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Mushroom Barley Risotto

Mushroom Barley Risotto

Mushroom Barley Risotto

This is a recipe for mushroom barley risotto. I was inspired to make this risotto after I ate it in Porto this year. 

We visited a wonderful restaurant overlooking the waterfront in Porto called Bacalhau, which served the most amazing food. Bacalhau meals cod fish in Portuguese.

My wife had some cod and I had the vegetarian Mushroom Barley Risotto with a crispy topping. It was served in a bowl and was probably enough food for three people! It was so good I thought that I had to try and re-create this at home.

This is how it looked in the restaurant:

mushroom barley risotto

You can see that this meal had an egg in it, but I have omitted that from this recipe. But feel free to add one if you wish.

Pearl Barley Risotto

This recipe uses pearl barley instead of rice for the risotto. Normally I use arborio rice in my exotic mushroom risotto. But this recipe uses just pearl barley. I love pearl barley and loved the idea of using it as the main ingredient in a risotto.

frying mushrooms
Frying the mushrooms

Pearl barley is barley that has been processed to remove some of the bran and hull layers on the outside.  Hence it is quicker to cook than pot barley which is less processed. However, it still takes a bit longer to cook than the rice version. So you will need some patience.

cooking barley
Cooking the barley in stock

Barley is a healthy grain that is full of fiber and can lower bad cholesterol in the blood. Barley contains calcium and other nutrients and is relatively low in calories. It is often used in stews as it is great for absorbing fluids and taking on the taste of the gravy.

Mushroom Barley Risotto
Mushroom Barley Risotto

Similarly in this recipe, the barley adsorbs the taste of the stock and other ingredients and I think it works as a better alternative to rice. 

Mushroom Barley Risotto Recipe

This barley risotto is a delicious and wholesome dish. You can enjoy this as a main meal or as a side dish.

This dish combines earthy mushrooms and chewy barley to create a hearty and comforting meal. It is a great option for vegetarians, and you can easily adapt the recipe to be vegan-friendly.

Use whatever mushrooms you can find locally. I used white button mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms and some large flat Irish mushrooms (like Portobello mushrooms).

But if you wish to add some chanterelle, enoki or shiitake mushrooms then feel free. The more variety, the better. 


barley risotto



This really is a delicious and filling dish. You can enjoy this as part of a main meal, or even as a side dish. I do recommend you try it yourself.


mushroom and barley



It is easy to make, and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.


barley risotto



If you do try this recipe, please let me know how you get on in the comments section below!

How to make mushroom barley risotto

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barley risotto

Mushroom Barley Risotto

Yield: 3
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This mushroom barley risotto is a delicious and satisfying meal. Who needs meat when you have mushrooms?!


  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 75g white button mushrooms
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms
  • 225g large flat mushrooms (3 mushrooms)
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Boil the barley for 10 minutes in a saucepan. Then drain, rinse and set aside.
  2. While boiling the barley, prepare the other ingredients. Slice the mushrooms (feel free to cut the large ones in long strips), and finely chop the shallot and garlic cloves.
  3. Then fry the mushrooms in the butter for 5 minutes and set aside on a plate.
  4. Fry the shallot and garlic for about one minute in the olive oil and then add the barley to the pan. (I use a paella pan to cook this dish.) Add the white wine and allow it to be absorbed and evaporate, stirring all the time.
  5. Then slowly add the stock in batches and allow it to simmer on the hob. Stir now and again to make sure all the barley is in contact with the stock. Meanwhile, add the leaves from the fresh thyme sprigs.
  6. Keep adding stock as it evaporates or is absorbed into the barley. Continue this process for about 45 minutes or until the barley is cooked to your satisfaction.
  7. In the meantime, gently brown the panko breadcrumbs in a separate frying pan, and set aside.
  8. When the barley is cooked, add the parmesan to the pan and allow it to melt into the sauce. Then add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season to taste before serving.
  9. Serve on a plate with a sprinkle of browned breadcrumbs and chopped coriander on top.


For a vegan version of this recipe fry the mushrooms in olive oil, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and leave out the parmesan at the end.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 488Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1153mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 23g

This nutrition information was automatically calculated by Nutritionix, but may not be 100% accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Lillith Ormerod

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

Question, is the stock supposed to be in grams as opposed to ml?


Thursday 16th of March 2023

Thanks very much for your comment. There was a typo in the recipe which I have now corrected. Stock is a liquid and hence always measured by volume, hence ml. I appreciate your correction!!

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