Grains to Use in Stew

Beef stew
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Stew is a great meal to make when you need something simple that will feed a lot of people or that will last you a long time. It’s hearty, you can basically throw in any ingredients you find, and you can make it taste however you like. One way to make stew even heartier is to add grains. These will add something to soak up the moisture and make it heavier and chewier so that you also feel like you’re eating a good meal. Here are some of the best to use.


Barley will soak up the flavor of your stew really well and has a super-pleasing chew to it in addition to being nice and heavy. It’s especially good in salty, meatier stews as the umami flavor works really well with barley’s own taste. Also, it expands quite a bit, so a little will go a long way meaning you can make your barley last longer.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a rounder, heartier grain than white rice which makes it a great addition to stew. It won’t soak up quite as much flavor as barley, but its own flavor is quite nice and it has lots of nutrients such as fiber thanks to it being a whole grain. It’s great with veggie and chicken stews.


If you’re going for a thicker, more porridgy texture, then oatmeal is great. We think of oatmeal in the west as a breakfast food, but in fact, it’s often used to make savory porridges like congee in southeast Asia. It’s especially good with lots of garlic, ginger, and chicken stock.