How to Cook Bulgur (the Simplest Method)

published Aug 2, 2023
How to Cook Bulgur Recipe

Perfectly cooked bulgur is fluffy, nutty, and has just the right amount of salt. Here’s the easiest way to cook it.

Serves6 to 8

Makes2 to 3 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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bulgar wheat in a pan cooked
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

The world of cereal grains is so incredibly varied and diverse that it can be a bit challenging to know what sets each of them apart from one another. Cereal grains like rice, quinoa, oats, wheat, rye, and barley are commonly used in various cuisines around the world. 

One cereal grain that is also popular is bulgur wheat, which is commonly just referred to as bulgur. Bulgur is a form of cracked wheat that is parboiled before it is dried and ground into small granules. It comes in a range of different sizes and coarseness levels. Bulgur is typically tan to light brown in color. 

Read on to learn more about how to cook bulgur, the different types you’ll encounter, and various ways to prepare it.

What Is Bulgur?

Bulgur, or bulgur wheat, is a cereal food that is made from wheat groats that are parboiled, dried, and ground into granules of various levels of coarseness. The granules, which are sometimes referred to as a “cracked wheat,” have a tan shade and are typically prepared and served similarly to rice, quinoa, farro, and couscous. 

Bulgur is commonly prepared by cooking it in boiling water along with different seasonings. As it cooks, the granules absorb the water, soften, and expand. 

Bulgur is common in the cuisines of India, the Middle East, Balkan countries, and some Mediterranean countries. Cooked bulgur is great when served as a base for proteins, vegetables, stews, and sauces.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

What Are the Different Types of Bulgur?

Bulgur is often sold in various sizes or levels of coarseness. The different types of bulgur are fine, medium, coarse, and extra-coarse grinds. In general, most bulgur has a very light brown or tan color, although there are yellow and red varieties of bulgur as well. 

Different types of bulgur often require slightly different cooking times, depending on how coarse it is. Fine bulgur is typically cooked by simply soaking the small granules in hot water, while more coarse grinds of bulgur require boiling in a saucepan on the stove.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

What Is the Best Way to Cook Bulgur?

Rinsing the bulgur beforehand is often recommended to prevent the bulgur from coming out too sticky or soft. There are slightly different ways to prepare bulgur, yet the most common and easiest way to cook bulgur is by using a certain amount of hot water to boil and soften the granules, allowing them to fluff up and expand. 

To do this, boil bulgur in a saucepan with water, salt, and some form of oil or fat, such as olive oil or butter. Cover the saucepan and set to low heat, allowing the bulgur to cook and steam. 

What’s the Ratio of Bulgur to Water?

The ratio of bulgur to water depends on the type of bulgur you’re cooking and the final texture you prefer. On most occasions, you can use a ratio of 1 cup of bulgur to 1 1/2 cups water. If you prefer a softer and stickier bulgur, use 2 cups of water. 

To cook fine bulgur, add the rinsed bulgur to a large heat-safe bowl, pour the boiling water over it, and allow it to cook and soak up the water. Lightly fluff the bulgur with a fork. 

To cook medium or coarse bulgur, add the rinsed bulgur, water, and salt to a saucepan, bring to a full boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and let it cook for about 15 minutes.

How to Cook Bulgur Recipe

Perfectly cooked bulgur is fluffy, nutty, and has just the right amount of salt. Here’s the easiest way to cook it.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 cup

    medium or coarse–grind bulgur

  • 1 1/2 cups

    water

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil (optional)

Instructions

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  1. Place 1 cup bulgur in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Swish the grains around with your hands.

  2. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer. Return the bulgur to the saucepan and repeat adding water, swishing, and draining.

  3. Place the bulgur, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil if desired in the same saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

  4. Cover the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the water is absorbed and the bulgur lightened in color and puffed up as it cooked, about 15 minutes.

  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Keep covered and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the bulgur with a fork before serving.