How to Cook Bulgur Wheat Recipe

Learn how to cook bulgur wheat with this easy recipe! Plus, find tips for storing and serving this nutty, chewy, and nutritious whole grain.


Chewy, nutty, and incredibly easy to cook, bulgur wheat is good for so much more than tabbouleh!

This whole grain will always have a place in my pantry. In case you’re curious about adding it to yours, I’m sharing a full guide to bulgur below. Learn what it is, how to cook it, how to store it, and more!

What Is Bulgur Wheat?

Bulgur is par-boiled, dried, and cracked wheat that is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s one of the key ingredients in tabbouleh salad, but you’ll also find it in Middle Eastern dishes such as kubbeh or kibbeh, kofta, and stuffed vegetables.

Rich in protein and fiber, bulgur has a mild, nutty flavor and chewy texture. At Middle Eastern markets or online, you can find it in a variety of levels of coarseness, ranging from fine to extra-coarse. Many American grocery stores carry only the coarse wheat.

Bulgur vs. Cracked Wheat

Bulgur is a type of cracked wheat…but not all cracked wheat is bulgur. The difference is that bulgur is par-boiled, or partially cooked, in the production process. As a result, it has a much shorter cooking time than other cracked wheat. In fact, you don’t have to “cook” it at all—simply soaking it is enough to soften it. Find instructions for preparing it in the bulgur recipe below!

Types of bulgur wheat - fine and coarse

How to Cook Bulgur Wheat

The method you use to cook this grain will depend on what type of bulgur you have.

  • To prepare 1 cup of fine bulgur, place it in a medium bowl and add cold water to cover it by 1/2-inch. Set it aside to soak for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain the excess liquid and fluff with a fork before using.
  • To prepare 1 cup of coarse bulgur wheat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir the grains into the hot water, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain any excess liquid and fluff with a fork before using.

As you can see, preparing both of these types of bulgur wheat is simple. The coarse wheat just requires additional time and hotter water to become fully tender.

Cracked wheat in pot of boiling water

Ways to Use Bulgur Wheat

Once you have this cooked grain on hand, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to use it up. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • As a simple side dish. Make a quick pilaf by tossing the wheat with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, pine nuts, and chopped fresh parsley. Serve alongside your favorite protein!
  • In a grain bowl. Swap it in for the quinoa in this Mediterranean quinoa bowl.
  • In salads. Try it in tabbouleh and more!
  • In stuffed vegetables. See the Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant recipe on page 179 of Love & Lemons Every Day!
  • In soups and stews. It makes them thick and hearty.

How do you like to use this healthy grain? Let me know in the comments!

Note that bulgur is not gluten-free, so if you’re avoiding gluten, you should opt for another grain. Quinoa and brown rice are excellent substitutes.


Store dry bulgur in a cool, dry place, such as a cupboard or pantry, for a year or more. Keep it in the refrigerator or freezer to extend its shelf life even longer.

Once you cook it, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the cooked grains. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 2 hours. Then, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave.

Bulgur wheat

More Whole Grains to Try

If you loved learning how to cook this whole grain, try wheat berries, farro, or quinoa next!

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