Instant Pot Beef and Barley Stew

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This healthy Instant Pot Beef and Barley Stew tastes like it has been simmering on the stove all day long but is made in under an hour with the help of the Instant Pot. It can also be made in the slow cooker in case you don’t have an Instant Pot at home.

My family absolutely loves traditional beef stew and it’s something I make all the time. The only problem is that it isn’t one of my favorite dishes. I don’t mind it, but its not something I crave or look forward to eating. Honestly I am normally more excited about the salad and bread that I usually serve on the side. However since it is such a staple in our home, I have been looking for an updated version that will make everyone happy and I found that in this Beef and Barley Stew.

Weight Watchers Beef and Barley Stew in a bowl with two spoons.

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It’s made with a lot of the same ingredients as a traditional beef stew – onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, thyme – but the addition of the barley adds something special. It’s hearty, slightly earthy, and adds some much needed texture. I love it.

The other secret to this stew is using hash brown or shredded potatoes. I learned this trick from Marzia at the Little Spice Jar and I love it. By adding shredded potatoes, you are able to get a little bit of everything in a single bite. Plus it guarantees you won’t overcook the potatoes and turn them to mush. If you buy the frozen or pre-shredded versions, it’s a great shortcut since you don’t have to wash, peel, and chop potatoes.

Here are some fun ways to customize this Instant Pot Beef and Barley Stew

  • This stew can definitely handle some more vegetables. In the original recipe it calls for mushrooms, which are a great addition. You can also add kale, a can of diced tomatoes, butternut squash, or some cabbage.
  • If you don’t like a really beefy flavor, use chicken or vegetable broth instead. It still tastes delicious but isn’t as intensely beefy. Honestly I usually use chicken stock since I always have it at home.
  • Sometimes I like to use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. They add some sweetness to the stew which is downright delicious. It does take some extra time to shred the potatoes but it’s worth it. You can also use a combination of both.
  • If you don’t have an Instant Pot, this can be cooked in the slow cooker or on the stove-top. Slow Cooker instructions are included below. For the stove-top, it will probably take 2.5-3.5 hours of simmering until the beef gets tender.
  • Like things spicy? Add in some red pepper flakes or a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies.

Healthy Beef and Barley Stew made in the Instant Pot in a ceramic bowl with a napkin.

Looking for more hearty soups and stews?

Here are some of the products and tools I used to cook this recipe:

  • I know there are mixed feelings about the Instant Pot but I absolutely love mine. From cooking the perfect boiled eggs to shredded chicken to homemade yogurt, I love it.
  • I don’t always have beef broth in the house, but I do always have this natural beef bouillion. It has great flavor and isn’t packed with ton of chemicals and preservatives like many of the options at the grocery store. It also has about 30% less sodium than most brands.

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