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Beef and Barley Stew

If you’re looking for a hearty stew that is both comforting and healthy, you’ve hit the jackpot! This Beef and Barley Stew is made in the slow-cooker for a tender, flavorful, and supremely easy dinner.

Beef and Barley Stew in a Bowl.
Warm, comforting Beef and Barley Stew is the perfect nutritious weeknight dinner on those chilly winter nights.

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

What Is Barley?

Barley is a cereal grain from the same family as wheat, oats, rice, and corn. It’s often used to feed livestock, because of its high protein content; but is also one of the oldest grains regularly consumed by people.

Barley is a great source of magnesium, essential amino acids and vitamin B1. The flavor of this starch is similar to rice and farro – mild and slightly sweet with a chewy texture – making it the perfect addition to dishes like this stew.

Is Barley Gluten-Free?

Barley is not gluten-free, as it is one of three common grains, along with wheat and rye, that contains gluten. If you’re sensitive to gluten, look out for products that contain barley flour, barley malt, and barley syrup. Read food labels carefully and look for products that are certified gluten-free.

Why This Recipe Stands Out

We’re a little obsessed with cooking up all the comforting soups and stews in the winter, and this Beef and Barley Stew is one of our favorites. Here’s why:

  • Healthy: The beef, barley, and veggies in this stew provide the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and vitamins.
  • Flavorful: We love how the slow-cooker really draws out the flavors of this soup.
  • Easy: Just like all of our slow-cooker meals, this recipe is ridiculously easy. Just toss everything in and let the slow-cooker work its magic!
  • Freezes Well: Beef and Barley Stew freezes amazingly making it a perfect easy meal-prep lunch or dinner.

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Chuck Roast – Beef chuck roast is a fattier cut of meat which is perfect for this stew. The slow-cooker draws out the fat into the broth adding amazing flavor!
  • Barley – Make sure to use pearled barley for this recipe. However, don’t opt for the quick-cooking kind as this will get mushy too fast.
  • Beef Broth – We use regular strength beef broth for the base of this stew.
  • Corn Kernels – Fresh corn kernels add the perfect pop of sweetness to this savory stew.
  • Veggies – Onions, celery, and carrots blend together perfectly and boost the vitamins and minerals in this stew.

Types Of Barley

There are two main kinds of barley based on their level of processing:

  • Hulled Barley: This variety is the least processed, maintaining both the grain’s bran and germ. It’s more nutritious and takes longer to cook.
  • Pearled Barley: The pearled variety is more refined. During processing, the outer bran layer is removed, leaving the barley with a shiny (pearl-like) exterior. This one takes much less time to cook.

Substitutions And Variations

As with most soup and stew recipes, this Beef and Barley Stew is super easy to adjust to your liking. Here’s our favorite variation ideas:

  • Beef: Chuck roast is fatty and tougher than other cuts of meat. This makes it perfect for the slow-cooker which will automatically leave it super tender. Here are some other cuts that will cook similarly to chuck roast: bottom round roast, beef arm roast, or sirloin tip steak.
  • Barley Substitutes: If you don’t have barley on hand or are gluten-free, feel free to use a gluten-free alternative such as lentils, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, or wild rice.
  • Veggies: Feel free to omit or add any veggies you want. We think mushrooms are a great addition to stews like in this Boeuf Bourguignon (French Beef Stew).
  • Broth: While we love the deep, robust flavor of beef broth, you can absolutely substitute this with chicken broth, bone broth, or veggie broth.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Cut chuck roast into 1/2 in. cubes and add to slow-cooker.
  2. Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker except for potatoes.
  1. Give ingredients a stir and let cook on high for 8-9 hours.
  2. During the last 3 hours of cooking, add cubed potatoes.
  1. Cook until the potatoes are tender and beef starts to fall apart.
  2. Salt and pepper to taste and serve warm. Enjoy!

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

If you prep the ingredients for this recipe ahead of time, it makes this dish so easy! Here’s how to do it:

  • Meat: Feel free to chop the chuck roast up the night before. Simply store it in a Ziploc bag in the fridge overnight.
  • Veggies: You can chop all the veggies up early and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Refrigerate: Beef and Barley Stew will keep up to 4 days in the fridge. Just note that it may get thicker the longer it sits; if needed, thin it out with broth or water.
  • Freeze: This stew freezes amazingly. Just keep it in an airtight container in the freezer, and either heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop when ready to enjoy.
Beef and Barley Stew in a Bowl with Spoon.

What To Serve With Beef And Barley Stew




Commonly Asked Questions

Can I use hulled barley for this recipe?

You’ll want to stick with pearled barley for this stew. Hulled barley takes much longer to cook. Even in the slow cooker, it won’t be able to soften enough in the time it takes for this recipe. So, make sure to choose pearled.

Is barley gluten-free?

No, barley is not gluten-free. For a gluten-friendly substitute for this recipe, we recommend either using extra potatoes, lentils, quinoa, or wild rice to replace the barley. You could also check out our Beef Stew (with Potatoes) and just use gluten-free flour or cornstarch in place of the thickener.

Do I need to soak my barley before cooking it?

There’s no need to soak pearled barley, as it will cook quickly by itself since it’s already more refined.

Why shouldn’t I put the potatoes in with the rest of the veggies?

If you put the potatoes in the slow-cooker at the beginning of the cooking process, they’ll end up disintegrating by the time everything else is cooked. That’s why we wait to add them until there’s only 3 hours left of cooking.

What are the health benefits of barley?

Barley has so many health benefits! It’s packed with soluble and insoluble fiber, can help lower cholesterol, and contains vitamin B1, magnesium, and a number of essential amino acids.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Beef and Barley Stew in a Bowl with Spoon.

Beef And Barley Stew

5 from 54 ratings
If you're looking for a big 'n hearty stew that warms the family on a chilly night, you've hit the jackpot. This Beef and Barley Stew is made in the slow cooker for a tender, flavorful, and super easy dinner.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 11 hours
Total Time: 11 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: Amy Dong


  • 2 lb beef chuck roast, boneless, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 14 ½ oz diced tomatoes , with juices
  • 4 cups beef broth, regular strength
  • ½ cup barley, dry, small "pearl" size
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, sweet
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced
  • 5 whole carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 whole russet potato, peeled and cubed


  • In a large slow cooker, add all ingredients except for the cubed potatoes – you can soak potatoes in a bowl of cool water to prevent them from turning brown in the meantime. Stir to make sure all ingredients are submerged in the liquid and seasonings.
  • Cover and cook on low for 11-12 hours OR on high for 8-9 hours. During the last 3 hours of cooking, add the cubed potatoes. This prevents them from overcooking and becoming starchy and mushy.
  • Add more kosher salt and black pepper to taste, if desired. Serve warm.



  • Be sure to buy pearled barley. Do not use quick cooking barley or larger sized hulled barley. 
  • Adding potatoes during the final 3 hours of cooking is important, as they will become starchy and break apart if cooked longer. 
  • This stew keeps very well for several days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. 
  • Tip for Meal Prep: Stew can be divided into individual freezer containers and frozen for up to 3 months. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 865mg | Potassium: 523mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 177IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Amerian
Diet: Gluten Free
Method: Crockpot, Slow Cooker

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