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Homemade Lemon Barley Water

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A traditional homemade lemon barley water recipe that’s delicious, refreshing and soothing. Just the way grandma used to make it!

This is the lemon barley water recipe that my grandma used to make when we were little children and poorly.

And just simmering it up and mixing everything together brings back lovely memories of her (not of being poorly obviously….)

It’s really refreshing and a fab little pick-me up drink if you’re under the weather.

And best of all it’s so simple to make and uses all simple ingredients.

bottle of homemade lemon barley water stood on a wooden railway girder with herbs and blossoms in the background

Homemade Lemon Barley Water Recipe

Makes – approximately 1 litre

Prep Time – 5 minutes

Cook Time – around 45 minutes 

Total Time – around 50 minutes (plus a couple of hours to cool)

Our Most Popular Alternative – Popcorn Cakes

Homemade Lemon Barley Water Ingredients

You’ll just need a handful of natural ingredients to make our delicious lemon barley drink

ingredients for lemon barley water - sugar on a blue plate, bowl of barley, two lemons
  • 125g Pearl Barley
  • 50g Sugar
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1.2 litres boiling water

Equipment Needed

  • Colander
  • Sieve
  • Grater
  • Measuring jug
  • Weighing scales
  • Saucepan
  • Chopping board
  • Lemon juicer
  • Bottle with a lid

Lemon Barley Water Recipe

You’ll just love how simple this lemon barley water drink is to prepare and make

Step One – rinse the barley

  • First put the barley into a colander or sieve and rinse under running cold water – then set to drain.
barley being rinsed under the tap in a green jospeh joesph colander

Step Two – grate the lemon zest

  • Grate the zest of the lemons
lemons being grated to get the zest

Step Three – simmer the barley, sugar and lemon zest

  • Put the barley, sugar and lemon zest into a saucepan. You can put the lemon peel in the pan and some recipes do, I feel the white pith gives a bitter taste and the zest is enough.
  • Pour over 1.2 litres of boiling water – bring the pan to boil on the stovetop over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and boil with the lid on for around 45 minutes to an hour (check your barley packet for exact cooking times)
le creuset black saucepan filled with barley, sugar and lemon zest
  • Once it’s cooked it should look like this – cloudy, milky water.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
freshly boiled barley water in a black le creuset saucepan

Step Four – juice the lemons

  • Squeeze the juice from the two lemons
lemons being juiced on a glass lemon squeezer

Step Five – mix up the lemon barley water

  • Then pour the cooled lemon barley water through a sieve or fine mesh strainer into a jug.

Cooks Note! – Don’t throw away the cooked barley, you can use it in broths, soups or stews or grain salad, just toss together with your favourite salad vegetables and dressing – store in the fridge and eat within 24 hours

  • Pour the lemon juice into the barley water and stir through gently to mix.
homemade lemon barley water poured into a jug with lemon juice stirred through
  • Pour the lemon barley water into a clean sterilised bottle and chill in the fridge.
  • Store the lemon barley water in the fridge and use within 2 days as it contains no preservative.
bottle of homemade lemon barley water stood on a wooden railway girder with herbs and blossoms in the background

How To Make Barley Water With Your Own Twist

  • Add in zest and juice of oranges instead or as well as lemons.
  • Add some warmth and finely grate in some fresh root ginger.
  • Infuse the lemon barley water with spices like clove, cinnamon, fennel or juniper.

How To Serve Lemon Barley Water

bottle of homemade lemon barley water and two smaller drinking bottles filled with lemon barley water with black and yellow striped reusable straws
  • As a refreshing, hydrating alternative to tea or coffee, it’s especially nice in the summer served with lots of ice and garnished with mint.
  • It’s soothing to sip when you’re under the weather and need to keep fluids up.
  • With ice on hot days – add ice (or even herby little ice cubes) add lemon slices and a straw.

Health Benefits Of Drinking Lemon Barley Water 

My grandma used to make this for us when we were children and under the weather – especially if we had a UTI she swore by it’s soothing properties.  

She used to make it in exactly the same way she’d be taught when she was younger, so it was a traditional pick-me-up.

For more health benefits of drinking lemon barley water, like controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar and promoting weight loss check out Healthline here. 

Get more delicious fresh juice recipes here

Lemon Barley Water Recipe

Yield: Approx 1 litre
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Soothing, refreshing traditional homemade lemon barley water


  • 125g pearl barley
  • 50g caster sugar 
  • 2 lemons
  • 1.2 litres boiling water 


  1. Rinse the barley in a sieve under cold running water
  2. Zest the lemons
  3. Put the barley, sugar and lemon zest into a saucepan
  4. Pour over 1.2 litres of boiling water - bring the pan to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, put the lid on and cook for 45-60 minutes (check barley packet for exact cooking times)
  5. Once cooked - remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool down.
  6. Juice the lemons
  7. Then pour the barley water through a sieve into a jug
  8. Stir in the lemon juice and then pour into a clean, sterilised bottle and store in the fridge
  9. Use within 2 days.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 79Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 11mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 1g

Nutritional content will vary depending on the exact ingredients you use and how careful you are with measuring - this nutritional information is given as a general guide only and may not be accurate - you should always calculate your own nutritional information especially if you have specific dietary requirements.

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