Egyptian Barley Salad with Pomegranate

5 from 2 votes

This barley salad recipe is bright, refreshing, and bursting with loads of vibrant flavor. Hearty pearled barley meets a sensationally spiced vinaigrette and fresh veggies to create an undeniably delectable side dish.

overhead: egyptian barley salad on a white plate with pomegranate seeds

If you are looking for a fun, fresh, and totally unique side dish, look no further than this dynamite recipe for Egyptian barley salad. This fabulous recipe combines barley, a classic grain, with the vibrant flavors of snappy sherry vinegar, tartly sweet pomegranate, and aromatically amazing celery. 

While all of these flavors are remarkable on their own, their combination creates a tantalizingly tasty flavor profile and texture. Strap in and get ready for a texture and flavor bonanza!

You can read more about how to cook barley here.

For more gems from the treasure trove of Egyptian cuisine, check out my recipes for Egyptian Koshari, Foul Mudammas (Egyptian Fava Beans), or Egyptian Basbousa (Semolina Cake).

ingredients to make pomegranate barley salad

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pearl Barley – This amazingly versatile grain has a soft, chewy texture and a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. You can use hulled barley in its place, as long as you adjust for a longer cooking time. Alternatively, pearled farro can also work as a substitute. 
  • Celery – Herbal and grassy with a slightly sweet flavor, celery adds earthy flavor and unparalleled crunch. For this recipe, I like to dice the celery extra finely so it blends better with the barley and is easier to eat. Feel free to toss more in to suit your preferences. 
  • Olive Oil – Avocado oil would be the best substitute in terms of flavor and consistency.
  • Sherry Vinegar – This vinegar has a mild, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor with hints of almond. Although not exactly the same, rice vinegar is mild and sweet enough to work in its place. 
  • Garlic – I usually use around 2 cloves of freshly minced garlic or 1 teaspoon of pre-minced garlic. Go ahead and toss a bit more in if you’d like a zestier barley salad. 
  • Allspice – This single versatile spice delivers tones of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and more.
  • Salt – This is the universal flavor enhancer. I prefer Kosher salt but sea salt, or any salt variety will do the trick. 
  • Pepper – Adds an invigoratingly peppery and piney flavor. 
  • Freshly Chopped Herbs – Dill, parsley, and mint add a complex menagerie of vibrant flavors along with a dazzling splash of green color to the salad. 
  • Pomegranate Seeds – Also known as pomegranate arils, these little seeds add a brightening blast of tart, fruity flavor, and a beautiful pop of red color.
closeup: heart healthy salad with pearl barley and pomegranate

How to Make Egyptian Barley Salad

  1. Make the Dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. 
  2. Rinse the Barley. Use a colander or fine-meshed sieve to rinse the barley under cold water until the water runs clear. 
  3. Boil the Grains. Place the rinsed grains in a medium-sized saucepan filled with heavily salted water. Place the pan over high heat, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain the barley and transfer it to a large salad bowl. 
  4. Add the Dressing. Combine the barley with the dressing while it is still hot, tossing to coat well and evenly. Set the whole bowl aside to cool at room temperature. 
  5. Mix in the Herbs. Now toss in the pomegranate seeds, celery, and all the chopped herbs. Mix well and add salt and pepper, seasoning to taste. Serve right away, at room temperature or chill for a couple of hours if desired.
overhead: egyptian barley salad with pomegranate seeds and chopped celery on a white plate

Tip From Kevin

Cooking Pearl Barley

When adding water to the pot, it’s essential to use 3 cups of water per 1 cup of barley. Another important step is to not let it cook too long. You can do a quick taste test when it’s about done, so you know if it’s the right texture or not. You’ll know that the barley is done when it has tripled in volume and takes on a chewy texture.

closeup: pomegranate barley salad on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Egyptian Barley Salad Serving Suggestions

This amazingly flavorful and refreshing barley salad can be served at room temperature or chilled. It makes a perfect snack, appetizer (scoop it with toasted pita chips), or even a light meal if you toss in a bit of chicken, shrimp, or other protein. 

Most often, I like to serve it as a side dish. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to pair it with: 

– Chicken dishes like Chicken Koobideh, Joojeh Kabob (Persian Chicken Kabob), or Marinated Tahini Chicken.
– Lamb classics like Greek Lamb Meatballs, Grilled Lamb Skewers (Yang Rou Chuan), or Lamb Shawarma (Shredded).
– Any kabob recipe from Kefta Kabob (Ground Beef Kabobs) to Shashlik (Pork Shish Kabobs)
– Seafood entrees like Palestinian Fish Kofta Meatballs or even Sweet Chili Glazed Salmon.

What Is Barley Salad Made Of?

This Egyptian barley salad is a simple combination of pearled barley tossed with chopped celery and a basic, garlicky vinaigrette. A dash of allspice and a handful of pomegranate seeds complete the dish. 

Other regions and cultures have their own versions of this hearty grain salad. For some other ideas, check out my Mediterranean Barley Salad or this Pineapple Shrimp Barley Salad.

How Long Does Barley Salad Last In The Fridge?

When covered and kept in an airtight container, barley salad can last in the refrigerator for around 3-5 days. Once you are ready to enjoy it again, you can serve it cold or let it come to room temperature first. Simply take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes to an hour before serving. 

If you cook excess pearled barley, you can cool it completely, pack it in freezer-safe bags, and freeze it for up to a month. However, I would avoid freezing barley salad after it has been tossed and mixed. The freezing and thawing process will be a bit too much for all the ingredients to handle.

closeup: pearl barley with celery, garlic, herbs, and pomegranate seeds in delicious homemade dressing

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overhead: ancient grain salad with pomegranate arils on white platter

Egyptian Barley Salad with Pomegranate

5 from 2 votes
Egyptian Barley Salad is a refreshing combination of crunchy celery, tart pomegranate, and chewy barley in a vibrantly spiced vinaigrette.
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes



  • In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Rinse barley with cold water several times until water runs clear.
  • Transfer to saucepan filled with heavily salted water. Bring to a boil and turn to simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large salad bowl.
  • While barley is hot, add the dressing, toss to coat and mix thoroughly. Allow to cool at room temperature.
  • Add the celery, herbs and pomegranate seeds. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve room temperature or chilled if you prefer.


  1. You can either use the seeds from 2 pomegranates or purchase just the seeds. I find 4 or 8 oz containers from the brand Pom Pom in my market in the refrigerated vegetable/fruit section of the market. Purchase at least 2 for 1 1/2 cups. Save remaining for other use.
  2. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.


Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 350mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 423IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: salads
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, North African
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): pomegranate barley salad


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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    1. By experience of travel, talking and working with Middle Eastern chefs, trading recipes, reading, cookbooks, cooking shows… you name it.

  1. will be making this soon with few subs will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya