Coconut barley porridge with poached apples


This is a fantastic tummy-warming barley porridge breakfast recipe that you can easily do anytime because it uses ingredients that are available year-round. You can make it creamier, sweeter or more savory depending to your taste and you can prepare the barley and poached apples the night before so in the morning you just need to assemble.

If you have never tried barley before, it is between rice and pasta al dente in terms of texture, slightly chewy and very nutty, and is a very versatile alternative to plain rice of oatmeal.




About barley and its origins

Barley is a little known grain more common in a brewery than in a kitchen. We know that its origins are unclear but it has been around for a long time, as it is grown across the world, from South Korea to Africa. We also know that it is very good for you, and this is why I love to use it as the base for my breakfast bowls. 

Barley has a lot of fiber, it is low in fat and has a wonderful nutty flavor I love. In Asia, it is also used to make a drink called barley water which is the result of boiling it with water and adding sugar and lemon to taste. Barley water is very popular across Southeast Asia and China and sold in convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants. 

If you have never bought barley before, you will realise that you can find two types of barley in the shops: hulled or pearled.

You can easily distinguish the two because pearl barley is, you guessed it, pearly, more rounded and polished while the hulled is rougher and more opaque because it still has the bran layer. In Asia, you will most likely find the pearled version. 

I like both types of barley but the hulled one takes longer to cook (up to 10-15 min longer) though it is healthier for you: it is less processed and it contains a higher percentage fiber and protein. Pearl barley is more refined in taste, much prettier and easier to find where I live. 


The benefits of barley and this recipe

I said that barley is great for you, but why exactly?

A serving of barley porridge has close to your entire daily recommended amount of fiber covered, making it a great way to kick start the day.

It is very low in sugar and fat, so it goes great with any toppings, and can pair with creamier ingredients like coconut cream or jams. The high fiber content also means you will feel fuller for longer.

The downside?

Over 70% of barley’s content is made of carbs (must like most grains) so try to balance this large carb breakfast intake with more veggies, protein and good fats during the rest of the day.


What I love about barley porridge

Besides its clear health benefits, what I love the most about barley porridge is its nutty crunchy texture which is a great alternative to the baby food-like oatmeal porridge which I also love, but can feel a bit too pasty at times. 

Barley’s consistency also makes it a great candidate for a savory breakfast. Although this is a sweet recipe, there are infinite ways to top barley porridge with savory ingredients, from cured meats to vegetables or even fish. Think about any rice recipe and then replace the rice with barley, result! 

I particularly love barley porridge mixed with a runny poached egg, some mushrooms, parsley, garlic and spinach, yum! 

If all of the above did not convince you yet, how about this. Barley needs cooking, unlike other breakfast bowls made with instant oats, fruits, smoothies or chia, but it keeps for long. Prepare it in bulk on Sunday, pack in individual mason jars and add toppings in the morning to have a delicious and healthy breakfast bowl go. Once cooked, barley porridge can keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.


coconut barley porridge with poached apple
Yield: 1 bowl

Coconut barley porridge with poached apple

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes

This cooked pearl barley porridge will satisfy all your tropical cravings while using ingredients you can find all year round so you can take your taste buds on an exotic escape without leaving the house.

If you decide to use hulled barley (it is better for you after all) add 10min longer to cooking and bear in mind the recipe will be a bit nuttier and chewier.


Barley porridge

  • 20gr Pearl barley
  • 170ml Unsweetened coconut milk
  • 150ml Water

Poached apples

  • 1/4 Apple sliced
  • Tbsp of Cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 Lemon juice
  • Lemon grind
  • Tbsp Coconut sugar
  • 150ml Water


  • Dollop of coconut cream
  • 3 Physalis (optional)
  • 6 Crushed almonds
  • 1 tsp Sesame seeds


  1. SOAK: Soak the barley in a mason jar with 70ml of coconut milk overnight. This will soften it and help it cook faster in the morning. If you like the nutty texture, you could also eat the barley raw without cooking and jump to step 3.
  2. COOK: In the morning, empty the soaked barley in a cooking pot and add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and let it simmer for at least 20min. Keep an eye on the porridge and mix from time to time. If you prefer a mushier more porridge-like texture, add 50ml water more and let it cook 10min longer.
  3. POACHED APPLES: While the porridge cooks, prep the poached apple by slicing a quarter of an apple and placing it in a pot with 150ml of water, the juice of half a lemon, the sugar, cinnamon and lemon grind and bring to a boil. Cover and let it simmer for 15-20min depending on how soft you like the apple to be. Keep an eye on the amount of liquid and add more water if it becomes too dry.
  4. PREP: Remove the porridge from the stove and pour into a serving bowl then add the remaining 100ml of coconut milk and mix.
  5. ASSEMBLE: Top the porridge with the poached apple, the crushed almonds and a dollop of coconut cream. Decorate with sesame seeds and physalis.


Physalis are not a commonly found fruit and when they are available they can be quite pricey for what is essentially a decorative ingredient. Swap for blueberries, raspberries, or even just a dollop of jam. Kumquats also work great for this recipe.

Make it creamier: You could cook the porridge entirely with coconut milk instead of water or go one step further and add coconut cream towards the end.

Note: The lemon grind is mostly added for flavor but I like to eat it so I also add it to the barley porridge.

Nutrition Information:


1 bowl

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 10gSugar: 29gProtein: 4g

Values may vary depending on ingredients and brands used.

Have you tried this recipe at home?  We would LOVE to see your yum creations! Tag @BreakfastBowlRecipes and use the hashtag #MyBreakfastBowl so we can share the love ♥



Possible variations to this barley porridge recipe

Because of its consistency, you can change almost every element of this barley porridge and have a different recipe everyday.

  • This recipe is vegan and uses coconut milk and cream because I like the tropical touch it gives to the barley, but you can use any kind of milk. I always use unsweetened coconut (or nut) milk because I prefer to keep my recipes low in sugar, especially artificial, and prefer to add other sweeteners to my taste, but if you prefer the sweetened version just bear in mind that you might not need the coconut sugar and that the calories in the recipe will be much higher.
  • Use cow milk for an extra dose of protein and calcium, or cook the barley with plain water for a more neutral flavor.
  • You may add coconut cream or Greek yogurt to the cooked barley porridge instead of plain coconut milk if you like it creamier. Bear in mind adding yogurt will cool down the porridge.
  • You can replace the physalis with any other berry that is available or keep the recipe to the same sour-ish idea with kumquats.
  • Use toasted almonds instead of raw almonds for a crunchier consistency and color.
  • Instead of poaches apples, you can also add a dollop of jam for a super quick barley porridge, or any fresh fruits you have. Soft fruits like mango and banana go great with the barley.



How to make this recipe with 250 kcal

There is a very easy way to remove 50kcal from this recipe: omit the coconut cream. I like the creaminess and sweetness it adds, but that comes with high calories too. You can simply omit it and stick to 250kcal. Alternatively, you can also reduce the amount of barley by 10gr to achieve the same objective.


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