Home / Salad Recipes / Lentil Barley Salad with Tangy Lemon-Thyme Dressing

Lentil Barley Salad with Tangy Lemon-Thyme Dressing

Creamy lentils meets chewy nutty barley in this Lentil Barley Salad recipe! It is a delectable chaos of flavors and textures with cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans, minced red onion, feta, and a tangy lemon dressing.

A blue bowl filled with lentil and barley salad with lemon slices on the side.

Picture this: a vibrant bowl filled with the rich warmth of the earthy green lentils, chewy barley, crisp vegetables, and a tangy lemon and fresh garlic vinaigrette. Now imagine yourself enjoying it under a shady tree on a picnic blanket or serving it proudly at a summer BBQ. Pretty dreamy, right?

As the weather warms up, hearty salads like this one are the key to self care. You can make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it all throughout the week for a cook-out side dish next to some ribs, light lunch (ideally while sitting in the sun), or eating straight out of the bowl when you are too tired and famished to do anything else.

My love for barley in soups has been well documented (see Mushroom Barley Soup and Beef Barley Soup), but it is also excellent in salads. It is a hearty, chewy grain with a pleasant nutty flavor.

Be bold and use this lentil salad not as a recipe, but merely a guide to create your own salad with farro or rice and any number of vegetables, beans and herbs. Come November, I can even see this on the Thanksgiving table with roasted butternut squash and wild rice.

What Are Lentils?

Lentil barley salad in a blue bowl with a spoon in the side of the bowl.

Lentils are little legumes that come in a variety of colors. Green, brown, and red are the most common in the US. You may also occasionally see black lentils. They are quick-cooking (as far as beans go) and very nutritious.

Salad Ingredients

All the ingredients to make lentil barley salad including lentils, barley, and more.
  • Pearl barley. Many grocery stores carry pearled and hulled barley. Make sure you get the pearl variety.
  • Lentils. I’ve used green or brown lentils. They both work great.
  • Green beans. These get cut into bite-sized pieces and lightly blanched for a nice crunchy (but still tender) bite.
  • 2 large garlic cloves. To add kick to the dressing.
  • Lemon juice. Adds light and bright flare to the salad.
  • Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Just a touch for an acidic kick that is different from the lemon juice.
  • Kosher salt. I always use Morton kosher salt unless otherwise specified.
  • Fresh thyme. Run your finger down each stem to get off all the little leaves.
  • Olive oil is the most flavorful oil to use but canola oil will work in a pinch.
  • Dijon mustard. I said this dressing was tangy, right?!
  • Cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes or even red bell pepper if you don’t like tomatoes.
  • Red onion aka purple onion.
  • Oregano. Fresh oregano is so fragrant and flavorful a little goes a long way.
  • Feta cheese. This is optional but it adds a nice salty, creamy element to the salad.
  • Black pepper. The finishing touch of flavor.

How To Make This Recipe

step one

Cook the barley and lentils. Fill a large saucepan with 4-5 cups of water and add a generous five-finger pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the barley and lentils and cook until tender but not falling apart. One of the great things about this recipe is that the cooking time for the lentils and barley are the same!

A saucepan of lentils and barley cooking in boiling water on the stove.

step two

Cook green beans. Once the barley and lentils are tender, add the green beans and cook a couple minutes more or until they are tender but still maintain some bite. Drain everything through a colander

green beans floating in boiling water being stirred with a wood spoon.

step three

Make dressing. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl that you will use to serve the salad in.

All the dressing ingredients being whisked in a glass bowl.

step four

Combine salad. Combine lentils, barley, and green beans with the dressing in the bowl. Gently stir in the tomatoes, red onion, oregano, and feta. There should be enough dressing to coat everything well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

A glass bowl filled with lentil and barley salad with feta cheese and tomatoes on top.

step five

Serve! Enjoy warm, room temperature, or cold.

If you loved today’s flavors, try making my Lemon Broiled Cod or my Lemon Oregano Roasted Potatoes. ✨


A bowl of lentil barley salad with lemon wedges behind it on a wood table.

Consider this a basic recipe that can be spun in many different ways. Like:

  • Use 3-4 thinly sliced green onions instead of the red onions.
  • Swap other whole grains like brown rice for the barley.
  • This is an awesome dish for those following a plant-based diet. If you are vegan, simply leave out the feta cheese or substitute vegan cheese.
  • Substitute different fresh herbs for the oregano like Italian parsley, basil, or dill. You could also go with dry herbs or a seasoning mix like Greek seasoning.

Top 5 Most Popular Salad Recipes

  1. Warm Kale and Wild Rice Salad
  2. Cucumber Tomato and Avocado Salad
  3. Falafel Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing
  4. Easy Grilled Thai-Style Steak Salad
  5. Roasted Beet Salad with Cracked Olives

Lentil Barley Salad, On Repeat

I hope you love this warm weather fave as much as we do! When you make it, share a photo and tag me on Instagram using @katesbestrecipes so that I can see. Or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating)! Also, sign up for my weekly recipe newsletter so you never miss any new recipes.

A blue bowl filled with lentil and barley salad on a wood table.


Author: Kate
Creamy lentils meets barley in this Lentil Barley Salad recipe! With cherry tomatoes, green beans, red onion, feta, and lemon dressing.
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings



  • Fill a large saucepan with heavily-salted water and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup barley and 1 cup lentils, stir occasionally to dislodge any lentils that get stuck to the bottom, and cook until al dente, about 20 minutes. Lower the heat a little bit if it looks like the pot is going to boil over. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the 8 ounces chopped green beans and boil until knife tender.
  • Meanwhile, combine the 2 cloves minced garlic, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl that you will serve the salad in. While constantly whisking, slowly add the 1/3 cup olive oil until incorporated. Making the dressing right in the salad bowl will mean 1 less bowl for cleaning—yay!
  • Once barley and beans are tender, drain thoroughly through a colander and add to dressing while still warm so they soak up as much dressing as possible. Toss to combine, then add the 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, 3/4 cup feta cheese, and 2 tablespoons chopped oregano. Stir gently and taste; adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.


  1. Make-ahead/storage: This salad tastes even better the next day! Keep in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Give a stir before serving. 
  2. Don’t Overcook! Lentils and barley should be tender but retain a bit of bite – check for doneness before draining.
  3. Fresh Herb Options: Swap in your favorites: parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, or a combination for a different flavor profile.
  4. Types of Lentils: Use green or brown lentils for this recipe. Red lentils will cook down too quickly and become mushy.

In support of this small business, Kate’s Best Recipes earns revenue in a few different ways. Several sponsored posts are published each month. I also earn an affiliate commission on the sales of products I link to— there are a few of those links in this post. I only feature items I genuinely love and personally use on a regular basis. This commission is an arrangement between the retailer and Kate’s Best Recipes (readers never pay more for products). This income allows me to run the site. Thank you for reading!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating