Mushroom Barley Bowls

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These hearty vegetarian Mushroom Barley Bowls make a hearty and filling meatless main course or side dish plus it only gets better after a night in the fridge.

376 CAL 69g CARBS 8g FAT 12g PROTEIN
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Mushroom Barley Bowls are the perfect vegetarian meal if you love mushrooms and are craving a satisfying, hearty meal. Serve it with some quick Parmesan Green Beans, Spinach Salad, or Crispy Baked Broccoli.

Lately, I have been trying to expand the whole grains that I consume on a regular basis. For a long time, it's been a pretty regular rotation of brown rice and quinoa and we are starting to get bored over here. I have been experimenting with barley lately and couldn't be happier. The nutty taste and almost chewy texture make it a great option for so many dishes. Plus with about 10 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per cooked cup, it's definitely a healthy choice.

This week when I was trying to come up with a good meatless dish, this Mushroom and Barley dish turned out to be the perfect thing. Packed with earthy flavor from the mushrooms, thyme, and barley - it's full of flavor and completely satisfying. The lemon and parsley brighten up the flavors and if you aren't vegan, some cheese on top is definitely a good idea. We went with creamy goat cheese but almost anything would work. This also makes a yummy side dish and will serve between 8-12.

What is barley? Is it healthy?

Barley is a hearty grain that is often used in soups and stews. It has a chewy texture and comes in two main varieties- hulled and pearled. Hulled barley has had the inedible outside layer removed so that it is ready to be eaten. It has a chewy, toothsome texture. It is also packed with nutrients and fiber. Pearled barley has been processed more to make it quick cooking. It is also packed with nutrients and fiber, but less than the hulled variety.

When it comes to health and nutrition, barley is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It has about 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup cooked serving.

How to cook barley?

Start by rinsing the barley. Add it to a saucepan with water or broth. You will want to use a ratio of 1:3 for barley to liquid, meaning that you need 3 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of barley. Bring the barley and liquid to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. For pearl barley, cook for 25-30 minutes until it is tender and chewy. For hulled barley, it will likely take about 45 minutes. Both types should triple in size when fully cooked. Drain any extra liquid before serving.

Mushroom barley bowls with tender mushrooms and barley in a bowl with garlic bread on the side.

Recipe Ideas

There are lots of ways to get creative with this recipe adding different vegetables, spices, herbs, and sauce. Here are some favorites:

  • Add some greens with spinach or kale. Kale should be added along with the barley since it takes a longer time to cook. Spinach can be stirred in after cooking. It will wilt with the heat of the barley.
  • Swap in a different herb for the thyme. This is delicious with rosemary, basil, marjoram, or a blend of herbs like Italian seasoning.
  • Drain a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and stir them in right before serving.
  • If you eat meat, consider adding some cooked rotisserie chicken.
  • For extra freshness, top the entire mushroom bowl with a quick arugula salad.
  • Make a quick vinaigrette or homemade ranch to serve drizzled on top.
  • Add your favorite cheese on top. We love this with goat cheese, feta cheese, or Parmesan.

What to serve with Mushroom Barley Bowls?

If you are like me and serving this a vegetarian main dish, you will likely want to add something on the side. Since this dish is hearty and earthy, I like to add something light and bright on the side.

More healthy mushroom recipes

The Recipe
Mushroom Barley Bowls

Mushroom Barley Bowls

376 CAL 69g CARBS 8g FAT 12g PROTEIN
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  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups pearl barley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper

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Add half the olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-6 minutes until they soften. Remove and set aside.


Add the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the barley and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.


Add the mushrooms (and any juice), vegetable broth, and thyme to the pan. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 25-30 minutes until the broth is absorbed and the barley is cooked. Turn off heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.


Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.25 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 376
Calories from Fat 70
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1135mg
Total Carbohydrate 69g
Dietary Fiber 13g
Sugars 4g
Protein 12g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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