6 Best Bulgur Substitutes


Bulgur is an easy-to-cook cereal grain made of wheat groats that have been parboiled, dried, and ground popularly used in Middle Eastern countries.

It has a nutty flavor and is used in baked goods, pilaffs, and soups. It is rich in dietary fiber, protein, iron, and vitamin B6.

As bulgur is a wheat product, it may not be suitable for individuals with gluten allergies.

Sometimes, you may not have bulgur; then, few ingredients may be used instead of bulgur.

This article will guide you through different ingredients that may act as bulgur substitutes.

6 Best Bulgur Substitutes

The best substitutes for Bulgur are – Quinoa, Cracked Wheat, Rice, Couscous, Buckwheat Groats, and Farro. They are discussed in detail here –


Quinoa is a type of edible seed with all nine essential amino acids, proteins, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc, and antioxidants.

It is extremely versatile with use in several sweet or savory dishes. Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor with a texture similar to brown rice.

It may be substituted for bulgur in salads, soups, or stews due to similar texture profiles and health benefits.

It has a milder flavor than bulgur. Also, unlike bulgur, quinoa is gluten-free and may be safely consumed by gluten-intolerant individuals.

How to Substitute

A cup of bulgur wheat may be substituted with a cup of quinoa. It takes the same time to cook as bulgur.

Cracked Wheat

Cracked wheat is a form of wheat in which whole-wheat berries are cracked into smaller pieces.

It may be used in making multi-grain bread, pilaffs, stuffings, and breakfast cereals. It provides a crunchy texture with a nutty flavor.

Cracked wheat may replace bulgur due to its similarities in flavor and texture.

It is completely raw and, therefore, may take a longer cooking time, whereas bulgur is precooked and has a shorter preparation time.

It may work in almost all recipes where bulgur is used.

How to Substitute

A cup of bulgur may be replaced with a cup of cracked wheat. However, it may take a longer time to cook.


Rice is an edible starchy cereal grain that may be eaten alone and in various soups, side dishes, and main dishes in Asia, Middle Eastern, and many cuisines.

It is found in different variants, including white and brown rice. It may be used in any recipe that calls for bulgur.

Brown rice has a nutty flavor with a chewy texture and takes a longer time to cook as the fibrous bran layer, and nutrient-rich germ remain intact, whereas white rice has a delicate texture.

It may be used according to the recipe in place of bulgur. Also, it is a versatile substitute and can be boiled, powdered, deep-fried, and grilled.

How to Substitute

A cup of bulgur may be swapped for a cup of rice. White rice takes less time to cook than brown rice.


Couscous is a coarsely ground cereal made of durum wheat semolina subjected to steaming and drying.

It is consumed sweet, salty, fresh, or fermented, and with different meat-based products.

The dish made of couscous is also called couscous in North Africa.

Whole wheat couscous may substitute for bulgur due to its similarity in appearance and could be added to roasted veggies or mixed into salads.

Its milder taste will not interfere with the other ingredients and makes it a perfect substitute. Also, it is richer in fiber and protein.

However, it may not be suitable for individuals with gluten allergies.

How to Substitute

A cup of whole wheat couscous may substitute a cup of bulgur wheat. Couscous takes only 5-10 minutes to cook and is made like pasta

Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat is a pseudo-grain high in carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, vitamins B1 and B2 with a wide range of beneficial effects.

It possesses prebiotic and antioxidant activities. It provides a rich, nutty flavor that enhances the taste of a variety of recipes.

It may be a healthy alternative to bulgur, giving a nutty flavor and smooth texture to several dishes.

The cooked buckwheat is not mushy and, therefore, may work in salads, stews, and soups.

It may be suitable for people with celiac disease or anyone committed to having a gluten-free diet as it is a seed.

How to Substitute

Buckwheat serves as a substitute for bulgur due to its rich, nutty flavor and many health benefits. It does not need soaking and can be cooked directly. It can be used in the same way as bulgur and added to soups, stews, and other warm dishes.


Farro is a grain that is used as a source of carbohydrates in meals. It is an excellent source of proteins, fiber, iron, and magnesium.

It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor.

Both faro and bulgur come from whole wheat grains, and therefore, farro may substitute bulgur wheat due to its unique, nutty flavor and health benefits.

It may be used in salads, soups, and other dishes. However, it may need to be soaked overnight to shorten the cooking time.

Also, it may not be suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

How to Substitute

The same amount of farro may be substituted for bulgur in salads, soups, and other dishes to increase the nutritional value. However, it may take a longer time to cook without pre-soaking.

What are Gluten-free Substitutes for Bulgur?

There are a few different options for gluten-free substitutes for bulgur. One option is to use quinoa, which naturally gluten-free. Another option is to use rice, either brown or white.

Finally, you could also use sorghum, which is another type of grain that does not contain gluten.

Quinoa is a great substitute for bulgur as it is high in protein and fiber than rice and is more nutritious overall.

What can I Substitute for Bulgur in Tabbouleh?

There are a few different substitutions that can be made for bulgur wheat in tabbouleh. These substitutes include using couscous, quinoa, rice, or even pasta.

Each of these options will change the flavor and texture of the dish slightly, so it is important to consider which would be best based on your preferences.

Couscous will give the dish a more firm texture, while quinoa will make it more fluffy. Rice will make it more starchy, and pasta will make it more like a traditional salad.

What can I Substitute for Bulgur in Kibbeh?

Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish typically made with ground lamb, bulgur wheat, and spices.

But if you do not plan to use bulgur, there are a few substitutes for bulgur in kibbeh.

One option is to use couscous. Couscous is a type of pasta made from durum wheat. It is similar in size and shape to bulgur, and has a similar chewy texture.

Another option is to use quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein and fiber. It has a nutty flavor and a slightly crunchy texture.

Finally, rice can also be used as a substitute for bulgur wheat in kibbeh. Rice has a softer texture than bulgur, but it will still work well in this dish.


Can teff be used to substitute for bulgur?

Teff grains have a mild, nutty flavor with a bit of sweetness originally from Ethiopia. It is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals.

Therefore, it is also gluten-free and may substitute bulgur in baking and cooking some dishes.

Can you replace bulgur with barley?

Both barley and bulgur are cereal grains with similar flavors. However, barley takes a longer time to cook. It may work in some recipes that use bulgur, like tabouli and kibbe.

But substituting barley for bulgur may change the flavor of many dishes.

Bottom Line

Bulgur is a great addition to the salads and many dishes due to its nutty taste and chewy texture.

We hope this article helped you find a suitable substitute for bulgur if you want to avoid bulgur.

You may choose the best alternative according to your recipe and your taste preference.

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About Betty Ellis

Betty is a food researcher who spends most of her time analyzing the nutritional aspects of various foods. She also researches methods to enhance taste, as well as how to store certain types of foods. She enjoys cooking for herself and her three dogs even though she doesn't have a lot of free time outside work.