Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars
Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars

These Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars are a must for a quick and easy weekday lunch! Do a few on Sunday and you’ll be set for the week.

It can be difficult to pack a healthy and filling lunch for the work week, especially in the summer, so it’s nice to have light and healthy lunches ready. That’s why these Barley Lunch Jars are the best thing to have in your fridge this summer!

What is barley and can I replace it with anything?

Barley is a whole grain with a very high fiber and protein content, so you’ll stay full even if you don’t add any other protein to the jar. It’s chewy, stores well, and complements most add-ins, making it a great salad base.

I love barley for these jars, but if you don’t have barley farro is a great substitute. Also note that barley is not gluten-free. So if you’re looking for a gluten-free option, you can use quinoa, sorghum, millet, or even brown rice instead of barley. (Quick cook times vary for other grains.)

Why you should cook barley in an Instant Pot

Unless you have a pressure cooker, barley will take a while to cook. It needs to be gently simmered for 50-60 minutes to fully cook through. However, with an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, the barley can be ready in about 20 minutes!

  • New to Instant Pot? Check out our post How To Use an Instant Pot: A First-Timer’s Guide.

What can you add to these lunch glasses?

I like to add a mix of crunchy veggies and green salad to my glasses, but very few things do would not go well in these glasses. Here are some of my favorite add-ins:

  • Feta cheese, blue cheese, or mini mozzarella balls
  • Marinated artichokes or olives
  • Chopped blanched green beans or broccoli
  • Chopped cured meats
  • Seeds or nuts (sunflower seeds are particularly good!)

How to store the lunch glasses

The jars will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days when stored in an airtight container.

The most important thing to know about storing these jars is to ensure all ingredients are at room temperature or colder before adding them to the jar. If you put hot barley in a jar and top it with veggies, the veggies will collapse. Not good!

You cannot freeze these jars. They contain too much air to freeze properly.

How to serve the lunch glasses

To serve when you’re on the go, simply eat the salad straight from the jar! (That’s part of what makes this so great.) Or, if you have a plate or bowl available, pour out the glass. In any case, I recommend drizzle the glass with some vinaigrette before serving.

More grab-and-go breakfast and lunch ideas:

  • Oatmeal chia mug to go
  • Freezer Breakfast burritos with sausage, eggs and salsa verde
  • Homemade cup of noodles
  • Quinoa bowls with sweet potatoes, black beans and spinach
  • Greek salad in a glass

Instant Pot Barley Lunch Jars

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
30 minutes

10 mins

total time
50 minutes

5 glasses

The ingredients listed are suggestions to get you started, but this is meant to be a flexible recipe. See above for more add-in suggestions and change where you like.

This makes for a light lunch. If you want something a little more filling, serve with half a sandwich or some grilled chicken for a full meal.


  • 1 cup pearl barley

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 cups of water

  • 2 1/2 cups lettuce leaves

  • 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 5 small peppers, sliced

  • 2 small cucumbers, sliced

  • 5 radishes, sliced

  • Vinaigrette to serve


  1. Cooking barley:

    Add dried barley to your Instant Pot or other multi cooker/pressure cooker. Stir in salt and water. Put the lid back on and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.

    When you’re done, release the pressure naturally for five minutes. Release steam, remove lid, drain excess water and allow barley to cool to room temperature.

  2. Assemble glasses:

    There is no single way to put these lunch glasses together. I like to add 1/2 cup cooked barley to the bottom (make sure it’s room temperature). Top that with a mix of lettuce and lots of chopped veggies.

  3. Store the jars:

    The jars will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. After that, the greens begin to wither. You cannot freeze these jars. They should be prepared and eaten within the week.

  4. Enjoy:

    For lunch, drizzle the vinaigrette into the glass, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and eat the barley salad straight from the glass. Alternatively, pour onto a plate. (Do not add the vinaigrette to the salad until just before serving, as it will make the vegetables mushy.)

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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!