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Instant Pot pearl barley risotto recipe

Instant Pot Barley Risotto With Tomatoes & Marinated Feta

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 serves 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian


Creamy, yet with perfect al dente texture, this tomato-based Instant Pot barley risotto is made with pearl barley and topped with marinated feta cheese. Great for family dinners!



For the risotto

1 + 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

1 medium celery stick, diced into cubes

4 cloves of garlic, finely diced

1 + 1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley (rinsed, using 250ml measuring cups here)

1/2 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika powder

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

3 peels of lemon rind

4 thyme sprigs or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups vegetable stock (750 ml with 1+1/2 stock cubes)

1 teaspoons salt

For the feta

1 tablespoon caraway seeds or cumin seeds

1/2 cup olive oil

300g / 9-10 oz feta cheese, broken or diced into cubes

Fresh oregano, for garnish


  1. Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key. Add the butter, olive oil, onion and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring a few times.
  2. Add the barley, paprika, chilli, lemon rind, thyme and bay leaf and stir through for 20-30 seconds. Press Cancel to stop the Sauté process.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree/paste, stock and salt and stir through. Pop the lid on and lock it, making sure the steam valve is pointing to Sealing. Set to Manual, HIGH and adjust the time to 15 minutes. After 3 beeps, the Instant Pot will start to build up the pressure and the cooking will begin.
  4. Once the timer goes off, allow pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then open the lid after using a quick release to let off the rest of the steam. Stir through the risotto and serve with crumbled feta over the top.
  5. While the risotto is cooking, prepare the marinated feta. Add the olive oil to a hot frying pan together with the caraway seeds. Stir through for 1 minute to release the spice aromas.
  6. Remove from the pan from the heat and allow to cool down for 5 minutes. Place the crumbled or cubed feta into a bowl and pour the oil with the seeds over the top. Stir through and set aside to infuse. You can do this step ahead of time, giving the feta more time to marinate.