Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup Recipe


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This Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup is full of vegetables, tender chunks of beef, and a generous amount of pearl barley, making it so filling and satisfying.

Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

There’s something incredibly comforting about a bowl of steamy, delicious soup on a chilly day. It’s the kind of meal that warms you from the inside out, making you feel cozy and content. And when it comes to comforting soup recipes, you can’t beat this Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup. Whether you’re using leftover chuck roast or fresh stew meat, this hearty soup is the epitome of comfort food at its finest.

One of my absolute favorite things about this soup is how it manages to be both simple and incredibly satisfying. It’s so easy to prepare, with the wholesome ingredients coming together in the Instant Pot to create a comforting, hearty meal. The tender beef, chewy barley, and chunky vegetables all combine to make this soup a family favorite.

It’s an old-fashioned dish that’s been given a modern twist using the Instant Pot. This isn’t just a soup; it’s a one-pot wonder, full of rich flavors and wholesome ingredients.

One of the key components of this soup is the pearl barley. Barley, with its nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture, adds a delicious element to the soup. It’s a grain that not only adds heartiness but also thickens the soup to give it that lovely, creamy consistency.


Beef Stew Meat: This meat gives the soup its hearty flavor. It should be cut into roughly equal-sized pieces for even cooking. Stew meat is normally cut from chuck or round roasts, and it becomes tender as it cooks under pressure in the Instant Pot.

Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is used for browning the beef. This process adds depth and richness to the soup. Any neutral oil would also work well (like canola oil).

Onion, Carrots, and Celery: This holy trinity of vegetables is called mirepoix. It forms the base of the soup, providing a delicious balance of flavors and textures. Choose firm, fresh vegetables for the best flavor. An onion with a tight, dry skin, carrots that are firm, and celery that’s crisp with bright green leaves are all signs of freshness.

Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, and Bay Leaves: These aromatic ingredients add a wonderful layer of depth and warmth to the soup. I used fresh garlic cloves and dried rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. If you have access to fresh herbs, even better, but remember to adjust the quantity since dried herbs are about 3 times more potent than fresh herbs.

Pearl Barley: This is a versatile grain that thickens the soup and adds a lovely chewy texture.

Diced Tomatoes: These add a tangy sweetness to the soup. You can use fresh tomatoes when they’re in season, but canned diced tomatoes work well and save you some prep time.

Worcestershire Sauce: This ingredient adds a unique savory depth to the soup.

Salt & Pepper: These are essential for enhancing the flavors in the soup.

Beef Broth: This forms the base of our soup, providing it with a rich, meaty flavor. The quality of the broth makes a noticeable difference in the flavor, so opt for a good quality store-bought broth or homemade beef broth if you can.

Fresh Parsley: Fresh parsley is a garnish that adds a nice pop of color and a fresh, bright flavor.

The labeled ingredients for beef barley soup instant pot.

Alternative Ingredients

If you’re looking to add a twist to your beef and barley soup, there are plenty of variations you can try. For an earthy flavor, add in some mushrooms. If you’re not a fan of barley or simply want to try something different, you can swap it out for other grains like rice or even quinoa. Adding in some diced potatoes can also give the soup more body and heartiness.

How To Make Beef Barley Soup Instant Pot

Prepare the Beef: Begin by seasoning the beef stew meat. Then using the SAUTE function of your Instant Pot, brown the meat. Once it’s done, remove it and set it aside. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.

Adding the beef chunks to the instant pot with hot oil and cooking until browned.

Prepare the Vegetables: In the same pot, add your onions, carrots, and celery, cooking them until they become soft.

Adding the vegetables to the instant pot and sauteing until softened the mixing in garlic, rosemary and thyme.

Combine the Ingredients: Add the browned beef back into the pot, followed by the garlic, rosemary, thyme, pearl barley, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.

Adding barley, beef, salt, pepper and beef broth then pressure cooking.

Pressure Cook: Having combined all the ingredients, close the Instant Pot lid and begin pressure cooking on HIGH.

Setting the valve to seal then pressure cooking the beef barley soup.

Release and Serve: Once the cooking process is complete, let the pressure release naturally for a bit, then perform a quick release for any remaining pressure. Open the lid, give your soup a good stir, and serve. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

A ladle full of beef soup with loads of vegetables throughout.

Pro Tips

  • For the most tender beef, choose a good quality beef stew meat. It may cost a little more, but the difference in texture and flavor is noticeable.
  • Pat your beef dry, season it well, and don’t rush the browning of your beef. Taking the time to brown the meat properly will add a depth of flavor to your soup that’s worth the extra few minutes.
  • Allow your vegetables to saute until they soften. This creates the Maillard Reaction and caramelization. It adds a depth of flavor that can’t be rushed. 
  • If your soup is too thick after the natural release, don’t worry. You can easily adjust the consistency by adding a bit more beef broth or water. 
  • This soup tastes even better the next day! The flavors meld together beautifully overnight, making it a great option for meal prep. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How Long Does It Take for Pearl Barley to Soften?

Pearl barley takes about 20-25 minutes to cook in an Instant Pot.

Should I Soak Barley Before Adding to Soup?

Soaking barley isn’t necessary for this recipe. Pearl barley cooks quickly, especially in the Instant Pot, so it doesn’t need to soak.

An overhead image of a bowl of soup garnished with fresh parsley.

Should I Cook Barley Before Adding It to Soup?

No, there’s no need to cook the barley before adding it to the soup. The pressure and heat from the Instant Pot will cook the barley as the soup simmers.

Should You Rinse Pearl Barley After Cooking?

In this recipe, you don’t need to rinse the barley after cooking. However, it is a good idea to rinse it before adding it to the pot.

A close up the beef barely soup on a serving spoon inside an instant pot.

What is the Difference Between Barley and Pearl Barley?

The main difference between barley and pearl barley is in the processing. Pearl barley has been polished, or “pearled”, to remove its outer hull and bran layer, which helps it cook faster. Regular barley, also known as hulled barley, still has its bran layer, which makes it require a longer cooking time.

What is the Purpose of Barley in Soup?

Barley serves a dual purpose in soup. First, it acts as a thickener, giving the soup a hearty texture. Second, it adds a wonderful chewy element and a mild, nutty flavor that compliments the other ingredients in the soup. It’s a wholesome grain that adds both body and flavor to the soup.

A bowl of hearty barley soup garnished with fresh parsley.

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of beef barley soup instant pot, with title text at the top.

Soup Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other soup recipes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 8 servings

BEST Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup Recipe

The best beef barely soup instant pot recipe.

Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup is full of vegetables, tender chunks of beef, and lots of pearl barley, making it so filling and satisfying.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup pearl barley (rinsed and drained, optional - see notes*)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional, for garnish)


  1. Season the beef stew meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set to the side.
  2. Set your instant pot to SAUTE mode on medium. Once hot, add the vegetable oil.
  3. Add the seasoned beef cubes to the pot. Sear until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook until the vegetables are softened (about 3-4 minutes).
  5. Mix in the garlic rosemary and thyme and saute until aromatic (about 1 minute), then hit CANCEL. 
  6. Add the beef back to the pot, along with the pearl barley, beef broth, diced tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir to combine. 
  7. Close the lid, set the pressure release valve to “SEAL”, and set the instant pot to pressure cook on HIGH (or MANUAL depending on your model) for 25 minutes.
  8. When it’s finished cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully move the pressure release valve to do a quick release for any remaining pressure.
  9. Once the pressure has finished releasing, open the lid and stir the soup. If it's too thick, add more beef broth until it reaches your desired consistency.
  10. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  11. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.


*Technically you don’t have to rinse pearl barley, but it helps remove any excess dust, which improves the flavor.

If you’re planning to eat it all the day you cook it and you like more strongly flavored soup, you may want to add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of rosemary and thyme. If some of the soup is going to rest in the fridge for a day or two before you eat it, it doesn’t need any additional seasoning because the seasoning becomes more pronounced as it rests.

This soup thickens quite a lot after sitting in the fridge overnight. It will thin out a bit after reheating, but you’ll likely need to add more broth to reach your desired consistency when you reheat it.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 530Total Fat: 31.8gCarbohydrates: 28.3gFiber: 6.3gSugar: 3.1gProtein: 31.8g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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This recipe is a warming, comforting, and easy-to-make Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup that’s perfect for any day of the week!

The best beef barely soup instant pot recipe.

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