This southwestern slow cooker barley casserole with ground turkey may not be pretty to look at, but it’s healthy, flavorful and couldn’t be easier to prepare! Even my 4-year-old devoured it.

Southwestern Slow Cooker Barley and Ground Turkey Casserole - Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

Sometimes when I develop a recipe, I really want to share it with you guys but it’s ugly and not really fancy. This recipe is NOT FANCY AT ALL. But, it’s delicious. Warm, comforting, and easy to make. It’s ugly as can be, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t share the recipe with you.

I also had a difficult time naming the recipe. Casserole? Stew? It’s somewhere in between the two, I think. It’s hearty, warm, full of flavor, cheesy…basically everything you love in food, right?

Southwestern Slow Cooker Barley and Ground Turkey Casserole - Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

E loved scooping this up onto chips and eating it that way. So did Ben for that matter. N continues to survive on breakfast alone — little stinker. I was still recovering from oral surgery when I made this (sick of hearing about that yet?) so no chips for me, but it really hit the spot and required minimal chewing. (Gross? Sorry.)

Southwestern Slow Cooker Barley and Ground Turkey Casserole - Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

And it’s unbelievable simple to make. Start like you’re going to make turkey tacos. Sauté ground turkey with peppers and onions. Add taco seasoning. Throw that in the slow cooker with beans, corn, pearl barley, and chicken stock. Stir in a generous amount of cheese when it is all said and done and you’re left with satisfying, filling comfort food. With really minimal effort. This slow cooker barley casserole is perfect if you’re just had oral surgery, or if you’re just human and hungry.

Southwestern Slow Cooker Barley and Ground Turkey Casserole - Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

Southwestern Slow Cooker Barley Casserole with Ground Turkey

This slow cooker barley casserole may not be pretty to look at, but it’s healthy, flavorful and couldn’t be easier to prepare! Even my 4-year-old devoured it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1.25 pound (20 ounces) lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (more to taste)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • Optional ingredients for topping and serving: Sour cream, salsa, diced tomatoes, avocado, fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, tortilla chips.

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add turkey, onion, and pepper and saute until turkey is cooked through. Add taco seasoning and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  2. Add meat mixture along with corn, tomatoes, beans, barley, and chicken broth to a 6 quart slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until barley is tender and most of water is soaked up into the barley.
  3. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups of cheese and sprinkle the remaining half cup on top. Cover until melted. Serve with tortilla chips if desired as well as any desired toppings.

Note: 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning (as called for in the recipe) yields a pretty mild casserole. If you like it spicier, feel free to bump up the amount you use.

All images and text ©Rachel Cooks.

Verdict: It’s been winter forever, and this completely hit the spot.

Husband’s take: He loved this! Ate the leftovers at least twice.

Changes I would make: None are necessary, but if I had something green in my fridge, it would have benefited greatly from a fresh garnish like cilantro or green onions.

Difficulty: Very easy.

Looking for more great barley recipes like this slow cooker barley casserole? Try these:

Barley, Bulgar and Vegetable Vegan Casserole

Barley Salad with Cucumbers, Tomato and Parsley

Chicken Barley Soup with Kale and Butternut Squash

Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers and Spinach from Handle the Heat

Slow Cooker Barley and Chickpea Risotto from Foxes Love Lemons

Toasted Barley and Shrimp Salad from Cookin’ Canuck

Southwestern Slow Cooker Barley and Ground Turkey Casserole - Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com