Free up your oven space with this recipe for slow cooker curried barley, a unique and flavorful side dish for any seafood, poultry or meat.
Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
What do you think about barley? If you ever think about it, that is. I really only ever thought of barley as a part of the classic beef & barley soup or stew and I knew it was an ancient grain. I loved it in that soup, but barley is a grain I don't always think about using often. But when I do, I remember how much I like it and that I should make it more often. It's got a nutty, chewy and substantial taste and texture that is much more robust than rice.
Wow. That last sentence sure sounds rather obnoxious, doesn't it? Robust? Substantial?
OK, let's just call it good. And the addition of curry in this recipe? Really good.
Barley is also a healthy addition to your diet, with double the amount of fiber of brown and wild rice, per cup. Pearled barley, while not as healthy as whole grain hulled barley, actually beats or meets the nutritional makeup of wild, brown, and white rice. (source)
It's best to use the hulled barley if you can find it (Amazon has a lot of choices), since it includes the extra nutrition from the bran (you'll need to cook it a bit longer so I've included directions for both types in the recipe). You can find more about the nutrition of hulled barley here.
Slow Cooker Curried Barley
This recipe for slow cooked curried barley was a revelation when I first made it years ago. I served it to guests (food rule #1 broken right there) after church because it would be ready when we got home. It was a simple meal of this, grilled chicken, and salad eaten on our patio - and the barley was the star of the meal. Yep, humble barley. Everyone at the table, me most of all, was completely surprised at how good the curried barley was.
As you can imagine, this has become a slow-cooker go-to recipe. It's a great side dish for baked chicken in the winter and equally good with grilled meats or seafood and vegetables in the summer. Oh, and to make this even more amazing, serve it with a bit of yogurt and a good chutney like Addictive Tomato Chutney or Spicy Rhubarb Chutney. Yum.
And easy? How about simply dumping all the ingredients in the cooker and forgetting about it? Well, until you start smelling the wonderful aroma of curry, that is!
You can vary the amount of curry based on your preferences. For just a light curry flavor, use 2 teaspoons of a mild Indian curry powder. We like things spicy, so I use 3 teaspoons of Indian curry labeled "hot curry." And if we only have mild curry, I'll add a bit of cayenne powder for that extra kick. If you're unsure, start with the smaller amount and add more to taste when you make it again.
Because I'm pretty sure this will become one of your go-to recipes, too.
Easy Slow Cooker Curried Barley with Carrots & Onions
- 1 ⅓ cups pearl or hulled barley
- 4 cups chicken broth increase to 4-1/2 for hulled barley
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs of choice: parsley chives, thyme (or a mix)
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne optional, to taste
- Optional additional vegetables see note
- Yogurt and chutney for serving optional
- Add all ingredients to the bowl of a 4 to 6 qt. slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours (for pearl barley) to 8 hours (for hulled) or on HIGH for 3 for pearl or 4 hours for hulled.
- Serve with yogurt and chutney, if desired.
More easy side dishes you may like:
Disclosure: affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.