Kent had been expected to spend the campaign in Germany with Freiburg, but the 21-year-old was given just 244 minutes in the Bundesliga during six appearances.
That led to Liverpool recalling the midfielder, and Bristol City have stepped in to add the former England Under-20 international to their squad as they try to earn promotion to the Premier League.
Manager Lee Johnson told the club's official website: "I'm delighted to bring in a player of Ryan Kent's quality. He did very well at Barnsley last year and he'll bring genuine speed, athleticism and ball control to our squad.
"We thank Liverpool for entrusting us with another top player's development and I'm looking forward to welcoming him into the group."
Last season, Kent netted three goals from 38 starts and six substitute outings for Barnsley in the Championship.
Kent could make his debut when Bristol City face Norwich City on Saturday afternoon.