How Do I Choose the Best Barley Flour?

Kristeen Moore

Barley flour is a processed product made from the corresponding grain, and it is an alternative to traditional wheat versions in baking and cooking. The best version of this grain flour has a nutty flavor and a hearty texture that can help to liven up traditional dishes. You can completely substitute traditional wheat flour with barley versions in a recipe, or combine it with other types of grains. Organic versions are preferred by cooks looking for natural flours, but there is generally not a significant difference in taste after cooking it. Although this type of flour is labeled as non-wheat, it still contains small traces of gluten proteins, which people with celiac disease cannot usually tolerate.


Most flours are purchased in the supermarkets where they are packaged. It might take some time to find your favorite version after a process of trial and error. The best types of barley flours are those that have a slight nutty taste and not as strong of a flavor as wheat versions. Too mild of a taste is indicative of a kind of barley flour that has been over-processed, or perhaps one that is no longer at its freshest.

Barley grains.
Barley grains.

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Some cooks argue that organic versions are the best types of barley flour, because the grains are grown without pesticides. Proponents also believe that natural flours have the strongest flavor, but this might not necessarily be the case once the ingredient is combined with other features needed for a particular dish. If you do decide to purchase organic flour, check the package to ensure that it has been certified by a credible agency. Also keep in mind that organic products are generally more expensive than traditional versions.

Cooking with barley flour is a treat for food enthusiasts looking to try something different. This type of flour is most commonly used for baking, although it can be used in virtually any recipe that calls for the ingredient. In some cases, the flour might not blend with other ingredients as well as wheat versions, so you might consider using just a small portion with equal parts of another type. Barley flour can easily be combined with other versions, such as wheat, corn, and rice.

Flours that contain the protein gluten are often derived from barley, wheat, and other types of grains. If you have a form of gluten sensitivity, such as an allergy to the protein or celiac disease, then you should avoid these types of flours in order to reduce your risk of adverse health effects. Opt for other versions of baking flour derived from gluten-free sources, such as corn and rice, for the best results. Barley does not generally contain as much gluten as wheat, but there is still a small amount of it within the flour. Any type of barley flour labeled as gluten-free is likely false.

Barley flour.
Barley flour.

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