What is Bulgur Wheat?

A staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions, bulgur wheat is a grain we should all get to know better. It’s a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially precooked, and it’s terrific in all sorts of side dishes, soup, pilafs, casseroles, and salads (grain salads and also added to green salads).

Bulgur can be added to meat dishes like kibbeh and meatloaf, to boost nutrition and bulk them up. Many people have encountered this grain for the first time as the backbone of Middle Eastern Tabbouleh salad.

How to Cook Perfect Bulgur Wheat on the Stove

It’s high in fiber and low in fat, and also has a nice amount of protein—though because it is a wheat, it is not gluten-free. It’s got a lovely nutty flavor.

How Long Does Bulgur Wheat Take to Cook

Bulgur takes about 20 minutes total to cook, though half of that time is resting time off the heat, where the grains continue to absorb the cooking liquid.

Technically bulgur doesn’t have to be cooked per se, but rather soaked, thanks to the grains already being parboiled. Just soaking works very well for fine grind bulgur. But for medium or coarse the soaking method takes a while, so giving it a simmer and then a soak speeds things along.

Bulgur comes in fine, medium and coarse grind versions, and if your package does have specific directions you should follow them—there are different methods, and different coarseness requires different soaking times.

Is Bulgur Wheat Healthier Than Rice?

On the whole, the answer is yes, though there are different types of rice with varying degrees of nutrients in them. Bulgur is less processed than white rice, which means more of the nutrients remain in the grain. Bulgur wheat provides a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals (like magnesium), and also protein, so it’s a great high powered carb to include in your meals. Whole grains in general are understood to lower blood pressure and aid in digestive health, so adding them to your diet is super smart.

Bulgur and other whole grains have been shown to be effective in losing weight, as the fiber and protein help you feel fuller longer. But bulgur is so delicious, and texturally satisfying, that you’ll find yourself cooking and eating it for pleasure, rather than as a obligation!

How to Cook Perfect Bulgur Wheat on the Stove

What is the Ratio of Water to Bulgur Wheat?

I use 1 3/4 cups water to 1 cup dried bulgur. Instead of water, consider cooking the grains in diluted broth for a bit of additional flavor, but not so much flavor that the taste of the grains gets overpowered. I usually used a diluted vegetable broth, unless I know for sure the cooked grains are being included in a dish that is not vegetarian. This way whatever I use the cooked grains in is a vegetarian offering.

You can use half canned or boxed broth, and half water to get a more delicately flavored broth.  Or, just use a smaller amount of a stock paste like Better Than Bouillon in water, about half the amount of the paste that the packaging suggests.  So, for 1 3/4 cups water, I would use 1 rounded teaspoon paste, instead of 2 teaspoons.

Basic Bulgur Wheat Recipe

Following is a good baseline recipe on how to cook bulgur wheat.


How to Cook Bulgur Wheat

1. In a saucepan, combine bulgur and water, broth, or a combination of water and broth.

How to Cook Perfect Bulgur Wheat on the Stove

Combine 1 cup of medium grain bulgur and 1 3/4 cups of diluted broth in a sauce pan with a generous pinch of salt (you can use half canned or boxed broth, and half water, or just use a smaller amount of a stock paste like Better Than Bouillon in water, about half of what the label suggests).

2. Bring the bulgur to a simmer and then cover.

How to Cook Perfect Bulgur Wheat on the Stove

Bring to a simmer and then cover, lower the heat and continue to gently simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat and let the bulgur sit.

How to Cook Perfect Bulgur Wheat on the Stove

Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes. All of the liquid should be absorbed and the grains should be tender. If the grains need a few more minutes of cooking time, just replace the lid and lit it sit a bit longer. Conversely if the grains are as tender as you want them—this is a matter of personal preference—and there is still liquid left in the pot, drain the grains in a colander.

If you are using it in a warm preparation, fluff with a fork and continue with the recipe, or to cool it spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet until it gets to room temperature. If you are using it at another time, you can then transfer the cooled grains to a container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Bulgur Wheat Recipes:

Want more bulgur wheat? Try these bulgur wheat recipes!

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How to Cook Perfect Bulgur Wheat on the Stove

This versatile grain is as easy to cook as rice, and adds oomph to many side dishes and salads.
Yield: 4 Servings
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

Ingredients

Directions

  • Combine 1 cup of medium grain bulgur and 1 3/4 cups of diluted broth in a sauce pan with a generous pinch of salt (you can use half canned or boxed broth, and half water, or just use a smaller amount of a stock paste like Better Than Bouillon in water, about half of what the label suggests).
  • Bring to a simmer and then cover, lower the heat and continue to gently simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes. All of the liquid should be absorbed and the grains should be tender. If the grains need a few more minutes of cooking time, just replace the lid and lit it sit a bit longer. Conversely if the grains are as tender as you want them—this is a matter of personal preference—and there is still liquid left in the pot, drain the grains in a colander.
  • If you are using it in a warm preparation, fluff with a fork continue with the recipe, or to cool it spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet until it gets to room temperature. If you are using it at another time, you can then transfer the cooled grains to a container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

Diluting broth: You can use half canned or boxed broth, and half water to get a more delicately flavored broth.  Or, just use a smaller amount of a stock paste like Better Than Bouillon in water, about half the amount of the paste that the packaging suggests.  So, for 1 3/4 cups water, I would use 1 rounded teaspoon paste, instead of 2 teaspoons.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 156IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

    1. Hopefully someone can help. I cooked burglar and finish the recipe like it had sad but it has a thick sort of film on it. should I have rinsed it. it was like overcooked spaghetti. Thanks for any help you can give

  1. My family is from Turkey so we use bulgur often. We buy it loose (by the pound), so no nutritional
    information is available. You offer that information, but not the quantity. Please state.

  2. I used to buy bulgar wheat in a box called Kashi in St. Louis in the 1960s. The recipe on it involved mushrooms. Do you know a recipe for bulgar wheat with mushrooms? The bulgar wheat I have from nuts.com says to use 1 cup bw in 3 cups boiling water.
    I seem to remember using mushroom soup in the recipe. I also have some fresh mushrooms to use with it.

    1. I think you were using kasha which is buckwheat. It is a russian food and made by european jewish cooks.
      You can find it in the jewish section of some grocery stores

    2. I had a similar recipe. It called for sautéing the mushrooms and bulgar in oil and then adding the water or broth. Simple. I may have added minced onion also.

  3. After cooking the bulgar wheat and cooling it.
    Can’t be blended into a finer mash and used in making a baked meat or mixed nut pie?

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