a fried egg for a quick lunch.
  • Use cooked barley in place of grains like quinoa, farro, or brown rice.

Recipe notes

  • For a more tender result, add 1/4 cup extra water and add 5-10 minutes to the total cooking time.
  • This recipe calls for quick-cooking barley. To cook pearled barley in the microwave, you must soak it overnight. Note: Soaked barley will double in size, so make sure to soak half the amount of barley you intend to cook.
  • Freeze the cooked barley in the 1/2 Cup Anytime Freezer Trays and use as desired.
  • Microwave ovens vary, even with the same wattages. Adjust cooking times as needed.

Microwave Match Up: Barley

See for yourself— microwaving barley is simply faster, start to finish.

Appliance Cook Time
Microwave in an Anyday dish 12-15 mins
Stovetop* 15-20 mins
Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker)* 15-25 mins
*Includes preheat time

All You Need to Know About Microwaving Barley

How long does it take to cook barley in the microwave?

Ingredient Water Cook Time
1/4 cup quick-cooking barley 1 1/2 cups (360ml) water 15-16 mins
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley 1 1/2 cup (360ml) water 15-16 mins
1 cup quick-cooking barley 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) water 15-16 mins
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking barley 3 cups (700ml) water 15-16 mins
Cook time calculated for 700w microwave

To determine how long barley takes to cook in the microwave, start by checking the package directions. It takes about 15 minutes to cook 1 cup of quick-cooking barley in the microwave. Depending on your microwave’s strength, you may need to add more cooking time for a weak microwave and less time for a more powerful machine.

How to tell when barley is cooked through?

Properly cooked barley will be chewy, but not tough. Check for firm, bouncy kernels that hold their shape. When in doubt, add more cooking time until the barley is cooked to your desired texture.

Can you cook all types of barley in the microwave?

Yes, you can cook all types of barley in the microwave! Whether it’s quick cooking or pearled barley, you can use the same basic instructions and adjust the cook times accordingly. Just like its name, quick-cooking barley takes about 15 minutes per 1 cup of barley to cook in the microwave. Pearled barley takes a lot longer to cook; double the cooking time (about 30 minutes per 1 cup) for best results.

Is it necessary to soak pearled barley before cooking it in the microwave?

While it’s not necessary to soak pearled barley before cooking it in the microwave, it is recommended to cut the long cooking times. We found that soaking pearled barley overnight speeds up the cooking time for pearled barley, cooking 1 cup in about 15 minutes. While this soaking method works well for pearled barley, it is not necessary to soak quick-cooking barley before microwaving it. Soaking quick-cooking barley might result in mushy or overcooked grains.

How to freeze cooked barley?

Once the barley is cooked through, strain any excess cooking water and allow it to cool completely. Transfer cooked barley to our 1/2 cup Anytime Freezer Trays, then cover with the lid and freeze for up to 2 months.

How to reheat microwaved barley?

Place the desired amount of frozen barley in any Anyday dish and sprinkle with some water. Cover with the lid and microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through.

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