Beef Barley Stew

beef barley stew recipe

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This beef barley stew recipe epitomizes comfort. It’s a thick, velvety, stick-to-your-ribs stew that may–and I mean this in the best way possible–send you straight to Snoozeville after you eat it.

I honestly can’t believe I have all sorts of barley recipes on my site, but not a single beef and barley stew recipe. I decided to change that with this gorgeous stew that you may want to eat all year round.

I’m always on a sweet vermouth kick, using it in my roasted garlic tomato sauce, as a cream sauce for pasta, or as an accent in these sage-vermouth mushrooms. It has a really nice full-bodied sweetness that adds a great depth of flavor. I always keep a bottle in my refrigerator to add a splash here and there.

It works exceptionally well in this beef barley stew, adding depth and sweetness to this hearty meal.

beef and barley

How to make this beef and barley stew

Quick? Not really. Easy? Absolutely. To me, a good stew is all about layering a few simple components and then letting everything simmer for a good long while.

What you need

  • Beef: To keep it easy, you can buy beef stew cubes already cut up. Alternatively, you can buy your favorite roast and cut it into cubes yourself. I used top sirloin, but a chuck roast, rump roast, or top round roast works well too. Be sure to trim off excess outer fat and gristle as you cut up the roast.
  • Aromatics: I use onion, celery, and carrots, along with garlic and thyme. These are my usual suspects when it comes to soups and stews. Simple but effective in building good flavor. I cut the carrots into extra-big pieces and let them stew the entire time because that’s how I like them. You can cut them into smaller pieces and add them later in the recipe if you prefer.
  • Flour: I use flour to create a thick, velvety sauce. If you prefer a thinner stew, you can omit this.
  • Sweet vermouth: You can also use sherry if you prefer! You can also omit it and add a little extra beef broth.
  • Beef broth: I use Better than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base, but your favorite store-bought or homemade beef broth works well.
  • Potatoes and pearl barley: I add these at the end to make this stew extra hearty! You can use regular barley, but be mindful that the cooking time will increase!
  • Fresh parsley: You can skip this, but I find a little tiny punch of herbiness at the end rounds out the flavors well.

How to make it

  • Step 1: Start by browning the beef cubes. Cook them in batches if needed and let them go until they get really nicely browned and crisp around the edges.
  • Step 2: Add the onions, celery, and carrots, and sauté briefly–about 5 minutes–to barely soften the onion.
  • Step 3: Add the flour and toss to coat. Cook for 1–2 minutes to lightly toast it.
  • Step 4: Whisk in the sweet vermouth and bring to a boil.
  • Step 5: Pour in the beef broth, return everything to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the stew from sticking. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, add a bit more beef broth as needed. At this point, the beef should be somewhat tender.
  • Step 6: Finish it up. Add the potatoes and barley. Cover the pot and continue simmering for 30–40 until the potatoes and barley are tender and the stew is nice and thick. After the final simmer, the beef should be melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
  • Step 7: Finish it up! Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.
beef stew with barley

I serve with additional parsley at the table, but a slice of buttered bread would also be a welcome addition.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I did! If you make it, please drop a comment below to let me know what you think of it.

beef barley stew

Beef Barley Stew

This beef barley stew recipe epitomizes comfort. It's a thick, velvety, stick-to-your-ribs stew that warms you up on a cold day.
5 from 4 votes
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Inactive time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 617kcal



  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • pounds top sirloin, rump roast, or chuck roast; excess fat and gristle trimmed off and discarded; meat cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into half-moons
  • 3 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds on a bias
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons dry thyme
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 6 cups beef broth plus more if needed
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup pearl barley rinsed
  • Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup loosely packed parsley, minced; plus more for serving


Brown the beef:

  • Pat the beef dry and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the beef in an even layer and cook without moving for 3–5 minutes. Flip and cook for 3–5 minutes. Continue cooking for an additional 3–5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the beef is well-browned and it has begun to caramelize around the edges.

Cook the aromatics:

  • Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pot with the beef. Toss to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and thyme to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 1–2 minutes until fragrant. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Cook the flour:

  • Sprinkle the flour on top and toss to coat everything well. Cook for 1–2 minutes to toast it lightly.

Simmer the stew:

  • Pour in the sweet vermouth and whisk until smooth. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes until the carrots and beef are nearly tender. Stir the stew occasionally to prevent it from sticking. If the liquid in the pot reduces too quickly, you may need to add a splash or more of beef broth. Check it every 20–30 minutes or so.

Cook the potatoes and barley:

  • Remove the lid from the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the potatoes and barley and return it to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30–40 minutes or until the potatoes and barley are tender.
  • Check the pot occasionally and replenish the liquid if needed, though the stew should be very thick and velvety.

Finish the stew:

  • Remove the stew from the heat. Taste and season. Stir in the minced parsley and let stand for 5–10 minutes before serving.

To serve:

  • Spoon the stew into shallow bowls. Garnish each bowl with more parsley if you like. Enjoy!


Calories: 617kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 176mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 32mg
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  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. Good flavor, and although a bit time-consuming to make, it’s pretty easy to cook. One thing I like is you don’t put the potatoes in until near the end, so they don’t disintegrate in the stew.

    The only thing is, with 6 cups of beef broth, and leaving the lid on while cooking, it did not condense down like your pictures show. Is there the wrong amount of broth in the recipe?
    Every thing else was great, although I might add a bit more barley next time.

    1. Hi, Mike! Thank you for the comment! So happy you enjoyed it! The liquid is how much I use in this recipe, but it could be that your pot is more tightly sealed than mine, so maybe more liquid evaporated during my cooking process than yours. If you do want a thicker stew, you could partially cover for the last thirty minutes. I’ll make again to see if there are any tweaks to be made to the cooking process. Thanks for flagging! 🙂

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