Barley Porridge

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

Good to the Grain

By Kim Boyce

Published 2010

  • About

This porridge is like a stovetop rice pudding, and like any good rice pudding, it can be either a breakfast or a dessert. Instead of the more traditional rice, I use barley that’s been cooked in a cardamom-infused milk. For more flavor, the barley is first toasted in a bit of butter. Pearled barley isn’t technically a whole grain, as the bran has been removed, but it’s the form most commonly available in markets. If you can find whole-grain barley groats, try using them—just check to see how the cooking time compares. This is warm and comforting served as it is, but it’s truly wonderful when served with Fig Compote.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup pearled barley
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • teaspoon ground cardamom



  1. To toast the barley, melt the butter in a medium pot. Adjust the flame to medium and add the barley and salt. Toast for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so that the barley toasts evenly and doesn’t burn. The grains need to be toasted until they’re about two shades darker than they are raw; keep a few raw grains on the counter next to you as a reference point.
  2. Add 1½ cups of water to the toasted barley. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook the grains at a rapid boil until al dente (or barely tender), about 15 minutes.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, stir, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the barley, uncovered, for 55 to 65 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are tender to the bite and the pudding is creamy around the grains.
  4. To serve, spoon the porridge evenly between four bowls. Top each bowl with a quarter of the fig compote, if desired. Serve immediately.