Barley flour is exceptionally high in fiber and low in starch, making it one of the lowest glycemic index (GI) grains you can use. With three times the soluble fiber of oats, it's a delicious, nutty-tasting way to add nutrition to baked goods.
- Flavor: Subtly sweet and nutty.
- Texture effect: Often moist in small amounts; crumbly in larger quantities.
- Works best in: Pancakes and quick breads.
- Gluten free: No.
How to incorporate barley flour into your baking
As with many ancient grains, barley flour is versatile enough to substitute for all-purpose or whole wheat flour in many standard recipes. To find the best combinations, our test kitchen bakers took five of our most popular recipes and replaced a portion of the all-purpose flour with barley flour. The results were delicious. Some recipes came alive with a complete substitution: 100% barley, 0% all-purpose flour. Other recipes worked best at 50% or 25% barley. Here are our full findings for pancakes, scones, cinnamon bread, banana bread, and muffins. Learn more about the testing process on our blog
Barley in Scones
When substituting 50% barley flour, scones become nutty in flavor and are incredibly tender. Replacing the all-purpose flour 100% with barley flour yields scones that are overly tender/crumbly; but if that doesn't bother you, their flavor is delicious.
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Barley in Cinnamon Bread
The subtly sweet flavor of barley perfectly enhances a cinnamon yeast loaf when substituted for 25% of the all-purpose flour. The loaf is light and soft; you'll sacrifice this pleasing texture a bit as you increase the amount of barley flour. At 50% barley flour the loaf is dry and somewhat dense; and at 100% we found the dough challenging to work with. You may need to add a little extra water as you increase the amount of barley flour.Get the recipe
Barley in Banana Bread
Banana bread made with 50% barley flour has the ideal balance of banana, spice, and nutty flavors. It's also deliciously moist, and rises well. A 100% barley flour loaf sinks a little, and is tough, dense, and gummy — although the flavor continues to shine.
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Barley in Muffins
Muffins made with 50% barley flour are lofty and domed, and just as tasty as they are beautiful. Moist and tender, they perfectly highlight the sweet, nutty flavor of barley. For a muffin with even more flavor (but a flatter, denser texture), substitute barley flour 100%.
We also liked: SpeltGet the recipe
Choose your grain —
Native to ancient Mesoamerica; a self-contained complete protein. Gluten-free.Learn more »
Provides three times the soluble fiber of oats; delicious nutty flavor. Contains gluten.Learn more »
A classic, tasty base for pancakes, and plenty of dietary fiber. Gluten-free.Learn more »
High amounts of protein, and engaging wheat-y flavor without any bitterness. Contains gluten.Learn more »
Known for its ancient Chinese roots; offers corn-like taste. Gluten-free.Learn more »
Features all the essential amino acids; great cooked as a side dish, or cold in salads. Gluten-free.Learn more »
An ancient form of wheat that's high in protein; mild whole-grain flavor. Contains gluten.Learn more »
A staple in East Africa's signature flatbreads; good source of fiber. Gluten-free.Learn more »