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Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies

Barley Chocolate chip cookies 1

When there’s nothing else you can do, bake cookies.

I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the tiny kitchen of the palliative care ward my friend Rachael was in 5 years ago, for the strangers who shared our space for those days and weeks, who came and went and sat and walked the halls carrying hearts raw with sadness. We’d go downstairs to Starbucks in a weak attempt to refuel, and on one afternoon I kept walking, out the door and across the street to the grocery store, where I bought butter and sugar and flour and eggs. I rummaged through the kitchen normally reserved for families and friends of patients to store and reheat food brought from home, digging out a bowl, spoon and makeshift measuring cup. The apartment-sized oven coughed itself on, then released the aroma of baking into the stale hospital air, bringing with it a sense of comfort and calm.

As I walked through the halls with a plate of warm cookies, people hunched in bedside chairs and huddled in common areas would look up with faint surprise. “You baked cookies? For us? Thank you.”

Barley cookie dough
Barley cookies baked

I baked this particular batch cookies for my almost-8-year-old boy, knowing that nowadays he tires of hugs after about one of them, unless they are delivered in cookie form. I made them with barley flour; barley is high in fibre, with more than twice as much (soluble and insoluble) as oatmeal. And although barley flour hasn’t quite caught on in most kitchens, it’s common and easy to find on grocery store shelves alongside the wheat flour. Barley flour is softer than you’d think – in fact, you don’t get the same tweedy texture with barley flour that you do with whole wheat flour.

Barley Collage

And because in Canada, much of the germ is often removed from a grain of wheat milled to make flour, making whole wheat flour not really whole (up to 5% of the kernel can be removed to help reduce rancidity and prolong the shelf life of whole wheat flour) barley flour is a great alternative if you want to up your fibre but still make a delicious cookie. It produced a thinner, chewier, more spread out cookie, but in a good way; barley also has humectant properties, meaning they stay soft.

Barley chocolate chip cookies 2

Just like a hug.

Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies


Yields1 Serving

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups barley flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks


Preheat oven to 350F.


In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until pale and almost fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.


Add the barley flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low until almost combined; add the chocolate chunks and stir just until blended.


Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on their size) until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Let them set for a minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.


 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
 1 cup packed brown sugar
 1/4 cup sugar
 1 large egg
 2 tsp vanilla
 2 cups barley flour
 1 tsp. baking soda
 1/2 tsp. salt
 8 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks



Preheat oven to 350F.


In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until pale and almost fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.


Add the barley flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low until almost combined; add the chocolate chunks and stir just until blended.


Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on their size) until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Let them set for a minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies

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35 comments on “Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. lea
    April 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    lovely post. You’re right. Now is a good time to bake.

  2. Christine
    April 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    🙂 right back at ‘ya

  3. CathyH
    April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    What a wonderful,heartfelt story. You,are a good person, Julie.

  4. heather whitbread
    April 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I’m wondering whether this could be considered gluten free? I don’t need to avoid gluten, but am becoming increasingly aware of friends that do need to avoid it. It would be nice to have a few recipes in my repetoire that I could make for them!

  5. Zannat
    April 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Cool recipe! I’ll have to keep an eye out for barley flour the next time I go to the grocery store.

  6. Erin B
    April 16, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    I just picked up that flour at Safeway this week. It’s also grown in Alberta. Used it in your heartland oatmeal muffins already. It was lovely.

  7. CathyH
    April 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Heather, barley is not gluten free. Try quinoa flour.

  8. Kimberley
    April 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I always enjoy your blog, Julie. You are a fabulous chef/baker, and also an awesome writer. Thanks for this sweet post.

  9. kickpleat
    April 16, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Okay, I’m so going to seek out barley flour. And you are beyond sweet.

  10. Jan @ Family Bites
    April 17, 2013 at 5:49 am

    You are so kind and I’m so thankful that we’re friends. Also, I have never seen barley flour on the grocery store shelf here, but now I’m going to look for it.

  11. Carol S-B
    April 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I’ve seen barley flour but, uncertain as to how to use it, I’ve never actually picked any up.
    Has anyone tried it in a bread machine?
    I’ll get some anyhow… I need to make these cookies too.
    And,Julie: a warm hug to you this morning, too.
    I love a woman who has a word like ‘humectant’ and isn’t afraid to use it 🙂

  12. Diane
    April 17, 2013 at 11:00 am

    This is such a lovely story. A friend of mine who volunteers at a Hospice brings his bread maker for the same reason – a lovely, homey, comforting smell that hopefully brings a bit of peace.

  13. Melanie
    April 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Tonight was the first night in a long while that I felt like I really made dinner for me and my kids. Like a real dinner with souvlaki and greek salad (full of chick peas) and homemade tzaziki… and it felt different around the table than it had in a long time… like we were happy. The comfort of food prepared by hand, be it cookies or garlic-laden pork tenderloin, fills hearts as well as bellies. I was so glad to read this because I was having a hard time putting a finger on ‘why tonight?’ Thanks Julie.

  14. Helene
    April 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    You have such a big heart to have done so. I have not baked with Barley flour before and don’t remember seeing it at the store. Would you tell me if it is possible to use in breads and pizzas?

  15. Lana
    April 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

    I remember that day so well. It was a brilliant idea and such a simple but wonderful way to perk everyone up in such a sad place. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  16. the other Al
    April 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I think I have humectant properties too…sniff

  17. Meta4
    April 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Check out http://www.gobarley.com lots of barley recipes.

  18. C. Olsen
    April 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    My 8 year old daughter and I made these this afternoon-delicious! Due to allergies we used dairy free margarine and egg replacer instead of real eggs. They are wonderful! Thanks for a great recipe to use my barley flour. I grind barley in my nutrimill and have been looking for ways to incorporate it into my baking successfully. This recipe is a big success! We’ll be sharing some tomorrow with someone in need.
    Thanks again!

  19. Laura
    April 22, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Great post and love the recipe. 🙂

  20. Gayatri
    October 6, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Thank you for sharing these! They turned out delicious 🙂

  21. Nirupama
    May 21, 2014 at 3:14 am

    The cookies turned out to be awesome!! Thank you so much! This was the first time I baked cookies and they came out to be flawless! Thank you!! Much love!

  22. Adriana
    November 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Julie. Just bought barley flour and I’m so excited to try it! Trying to reduce the sugars in my diet… got any suggestions for substitutes?

  23. joana
    January 9, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Hi I just wanted to know if you can freeze these over night and then bake them in the morning, thanks for the recipe! 🙂

    • Julie
      January 12, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      Joana – I don’t think you need to freeze them overnight – just keep the dough in the fridge, then bake them in the morning!

  24. SG
    March 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Julie. Wow! These cookies are amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I can’t wait to try your other recipes.

  25. Teri
    October 26, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Delish! Cookies for the whole family to enjoy! Love the simplicity of the recipe (ingredients).
    Thank you!

  26. Claudia Corzato
    June 19, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Hi Julie. Can you still buy Hamilton’s Barley Flour at Co-Op or other grocery stores in Calgary? You had pointed me to Co-Op a while back. But recently, I haven’t been able to find it anywhere.

    • Julie
      June 19, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Hmm.. good question! I haven’t seen it in awhile either. They do have it in bulk at Community Natural Foods too…

      • Bayden Hamilton
        May 22, 2020 at 1:46 pm

        Unfortunately my parents sold the brand and the new owners have not really kept it up. Cool to see all the interest in the recipies I grew up on though!

  27. Sylve
    April 17, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Can you use melted butter instead of room temperature?

    • Julie
      April 19, 2020 at 10:12 am

      You could, but the dough would be softer – they’d likely spread more! And you wouldn’t be able to beat it the same way, so they may be a bit denser. But still delicious!

  28. Cristina
    February 22, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Hi, I am so glad I found this recipe! I had a lot of left over barley flour (long story) and wanted to use it for something. These came out great! My husband is about to eat every single one as I type. Thank you!

    • Julie
      March 2, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      Oh perfect! So glad to hear it!

  29. Jenny R.
    July 21, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    These are possibly the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted, let alone made! I had some leftover pearl barley (dry) and a grain mill. I ground a cup of barley flour and used one cup all purpose flour. I followed the recipe other than the addition of the AP flour and chilled the dough before baking. Sensational!!!! Nice and lightly crisp on the outside and just a tad soft on the inside. Thank you for such a great recipe. I’m inspired to work some barley flour into other baked goods!

    • Julie
      August 5, 2022 at 3:11 pm

      Oh yay, so glad to hear it!!

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