15 Best Bulgur Substitutes


Bulgur is a type of wheat that is not popular but is very healthy and nutritious. This is a type of ancient grain that originates in the Middle East. Its name means cracked wheat, but they are not the same thing.

It is straightforward to prepare and usually pre-cooked, saving you time. Bulgur has a fine texture and a nutty flavor, but once it’s cooked, the surface can be chewy.

Use it with meat, salads, tacos, pasta, or any other meal that will bring out more of the tastiness of the ingredients. However, can I use something else as a substitute?

You can Substitute Bulgur with Quinoa, Rice, Wheat couscous, Buckwheat, Millet, Amaranth, Teff, and Farro. Go through and find learn more about when and how you should use it

Substitutes for Bulgur Wheat

1. Quinoa


This popular pseudo cereal from South America is the main ingredient in many recipes. Quinoa and Bulgur can substitute for each other because they have similar profiles and health benefits.

Quinoa can be red and creamy white and makes a good source of vitamins, potassium, and calcium, which is why many people like it. You can easily use it in salads, soups, or stew; it will make your dish even more delicious with its nutty flavor.

2. Rice

Brown Rice

The typical food that all of us enjoy is rice. You can find it in your local markets, which makes it easily accessible for many people.

Rice is a cereal grain and a staple ingredient, especially in Asia and Africa. It can be found in a few variants like white and brown which are very common and healthy as well.

Use rice in any recipe that calls for bulgur. The difference between white and brown rice is in the texture and flavor. Brown rice has a chewy texture with a nutty flavor, while white rice has a milder flavor with a more delicate and soft texture.

We recommend rice because it’s versatile. It can be boiled, made into flour, or used while frying and grilling. When substituting either type of rice, consider the texture and add it correctly.

3. Wheat Couscous

wheat bran

Wheat couscous is crushed durum which is made into small granules or spheres. Usually, you can find this type of wheat in Tunisian, Algerian, or Moroccan cuisine. You can easily substitute it in many recipes that require bulgur.

Use it to make fish dish or as a side dish. Its mild taste will fit perfectly in your meal and won’t interfere with the other ingredients. The critical difference with bulgur is that couscous is made like pasta with semolina wheat flour.

4. Buckwheat


This wheat is cultivated in Southeast Asia and spread to Europe and America. It is considered a cereal grain, but it’s a fruit seed that is easy and delicious to eat.

Its smooth texture and clean taste will make your dish tastier. It is an excellent source of magnesium and other vitamins that will give you some nutrient benefits to your health. You can eat it in a bowl and add it to soups, stews, and other warm dishes.

5. Millet


Millet is also found in the dry regions of Africa and China. It is a source of vitamins, iron, calcium, and other minerals that will benefit your health.

Millet has a nutty flavor and firm texture. You can use it to make it creamy and add it to mashed potatoes, rice, or any other type of meal.

6. Amaranth


Amaranth is similar to quinoa and is usually found in the sunny hills of the Sound of America. It is a beautiful flower that retains after harvesting and drying.

This flower has a lot of vitamins and minerals and provides a lot of health benefits. It has a sticky consistency, so it has to soak overnight before you use it.

7. Teff

Teff Flour

Teff is a small and relatively new grain that originates from Ethiopia. You can replace Teff with Bulgur but keep in mind the consistency and size of both grains.

Also, Teff has health benefits thanks to the many proteins and vitamins.  It has a nutty flavor and a bit of sweetness, making it very delicious and similar to bulgur. Use it for baking or add it to some other dishes.

8. Farro


Another healthy product that can be used as a substitute is Farro. You can easily use it to replace Bulgur in soups, salads, and many more recipes.

This type of grain has a nutty flavor with a chewy texture. Farro and Bulgur come from whole wheat grains, making them very similar as they will provide you with an excellent dish. Add Farro in risotto recipes, salads, or many other recipes.

9. Orzo

orzo pasta

Orzo is a type of pasta made from durum wheat. It is rice-shaped and can be cooked as pasta or rice and served hot or cold. Orzo is usually used in soups, salads, and casseroles, but it is also served as a part of many different main dishes or as a side dish. For a more colorful dish, you can use an orzo with other colors like yellow, green, and red. Orzo is also combined with rice and used for rice pilaf.

10. Barley


Barley is another substitute you can use instead of bulgur in your dishes. It is a versatile cereal grain with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. Barley is usually used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and casseroles. You can use barley as a substitute for bulgur, but remember that you will need more time to cook it. You will also get a different texture and slightly different flavor in your dishes than when you are using bulgur.

11. Cracked Wheat

You can replace bulgur with cracked wheat to flavor your dishes.

Cracked wheat is made from crushed or sliced whole wheat kernels. It is not precooked as bulgur; therefore, you will need more time to cook it.

You can soak or precook the cracked wheat to ensure it is fully cooked. Crack wheat has a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. It is usually used in pilaf, multi-grain bread, stuffing, soups, stews, salads, and breakfast cereals.

12. Freekeh

Freekeh, also known as farik, is a whole grain with a chewy texture and smoky, nutty flavor. It’s harvested while the durum wheat is still young and green.

Whole freekeh needs about 40 minutes to cook, so you can buy cracked freekeh to cut the cooking time.

You can use freekeh in various dishes like stir-fries, salads, risottos, soups, stews, pilafs, and tabbouleh. It makes a good substitute for bulgur because they share a similar texture and flavor.

13. Bamboo Rice

This type of rice is an excellent seed flowering bamboo plants create during their life span.

Bamboo rice can be cooked like regular rice. It has a chewy, moist, sticky texture and a slightly sweet herbal flavor when cooked.

It is usually used in curry, soup, risotto, and other dishes. The only bad thing is that bamboo rice is hard to find in stores.

14. Shelled Hemp Seeds

Hemp seed oil

Shelled hemp seeds are a nutritious and gluten-free substitute for bulgur. They are an excellent alternative to bulgur in tabbouleh but can also be used in other dishes. Shelled hemp seeds have a nutty flavor and are great in soups and salads as an ingredient in cooking and baking.

15. Kamut

Kamut flour

Kamut is a type of wheat with a rich nutty flavor that can also be used as a substitute for bulgur. Its kernels are more significant than in other types of wheat.

It is available as whole grains or milled into flour. Kamut is versatile wheat used in soups, salads, stews, pilafs, chili, tacos, and other dishes.

You can cook Kamut the same as rice and use it as a substitute for bulgur in your dishes.

Bulgur Substitute for Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is a Lebanese salad with cracked wheat bulgur, tomatoes, parsley, and garlic-mint dressing. There are also variations of this salad made with more significant amounts of parsley or other ingredients like cucumbers, black olives, chickpeas, and fetta cheese.

Tabbouleh is usually served with hummus, falafel, and pita bread. But it can also be served on its own. If you don’t have bulgur for tabbouleh, you can use quinoa, couscous, shelled hemp seeds, cracked wheat, buckwheat, freekeh, rice, or some of the ingredients mentioned in this article.

These ingredients will change the flavor and texture of your tabbouleh, so choose the one that you think will meet your preferences.

Gluten-Free Substitute for Bulgur

There are several gluten-free substitutes for bulgur that you can use in your dishes. Some are quinoa, rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, teff, bamboo rice, and shelled hemp seeds.

Substitute for Bulgur Wheat in Kibbeh

Kibbeh is a famous Middle Eastern and Lebanese national dish with bulgur, finely ground beef or lamb, onions, and spices. All the ingredients are bonded together in balls of golf ball size, which can be deep-fried, baked, or broiled.

Many local kibbeh variations are made with minced meat like beef, lamb, goat, camel, and fish. Although kibbeh is made with minced beef, vegetarian versions are also made with pumpkin, chickpea, lentils, spinach, and other vegetables.

Bulgur is usually one of the ingredients in kibbeh, but there are also some other ingredients you can use instead of bulgur in kibbeh.

Some of them are quinoa, couscous, bamboo rice, shelled hemp seeds, freekeh, and rice. You only have to choose the one you like the most and use it for your kibbeh.

Related Questions

Can You Substitute Couscous for Bulgur?

You can substitute couscous for bulgur and give a nice nutty flavor to salads, stir-fries, soups, stews, and other dishes.  Couscous is made of ground durum wheat; it is not gluten-free like bulgur.

What is the Same as Bulgur Wheat?

Similar to bulgur wheat is cracked wheat.

They are identical, but they have one main difference. Bulgur wheat is precooked and easier to prepare, while cracked wheat is not precooked and needs more cooking time.

You can soak or precook the cracked wheat to ensure it is fully cooked.

Is Bulgur Wheat the Same as Quinoa?

Bulgur wheat is not the same as quinoa.

Quinoa is a gluten-free pseudo cereal with a nutty flavor and slightly chewy, fluffy texture. It is used in salads, stir-fries, casseroles, soups, pilaf, and other dishes.

At the same time, bulgur is made from cracked wheat berries. It is not-gluten free and has a chewy texture and nutty flavor.

Bulgur wheat is usually used in salads, stir-fries, curries, pilaf, soups, and stews.

Can I substitute barley for bulgur?

You can but keep in mind that replacing it may change your dish’s texture and flavor. But it can work well in many recipes, so make sure you make a proper replacement.

Can you use quinoa instead of bulgur wheat?

Of course, you can. You can use 1 cup of quinoa to substitute bulgur in recipes, and it usually takes the same amount of time to prepare, which makes them very similar.

  1. Ty so much for these suggestions. My granddaughter is GF. So we are trying to make Kibbeh . Recently tried hemp seed. Not a fan. Do you know the ratio of hemp to meat ? It just seem dry and salty ?!?!

    Is the amount the same if we use quinoa ? I use 1 cup of bulgar per # of meat. Does it have to be soaked ?

    Any help or suggestions ?

    Thank you
    Kathy Ross

  2. Ty so much for these suggestions. My granddaughter is GF. So we are trying to make Kibbeh . Recently tried hemp seed.

    Is the amount the same if we use quinoa ? I use 1 cup of bulgar per # of meat. Does it have to be soaked ?

    Any help or suggestions ?

    Thank you
    Kathy Ross

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like