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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!

a white bowl of beef barley soup, plus crusty bread and a glass of red wine

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!

Looking for more cozy and comforting soup recipes? Check out my Irish beef stew, booyah soup, and lasagna soup as well.

ingredients to make stew, to include cubes of beef, potatoes, barley, onion, mushrooms, carrots, beef stock, and red wine

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.
a small clear bowl of uncooked pearled barley

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.

ingredients being cut on a wood cutting board: beef, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and onion

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!

a red ladle of beef stew, over a slow cooker full of beef stew

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.
beef barley soup in a white bowl, plus crusty bread and glass of red wine

Serving Suggestions

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

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stew made of beef, barley, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms, in a white bowl

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew

Yield: 10 servings
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 6 hours
total time: 6 hours 25 minutes
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!
4.4 Stars (624 Reviews)


  • 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.



from a farmgirl’s dabbles

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 353kcal Carbohydrates: 23g Protein: 27g Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 6g Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 75mg Sodium: 556mg Fiber: 4g Sugar: 4g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!
stew made of beef, barley, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms, in a white bowl

This post was originally published in 2015. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2018 and 2021.

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218 comments on “Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew”

  1. Christopher Swearingen

    Made this in the instant pot instead of the slow cooker. Followed the instructions, except for Dijon mustard since my wife doesn’t like Dijon mustard flavor at all. Only other change was to set the time for instant pot 30 minutes with 20 minutes natural release of pressure.

    Ok now all that aside I was honestly a little underwhelmed by the flavor. I think this was more because I simply under-salted and not from the recipe itself. I added a pinch of salt to my 2nd bowl, and it was much better.

    Obviously doing in a slow cooker would allow you to taste test easier, and adjust. But still a good recipe for instant pot if you have a good grasp of seasoning.

  2. 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!

  3. Great recipe. I cook for my father who is on a low sodium diet so I made some adjustments. I used no salt added tomato paste and no salt added beef stock. I used pepper and garlic powder to season the beef when browning instead of adding salt.  I also added some extra seasonings to make up for the sodium reduction.   I’m sure it would taste so much better as the recipe was written but the small sodium changes were necessary for his diet restriction and it still tasted great. It’s very hard to make soup low sodium without it tasting completely bland but the wine (naturally low sodium) really gives the soup flavor. Thank you for posting. Will be making again. 

  4. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe except I used London Broil at 3.99 pound instead of chuck roast. Only used 1 large diced russet potato. I only had quick barley that I cooked separately and added when serving. My husband raved and had two large bowls.

  5. I have been wanting to make beef and barley soup/stew for some time! Projected weekend cold weather gave me that excuse and scenario to do so. I followed your ingredient list, although I doubled the batch, for the most part. I added about 3 oz. of brandy, and Worcestershire sauce (roughy 2 TBLS).  I also added a small bag of frozen peas. I grew up on Campbells beef & barley soup, it had peas! Those items gave it an umami twang it needed for our taste buds. Great recipe, it came out silky smooth and tasty! I expect it will be even better tomorrow after allowing all the goodness to meld together overnight!


  6. 5 stars
    The best stew I’ve had…ever! Tasty, rich and creamy. The only things I changed/added is I used the whole can of tomato paste (6 oz) plus a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Oh my!

  7. Delicious!!! only change made,used 2 cans of beef broth and upped the wine to 2 cups and 1 cup water to make the 7 cups of liquid,used 2 tsp. Italian seasoning.Added 1&1/2 cups of frozen peas last 20 minutes,and a little corn starch for thickening.

  8. By far the best slow cooker beef stew recipe I’ve ever tried. I followed the recipe exactly, and it was perfect after four hours on “high” followed by two hours on “low.” I served it with a salad and toasted ciabatta bread. My husband raved about this stew.

  9. Great recipe! I used fresh soup bones from our farm and simmered in the crockpot for 6 hrs with the spices and water and wine in place of broth as it will make its own broth. Removed bones added veggies and simmered till done was amazing recipe. Was a great meal with crispy bread after a long cold day on the farm. They all loved it!
    Thank you

  10. I made this tonight. I followed the recipe exactly. It was soo good. Had sourdough french bread with it. I thought it wasn’t going to get done in time but I started the crock pot on high at 1pm and it was done by 6pm. Everything was cooked evenly and the meat was perfect.

  11. Can you cook for 6 hours on medium to avoid changing from high to low? Just asking because I might let this cook whole I’m out

  12. 5 stars
    I didn’t try it with the Dijon mustard, but used the wine and two small shakes of worcestershire sauce along with some squash. It was very hearty and filling, great flavor and consistency.

  13. This was delicious. Followed the recipe. Only left out mushrooms because of some picky people in my house.  It reminds me of scotch broth soup I used to eat as a kid.   This beef barley was a lot better though.

  14. I have used this recipe several times and it always turns out really well. And, of course, it reheats beautifully and also freezes well. Great recipe!