Mushroom Barley Risotto

I love risotto. Like, love risotto. The sausage and mushroom risotto that I have been making for years is one of my very favorite splurges. I love how tender and creamy the arborio rice gets, how hearty the dish is, and how all of the complementing flavors meld together so well. I tend not to make it very often because I usually don’t eat white rice, nor do I eat Italian sausage regularly (both are definitely a treat!). So while I was surfing through some blogs and ran across this risotto recipe that uses barley in place of arborio rice, I knew immediately that it would jive perfectly with my new plan to eat more grains and vegetables. Woo!

This takes just as long to make as regular risotto, but it is just as delicious and totally worth the waiting and the stirring. The barley has a bit chewier of a texture than the arb

One year ago: Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
Two years ago: Mushroom, Spinach & Gruyere Quiche
Three years ago: Traditional Madeleines
Four years ago: Chicken Salad

Mushroom Barley Risotto

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
12 ounces cleaned and sliced crimini mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded


1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and saute until they have released all of their liquid and are golden brown, about 10 minutes. You can add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water if they start to stick.

3. Stir in the herbs and garlic, then add the barley and stir to coat for 1 minute. Add 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

4. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium and add more broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the barley is tender but still slightly firm. You may not use all of the broth, but you will use most of it.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cheese, stirring until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

(Recipe adapted from Bella Eats)


28 Responses to “Mushroom Barley Risotto”

  1. sherri on May 20, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Brilliant! Can not wait to make this 🙂


  2. Kristin on May 20, 2011 at 10:28 am


    Glad you posted this as barley is such a wonderful and healthy option for making risotto. I have actually made risotto plenty of times but never once using arborio rice. I’ve eaten it plenty of times with the rice and do love it but I find when I make it, I just prefer the barley. The health difference is so great and I, honestly, can’t taste a difference.

    Another idea when making risotto is to use farro (or spelt). I made a pea and mint risotto this past weekend using farro for the first time and it was awesome! It takes the same amount of time and you don’t even have to change anything around which is another reason why I like using it.

    Happy cooking & baking!


  3. Carlette on May 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

    ahhh Im SOOO hungry right now and that looks so good!


  4. Dave aka The Male Baker on May 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

    A baker with a healthy side….I like! Also, perfect time for the summer to bust a recipe like this out.


  5. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on May 20, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I don’t usually like risotto because I really don’t like rice…. but I love this version with barley!


    • Apron Appeal on May 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      You don’t like rice?! I would have died with out rice as my staple over the past few months.


  6. Jennifer @ Jane Deere on May 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I LOVE risotto and I also LOVE mushrooms…this looks right up my alley. Such a healthy version!

    Swing by my blog and check out my avocado giveaway! {}


  7. Erin on May 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I LOVE Sausage and Mushroom risotto! This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try this!


  8. Amanda L. (Tales from a Kitchen Misfit) on May 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    This looks really tasty! I’ve yet to make barley risotto so I think I need to try this!


  9. Kelly (the dSLR newbie) on May 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    YUM! Coincidently I just made a risotto last night for the first time. Tom & I were both fans .. and we both love mushrooms, so we will be trying this one out, good post!!


  10. Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen on May 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Ohh – this looks amazing. Barley is such a great risotto ingredient. This is a must try.


  11. Apron Appeal on May 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    For the first time in YEARS a recipe with mushrooms has actually caught my attention. I ate a mushroom last Saturday for the first time in oh…I can’t even say and then I ate another and another. Taste buds change and somehow dishes like this all of a sudden look so great.


  12. Maria on May 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    My kind of meal!


  13. Lori @ RecipeGirl on May 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I call this “healthy risotto,” and I like it!


  14. Cookin' Canuck on May 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    The color of this risotto is beautiful, Michelle. I love the healthy twist with the barley.


  15. Arlene on May 20, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I love risotto, but I also love barley and this idea is genius. I have some barley in the pantry and think I’ll pick up some mushrooms and try this out in the coming week.


  16. Yesim on May 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

    it looks great.. i like to eat risotto but never dare to cook till now:) it sound easy but i think it s hard to cook.. what u think??


    • Michelle on May 21st, 2011 at 5:38 pm

      Hi Yesmin, It’s definitely not hard at all, just a little time consuming and a lot of stirring 🙂


  17. Melissa on May 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    This looks amazing! Bookmarking right now!

    Hope you are feeling better!


  18. RavieNomNoms on May 23, 2011 at 10:02 am

    What a hearty dish! Looks great!


  19. Tracy on May 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I love risotto with mushrooms so I know I would love this! Yum!


  20. Janelle on September 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I made this over the weekend for picky family members and they all loved it. It was so so so very delicious! I actually cut the amount of onion in half and scratched the garlic completely (not our thang) which usually makes a recipe bland but this was still fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing!


  21. Josée on November 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    This was absolutely incredible. I’ve been wanting to try this for a long time. My new favorite dish. Not sure if I’ll be able to keep some for the boyfriend.


  22. Claud on February 13, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I really like to try this out but where did the colour come from?


    • Michelle on February 13th, 2013 at 11:59 am

      The mushrooms and vegetable stock.


  23. Miles on December 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    So, this recipe came to me by way of my wife and Pintrest, and we absolutely adored it.

    A last minute addition worth considering – a few drops of truffle oil at the end give it a little extra punch that takes it from “wow” to “OHMYGOD’.


  24. Kara on January 3, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Thank-you so much for this recipe, it was one I found on pinterest as well and it was amazing, well worth the time and one I will make again in the near future.


  25. Daniel on August 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Just made it – delicious. I had a block of some port infused cheese so used that to stir in at the end – gave it a very nice twist!


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