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Rabbit Stew with Pearl Barley

Rabbit stew may sound old-fashioned but it is a beautiful meat with a subtle flavour that sits perfectly in this pearl barley based braise.

Simple techniques and classic home cooking are at the heart of this recipe that requires no real skill and creates a hearty and delicious meal in around 90 minutes.

Overhead old fashioned braised rabbit leg stew with pearl barley.

An Old Fashioned British Bunny Stew

I’m kicking off my slow transition to autumnal food with a delicious and simple stew recipe. Yes, I’m being all populist again with my fancy old-fashioned ingredients and traditional cooking methods.

This recipe is not my first rabbit recipe here on Krumpli. It joins dishes like rabbit tagine, rabbit cacciatore, rabbit ragu and a stunning classic paella Valenciana with rabbit.

This rabbit stew recipe, however, is a little closer to home and is very British indeed, it is the sort of thing that would make my gran smile a great deal!

Rabbit was one of the sources of protein that was not rationed during WWII in the UK and during the rationing period after. As a result, it became understandably a popular ingredient.

I genuinely love the stuff, it has a wonderfully subtle flavour that is nothing at all like chicken! So forget everything that you have ever read.

It is exceptionally lean and has a tendency to dry out when cooked quickly.

Consequently, this slow braised approach of the bony leg cut is the perfect foolproof introduction to cooking rabbit.

Close-up stewed rabbit with pearl barley, leeks and carrots.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pearl barley?

Wait for it folks, pearl barley is… Wait for it… Barley! Ok, it is barley that has the inedible husk removed and then polished to remove the bran.

It is a pretty ancient ingredient often associated with ‘padding’ out frugal dishes. I personally love the flavour, it is kinda nutty and has the most wonderful chewy texture.

I use it in this rabbit stew in a similar way to the way I use it in my cockaleekie soup as well as in an orzotto, a north Italian sibling dish of risotto.

Can I prepare this in advance?

Yes, it will sit in the fridge for a couple of days after cooking in a sealed container. You could in theory freeze it, although I personally am not e of grains once they have been frozen and reheated.

To reheat place the stew in a large saucepan with a lid and gently reheat until the rabbit is piping hot.

Can I cook this in a slow cooker?

Yes, sear off the rabbit and bacon, making surer that you fry the tomato puree too. Then transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high.

Can I use dried rosemary?

Yes, just throw between half and one teaspoon into the stew.

Can I use the whole rabbit?

Yes, you could use a whole-jointed rabbit if you wish, however, the rabbit loin can dry out very quickly.

I would sear that off later in the cooking process and add it into the stew for the final 20-25 minutes.

Old fashioned braised rabbit leg stew with pearl barley.

Serving Suggestions

This rabbit stew recipe really is a hearty one-pot meal and it really does not need a side dish.

That does not stop me from pairing it with a nice crunchy bread to mop up the sauce.

If I am making bread my personal favourite is a nice simple soda bread, it is tasty, quick to make and does not need proving.

Close-up braised rabbit leg stew with pearl barley, leeks and carrots.

Equipment Used

I only mention specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 24cm or 10″ heavy based saucepan or Dutch oven with a lid.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kicthen knife.
  • Kitchen tongs, stirring and serving spoons.
Rabbit leg stew with pearl barley, carrots and leeks.
Yield: 2 Servings

Rabbit Stew Recipe with Pearl Barley

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Rabbit stew is as old school as it gets this one is delightfully frugal, packed with flavour and features the much-underused pearl barley.


  • 2 Rabbit Legs
  • 75g (2 Total) Celery Stalk
  • 150g (1 Cup) Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 200g (1½ Cups) Leek
  • 200g (1¼ Cups) Carrots
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Tsp Cooking Oil
  • 25g (2 Tbsp) Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 100g (1½ oz) Bacon Lardons
  • 750ml (3 Cups) Chicken Stock
  • 100g (½ Cup) Pearl Barley
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ¼ Tsp Black Pepper


  1. Cut the onion in half, peel it and then cut it into a 5-6mm or (¼") dice.
  2. Chop the celery into a 5-6mm dice (¼").
  3. Peel and slice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
  4. Clean the leek thoroughly and then cut it into 12-15mm (½") thick coins.
  5. Cut the carrots into 25mm (1") chunks. Peel them before if they are a bit "tatty".
  6. Season the rabbit legs with salt and then dredge with the flour.
  7. Heat a 24cm or 10" saucepan over a medium heat and when hot add the oil and butter.
  8. Fry the rabbit legs until golden on all sides, remove and set aside.
  9. Add the bacon and cook until golden.
  10. Add the celery and onion to the bacon and fry for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  11. Throw in the tomato puree and cook out for 1-2 minutes stirring regularly
  12. Add the sliced garlic, leeks and carrots to the pan and stir to coat in the oils and tomato puree.
  13. Pour in barley followed by the stock
  14. Drop in the rosemary followed by the rabbit legs, cover with a lid and reduce to a gentle simmer for 75 minutes.
  15. You can either remove the rabbit legs and shred them, returning the meat to the stew or serve the legs while on a base of the stew.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 851Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 2186mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 8gSugar: 17gProtein: 57g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Monday 29th of March 2021

Made this tonight and really enjoyed my bowl. Made a soda bread to go with it in a pinch and that really completed the meal. Thanks for your recipe.

Brian Jones

Monday 5th of April 2021

So glad that you enjoyed it.


Thursday 28th of January 2021

Hi Brian,just seen this recepi on Pinterest and I have a little question for you,I got given a pheasant from a farm in Wales and I have never cooked or tasted pheasant so i was wondering if I could use this recepi for it instead of a rabbit if I cut it into portions (don't even know how to do that :)) thanks in advance if you know the answer to this random question.


Friday 29th of January 2021

@Brian Jones, Wow, thank you for replying so quickly and it was ever so helpful, guess I would maybe have to double the recepi as it´s whole bird instead of two rabbit legs. The video was extremely helpful too. I have to admit I´m really nervous about cooking this, I thought about just throwing it away but felt bad for the old guy who brought it from Wales to Manchester and I would hate the thought of the bird dying for no reason too :) Next on my list are some of your curries, being born in Iceland I had never tasted a Indian food before I moved to England and wasn´t keen, now I´m completely converted and could have it for breakfast (I actually have done that a few times after a few drinks the night before, don´t judge me) Thanks for your help and have a good weekend :) Rakel.

Brian Jones

Thursday 28th of January 2021

Hi Rakel... Pheasant can be a funny old bird but braising it is definitely the best way to deal with a wild one so yes you could use this recipe. The timing you may need to alter a little, 45-60 minutes may be enough, all you can do is start it off and be prepared for anywhere between 45 minutes and 75 minutes, you can remove the pheasant from the broth to prevent to slow the cooking and reheat later to serve. You can even drop the breast in later as it can have a tendency to dry out, 25 minutes should be plenty for the breast meat.

A meat thermometer really is your friend, the breast is best cooked to around 65C whereas the leg is best up at 80-85C.

I'd leave it on the bone rather than shred it after and in terms of breaking it down it is very similar to a chicken, I have a video on my FB page the only thing I would do differently is leave the breast on the bone, by cutting through the ribs with some poultry shears.

I hope that helps a little, have fun :) Brian


Monday 10th of September 2018

I've never had rabbit, but I have to admit this looks amazing! I'll have to give this a try soon!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Thank Kim.

Kelly Anthony

Monday 10th of September 2018

Great information on rabbit and pearl barley which I'm neither super familiar with. Thanks for the tips and great recipe.

Brian Jones

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Cheers Kelly


Monday 10th of September 2018

This is a delicious and hearty stew for fall! The bacon adds a fantastic flavor along with the pearl barley.

Brian Jones

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Thanks Lisa

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