Bulgur, a versatile wheat product that should not be missing from your diet!

If you’re interested in Middle Eastern cuisine, then you’ve probably heard of bulgur.

What is important to know about him?

In this article, you will learn how to prepare it correctly, where you can use it, and many other tips.

Bulgur, a healthy and light food that will surprise you with its nutty taste

What can be prepared from bulgur?

What types are there?

Or what are its nutritional values?

Let’s check it out together!

What exactly is bulgur?

It is cracked whole wheat that has already been pre-cooked. It is produced by first washing the wheat, drying it, crushing it into smaller pieces and then pre-cooking it. Which facilitates its further use in the kitchen.

Not only is bulgur versatile in its mild flavor, but it’s also easy to prepare and has several health benefits.

When cooked, it has a chewy consistency similar to couscous or quinoa. The flavor is earthy and nutty, similar to quinoa. Although its flavor is mild, it is more pronounced than that of rice or couscous.

Why is it advisable to regularly include bulgur in our diet?

Eating bulgur has several health benefits such as

Supports heart health

Eating foods rich in fiber, including bulgur, is associated with a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.

It helps control blood sugar levels

Compared to refined grains, whole grains are associated with a reduced blood sugar response and lower insulin levels. Bulgur is a rich source of fiber and phytonutrients that improve blood sugar control.

Improves digestion and gut health

Regular consumption of bulgur can support the growth of healthy gut bacteria. These bacteria produce fatty acids that support gut health and proper digestive function. In addition, adequate intake of fiber-rich foods such as bulgur can also be effective in treating and preventing digestive problems such as constipation.

It helps with weight loss

Although weight is affected by a number of factors, numerous studies have linked high fiber intake to weight loss and a reduced tendency to gain weight. For some people, consuming fiber leads to increased satiety and thus reduced calorie intake.

Other health benefits

  • high nutritional value
  • content of vitamins A, magnesium, phosphorus and iron
  • minimum amount of fat
  • protein content
  • supports the activity of the nervous system
  • does not swell
Bulgur in a bowl.

Are there any downsides to eating bulgur?

Although bulgur is safe for most people , it may not be the best choice for everyone.

Since it is a wheat product, it should be avoided by people with a wheat allergy or gluten-related disorder. Instead, they can eat any number of other nutritious gluten-free grains.

Some people with chronic intestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome, may not tolerate bulgur due to its insoluble fiber content .

If you find that you have poor tolerance to high-fiber foods, it may help to limit and introduce these foods slowly, in smaller amounts, until your tolerance improves. You can also try drinking more water to help digest the fiber.

Nutritional values of bulgur

Bulgur is not only tasty and quick to prepare, but also very nutritious. It is a whole grain product , which means that you are eating more or less of the shell of the grain, including the germ, endosperm and bran. When you eat whole grains, you get all the nutrients.

Bulgur contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as a good amount of protein and fiber.

Check the nutritional value of cooked bulgur in the following table.

Nutritional values per 100 g Bulgur boiled in water
Energy 83 kcal
Proteins 3.1 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 19 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Fiber 4.5 g

Vitamins and minerals contained in 100 grams of cooked bulgur

Vitamins and minerals Values % of the recommended daily dose
Vitamin B1 0.057 mg 5
Vitamin B2 0.028 mg 2
Vitamin B3 1,000 mg 6
Vitamin B5 0.344 mg 7
Vitamin B6 0.083 mg 6
Folates 18.00 mcg 4
Vitamin E 0.01 mg 0
Vitamin K 0.5 mcg 0
Calcium 10.00 mg 1
Copper 0.07 mg 8
Iron 0.96 mg 5
Magnesium 32.00 mg 8
Manganese 0.609 mg 26
Phosphorus 40.00 mg 6
Potassium 861.90 mg 1
Selenium 0.60 mcg 1
Sodium 5.00 mg 0
Zinc 0.57 mg 5

How to choose bulgur and how to store it?

Buy bulgur that is well-packaged and well-sealed . Check the label for the expiration date or sell-by date and choose the latest one . If the bulgur has a musty or greasy smell, it is probably past its prime and should be discarded. The beans should always look and smell faintly sweet or have no aroma.

Whole grains like bulgur need to be stored a little more carefully than their refined counterparts because the healthy oils found in the sprout can be negatively affected by heat, light and moisture. Therefore, it is important to store bulgur in an airtight container in a cool, dry place . This will last about six months. To extend its shelf life, place it in the freezer, where it will last up to a year. After cooking, refrigerate and use within a few days.

How can we easily prepare bulgur?

Wheat bulgur is very easy to prepare. It is available in fine, medium or coarse varieties and takes about 5-20 minutes to cook depending on the type and method of cooking. The coarser the grain, the longer the cooking time.

It is best to check the instructions on the package first. But there are also several basic methods of cooking bulgur that you can use.

Cooking on the stove

The cooking process is similar to rice or couscous in that boiling water is used to soften the grain. You will need about 2 parts liquid for every part bulgur.

  1. Combine 1 cup (182 grams) of bulgur wheat with 2 cups (475 ml) of water or stock and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the bulgur starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid.
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the water has evaporated and the bulgur is soft.

Preparation in a microwave oven

Microwave bulgur may be the fastest cooking method and has no negative effects on the final product, although it may have a slightly different texture than stovetop bulgur.

  1. Combine 1 cup (182 grams) of bulgur wheat with 2 cups (475 ml) of water in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat for about 3 minutes in the microwave.
  3. Remove from microwave and let sit for another 5 minutes.
  4. Adjust the cooking time as needed.
  5. A coarse grain may take longer than a medium or fine grain.

Swelling in water

One way to prepare bulgur for consumption is to simply let it swell in water or broth. In this way, it also retains all the nutrients. It works especially well with mild bulgur. Medium and coarse bulgur may take longer.

  1. Place 1 cup (182 grams) of bulgur in a bowl.
  2. Slowly pour 2 cups (475 mL) warm water or broth over the bulgur and stir.
  3. Let stand for 45-60 minutes until the liquid evaporates.
  4. Fluff with a fork and use as needed.

Using a rice cooker

Cooking bulgur in a rice cooker is convenient because you don’t have to worry about anything. It takes longer, 45-50 minutes, compared to all other cooking methods, but the advantage is that you don’t have to watch the bulgur.

For simplicity, here is a table with the ratio of water to bulgur for each method:

Cooking method Liquid to bulgur ratio
Swelling 1:2
Cooker 1:2
Microwave 1:2
Rice cooker 1:1

A portion of bulgur for 1 person is about 80 g raw .

Where can we use bulgur in the kitchen?

Bulgur remains a staple of many European and Asian cuisines.

It is often used in salads and pilafs along with herbs, vegetables, spices and sometimes other grains. One of the most famous bulgur dishes is the tabbouleh salad . It is also a great binder for meatballs and meat patties .

Thanks to its chewy texture, you can even use bulgur instead of ground meat to make vegan versions of classic dishes . such as tacos. Try some of our taco recipes and try modifying them by adding bulgur instead of meat.

Bulgur is a great base for breakfast porridge , as well as soups and stews .

Get inspired by our couscous or bulgur recipes and cook a healthy meal!

Boiled bulgur with herbs served on a plate with a lemon wedge.

Types of bulgur

Bulgur is made in 4 different types and there are fine, medium coarse, coarse and extra coarse bulgur.

Fine ground bulgur

This is the smallest size of bulgur. In Turkish cuisine, it is mainly used to prepare tabbouleh salad. Since it is so small, it cooks the fastest compared to the medium and coarse varieties.

While it is cooking somewhere like rice on the stove, you can just soak it in boiling hot water for about 10 minutes.

Medium ground bulgur

This type of bulgur is the most common. In terms of size, it ranges between fine and coarse.

Medium coarse bulgur can be used to prepare pilaf, porridge and as an ingredient in various stuffings, salads, meatballs, soups, stews and fried recipes.

You can also use it to replace rice, quinoa or couscous in most recipes.

Get inspired by our recipes with quinoa , which you can easily replace with bulgur.

Coarse and extra coarse ground bulgur

This is bulgur used to make pilaf.

Since this is the largest type of bulgur, it takes the longest to cook. Therefore, it is best to cook it classically on the stove like rice.

Jars with different types of bulgur.

And what are the main differences between bulgur and couscous?

See the table below to learn how bulgur and couscous differ.

Bulgur Couscous
What is it? Pre-cooked cracked whole wheat. A special type of semolina pasta.
Does it contain gluten? Yes. Yes.
How is it prepared? It is cooked for 15-20 minutes. It is poured with hot water and left for 5 to 10 minutes.
Calories in 100 g of cooked food. 83 kcal 112 calories
Protein in 1 cup. 11% of the recommended daily dose 12% of the recommended daily dose
Fat in 1 cup. 0.6 DDD 0.3% DDD
Carbohydrates in 1 cup. 11% DDD 12% DDD
Fiber in 1 cup. 33% DDD 9% DDD
Sodium in 1 cup. 0.3% DDD 0.3% DDD
Magnesium in 1 cup. 15% DDD 3% DDD
Potassium in 1 cup. 4% DDD 3% DDD
Zinc in 1 cup. 7% DDD 3% DDD
Folate in 1 cup. 8% DDD 6% DDD

We have the best recipes for vegetable couscous for you. Try them all!

Bulgur history and interesting facts

Making bulgur wheat is an ancient process that originated in the Mediterranean region and has been an integral part of Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years. Around 2800 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung declared it one of the five sacred crops, along with rice, millet, barley and soybeans. Biblical references indicate that it was prepared by the ancient Babylonians, Hittites, and Hebrew people about 4,000 years ago, and Arab, Israelite, Egyptian, and Roman civilizations record eating parched cooked wheat as early as 1,000 BC.

Bulgur has been called many names. The Roman name for bulgur was cerealis, the Israelites called it dagan , while other Middle Easterners called it arisah , as it was referred to in the Bible.

For primitive people, bulgur was an excellent food. It resists mold and insect infestation and can be stored for a long time. In small villages in the eastern Mediterranean, the ancient preparation process is still used: wheat is boiled in huge pots (sometimes for several days) until thoroughly cooked, spread out on flat roofs to dry in the sun, then the hardened grains are crushed into coarse pieces and sieved into different sizes for different uses.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)