What is bulgur wheat? What are different types of bulgur? What are the uses? Let’s learn all things about bulgur wheat today! And see how to cook bulgur wheat of all types with two simple methods: Soaking and cooking on the stove. Both methods are extremely easy!

Bulgur has taken the world by storm, but for decades it’s been a beloved ingredient in Turkish cuisine. This versatile ingredient can be used in many dishes like our delicious bulgur pilaf or our famous flavor-packed bulgur salad. No matter what you choose to make, bulgur is a nutritious, filling, appetizing, and versatile ingredient – the perfect all-rounder!

Cooked very coarse bulgur topped with chopped parsley in a white bowl with a spoon inside it.
Cooked very coarse bulgur
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What Is Bulgur Wheat? 

Bulgur is a product derived from wholegrain wheat kernels, also known as groats. Groats are hulled kernels that contain the germ, bran, and endosperm of the grain. These groats are parboiled (partially cooked) and dried. Then they are ground in different sizes. Whether to cook or soak bulgur wheat depends on its size.

Bulgur is most often made from durum wheat, but can also come from various other types of wheat grains.

One of the biggest reasons bulgur became so popular lately is because it is packed with nutrients! Bulgur wheat contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Also it is one of the best low carb grains and very rich in fiber.

A big question we get asked quite frequently, “does bulgur have gluten?” Unfortunately, considering it is a wheat-based product, it does contain gluten, so we wouldn’t recommend it for gluten-free diets. 

White fine bulgur, red fine bulgur, medium bulgur, coarse bulgur and very coarse bulgur in small bowls on a dark background.
Bulgur types

Types of Bulgur

Bulgar wheat  can be found in two different colors: Red and white. White bulgur and red bulgur are virtually the same product, the only difference being the type of wheat they come from which gives them their color.

As we’ve already mentioned, white bulgur mostly comes from the yellow-ish durum wheat grain. Red bulgur comes from red whole grain wheat varieties.

Bulgar wheat can be processed into 4 different sizes: Fine, medium, coarse and very coarse bulgur.

Fine bulgur, also referred to as “quick-cooking bulgur” or “extra-fine bulgur”, is the smallest size you will find. We call it ‘ince bulgur’ in Turkish. Naturally, this size allows it to cook the fastest compared to the other medium and coarse versions. Fine bulgur has special uses in Turkish cuisine.

Medium bulgur is probably the easiest to find. These grains are slightly bigger compared to the fine bulgur version, but still you can just soak it. Many people prefer soaking it, while others prefer cooking it on the stove-top. Both methods work well. You can use medium bulgur when making soups or pilaf.

Coarse and very coarse bulgur are the largest sizes you will find and naturally take longer to cook. These are not suitable for the soaking method and only cooked on stove top. In Turkish cuisine, coarse and very coarse bulgur are the best for making pilaf. 

Boiling Method:

We need this method for coarse bulgur and very coarse bulgur. Cooking bulgur is almost the same as cooking gluten free buckwheat.  Combine 1 cup coarse or very coarse bulgur with 2 cups of hot water. Add in the salt and olive oil, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Very coarse bulgur in a saucepan with water and oil.
Cooking very coarse bulgur

Once boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest and allow it to cook covered for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Very coarse bulgur in a saucepan after cooked.
Very coarse bulgur after cooking

Coarse bulgur cooking time: 15 minutes

Very coarse bulgur cooking time: 20 minutes

Second, allow the bulgur to rest and fluff. Once the bulgur has been fully cooked, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest another 15 minutes. Fluff the bulgur with a fork and serve it as a side. 

Bulgur Water Ratio

 The smaller the grain the less water it can absorb, and ultimately the less water you will need. The bulgur water ratio will be determined by the size of the bulgur.

Fine and medium bulgur: 1:1 ratio. You need about 1 cup water to 1 cup bulgur.

Coarse and very coarse bulgur: 1:2 ratio. You need to cook these types of bulgur longer and therefore they absorb more water. For these, you can use 1 part bulgur to 2 parts water.

If your water is completely absorbed before the bulgur has been cooked, simply add a bit more and continue until the bulgur has been fully cooked.

Two bowls of fine bulgur and two bowls of medium bulgur on a dark background.
Bulgur after cooked

Tips & Tricks

What makes this recipe and method so fantastic is how customizable they are. Instead of water, you can use vegetable, chicken, or beef stock to add additional flavor.

You can also add any type of spice or herb that you’d like. Spices can be added before you start to soak or boil the bulgur, whereas herbs can be added fresh before serving.

You can substitute the olive oil with butter when cooking coarse and very coarse bulgur. However, don’t do this for fine and medium bulgur as it will affect their texture too much.

While you are soaking the bulgur, cover the bowls with kitchen towels. This will help the bulgur absorb the water much better.

If your water has been fully absorbed before the bulgur has been cooked, add a tiny bit of extra hot water and allow it to soak in for another few minutes.

After your bulgur has been fully cooked and fluffed, allow it to cool before placing it in an airtight container and placing it in the fridge. This way you can use it whenever you’d like in salads or soups.

FAQs

Does bulgur need to be cooked?

Fine and medium bulgur wheat doesn’t have to be cooked and can be soaked. Coarse and very coarse bulgur wheat on the other hand has to be cooked on the stovetop.

How many cups of bulgur wheat per person?

To work out how much uncooked bulgur wheat you need to cook per person, work on about ¼ cup each. So 1 cup of uncooked bulgur wheat will be enough for about 4 people.

In bulgur a carb or protein?

While bulgur does contain protein, its main classification is as a complex carbohydrate. If you’re wondering if bulgur is healthy if it’s a carb, fear not as it is still an amazing nutritious grain.

How does bulgur wheat taste?

Bulgur has a slightly nutty and earthy flavor with an almost chewy texture that goes great with chicken or meat dishes.

Where is bulgur in the grocery store?

Bulgur wheat will most likely be found in the grains section. If you aren’t sure where that is, look out for pasta or rice.

Can I substitute bulgur for quinoa or couscous?

A good bulgur wheat substitute is definitely either couscous or quinoa. They cook in similar ways, have similar flavor and texture profiles, and can also be used in the same recipes. Bulgur however is NOT gluten-free!

Fine bulgur and medium bulgur after soaked in four different bowls on a dark background.
Fine bulgur and medium bulgur after soaked

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📖 Recipe

How To Cook Bulgur (All Types)

Medium bulgur after soaked in a grey bowl with a fork inside it.

How to cook fine bulgur, medium bulgur, coarse bulgur and very coarse bulgur with a basic method.

  • Author: Yusuf
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Turkish
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • hot water (1 cup for fine and medium types. 2 cups for coarse and very coarse types)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

Optional:

  • black pepper
  • chili powder
  • dried mint
  • chopped parsley

Instructions

Fine Bulgur (red or white): Soak 1 cup bulgur with 1 cup hot water. Sprinkle salt and add in olive oil. Give it a stir. Let it rest covered for 10 minutes.

Medium Bulgur: The same method with fine bulgur. Let it rest covered for 15 minutes.

Coarse Bulgur: Put 1 cup bulgur and 2 cups hot water in a small pan. Add in olive oil. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to the lowest. Cook covered for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving. Fluff it with a fork and then serve. 

Very Coarse Bulgur: The same method with the coarse bulgur. Cook it for 20 minutes.

Notes

  1. These are the basic steps of cooking bulgur. You can customize it to your liking. For example, you can substitute vegetable stock or chicken/beef stock for plain hot water. Also, you can add any spices or herbs you like. We listed ours above.
  2. It’s better to cover the bowls with a kitchen towel when soaking. This helps bulgur absorb water better.

  3. If bulgur is not soft enough after soaking or cooking, you can add a little more hot water and let it absorb it in a few minutes. 

  4. If you like, you can substitute butter for olive oil when cooking coarse and very coarse bulgur. We don’t recommend this for fine bulgur though.

  5. When you cook coarse or medium coarse bulgur, let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

  6. After cooking bulgur, you can store it in airtight containers and use it as needed, in salads, soups or as it is.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 120
  • Sugar: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 587.6mg
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.6g
  • Protein: 4.3g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: bulgur, how to cook bulgur, bulgur wheat, fine bulgur, coarse bulgur

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