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Wondering how to cook bulgur wheat? This ancient whole grain is fast and easy to cook, and it’s perfect in salads, grain bowls, and as a simple side dish.

How to cook bulgur
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Are you looking to eat more whole grains? Well, look no further than bulgur wheat! It’s one of Alex and my favorite grains to cook because well, there’s really no cooking at all! With this grain, you can use a soaking method: simply boil water and then pour it over the grains in a bowl. Then simply wait for the grain to cook itself! It plumps up in no time, and is easy to include in salads, grain bowls, and a healthy side dish. Alex and I have been cooking it for years, and we wanted to share our easy method for how to cook bulgur!

Bulgur wheat

First: where can I buy bulgur?

Bulgur wheat is a whole grain made of cracked wheat. It originates in Middle Eastern cuisine. Ever had tabbouleh at a Greek, Israeli or Lebanese restaurant? Yep, that’s bulgur wheat! Where to buy bulgur? Many mainstream groceries stock bulgur these days, especially in bulk bins. You can also buy it online.

Buy it: Bulgur wheat

Are there different types of bulgur?

Yes, and this affects the cook time, so listen up! Bulgur comes in different grind sizes:

  • Fine-grind (#1): Soaks in 7 minutes
  • Medium-grind (#2): Soaks in 15 minutes
  • Coarse grind (#3): Cooks on the stove in 20 minutes (cannot soak)
  • Extra coarse grind (#4): Cooks on the stove in 25 minutes (cannot soak)

As you can see, the fine and medium grind works with the soaking method. However, the coarse grind and extra coarse can only be cooked on the stovetop. These varieties are more difficult to find; it’s more likely that you’ll encounter fine and medium grind in the store or online.

What if the bulgur package is not marked? Several leading brands of bulgur wheat do not mark the grind size. (Not naming names, but we’d like to bend the ear of a certain whole grain company to clear this up!) If the package is not marked, it’s likely that it’s medium grind bulgur. You’ll have to experiment with the cook time and make sure that the grains are tender: adjust as necessary.

how to cook bulgur

Is bulgur gluten free?

Since bulgur is made from wheat (yes, it’s bulgur wheat), it is not gluten free. Make sure to stay away from bulgur if you have a gluten intolerance. What’s a gluten free substitute for bulgur? Use one of the following:

How to cook bulgur

How to cook bulgur wheat (basic steps)

So, there’s not much to how to cook bulgur! As we mentioned above, you’ll use the soaking method where you simply heat up water and then pour it over the grains. The biggest thing you need to know is how much water to use: and that’s even super simple.

What’s the bulgur to water ratio? 1:1, meaning 1 cup bulgur to 1 cup water.

OK, this literally could not get any easier, right? Here are the basic steps for how to cook bulgur (see the full recipe below):

  • Boil the water in a teapot.
  • Place the bulgur wheat in a bowl, then pour the water over it.
  • Let it stand for 7 minutes for fine-grind bulgur or 15 minutes for medium-grind bulgur.

As it sits, the grains absorb all the water and the grains become large and tender. That’s it! This is a great candidate for making a large batch to eat off of throughout the week.

Or, do you have an Instant Pot? You also can cook bulgur in a pressure cooker: see our Instant Pot Bulgur Wheat recipe.

Instant Pot Bulgur

How to cook bulgur in an Instant Pot

Got an Instant Pot? You can also whip up a batch of Instant Pot bulgur! It’s just as easy, and a fully hands off method. Just set it and go about making the rest of your meal!

Here are the basic steps on how to make Instant Pot bulgur wheat (go to the recipe for more):

  1. Place bulgur, water, garlic powder, oregano, and salt in the Instant Pot.
  2. Pressure cook on Low for 12 minutes (medium grind) or 7 minutes (fine grind).
  3. Quick release! Open the Instant Pot and fluff the bulgur with a fork.

Top ways to eat bulgur wheat

Now, once you’ve got a big pot of bulgur wheat, how to serve it? We have lots of ideas: you can use in salads, grain bowls, soups, and more! Here are our top ideas:

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How to cook bulgur

How to Cook Bulgur

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 ½ cups 1x


Wondering how to cook bulgur wheat? This ancient whole grain is fast and easy to cook, and it’s perfect in salads, grain bowls, and as a simple side dish.


  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup fine- or medium-grind bulgur wheat*
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Boil the water (we use our electric tea kettle).
  2. In a heatproof bowl, add the bulgur wheat and stir in the kosher salt and boiling water. (Optional: Spice it up by stirring in ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano.)
  3. Cover and allow to sit until tender: about 7 minutes for fine-grind and 15 minutes for medium-grind bulgur.


*Coarse or extra-coarse bulgur have different cooking instructions. Place 1 cup coarse or extra-coarse bulgur in a saucepan with 2 ¼ cups water. Bring the water to a boil, stir, and cover. Cook until tender, about 15 to 25 minutes depending on the type of bulgur, stirring occasionally. Drain excess water.

  • Category: Whole Grain
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Elie H says:

    Tabbouleh is neither greek nor Israeli, it’s Lebanese, Syrian, and at the very maximum Palestinian or Jordanian. I understand sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where a dish originates but in this case I’m pretty sure as it is a celebrated dish in Lebanon (where I’m from). Would be very nice ifnyou could edit your article to reflect that.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you for the information!