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Instant Pot Barley Soup with Ham

This Instant Pot barley soup with ham or beef is a tasty healthy dinner idea we all loved. Great for using up leftover ham after the holidays and pack it with vegetables too.

Instant Pot Barley Soup 3

I am back adding this easy Instant Pot barley soup to my long list of 101+ easy Instant Pot recipes page today! I love using my pressure cooker to cook dry beans and grains because there is no soaking required. They come out so tender in no time at all! Honestly, I had never cooked barley before but I had it in soups at restaurants and it was delicious. So I thought I’d give it a whirl with the ham hock I had. (originally published 10/18, affiliate links present)

Ninja Foodi Barley Soup

You can use a Crockpot Express or make this as an easy Ninja Foodi recipe as well. All pressure cooker brands work since you are just using the high pressure function.

You can make this vegetarian, add precooked ham, leftover meat, or even soup bones into the mix. I love throwing in leftover meat after the holidays because it adds a lot of flavor but that is up to you.

If you are new to pressure cooking we have a lot of easy one pot meal recipes for you here. To begin with let’s start with a few basic tips:

For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have (a 6 quart) and use for all recipe creations.

star wars instant pot

Pressure Cooker Beef Barley Soup

The base remains the same no matter what protein you add into the mix.

  • If it’s around the holidays you are probably looking for some leftover ham recipes and this is a great one, though we have a bunch because I hate wasting food!
  • I have bought a ham hock and used that year round too though!

If you just have a ham hock you can use that too like I did here, either way just throw it in and go really with easy Instant Pot soup recipes like this one.

instant pot leftover ham recipe

Is barley soup good for you?

If you’ve never made anything with this overlooked grain, it’s actually really yummy and very versatile! Rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s also high in fiber which we all need.

  • To describe it once it’s cooked I would say it is a bit like a cross between oatmeal and rice. It absorbs whatever flavors it is cooked in so using broth and salty/sweet ham bits is an incredibly delicious pairing.

Should you cook barley before adding it to soup?

It is not necessary, which I love. Just like cooking rice, it is a good idea to rinse pearl barley before before adding it straight into a soup or stew recipe.

Take note: it will expand and somewhat thicken whatever it is added to. I love this but if you don’t want the barley to thicken your creation, then by all means cook it separately.

instant pot barley soup with ham

Instant Pot barley soup Oxtail

Like I said, you could add any sort of ham or oxtail bones into the mix that you wanted. After it is tender I separate the bones and fat from the meat, then chopped it up and put it back into the soup before serving.

  • If your ham was already off the bone you could dice it up and throw it in initially avoiding the separating process later.
  • However….I will say using a ham hock gave this Instant Pot barley soup a lot more flavor than if I had just used diced ham in my opinion.

This piece of the ham tends to have tons of flavor and seeps out into the soup when it is under pressure cooking, but it is up to you.

Why pressure cooker soups are better than on the stovetop?

  • The pressure lends soup a lot more flavor
  • Soup cooks fast without having to watch a pot on the stove
  • You do not have to soak dry beans or grains
pressure cooker barley soup

Instant Pot ham barley soup

  1. Ham hock
    1. or diced leftover ham, turkey, beef
    2. beef soup bones can be used too
  2. Pearl barley you can see below, it’s a great tasting grain that will absorb all the other flavors in the pot.

Should barley be soaked before cooking?

Instant Pot Barley Soup Vegetarian

How do you cook barley?

  1. If you’re making it separately?
    1. Bring a pot of water to boiling.
    1. Season if you’d like at this time.
    1. Add barley, cooking on low heat.
    1. Cover and cook tender which will take approx. 55 to 60 minutes
    1. Drain with a colander and enjoy
  2. Carrots
    1. The smaller the pieces the more tender they will be
    2. I suggest large chunks so they don’t fall apart
    3. You could add celery too if you’d like
  3. Onion
  4. Broth – I used vegetable broth, you could opt for beef broth for a richer flavor
  5. Salt and pepper to taste

I mean any seasonings work, add what you like. Typically I like to lightly sprinkle some in at the beginning and then re season when it is served with salt and pepper.


Instant Pot Barley Soup Vegetarian

Without meat you can just skip the dicing or separating the meat from the bones at the end of course. I have made it both ways and either way it turns out delicious.

  1. If you’re using ham, put your ham hock in the center
    1. if you’re using diced precooked beef, throw that in with everything else
    2. for raw pressure cooker beef pieces you’ll want to cut it into bite size pieces
    3. beef soup bones work great too, dice meat off bones at the end
      1. set pot to saute, add some olive oil, saute until they’re no longer pink
      2. turn pot off and scrape browned bits off bottom with some broth
  2. Sprinkled my uncooked pearled barley around it
  3. Added a sliced onion
  4. Chopped baby carrots in half and threw those in (you could cut regular carrots into large chunks too but that is what I had on hand)
  5. Poured my broth in
  6. Closed the lid and walked away!

You can use more or less broth as listed. This depends on how much liquid you prefer. I like it thicker at the beginning and then if I have leftovers I will add more to thin it out.

Instant Pot Barley Soup 2

If you don’t have a pressure cooker yet but looking for homemade soups this lentil soup on the stove top is a winner.

  • I do highly recommend you get one though because the cooking time is cut at least in half! This one takes just 30 minutes with a quick release to be SO soft and tender vs. in a slow cooker which would take all day for sure.

I will say this turned out great and I cook it year round. BUT when it’s cold it’s the bomb! Also using leftover ham is the best. You could turn this into beef and barley soup too using stew meat diced.

Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

Here is a peek of when we used beef soup bones instead.

Pressure Cooker Beef Barley Soup

How do you save soup for later?

If you’re not going to eat it within a few hours of it being done you should cool and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. 3-4 days is about max. If you’re not going to eat it before then, store in freezer bags for up to 3 months.

What is the most effective way to cook a frozen soup?

To reheat soups do the following:

  • On the stovetop over low heat is best
  • Alternatively reheat in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between 
Easy Instant Pot Minestrone Soup 2

Pressure cooker soups

You can make this in a Crockpot Express or as a Ninja Foodi recipe as well.

Make note it will take time, pressure for 15 minutes or so before it starts the countdown to cooking for 30 minutes. You don’t want much of a natural release of pressure when it’s done or the veggies will get quite soft in my opinion.

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Instant Pot Barley Soup 3
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5 from 1 vote

Instant Pot Barley Soup

This Instant Pot barley soup with ham is a tasty healthy dinner idea we all loved. Using uncooked barley and leftover ham we packed it with vegetables too. 
Course Appetizer, Entree, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword barley, ham hock, healthy, instant pot, pressure cooker, soup, vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 223kcal
Author The Typical Mom


  • 1 ham hock omit if making vegetarian barley soup, can use 1 lb. beef stew bones too
  • 1 c pearled barley uncooked
  • 2 c carrots I sliced baby carrots in half
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 32 oz broth I used beef broth, could use vegetable
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste at the end
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 stalks celery sliced


  • Place your beef soup bones, stew meat or ham hock in the middle of your Instant Pot. (you could add diced leftover ham too but a ham hock is delicious)
  • Add all vegetables and garlic + 1 cup of uncooked pearled barley at the top, then pour broth in. Do not stir, just make sure barley is submerged in liquid.
  • Close your lid and steam valve and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. Then a quick release at the end.
  • Lift lid and remove ham hock or beef bones. On a cutting board remove all bones and fat, discard those. Dice your meat up into small bite size pieces or shred. Put meat back into your Instant Pot and stir.
  • Serve!
    I did not add any salt or seasonings because the flavors in the ham hock permeated the soup and gave it a wonderful flavor, it didn't need anything else at all as far as we were concerned but you could add salt and pepper to taste.


Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Barley Soup
Amount Per Serving (3 oz)
Calories 223 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 23mg8%
Sodium 843mg37%
Potassium 336mg10%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 7530IU151%
Vitamin C 3.9mg5%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 1.4mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
instant pot barley
Recipe Rating

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Wednesday 4th of December 2019

If I’m just using leftover ham without the bone, do I cook it for less time?


Friday 23rd of August 2019

Can I use the slow cooker function .do I have to skim it

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