Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew – a farmgirl’s dabbles

Best beef barley soup recipe slow cooker

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew is a hearty and tasty soup with tender meat and vegetables, plus chubby barley. It’s an easy crockpot recipe that’s comfort in a bowl! Watch the video!

a white bowl of beef barley stew, plus crusty bread and a glass of red wine

A hearty recipe for barley beef soup made in a slow cooker!

Filling and tasty, this slow-cooked beef barley stew It couldn’t be easier. Enjoy this recipe that will surely remove the cold from your tired winter bones!

I counted it on the calendar. Just a little over 10 weeks until the first day of spring!

In addition to being my father’s birthday and our first daughter (I love that you share this day together!), I’m looking forward to the warmer temperatures of spring. This sub-zero cold snap here in the Midwest is getting very old!

So in the meantime, to help us get through the persistent cold, let’s talk about this comforting stew!


“I did this last night, I thought I would have leftovers for today, my family had several bowls and finished the stew!!! My husband said it was the best thing I’ve ever done, so thank you!”


ingredients to make stew, to include cubes of beef, potatoes, barley, onion, mushrooms, carrots, meat broth and red wine

Ingredients you will need

This stew brings together its rich flavor from a variety of fresh ingredients + pantry. If you like comfort food, this recipe is a real treat.

Here’s what you’ll need


  • olive oil – Used for sautéing.
  • Boneless meat roast: This inexpensive and tasty cut cooks super tender in a slow cooker!
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh vegetables: mushrooms, carrots, garlic, yellow potatoes and
  • onion meat broth Yellow: I always use a low-sodium variety, to be able to control the salt.
  • Dry red wine – This adds a lot of depth of flavor to the finished stew.
  • tomato paste – I love what some tomato paste makes for this recipe!
  • Dijon mustard – Another ingredient that contains a ton of flavor.
  • Dried thyme pearl
  • barley

  • – Also called “pearl barley,” it is usually found by rice and grains at the grocery store
  • .

  • Fresh parsley laurelel
  • – For a pinch of fresh green flavor when serving.
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ingredients that are cut on a wooden cutting board: beef, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and onions

How to make beef barley soup

This is such an easy recipe. After browning the meat, all you do is mix the remaining ingredients, put the lid on, and let the slow cooker do the rest of the work.

Brown the meat: If you own a slow cooker with a browning option, like this slow cooker

  1. (affiliate link), brown the seasoned beef in the olive oil, right in the slow cooker. Otherwise, use a large pan (affiliate link) on the stove to brown, and then transfer the golden meat to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients: Then add everything else (except fresh parsley, which is to sprinkle over individual bowls when serving) and stir well to incorporate.
  3. Cook: Cover and cook over high heat for 4 hours. Then lower the heat and cook for 2 more hours, or until the meat is absolutely tender.

Here are more slow cooker recipes for you!

a small transparent bowl of raw pearly barley

What kind of barley to use for soup? I don’t



much in my cooking, but Blake always liked his mother’s ground beef and barley soup when he was growing up. So this recipe has tried to recreate that familiar combination of flavors.

I often get questions about what kind of barley to use. For this recipe, search for “pearl barley” (affiliate link) or “pearl barley.” It is similar in size and texture to brown rice, and is especially popular in soups and stews.

This is a very common ingredient, usually found by rice and grains at the grocery store. But if you don’t find it there, be sure to ask a store clerk, because I bet they store it in another area!

Pearl barley is chewy and nutritious, and takes about an hour to fully cook. My recipe tells you to add it after browning the meat, which will give you a very soft barley because it cooks for 6 hours.

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you prefer a firmer, chewier bite to barley, add barley

to the slow cooker 1 to 2 hours before the stew is finished.

If you want to use fast barley, which only takes about 15 minutes to cook completely (because it has been steamed), add it to the slow cooker 15 to 30 minutes before the stew is finished.

a measuring glass of red wine, plus a bottle of wine and corkscrew in the background

Do I have

to use wine?

I get this question a LOT!

And while I can’t force anyone to use red wine, I highly recommend it for this


Red wine adds depth to the recipe as a whole, when everything is left to cook slowly for hours. And I promise you that you won’t be able to detect any kind of wine flavor once the stew has finished cooking.

Meat + tomato

(I use tomato paste in this recipe) + red wine are an excellent combination of flavor!

However, if you are determined not to use the wine, the stew will still be very good.

<img src="" alt="a red ladle of beef stew, over a slow cooker filled with beef stew"


Tips for the best barley stew

Use a tasty cut of beef. A cheap cut is the best: the meat baboon is my preference. It’s full of flavor and the slow cooker will magically transform this otherwise difficult cut of meat into irresistible, tender mouthfuls of fleshy sky. If you can’t find chuck, the top round would be my second choice. Just know that the overall taste and texture won’t be as good as the baboon.

Get a good seal on the meat. This creates a huge flavor. Also be sure to give each piece of meat enough space for it to truly brown. If you stack all the pieces of meat on top of each other, they will simply vaporize instead of browning.

Cut the vegetables somewhat thick. They are cooked for a long time in the slow cooker. So if you cut them small, they will end up soft. If you prefer smaller pieces of vegetables, I suggest you add them a little later in the process.

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Don’t skimp on cooking time. The slow cooking process produces a stew with fabulously tender pieces of meat. Do not shorten the cooking time if the meat is not absolutely tender.

But don’t overcook it either! Yes, it is possible to overcook a meat stew. When it comes to soups and stews, there’s nothing I dislike more than when vegetables are cooked in a soft mess.

beef barley soup in a white bowl, plus crusty bread and glass of red wineServing Tips

This hearty stew just begs to be sucked into some hot, crispy bread. Or how about steaming hot popovers? Try my traditional Popovers recipe, or if you have sourdough to start or throw away, these more abundant sourdough popovers are AMAZING!

A fresh salad would also be good. Dress up simple fresh vegetables with my Homemade Whey Ranch Dressing – our family loves it!

I could also suggest, as my photo shows, a glass of dry, robust red wine to drink. Very lovely.

How to store and reheat

leftovers Meat stew

recipes always make big leftovers!

This homemade stew recipe will keep great for a few days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Simply reheat single or multiple portions in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.

Can I freeze beef barley stew?

This recipe freezes perfectly!

Use larger freezer-safe containers or smaller single-serving freezer containers, and then thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. It’s wonderful to have them on hand for quick and delicious home-cooked meals!

More slow cooker soup recipes

Slow cooker

  • Meat and sweet potato
  • soup Slow cooker

  • Chili
  • Crockpot Italian meat stew
  • Slow cooker

  • Hungarian goulash lasagna soup
  • (with slow cooking instructions)

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stew made from beef, barley, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, in a white bowl

This post was originally published in 2015. The photographs and some of the text were updated in 2018 and 2021.

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