Mushroom Barley Risotto with Roasted Broccoli


[vc_row fullscreen=”1″ css=”.vc_custom_1482197666369{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-right: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-right-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;border-left-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;padding-right: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;padding-left: 0px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/1″ css=”.vc_custom_1482196695605{margin: 0px !important;border-width: 0px !important;padding: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_text]I’m lucky to live in a city with plenty of small, craft breweries to frequent. Often, I’ll get a growler to go for a potluck or simply to enjoy at home. It’s a delicious way to support small businesses with great products. There have been a few occasions, however, that I’ve found myself with beer that’s been sitting in the growler just a little too long (shocking, I know). Rathr than waste delicious brews, I wanted to find a way to capture the flavor and make use of flat beer.

This mushroom barley risotto is the perfect solution. It uses slightly stale beer (or fresh if you’ve got it on hand) and does not require you to keep stirring risotto for an hour. I love this recipe because I get to use any choice of beer! A dark beer pairs well with the char of the roasted broccoli and the hearty earthiness of the mushrooms. A pale ale or lager keeps the risotto on the lighter side.

The key to this barley risotto is preparing the grains in a slow cooker. The barley cooks thoroughly but maintains a nice, chewy texture. I typically start the slow cooker in the morning with a time delay, then finish the other parts of the risotto just before dinner time. You could even prepare the grains ahead and keep the cooked barley in the fridge.

Since slow cooker dishes can occasionally be one-note in flavor, I prepared the onions and mushrooms separately and added roasted broccoli to bring texture and depth of flavor to the final dish. It’s a warm, hearty weeknight dinner and perfect to feed a crowd!

Mushroom Barley Risotto with Roasted Broccoli

An easy barley risotto flavored with leftover beer. Combined with mushrooms and roasted broccoli for a hearty weeknight dinner.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups pearled barley
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups beer
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups diced broccoli (about 2 heads)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced mushroom
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • parsley, for topping


  1. In a slow cooker, combine pearled barley, broth, thyme, oregano and beer. Cook on low for 4 hours, until most liquid has been absorbed.

  2. When barley is cooked or almost done, preheat oven to 400°F. Toss diced broccoli with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes in the oven until slightly brown and florets are crisp.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in onion, salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.

  4. Transfer onion and mushroom mixture to slow cooker. Stir in cheese and lemon juice until well combined with barley.

  5. Stir in roasted broccoli, top with parsley and serve.

Recipe Notes

Cooking the barley with the beer allows the alcohol to cook out but still maintains the flavor. You could, however, add the beer to the garlic and mushrooms to add extra liquid and flavor to the dish. Pearled barley is one of those grains that keep absorbing liquid as it cooks! To prevent risotto from being too mushy, use a time delay on the slow cooker. For extra creaminess and smoothness (for the non vegan option), stir in a tablespoon of butter or heavy cream in the final dish.

Leave out the parmesan cheese. The risotto is quite creamy without it!

For a gluten-free risotto, I recommend this stove top recipe using arborio rice for the base. Add the mushrooms with the onions, then add the roasted broccoli at the end. Use white wine or your favorite gluten free beer. Preparing the arborio rice in the slow cooker only takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours but yields a mushier texture that I don’t recommend.

Use a homemade chicken or vegetable stock instead of store bought. Or make your own vegetable bouillon.

Looking to add some protein? Your favorite sausage or crumbles can be added to the mushrooms. Other roasted vegetables such as cauliflower or carrots would be great in this barley risotto. You can also swap out the parmesan cheese for gorgonzola, fontina, or mozzarella.



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