Holiday baking with barley flour

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Holiday baking with barley flour

(Post by Carol Harrison)


By far, my new beau in the pantry this year is barley flour. It’s also my go-to healthy whole grain for holiday baking.

Come December, with three birthdays in our house plus Christmas, I hit the ground running. Determined to enjoy every moment—my strategy is to plan ahead.

I’m making a list, checking it twice, all while being a dietitian looking to strike that balance between naughty and nice (cue: roll your eyes!).

Here’s part of my to do list and some terrific recipes featuring barley flour. If you’re new to baking with barley flour, rest assured, it’s easy, the results are terrific and the whole grain goodness provides loads of health benefits.

Holiday to do list:


To do: Get teacher gifts.
Solution: Pack up this Cranberry Orange Loaf with some herbal tea.
Clever idea: Use mini loaf tins (adjust the cooking time accordingly) and one batch will make you a few gifts.




To do: Make cookies for cookie exchange.
Solution: Spiced ’n Iced Pecan Coconut Cookies. This recipe makes 50 cookies so you’ll have plenty to share!
Clever idea: Make these cookies with barley flakes, grains of barley that are steam-rolled, similar to rolled oats.




To do: Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Solution: A family fave at our house, Blueberry Barley Muffins.
Clever idea: When we take the kids out skating, I’ll pack a thermos of hot chocolate and some muffins. With a family of five, it saves me a bundle and I know the kids are getting a wholesome snack.




To do: Make something for a potluck
Solution: The holidays are a time to share traditional foods like this Old Fashioned Steamed Carrot Pudding.
Clever idea: This recipe makes plenty of caramel sauce. Enjoy the extra sauce for dipping with apple slices.




To do: Make cookies for Santa
Solution: Olde Fashioned Gingersnaps
Clever idea: Rather than bake all four-dozen cookies, freeze half the dough.

Freeze the one-inch dough balls on a baking tray (for about an hour) then transfer to a heavy-duty freezer bag (keeps for four months).

Bake the frozen dough balls a few minutes longer than directed.

As busy as the holidays can be, I plan to enjoy some quality downtime baking with the kids. It’s my gift to myself. And now that I’m a mother, I understand why my mom always said she never needed anything for Christmas; she enjoyed the time with her family and that was more than enough.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

— Carol Harrison @GreatMealIdeas


  1. Marie-Ève

    I never tried barley flour, but I will for sure this year! I love variety, plus those recipes look incredibly delicious 🙂
    Can I simply replace wheat flour with barley flour in any recipe ?
    Thank you!

    • GoBarley

      Hi Marie-Eve! In some recipes—muffins, quick breads or cookies—you can swap barley flour at a one-to-one ratio. This is not the case for yeast bread recipes—like our Best Barley Bread. As there is not enough gluten in barley flour to properly develop the bread, we recommend swapping one-quarter of your all-purpose flour for barley flour in yeast bread recipes.

    • Carol Harrison

      Hello Marie-Eve,
      Thank you for your question. You’ll love the results baking with barley flour and yes the recipes are really darn good. So hear are the simple rules when it comes to substituting barley flour for white flour (or whole wheat for that matter if you are looking for more variety):
      1) Use barley flour to replace half to all the white flour in muffins, pancakes, quick breads, cookies and waffles;
      2) For best results with yeast breads and pizza crusts, only swap a quarter to a half of the total flour with barley flour.
      Enjoy the whole grain goodness of barley flour!
      Happy baking!

    • Carol Harrison

      Thanks for reading the post Patricia!
      It’s easy to get excited about using locally produced good-for-you foods like barley! I’m eager to start baking with barley flakes next 🙂 Stay tuned for more on that…

  2. Vincci

    Yum! Such delicious holiday ideas! I regret not picking up some barley flour when I was at the store the other day – would’ve been a great experiment for my annual gingerbread cookies!

    • Carol Harrison

      Thanks for reading the post Vincci.

      Even if you missed baking with barley flour making gingerbread cookies, you’ll find plenty of other great recipes here on the Go Barley site. I’m a fan of the Yogurt Barley Fruit Scones. They are a cinch to make, taste terrific and because they are made with Greek yogurt they’re higher in protein than your average scone. I’m now starting to experiment with barley flakes too. They’re basically like rolled oats -look for them in bulk or health food stores.

  3. Le Eiko

    I have seen barley flour and have been tempted as well as afraid to use it. Thanks for the recipes. I guess I’ll be adding it to my list too.
    Oh, you mentioned that there isn’t much gluten in barley flour, is it gluten-free?

  4. GoBarley

    That’s great to hear! Barley is not gluten-free, but it has considerably less gluten than all-purpose flour. It’s a great substitution for all-purpose because it holds onto the moisture when baking. You will never make a dry cake or loaf with barley flour!


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