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Is Barley Gluten Free?

Is Barley Gluten Free?

Adopting a new way of eating can be confusing and overwhelming. So when it comes to a gluten free diet, Gluten Free Society wants to be your go to source of trusted information to help guide your gluten free journey. 

When considering what foods contain gluten, many think of wheat and bread-based products. But there are a number of other grains out there that seem like they might be gluten free. So what about barley? Is barley gluten free?  In this article, we will break down whether barley is gluten free, and what to be aware of when it comes to foods that contain different forms of barley.

What is Barley?

Barley is a cereal grain and a member of the grass family Gramineae. It is a hardy grain that is grown in many temperate climates globally. Barley contains eight of the nine essential amino acids.

How is Barley Used?

Barley grains are commonly made into malt for alcoholic beverages. Pearled barley refers to a more processed and refined barley that has been steam-treated to remove the bran but still contains the bran. Barley is commonly used around the world in soups and stews, porridges, and gruels. Its flour is occasionally used in barley bread and other baked goods. Barley is also made into a malt, which is used as a sweetener in many packaged and processed foods like baked goods, powdered milk, and more. 

Barley malt is also used in beverages, and research has shown that gluten in the form of barley proteins is present even in beers that are labeled gluten free.

Like wheat and rye, barley contains gluten, which makes it unsafe for consumption by those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Research about Barley

Unlike some other grains that claim to be gluten free, like oats and corn, it is widely accepted that barley contains toxic gluten proteins that damage the intestinal lining of those with celiac disease. In fact, barley is composed of 46-52% of a type of gluten called hordein.

Even though it is widely accepted that barley contains gluten, it can be tricky to avoid because it has other names that sometimes go missed.  Common terms for hidden barley include: 

  • Malt – this sugar derived from barley can be listed on labels as malt extract, malt syrup, malt vinegar, and malt flavoring.
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Caramel color
  • Maltose – not all maltose is derived from barley, so it is important to check with the manufacturer before using.

 This helpful guide shares tips for avoiding unsafe gluten-containing ingredients in food.

What Are Some Alternatives to Barley That Are Gluten Free? 

There are several alternatives to barley that are gluten free.

  • Almond Flour: Made from ground up almonds, almond flour has a rich and nutty flavor that works well in baked goods.
  • Tapioca Flour: Made from the cassava plant, tapioca flour has a consistency that is similar to a typical flour or cornstarch. It can be used to thicken sauces and coat meats or veggies for baking into a crisp crust. 
  • Coconut Flour: Made from the nutrient-dense coconut flesh, coconut flour is a high protein option for baking. Be aware that it absorbs quite a bit of water, 
  • Warrior Bread Flour Mix: This nutritious mix of almond flour, coconut flour, psyllium flour, and sweet potato simplifies a number of healthy recipes. 

Gluten-Free Barley Alternative Recipes 

Try these Warrior Blueberry Muffins for a great alternative to baking with barley.


  • 1 1/2 Cups Warrior Bread Mix (or preferred almond flour)
  • 2 cups blueberries fresh or frozen
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Eggs


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line 12 muffin tins with parchment paper cupcake liners.
  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients except for the blueberries until well mixed. Then gently fold in the blueberries.
  • Evenly distribute your mix into the 12 cupcake liners. 
  • Bake for roughly 25­-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  • Take the muffins out from the oven and let them rest before serving.


There’s no doubt, barley is not gluten free making it unsafe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to consume. The good news? There are a number of safe and nutritious alternatives to barley, and plenty of delicious gluten free recipes to enjoy!

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