Wholesome Cook
5 Ingredients or less

Pearl Barley (+ Cacao) Porridge

While pearl barley contains gluten, it is a very good source of fiber and selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese + a great alternative to oats for breakfast. Especially when paired with chocolate.

Pearl barley cacao porridge

Wow, it seems the weekend has come and gone so quickly and I’m about to hit a storm of a week, head on. Work, birthdays, various deliveries, sending book off to Anna (my editor), hi Anna,  and a bit of a forced renovation.

Luckily, there is one time of the day when I manage to find 10 minutes to myself. I plan out my day, ponder about things and enjoy a few rays of morning sunshine while having my second breakfast. The precious few minutes sometime between 9 and 9:30am are really special. And now that Winter is in full swing, I’m more often than not celebrating those moments with a big bowl of porridge.

Yesterday, I had decided to try something different. Instead of oats, I cooked up a batch of pearl barley and had it with hot milk and a nice helping of rich cacao milk. The natural sweetness of milk and nuttiness of pearl barley went, oh so well, with the rich flavour of raw chocolate… And aside from the health benefits of barley, I quite like the texture which is very similar to fully cooked oats, but a touch more “meaty”. A perfect breakfast for a little “me time”.

Make a larger batch and store cooked barley in the fridge for 2-3 days. Use as needed – it is a great addition to vegetable soups too!

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Pearl Barley (+ Cacao) Porridge

You can use cracked or whole pearl barley in this recipe. Personally, I prefer the whole grains. Cocoa powder or chocolate (about 1 tbsp or 3 squares respectively) can be used instead of raw cacao powder, but remember that chocolate contains extra ingredients. Vanilla extract or a sprinkling of cinnamon could also be used if you don't like chocolate flavour, or are allergic. Dairy-free milk can be used instead of cow's milk to make the dish vegan.
Servings: 1


For the Pearl Barley (+ Cacao) Porridge

  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder


To cook pearl barley:

  • Place water and pearl barley in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until soft and plump.
  • Strain excess water away through a sieve.

To make the porridge:

  • Place 1/4 cup of the milk and cacao powder (or chocolate or cocoa - see note above) into the saucepan, heat over low heat, stirring, until the mixture is combined.
  • In another saucepan, bring the remaining 3/4 cup of milk and cooked pearl barley to a boil.

To serve:

  • Transfer warmed pearl barley porridge into your serving bowl, drizzle over with cacao milk and enjoy.
  • Top with fresh banana, blueberries, dusting of cocoa powder if you wish as well!


Tip: Make a larger batch and store cooked barley in the fridge for 2-3 days. Use as needed - it is a great addition to vegetable soups too!
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sherilyn @ wholepromise June 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Gluten or not this sounds delicious! x

Eha June 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

This WILL be cooked! Love barley too and, learning from the Zuni Indian health research, now keep some cacao in the pantry always. My problem is one of impatience in the mornings – this is wonderful for ‘Zweites Frühstück’, but not a 6.30 am meal for me :) ! But the I kind’of have a ‘High Tea’ late in the afternoon and I can see myself having a long work pause around then enjoying this :) !

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook June 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Sounds great for afternoon tea too Eha. And as for having no time in the morning, you could cook the barley the night before and heat up on the stove in the morning, or zap in the microwave !

rsmacaalay June 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Very unusual porridge but I know that flavour we use to do that with sticky rice

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook June 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I remember a sticky rice version from school breakfasts… I loved it in milk, but when they started to mess with tomato soup by adding rice, it turned me off rice soups for good.

starloz June 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm

fabulous recipe for the cold mornings we are having,
I’ll have to try this one lovely!

JJ @ 84thand3rd June 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I love alternate grains porridge for breakfast and really enjoy Pearl Barley – what a great treat with the cocoa!

Maureen (@OrgasmicChef) June 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Very intriguing breakfast! Sounds pretty good to me!

Just A Smidgen June 21, 2012 at 12:46 am

Now this sounds like my kind of breakfast, I would love the texture of the barley.. similar to steel cut oats and a nice chance with cacao! xo Smidge

Courtney June 21, 2012 at 7:09 am

You got me at: pairs well with chocolate! Love making my chocolate addiction healthier. ;)

Sneh Roy (@cookrepublic) June 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

very nice Martyna!

Ally June 22, 2012 at 2:10 am

Never thought of sweet pearl barley recipes but am loving the sound of it!

Magda (@MagdasCauldron) June 24, 2012 at 8:36 am

Ideal porridge for a cold day.

Meg July 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

I love a bowl of porridge for breakfast, but this may tempt me yet! I am a big fan of breakfast routines, also. Fabulous post, thank you :)


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