Photo: Bulgur.

Bulgur is white or red, hard or soft, whole wheat kernels that have been soaked, boiled, and dried. Then, 5 percent of the bran is removed and the remaining kernel is cracked into small pieces. The result is parcooked, cracked wheat. Bulgur differs from cracked wheat in that it is pre-cooked.


Arab, Israeli, Egyptian and Roman civilizations record eating dried cooked wheat as early as 1,000 B.C. Evidence shows the Chinese ate this grain food as early as 2,800 B.C. The Roman word for bulgur is cerealis, after Ceres, the goddess of harvest; Israelites called it dagan, a word meaning “bursting kernels of grain;” other Mid-Easterners called it arisah, and it is a mainstay in the diet.


Bulgur is sold in supermarkets, in bulk bin commodity stores, health food stores and through mailorder under a variety of labels. Packaged in boxes or plastic bags, it may be sold as a pilaf or “tabbuli” mix and may be spelled a variety of ways. In the store, it can be found near the pasta, rice or hot cereal, or in a specialty food aisle.


Bulgur should be stored in air-tight containers in a cool, dry place. It will keep well at room temperature or in the refrigerator for five to six months. Frozen, it keeps indefinitely.


  • Do not wash or rinse bulgur before cooking.
  • When cooking, avoid lifting the lid; bulgur needs no stirring.
  • Bulgur must be soaked or cooked to be edible. Use twice the amount of liquid as bulgur. To soak, add hot liquid to bulgur, stir and let stand, covered, 30 minutes or overnight (refrigerated).
  • Bulgur continues to swell after cooking if moisture is present. It more than doubles in volume, so be sure to use a large enough pan.
  • Prepared bulgur can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
  • Bulgur can be used in meatloaf, soups, stews, casseroles and meats or sauces for Mexican or Italian dishes. To start with, use one part prepared bulgur to two parts meat.
  • Stir prepared bulgur into waffles, pancakes, muffins, salads or baked goods of all types to add a nutty flavor without the fat.
  • Experiment with bulgur as a main entrée or side dish with seasonings, vegetables, nuts or small amounts of meats or fish. Or, as a wrap filling mixed with legumes.

To Cook: Stovetop

Servings Bulgur Water
4 (1/2 cup) 1 cup 2 cups

Add cold water to bulgur; bring to boil. Cover; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.

Source: Wheat Foods Council

Bulgur Recipes


Author: Marsha Boswell