Bulgur wheat salad with spoon in bowl

How to cook bulgur wheat

Learn how to cook bulgur wheat with our expert tips, then use it in our favourite recipes. Try our classic tabbouleh, simple side dishes or warming one-pots.

Bulgur wheat is a cracked wheat made by blanching groats (the hulled kernels of the grains) which are then crushed into smaller fragments. It’s commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes such as stews and salads (like tabbouleh), or simmered in milk for a pudding or porridge. It can also be added to breads or mixed with mince and shaped into balls known as kibbeh. Take some inspiration from our top bulgur wheat recipes.

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Do you have to wash bulgur wheat before cooking?

It’s not necessary to wash bulgur wheat before cooking, although some recipes do call for rinsing if you don’t drain the bulgur after it’s been cooked.

Do you need to soak bulgur wheat?

You can soak bulgur in boiling water to cook it, but you don’t need to soak it before cooking if you’re adding it to a dish.

How to cook bulgur wheat

Boil bulgur wheat in water for 10-15 mins, or put in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 20-30 mins, until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender. Soaking the bulgur will give you a chewier texture, which is perfect for salads like tabbouleh. It can also be boiled from raw in soups and stews.

Basic cooking method:

  1. Put the bulgur wheat into a heatproof bowl.
  2. Pour over a kettle of boiling water, covering the grains in about 2-3cm.
  3. Cover the bowl with a plate or tea towel, and leave to soak for 20-30 mins until all the water is absorbed. (You could also use stock for more flavour).
  4. Separate the grains and fluff with a fork, then toss into salads or serve alongside other dishes.

How do you know when bulgur wheat is cooked?

Bulgur wheat, like rice, is a hard grain that softens when cooked. It should have a slight bite and chewy texture if you’re using it in salads. Or, cook until completely soft for use in porridges. If you’ve soaked the bulgur wheat and it’s still too firm once all the water has been absorbed, simply add a splash more boiling water and leave for a few extra minutes, or microwave to fully steam the grains.

What are the health benefits of bulgur wheat?

Bulgur wheat is a source of magnesium, manganese, vitamin B and iron. It’s also high in fibre as it’s made from a whole grain. It contain gluten, so should be avoided by people with coeliac disease.

Our top 5 bulgur wheat recipes

1. Harissa-spiced chicken with bulgur wheat

Add some spice to your plate with our harissa-spiced chicken with bulgur wheat. This easy, healthy Moroccan-inspired meal is one that’ll please everyone’s palate. Its also easily halved if you’re catering for a smaller crowd. For a touch more spice, add another tablespoon of harissa paste with the apricots.

2. Charred aubergine, pepper & bulgur salad

Jazz up basic grains with our charred aubergine, pepper and bulgur salad. Charring the aubergine brings out deeper, more complex flavours, and you can add whatever veg you like to this versatile recipe. Try red peppers, olives and sundried tomatoes for a Mediterranean-style dish.

3. Pork & bulgur-stuffed peppers

Whip up these feel-good pork & bulgur-stuffed peppers for a simple summer supper the whole family will love. Serve with a cooling yogurt dressing and a basic green salad. This filling midweek meal will have everyone requesting seconds.

4. Curried pork bulgur salad

Our easy curried pork bulgur salad is simple, healthy and full of flavour. Use up any leftover pork by combining with curry powder, cumin, spring onions and bulgur wheat. This speedy dish can be whipped up in under 15 minutes.

5. Kale & bulgur tabbouleh with yogurt dressing

This colourful kale & bulgur tabbouleh makes a great low-calorie veggie lunch option for two. It’s packed full of iron and full of textures and flavours. Top with perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs and a creamy yogurt dressing.

Want to learn more cookery techniques? Read our expert guides…

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What’s your favourite bulgur wheat recipe? Leave a comment below…