Welcome to the world of bulgur, a Middle Eastern superstar in the kitchen! This versatile grain isn't just delicious; it's quick to cook and packed with goodness. From its nutty taste to its healthy perks, bulgur brings a lot to the table. Join me as we learn about bulgur's story, its many uses, and its nutritional value. Get set to discover the amazing benefits of this ancient grain!
What is Bulgur?
Bulgur comes from whole wheat grains that have been partially boiled, dried, and cracked into pieces. It has been consumed for thousands of years as a main ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
Most often it is used in salads as a grain base, similar to the way rice might be used. But it can also be used as a breakfast cereal grain by cooking it like oatmeal. Occasionally it is added to baked goods.
Bulgur has a nutty, earthy flavor that is similar to wheat but very subtle. Bulgur’s mild flavor makes it versatile for both savory and sweet dishes.
Bulgur has a slightly chew texture but is still soft.
My family all agree that it reminds them a lot of white rice. The flavor is very mild.
Bulgur comes in a few different varieties, categorized by their grind size:
- Fine Bulgur: This type has a smaller grain size and cooks relatively quickly. It's often used in dishes like tabbouleh and certain soups where a finer texture is preferred.
- Medium Bulgur: With a slightly larger grain size, medium-grind bulgur retains a bit more texture after cooking. It's commonly used in pilafs, stuffings, or salads.
- Coarse Bulgur: This variety has the largest grain size and maintains more of its chewy texture even after cooking. It's great for dishes where you want more distinct grains, like some pilafs, or as a base for heartier salads.
Because bulgur is a member of the wheat family it does contain gluten and should not be eaten by those who avoid gluten, like people with celiac disease.
Bulgur is a nutritious whole grain that offers several health benefits.
- Dietary Fiber: Bulgur is a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. This means it’s great for your digestive system. It can also aid in weight loss because fiber contributes to a feeling of fullness for a longer time, causing you to need to eat less often. One cup of cooked bulgur has 8 grams of fiber.
- Protein: Bulgur contains a decent amount of protein, making it a good option for vegetarians or vegans looking to increase their protein intake. There are 6 grams of protein in 1 cup of cooked bulgur.
- Nutrients: Bulgur contains essential vitamins like B vitamins (including folate) and antioxidants. It’s also a source of magnesium, iron and phosphorus.
- Low Glycemic Index: Bulgur has a lower glycemic index compared to some other grains, meaning it doesn't cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels after consumption, making it a great option for those managing blood sugar. One cup of bulgur has a GI of 46, according to VeryWellFit.com.
In addition to all of this, bulgur is low in fat and great for heart health. Check out the full nutrition label below:
Like all grains, bulgur needs to be softened before being consumed.
Here are links to cooking methods you could use, and their cooking time:
Since bulgur cooks pretty quickly, you do not need to presoak it.
If you're looking for substitutes for bulgur in recipes, consider these options based on their texture and usage:
- Quinoa: Similar in texture and versatility, quinoa can be used as a substitute in salads, pilafs, or as a base for various dishes. It's a complete protein and cooks relatively quickly.
- Couscous: This pasta-like grain has a mild taste and a similar size to some varieties of bulgur. It works well in salads, side dishes, or as a base for flavorful stews.
- Farro: With a chewy texture and nutty flavor, farro can be a good alternative in pilafs, salads, or grain-based dishes. It's higher in protein and fiber compared to some other grains.
- Brown and white Rice: While it has a different texture, brown rice can be used in place of bulgur in certain dishes like pilafs or salads, offering a different taste and nutritional profile.
- Always consider the specific dish you're preparing and the desired texture when choosing a substitute for bulgur. The flavor and cooking characteristics of these substitutes may vary, so experimenting with small quantities can help determine the best fit for your recipe.
Uncooked Bulgur should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. If stored properly, it can typically last up to 1 year.
Cooked bulgur should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last 3-5 days.
Where to Buy
Bulgur can usually be found in the grains or rice section of most grocery stores or supermarkets. Look for it alongside other grains like rice, quinoa, couscous, or specialty grains. It might be available in different varieties, such as fine, medium, or coarse, so check the packaging for the desired texture.
Here in the United States, I usually just find it labeled as “Bulgur” and the variety is not specified. If you are looking for a certain variety, you may need to purchase it online.
My local grocery store has bulgur in the bulk bins. I love finding it there because it is significantly cheaper. Also, I don’t eat bulgur that often, so I can just buy the amount I need.
Bulgur is usually used in salads and grain bowls. It is occasionally used in soups and can also be eaten as a breakfast cereal. Here are some of my favorite recipes from around the web:
For even more recipes, check out my bulgur Pinterest board.
Yes, bulgur is a hearty whole grain and has many health benefits. In short, it is a good source of fiber, has lots of essential nutrients, and promotes gut health. Check out the “nutrition” section for a full rundown.
No, they are very different from one another, although they do look similar to one another. A big difference between the two is that bulgur is a member of the wheat family and quinoa is a seed.
Yes, as a wheat product, bulgur contains gluten. People with a gluten intolerance should not eat it.
Thanks for reading this post about bulgur. Let me know if you have any more questions about this tasty grain! I hope you'll try it out!