Bulgur is a variant of the regular wheat used in making bread and other pastries today. It’s a rich source of proteins, fiber, carbs, and other essential nutrients the body needs.
If you want to add more healthy grains to your diet, then, no doubt, bulgur wheat can be a great option. But what if you run out of bulgur and can’t find it in nearby stores?
Don’t worry. Here are some substitutes that you can use instead of bulgur:
- Wheat Couscous
- Whole Wheat or Cracked Wheat
- Wheat Berries
16 Best Substitute For Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur wheat is a kind of whole grain wheat that has been prepared by drying, cracking, and parboiling. It’s actually a grain of wheat but with a nutty flavor, which adds a full creamy texture.
It’s a nutrient dense grain popular in Mediterranean, Asian, and Western cuisines. It’s one of the oldest ingredients that people have been using for more than 4,000 years.
When it comes to taste and texture, some of the best substitutes includes quiona and farro. Of course, feel free to explore other alternatives mentioned below.
Quinoa is a versatile substitute for bulgur wheat, which can be used for savory dishes and sweet recipes. It comes in two variants – creamy white and red.
Quinoa is a healthy alternative and a good source of essential nutrients. It’s an excellent source of amino acids, minerals, protein, fiber, vitamins, potassium, calcium, and zinc.
It has the same texture as bulgur wheat and works well for salad, stew, and soup recipes. If you need a replacement that has a low glycemic index, then this will make an excellent choice.
Rice generally has a more delicate texture compared to bulgur wheat, but it’s still a good option. If you’re looking for a substitute with a milder flavor, then use rice as a substitute.
Preparing rice is easier by comparison since you can use automated rice cookers. Doing it the old fashioned way requires practice. The rule of thumb here is to add one cup or water for each cup of rice in your recipe.
White rice is a quick source of energy and can be a part of a balanced diet. Each cup contains 53.4 grams of carbs, 4.4 grams of protein, and 0.6 grams of fiber.
Wheat couscous looks a lot like bulgur wheat and has a similar texture. However, remember that couscous is a type of pasta prepared using durum wheat semolina, not a seed or grain.
If you’re cooking a Moroccan dish calling for some bulgur wheat, then couscous can be a good alternative. It goes well with spices, cinnamon, ginger, peppers, saffron, squash, and lamb.
Wheat couscous is an excellent source of fiber, which is great for preventing blood sugar levels from spiking. It also reduces cholesterol levels, which reduces your risk for heart disease. [Source]
Buckwheat is a cereal grain that’s been around for quite a while, known for its refreshing flavor and silky texture. It’s really a fruit seed even though many think that it’s a grain.
Manufacturers prepare buckwheat in similar fashion when you process rice. It tastes somewhat like rye and wholewheat flour, which can be enhanced with some salt or butter.
It has a nutty flavor with a hint of a bitter taste. It works quite well for morning cereals, warm food, stews, and soups.
Its chewy texture fits nicely, making it a great bulgur wheat substitute, especially when used in salads. It’s a healthy alternative being a good source of folate, vitamin K and B vitamins. [Source]
Wheat looks like bulgur wheat when it’s cracked. It has a similar texture. To make cracked wheat the perfect substitute, you need to cook it well and add groats.
Once cooked, its flavor profile is quite similar to bulgur complete with a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. Cooking cracked wheat improves palatability and flavor.
Cracked wheat is a nutrition powerhouse containing many essential nutrients. It’s an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, sodium, dietary fiber, and protein.
Farro is another excellent substitute for bulgur wheat since it’s also made from whole grains. In addition, farro also has the same nutty flavor which goes great for salads, soups, and stews.
One downside to using farro is that it takes a lot longer to cook. Here’s a pro tip: soak farro grain in water overnight to reduce boiling time.
Note that farro is not a gluten-free option, which means it’s not recommended for those with celiac disease. It’s an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, vitamin B3, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. [Source]
Millet shares the same nutty flavor as bulgur wheat but with a more solid texture. If you’re looking for something with a firmer texture as a substitute, then try millet.
Not a lot of people are familiar with millet, which makes it an interesting ingredient to work with. It’s very easy to prepare and extremely versatile, going great with many ingredients.
Just like the other substitute ingredients, millet should be soaked overnight before it’s cooked, making it more palatable. Soaking also helps to remove the acidic coating, which can cause indigestion in some people.
Wheat berries include all the healthy parts of the wheat kernel, which include the endosperm, germ, and bran. Since they haven’t undergone food processing, they’re a great source of dietary fiber.
Wheat berries are great for pudding recipes and salad dressings. Unlike some of the bulgur wheat substitutes on this list, they don’t need overnight soaking.
To soften wheat berries, you need to boil them in three cups of water and then simmer for an hour. Once softened, they gain a strong nutty taste and the kernels become quite chewy.
Amaranth grains are similar to quinoa and are also a good substitute for bulgur wheat. It’s actually a flower that originates from the mountain regions of South America. Amaranth flour are commonly used for bread making or as a thickener
Just like the other bulgur wheat substitutes on this list, amaranth needs some extra prep time. You need to soak it overnight to make it more palatable and to remove its claggy texture.
Amaranth grains are an excellent source of essential nutrients. They’re a good source of minerals like manganese, phosphorus, and iron.
Teff is an Ethiopian grain that has a hint of sweetness with a characteristic nutty flavor profile. It’s a healthy alternative ingredient to bulgur wheat, providing a number of health benefits.
It may help manage diabetes, boost digestive health, improve blood circulation, and boost energy levels. It’s a good source of essential nutrients like vitamins, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Bamboo rice can be used as a healthy substitute for bulgur wheat, rich in protein and B vitamins. It has a similar sticky texture with a unique sweet flavor.
It’s actually the seed produced by bamboo flowering in due season. It’s predominantly found in the regions of southern India and has an irregular blooming season.
It offers a lot of health benefits such as lowering cholesterol levels, managing diabetes symptoms, and relief from back, rheumatic, and joint pains. It also has a higher protein content compared to wheat and rice.
If you’re looking for a bulgur substitute with high fiber content, then try whole wheat orzo. At first glance, it looks like rice having the same shape, look, and texture.
However, it’s actually a form of pizza, which is easy to prepare. You simply need to boil it using medium heat just like other types of pasta.
As a caveat, remember that orzo is not gluten free, which isn’t recommended to people with gluten intolerance. It also packs a lot of calories, which may not be a good option for people looking to lose weight.
If you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to bulgur wheat, then shelled hemp seeds will be an excellent choice. It’s a versatile substitute, which can be used for many recipes.
Hemp seeds are easily accessible, which you can find in grocery and specialty stores. The only downside to using this bulgur substitute is that it can be a bit pricey.
Hemp seeds have been used for centuries as a form of topical and oral cures. When cooked, it has a distinct nutty flavor, which makes it a good substitute for bulgur wheat.
Shelled hemp seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin E, and Iron. They’re also rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, supporting immune functions and regulating metabolism.
If you’re looking for an alternative to bulgur wheat with a sweeter flavor, then try kamut. It makes your recipes sweeter without having to add more sugar.
It has a unique buttery and nutty flavor profile, which can give your bulgur recipes an interesting twist. You can also use kamut as a substitute for wheat berries and barley.
Kamut has a uniquely broad nutritional profile and an excellent source of plant protein and fiber. It’s an excellent source of health boosting nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, and manganese.
Barley also has the same nutty taste as bulgur wheat, but it has a chewier texture. If you’re using bulgur wheat in a meat dish, then try barley as a substitute.
Note that barley isn’t considered a type of whole grain because it doesn’t have any outer bran layers. But it’s a versatile type of grain, which can easily be used in many recipes.
It’s rich in many beneficial nutrients and can reduce hunger, which is great for losing weight. It contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals along with beneficial plant compounds.
Brown rice makes an excellent substitute for bulgur wheat just like white rice. Just remember that it takes a bit longer to cook and it contains more dietary fiber.
Brown rice has a lot of health benefits and can be beneficial for weight loss, heart health, and diabetes management. It’s surprisingly nutritious, packing plenty of nutrients such as protein, B vitamins, fiber, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and selenium.
Remember this magic ratio when cooking brown rice: 6 parts water for every 1 part of brown rice. This yields 3 parts of well-cooked brown rice.