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+ servings

Beef and Barley Pilaf

Satisfying, yet healthy this hearty barley pilaf is a pure comfort!


  • 1 ½ cups hulled barley, Note 1
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 lb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes (Note 2)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ onion, diced, optional
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ½ cups water, or beef broth
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional


  • Instant Pot


  • Set Instant Pot to “sauté” on high heat.
  • Meanwhile, rinse the barley by placing it in a mesh sieve and rinse under running cold water. Drain well.
  • Once the Instant Pot display reads “HOT”, add oil and heat it for a minute.
  • Meanwhile, season the meat with all salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and paprika.
  • Add beef in a single layer and brown on all sides, 3-4 minutes. Remove the meat onto a clean plate.
  • Add onion and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. (If the pan is too dry and vegetables are sticking on the bottom, add ¼ cup of water to deglaze the pan.)
  • Hit the “cancel” button to turn off the “Sauté” function.
  • Add beef back in and mix with vegetables. Make sure there’s nothing stuck on the bottom. Deglaze the pot by adding ¼ cup of water and scraping the bottom well, if needed.
  • Add barley over the meat and vegetables. Do NOT stir, just smooth the top evenly.
  • Place the garlic head cut side down and push it slightly into the barley.
  • Gently pour in beef broth.
  • Cover the pot, make sure the valve is set to “sealing” and set the Instant Pot for Manual/Pressure Cook for 25 minutes on high. (Note: It took about 11 minutes for my Instant Pot to come to pressure.)
  • Once the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes, and then carefully turn the valve to venting. Once the pin drops, carefully open the lid.
  • Using a pair of kitchen tongs, remove the garlic head, squeeze the soft garlic meat into the pilaf.
  • Fluff the barley pilaf with a wooden spoon, or fork. Don’t worry if you see some liquid, it’ll be soaked up.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired, and serve.


Note 1: I don't recommend pearl barley, as it cooks faster and therefore meat won't have sufficient cook time. You may substitute brown rice for barley though.
Note 2: Chuck roast is also a great alternative to stew meat.
This recipe has been tested in my favorite Instant Pot DUO 6qt.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 325kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 1231mg, Potassium: 544mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 3489IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 3mg
All images and text ©. Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimate only. Read full disclosure here.
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