Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup is a hearty, flavorful soup with tender beef and vegetables, plus plump barley. It’s an easy crockpot recipe that’s comfort in a bowl! Watch the video!
Easy Beef Barley Soup Recipe
Hearty and flavorful, this Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup just couldn’t be any easier. Enjoy this recipe that’s sure to take the chill out of your winter-weary bones!
It’s a comforting, meat-on-the-bones recipe that requires little hands-on time. Just sear the beef, dump everything in the slow cooker, and let it do all of the work. The leftovers are fantastic too!
“Made this last night, thought I would have leftovers for today, my family had multiple bowls and finished the stew!!! My husband said it was the best I ever made, so thank you!”– Lynn
Why You’ll Love This Beef and Barley Soup
- Perfect for winter. This is one of my favorite recipes for those teeth-chatteringly cold days of winter. It’ll warm you from the inside out!
- Robust, savory flavor. Red wine, beef broth, tomato paste, and Dijon mustard all help infuse every bite of this soup with incredible flavor.
- Stores well. This soup stores well in both the fridge and freezer and, honestly, the leftovers taste even better!
Ingredients You’ll Need
This stew gathers its rich flavor from a variety of fresh + pantry ingredients. If you enjoy comfort food, this recipe is a real treat. Scroll down to the recipe card for measurements.
- Olive oil – Used for sautéing.
- Boneless beef chuck roast – This inexpensive, flavorful cut cooks up super tender in a slow cooker!
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh veggies: mushrooms, carrots, garlic, yellow potatoes, and yellow onion
- Beef broth – I always use a low sodium variety, so I can control the salt.
- Dry red wine – The red wine adds depth to the recipe as a whole, when everything is left to slow cook for hours. And I promise, you won’t be able to detect any kind of wine flavor once the stew is finished cooking. You CAN omit it if needed, but I highly recommend including it!
- Tomato paste – I love what a little bit of tomato paste does for this recipe!
- Dijon mustard – Another ingredient that packs a ton of flavor.
- Dried thyme
- Pearl barley – Also called “pearled barley”, usually found by the rice and grains at the grocery store.
- Bay leaf
- Fresh parsley – For a sprinkling of fresh green flavor when serving.
What Kind of Barley to Use for Soup?
For this beef barley soup recipe, look for “pearl barley” (affiliate link) or “pearled barley”. It’s similar in size and texture to brown rice. It has a chewy texture and takes about an hour or so to fully cook.
My recipe instructs you to add it after browning the beef, which will give you a very soft barley because it cooks for 6 hours. If you prefer a firmer, chewier bite to the barley, then add the barley to the slow cooker 1 to 2 hours before the stew is done.
If you want to use quick barley, which only takes about 15 minutes to fully cook (because it has been pre-steamed), then add it to the slow cooker 15 to 30 minutes before the stew is done.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
This is such an easy beef and barley soup recipe. After browning the beef, all you do is stir in the remaining ingredients, put on the cover, and let the slow cooker do the rest of the work! Scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed instructions.
- Brown the beef: Brown the beef in the, either in olive oil on the stovetop or in the slow cooker if you have that option. the stovetop to brown, and then transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients: Then add everything else (except the fresh parsley – that’s for sprinkling over individual bowls when serving) and stir well to incorporate.
- Cook: Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Then turn heat to low and cook for 2 hours more, or until beef is absolutely fork tender.
Here are more slow cooker recipes for you!
Tips for the Best Beef Barley Stew
- Use a flavorful cut of beef. An inexpensive cut is best – beef chuck is my preference. It’s full of flavor and the slow cooker will magically transform this otherwise tough cut of meat into irresistible, fork-tender bites of beefy heaven. If you can’t find chuck, top round would be my second choice. Just know that the overall flavor and texture will not be as good as chuck.
- Get a good sear on the beef. This creates enormous flavor. Also be sure to give each piece of beef enough room to get truly browned. If you pile all the beef pieces on top of each other, they’ll just steam instead of brown.
- Cut the veggies somewhat thick. They cook for a long time in the slow cooker. So if you cut them small, they’ll end up mushy. If you prefer smaller pieces of veggies, I would suggest adding them a bit later in the process.
- Don’t skimp on the cook time. The slow cooking process produces a stew with fabulously tender chunks of beef. Don’t cut the cook time short if the beef isn’t absolutely tender.
- But don’t overcook it, either! Yes, it is possible to overcook a beef stew. When it comes to soups and stews, there’s nothing I dislike more than when vegetables are cooked to a mushy mess.
This hearty stew just begs to be sopped up by some warm, crusty bread. Or how about steaming hot popovers? Try my traditional Popovers recipe – or if you have sourdough starter or discard, these heartier Sourdough Popovers are AMAZING!
A fresh side salad would also be good. Dress simple fresh greens with my Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing – our family loves it!
I might also suggest, as my photo depicts, a glass of dry, robust red wine for sipping. So very lovely.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Beef stew recipes always make great leftovers!
- Fridge. This beef and barley soup recipe will keep very well for a few days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Freezer. Beef barley stew freezes perfectly! Use either larger freezer-safe containers or smaller single-serving freezer containers, and then thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- Reheat. Simply reheat single or multiple servings in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.
More Slow Cooker Soup Recipes
- Slow Cooker Beef and Sweet Potato Soup
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Crockpot Italian Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
- Lasagna Soup (with slow cooker instructions)
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Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast cut into 1″ cubes
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces mushrooms cut into thin slices
- 8 large carrots peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/2″ pieces
- 6 large cloves garlic minced
- 4 medium-large yellow potatoes peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 6 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ cup pearl barley
- 1 bay leaf
- chopped fresh parsley
- Sprinkle beef fairly generously with kosher salt and pepper. If you own this awesome slow cooker, where you can brown meat right in the slow cooker – add the oil to the slow cooker and then brown the beef right in the slow cooker, searing beef on all sides. Otherwise use a large skillet over medium-high heat to heat the oil and then brown the beef. Drain off fat. If using a skillet, transfer beef to slow cooker. You will need a large slow cooker for this recipe, as it makes a big quantity (ours is a 7-qt. size).
- Add mushrooms, carrots, garlic, potatoes, onion, beef broth, wine, tomato paste, mustard, and thyme, and stir well to incorporate. Then stir in barley and add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Then turn heat to low and cook for 2 hours more, or until beef is tender. Serve hot, with fresh parsley sprinkled over the top. A good, crusty bread for dipping is always welcome.
This post was originally published in 2015. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2018 and 2021.