Bulgur recipes originated in West Asian cuisines which often confuses people because many of the countries included in West Asia are the same countries that people refer to as the Middle East.
The cracked grain of recipes with bulgur might be confused with Korean bulgogi or burgers because of the similar spelling but these bulgur wheat recipes are much healthier while still being full of fantastic flavor.
What makes the whole grain of bulgur particularly appealing is how quickly a dish with bulgur can be made.
The grains are fully cooked already so a simple rehydration step is all that is needed to enjoy flavorful and nutritious meals.
A short, 10-minute soak in boiling water or broth gets this filling grain done fast so you can get back to doing the things you love.
Sound too good to be true? There’s only one way to find out for yourself – let’s get cooking!
1. The Only Basic Bulgur Recipe You’ll Ever Need
This recipe should be the baseline for any grain you might need to replace with bulgur.
The mild, nutty taste of the bulgur is tasty by itself but can easily become a background flavor when served with more powerful and pungent ingredients.
The secret to making the best bulk batches of bulgur for all of your cooking needs is to use a neutral oil when rehydrating the grains.
By doing so, you preserve bulgur’s natural mildness that can be used to replace rice or any other similar grain to take full advantage of the nutrients packed inside these grain berries of goodness.
2. Bulgur Salad with Cucumbers
Bulgur dishes are truly versatile like this recipe that is remarkably similar to other dishes like Buddha bowls.
If you’re new to a vegetarian or vegan diet, this recipe will surely be a go-to whenever you are looking up alternative foods and think “what can bulgur be used for?”
You’ll find that even your meat-eating friends can be satisfied when they try a bowl of this hearty salad.
The bulgur wheat naturally contains more protein than white or even brown rice but the chickpea protein is what keeps the carnivores coming back to this bulgur wheat recipe.
3. Breakfast Bulgur Porridge
Porridge isn’t eaten as much as it used to be during times of economic hardship and these days any porridge is usually associated with digestive support for the elderly.
It doesn’t have to be though – some bulgur recipes and breakfasts will change your mind!
A little fresh fruit will go a long way to lifting the relatively flavorless bulgur from obscurity.
I prefer to swap the raisins that this recipe recommends with blueberries for a more classic and patriotic-looking breakfast.
I also like to use whole milk to rehydrate the bulgur and for serving but if you’re doing a low-fat diet, go ahead with skimmed or 2% milk!
4. Tomato Bulgur Pilaf
Just five ingredients go into this colorful bulgur dish which makes it surprisingly tasty! Tomato paste and chicken stock are what the bulgur is rehydrated in for this recipe which is why the grain has its beautiful orange-red appearance.
One large onion is part of the reason why the bulgur can stick together when formed and presented as a beautiful pilaf.
It’s also why the pilaf has so much flavor but you have to make sure you use the right kind of onion for the job – a red or sweet onion wouldn’t fit with the flavor profile as well as a yellow or white onion might.
5. Bulgur & Quinoa Lunch Bowls
Recipes with bulgur wheat like this one are a joy to eat. What’s more, you don’t have to think about new toppings selections all by yourself!
The same bulgur wheat base is used for both variations provided so you just need to choose your favorite combination or whatever you might have on hand.
A few pinches of ground cinnamon is all you need to add warmth to these cool lunch bowls. It serves as a particularly useful bridge between some of the greens’ slight bitterness and the sweetness of the oranges in one of the variants.
6. Eggplant Bulgur Pilaf
Although this recipe says that it is a pilaf this is a full-fledged meal that can stand on its own among all the other savory bulgur recipes out there.
There isn’t as much protein in this recipe as in others because it doesn’t make use of any convenient or complementary vegetable proteins like chickpeas.
Some people claim that parsley and cilantro are similar ingredients with subtle differences in their taste but I disagree.
I usually spring for cilantro more than parsley because I think its bright, citrusy flavor fits the dish better than the slight bitterness of parsley.
7. Turkish Chopped Salad
Salad doesn’t often appeal to people but this one is always a hit with any gathering of friends or family I host.
Something about not having a bowl purely of leafy greens draws the curiosity of people and quickly turns them into fans, not just of this salad but the bulgur grain as well!
The pomegranate molasses makes the salad pop with its tangy, sour-sweet taste characteristic of the hard-to-eat fruit. If you can, make your own pomegranate molasses at home and you’ll find it to be far superior to anything you could buy at the store.
8. Spice Trade Beans & Bulgur
Just like how beans and rice are a classic meal combination, so too are beans and bulgur, especially for those who used to follow the legendary and profitable spice trade route of old throughout the Middle East and West Asia.
This hearty meal kept spice traders going even in some of the harshest conditions on Earth, and can do the same for a busy person like you!
If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, stay on your toes! This dish calls for several peppers that are known to be milder but would certainly be remiss if not used here.
9. Winter Tomato Soup Bulgur Recipe
I love making this soup in the wintertime, like the name suggests, to accompany time spent bundled in a blanket by the fireplace.
The chewy, nutty nature of the bulgur wheat grains is the perfect complement to this easy-eating soup.
There really isn’t a whole lot going on in this recipe except for how much tomato gets squeezed into each bowl, but the feta does make a difference.
It thickens up the soup a little bit more than just hoping the bulgur grains will soak up all the excess liquid from the tomatoes’ juice.
10. Turkish Seared Tuna with Bulgur
My family doesn’t eat a lot of seafood, so when I get my hands on some beautiful tuna steaks I struggle to find a way to use them that the whole family can enjoy.
Thankfully, tuna’s reputation as the “chicken of the sea” is well-earned and it takes on a lot of the flavours it gets cooked with while not having a fishy flavour or smell.
I attribute my success in tricking the kids into eating this salad is a lot of strong, bright flavours like the fresh mint.
A neat trick I learned is to slap these herbs to release all their wonderful aromas into the dish!
11. Beef Kofta with Bulgur & Kale Salad
Salads don’t have to just be vegetables and the occasional grain or cheese (although cheese is always a plus!), this particular recipe is a well-balanced meal with ingredients from all the major food groups.
The perfectly seasoned beef koftas are a welcome change of pace for finicky eaters picking their way through the salad for their favourite parts.
The ground beef itself is the key to making this dish right. You’ll want to use a leaner mix when forming and cooking the kofta but a little fat is necessary for things to stay together. Try lamb for a more traditional meat option if you can!
12. Bulgur Veggie Burgers with Lime Mayonnaise
You’ve probably heard of lab-grown burger meats or even mushroom burgers that are better for the environment and friendly to vegetarian and vegan diets.
But have you heard of a burger that uses grains like bulgur and beans to give you a meaty patty without being suspiciously manipulated by scientists? Well, now you have!
That’s not even the best part about these burgers though, the lime mayonnaise elevates this simple fast food to a whole new level.
Use veganaise to keep the recipe vegan-friendly or experiment with things like I do with Kewpie mayo that only uses egg yolks!
13. Mujadara Hamra (Lentils & Bulgur)
I find that simplicity often trumps complexity when it comes to flavour in my dishes.
When you start using too many ingredients, a lot of the fun of the cooking process can be lost and many people can’t tell the difference without having an experienced and knowledgeable palate.
That being said, this recipe is more of a side dish that I make along with other plates during a Middle Eastern craze I get into sometimes.
Definitely stick to the recipe for your choice of lentils otherwise your resulting mujadara Hamra may look quite different!
14. Chicken Jambalaya
I love bulgur dishes like this that are a marriage of cultures and nationalities.
Jambalaya is a food full of southern US soul and by simply replacing the rice with bulgur you bring Middle Eastern/West Asian sensibilities into the fold for an even heartier meal.
If you’re looking to make a more authentic Creole jambalaya make sure you use the right seasonings and add in the tomatoes, otherwise you’ll find yourself making an equally delightful Cajun jambalaya.
No matter how you make the jambalaya, remember not to eat the bay leaf!
15. Spiced Lamb and Bulgur Pilaf
Normally, you can’t just throw a bunch of seemingly random ingredients together and expect a dish that is edible let alone mouthwateringly tempting.
I didn’t believe it when I looked at the ingredient list for this recipe until I made it myself! Instead of each ingredient’s flavour profile clashing with the others, it somehow blends together for one cohesive dish!
The mild bitterness of the spinach and nutty taste of the bulgur are the foundation of the dish which allows all of the other ingredients to come together naturally to build on this baseline.
16. Bulgur Chili
No list of bulgur dishes would be complete without the inclusion of a vegetarian chilli recipe. I normally reserve this recipe for cold weather temperatures but if I need a quick meal fixing, a single batch of this recipe is enough to feed the whole family!
You might even have enough leftovers for everyone to have a second serving!
The cheese is, of course, the best part about this dish because it helps thicken the chilli and adds some necessary dairy fat.
Personally, I do more than the suggested amount of cheese and make sure to serve it with some more cheese on the side and some sour cream for a truly comforting home-cooked meal.
17. Cracked Wheat Bread (Bulgur Wheat Bread)
It makes sense that you can bake with bulgur since it is a wheat-like grain but I was still surprised at how good the resulting bread was!
My family couldn’t get enough of the fresh-baked aroma and once it was out of the oven it was gone quicker than I could think about making another loaf!
The honey in this recipe helps bring out some of the natural sweetness of the bulgur and bread flour. It’s a lot easier to incorporate into the dough than fully dissolving sugar in water too!
Local honey can bring some interesting variations in taste for some fun!
17 Best Bulgur Recipes
- 3 c vegetable broth
- 1-1/2 c uncooked bulgur
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- 2 tbsps lemon juice
- 2 tbsps minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 c halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 c chopped cucumber
- 8 green onions, sliced
- 1 package (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 c pine nuts, toasted
- Bring bulgur and broth to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Reduce the heat and cover for about 20 minutes. The bulgur should be tender and the broth almost completely absorbed by the bulgur.
- To absorb the remaining broth, remove saucepan from heat and let stand.
- Whisk the oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper in a small, separate bowl.
- Combine beans, bulgur, cucumber, onions, and tomatoes in a serving bowl.
- The dressing is drizzled over everything before being tossed to coat.
- Lightly sprinkle your cheese and pine nuts over the salad and serve.