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Sweet and Sour Barley

This homemade sweet and sour sauce spruces up whole grain barley. Using pineapple as a natural sweetener and barley as a hearty base, this recipe has a little bit of everything. Leftovers can even be frozen and then reheated for a quick meal when time is tight!


2 T sugar
1 T corn starch
1⁄4 c water
1 1⁄2 T less sodium soy sauce
2 T vinegar
1 t ketchup
2 c barley
16 pk stir-fry vegetables (frozen)
1 lb chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 t oil
8 oz pineapple chunks (canned in 100% juice)

Yield amount

5 Servings

Preparation time

10 minutes

Cooking time

1 hour

Total time

1 hour, 10 minutes


  1. Wash hands before getting started.
  2. For the sweet and sour sauce, mix sugar, corn starch, water, vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water and 2 cups of barley to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 45-60 minutes, until barley is tender, and water is absorbed.
  4. While the barley is cooking, remove frozen vegetables from freezer to thaw.
  5. Cut chicken into ¾ inch pieces. Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw chicken.
  6. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on food thermometer. Remove chicken and set aside.
  7. Add the sauce to the skillet with pineapple chucks including the juice. Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until boiling.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add chicken, and vegetables, and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
  9. Serve over the barley.


Substitute 1-pound extra-firm tofu in place of chicken for a vegetarian version.

Reduce the sugar even more by using half the sugar or omitting altogether. The recipe will still be naturally sweetened from the pineapple juice and pineapple chunks in the sauce!

Substitute brown rice for barley for a more traditional dish. Adjust the brown rice cooking time based on the rice cooking directions.

If reheating from frozen, first place the dish in the refrigerator overnight. Then heat in the microwave to at least 165°F.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Small bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Can opener
  • Large pot with lid
  • Large skillet
  • Mixing spoon
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