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20 Bulgur Substitutes That Are Just As Healthy (Or Even Healthier)

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with bulgur wheat, it is made from whole-grain hard red winter wheat. It can be boiled or steamed. 

Bulgur has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, and it is often used in salads, side dishes, soups, and desserts. 

Now, if you’re out of bulgur wheat, there’s no need to worry. Rest assured, there are numerous bulgur substitute options you can use in soups, stews, stir-fries, you name it. So, let’s see!

20 Best Bulgur Substitute Ideas 

1. Quinoa

White quinoa seeds on a wooden background

If you’re looking for a gluten free substitute for bulgur, then quinoa is the best bet! Quinoa is also known as “the perfect food” and is now an essential part of many people’s diets.

This gluten free substitute is high in protein, iron, and fiber. It’s also a good source of magnesium and potassium.

QUICK COMPARISON: Bulgur has a higher glycemic index than quinoa, whereas quinoa has more protein and fiber than bulgur. So, yes, quinoa is a healthier option than bulgur. 

2. Couscous

Couscous is a type of pasta that is made from semolina, water, and salt. It is a great substitute for bulgur because it has the same texture and flavor as cooked bulgur, and it’s a lot easier to make.

Bulgur needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. When preparing couscous, all you need to do is boil water and pour the wheat couscous into the pot with the boiling water. 

If you’re on a tight schedule, then couscous might be the best option for you! 

3. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a high-fiber grain. It has a nutty flavor and a higher nutritional value than bulgur, wheat and rice.

Another advantage of buckwheat over other cereals is that it’s gluten free. If you’re gluten intolerant but still want to eat grains, then buckwheat is for you! 

buckwheat vs bulgur

4. Barley

Barley is a great substitute for bulgur because it has a similar texture and flavor. It also has a lower glycemic index than bulgur, making it a healthier option.

Barley is a whole grain that is high in fiber, low in fat, and has no cholesterol. It also contains vitamin B1 and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, amino acids, antioxidants, iron, and zinc. 

5. Brown rice

Two wooden bowls with unpolished brown rice and wooden spoon on a white wooden background

Brown rice is a whole grain with more vitamins and minerals than bulgur. Brown rice is also a slower-burning carbohydrate, which can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

It has a lower glycemic index, and it has more protein, vitamins and  fiber than bulgur. (More fiber in brown rice means it will keep you fuller for longer). Evidently, it is a great substitute for bulgur because it is healthier and more nutritious. 

6. White rice

White rice is another great substitute for bulgur because it’s cheaper, and healthier. Also, it takes less time to cook rice than bulgur.

Did you know that for the same amount of money, you can buy twice as much white rice as you can bulgur? Yup, you read that right. 

The second thing about white rice is that it contains more nutrients than bulgur does. Also, it has more fiber and protein than bulgur.

Finally, white rice is easier to make because it doesn’t require soaking before cooking like bulgur does.

7. Cracked wheat

Cracked wheat is a whole wheat grain that has a nuttier flavor and is more nutritious which makes it a great substitute for bulgur. Cracked wheat is the whole kernel of wheat broken in half.

Bulgur requires boiling or soaking before cooking, while cracked wheat only needs to be parboiled. Cracked wheat also has a lower glycemic index, which means it will not spike your blood sugar levels as much as bulgur does.

8. Millet

Millet is a gluten-free grain that is high in protein and fiber. Millet has more iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, polyunsaturated fat, vitamin B3 and B5 than bulgur. 

You can also use it as a substitute for rice or pasta in your favorite dishes. Here’s the best part: It doesn’t require soaking before cooking!

Millet flour vs bulgur

9. Durum wheat

Durum is a type of wheat that has been ground into flour. Durum is a great substitute for bulgur because it is easier to cook and has a better texture. 

Durum cooks in about 10 minutes, while bulgur takes about 30 minutes. Also, Durum doesn’t become mushy when cooked. 

10. Amaranth

Amaranth is gluten-free, high in protein, and it has a similar flavor to bulgur. 

This pseudocereal can be used as an alternative to bulgur in many dishes, such as tabbouleh or tabouli. You can also use it to make porridge, other wheat products, or breakfast cereal.

PRO TIP: Rinse the grains thoroughly before cooking because they have a natural saponin on the outside that can give the dish an unpleasant bitter flavor.

11. Orzo

Orzo cooks much faster and it has a similar texture to bulgur. It takes up less space in the pot, and is easier to serve. You can even use it as a pasta substitute. Besides orzo, substitutes for orzo will also work well in any dish.

12. Bamboo rice

“Bamboo Rice, also known as Mulayari, is actually the seed of a dying bamboo shoot that is produced at the end of its life span.” (1)

Bamboo rice is gluten-free, high in protein and fiber, and it has a lower glycemic index which makes it another great substitute for bulgur. 

It’s beneficial for back pain, joint pain and rheumatic pain. Also, it has anti-diabetic properties and it helps lower cholesterol levels. 

13. Kamut

Raw Organic Dry Kamut Berries Grain in a Bowl

The main difference between these two grains is their flavor and nutritional value. Kamut has a sweeter flavor and is more nutritious than bulgur. 

Kamut can be substituted for bulgur in any dish such as curries, casseroles, savory dishes, and recipes with veggies.

14. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Hemp seeds are gluten free, low in carbs and they are a great source of protein. 

They can be used as a substitute for bulgur in many dishes such as tabbouleh, fattoush, and tabouli salad. 

15. Teff

Bulgur can be hard to find outside of grocery stores that specialize in Middle Eastern cuisine. Luckily, Teff provides a similar texture and flavor profile to bulgur and is easier to find at most grocery stores. 

16. Farro

Both bulgur and farro have similar textures and are less expensive than other types of wheat.

Farro is a great substitute for bulgur because it is easier to digest and has more nutrients than bulgur. That’s one of the most common reasons people consume farro instead of bulgur.

17. Groats

Groats are whole grains that have been hulled and then boiled in water until soft. They are typically used as a breakfast cereal and can also be used as a substitute for rice or other grains.

Groats can be eaten with milk, yogurt, honey, sugar, cinnamon, raisins, or other sweeteners to add flavor and nutrients to the meal. If you are looking for a healthier alternative to bulgur, these wheat berries are a perfect choice.

bulgur vs groat

18. Freekeh

Freekeh is made from green durum wheat that is roasted and rubbed to create its flavor.  It has a nuttier flavor than bulgur, which makes it the perfect substitute for it in many dishes. 

19. Oats

Oats are a great substitute for bulgur because they are cheaper and easier to prepare. 

You can make a bowl of oatmeal with just one pot and a spoon. You just need to add water, oats, and other flavorings like cinnamon or brown sugar, and you’re done. Here’s how long cooked oatmeal lasts in the fridge.

My personal favorite is oats with mashed banana. Yummy!

20. Spelt

Spelt is an ancient grain that’s similar to bulgur but with some key differences. It’s made from whole-grain spelt flour, which means it contains more fiber than bulgur.

Spelt can be boiled or steamed just like bulgur, and it’s also delicious in salads or as a pasta substitute.

Find The Best Bulgur Wheat Substitute

There are many different types of bulgur available. Some are more finely ground than others, and some have been pre-cooked to shorten the cooking time for certain recipes.

You should choose your bulgur substitute accordingly, as quinoa is a great option in stews, rice in stir-fries, and couscous in other dishes. Remember, it all depends on your recipe!

1. The Times Of India (2019), This is why bamboo rice is good for you, accessed 10 March 2023,

20 Bulgur Substitutes That Are Just As Healthy (Or Even Healthier)