Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars

The ingredients listed are suggestions for where to start, but this is meant to be a flexible recipe. See above for other add-in suggestions, and modify where you like.

This makes a light lunch. If you want something more filling, serve with a half sandwich or some grilled chicken for a complete meal.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Cooling time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 5 jars


  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups salad greens
  • 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 small sweet peppers, sliced
  • 2 small cucumbers, sliced
  • 5 radishes, sliced
  • Vinaigrette, for serving

Special equipment:


1 Cook the barley: Add dried barley to your Instant Pot or other multi cooker/pressure cooker. Stir in salt and water. Replace lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.

Once finished, let pressure naturally release for five minutes. Vent steam, remove lid, drain off any extra water, and let barley cool to room temperature.

Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars - barley in water in pressure cookerHow To Cook Barley grains of barley in hand

2 Assemble the jars: There’s no single way to assemble these lunch jars. I like to add 1/2 cup of cooked barley to the bottom (make sure it is room temperature). Top that with a mix of salad greens and lots of sliced vegetables.

Is Barley Gluten-Free? jar with barley in bottomInstant Pot Barley Lunch Jars - jars stuffed with vegetables

3 Store the jars: The jars will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. After that the greens start to wilt. You cannot freeze these jars. They are intended to be made and eaten within the week.

4 Enjoy! When it’s time for lunch, drizzle vinaigrette into the jar, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then eat the barley salad right out of the jar. Alternatively, pour onto a plate. (Don’t add the vinaigrette to the salad until right before serving, as it will make the vegetables soggy.)