Best Bulgur Substitutes That Won’t Fail To Impress

Bulgur Substitute

Bulgur is a healthy and nutritious food made from parboiled, dried, and ground wheat groats. The food is nutritious and has a great taste. Yet, there might be times when you want a bulgur substitute. This article has the answers.

As a grain, bulgur has a fine texture and something of a nutty flavor. However, once cooked, it takes on a chewy texture. It is popular with a number of dishes including meat, pasta, and salads. 

Top Substitutes For Bulgur That You Should Consider

1. Quinoa

Famous for its health benefits, quinoa is a useful option to replace bulgur. Interestingly, both these options have similar profiles and offer excellent health benefits. Rich in several nutrients, quinoa is a healthy superfood that’s increasingly popular. 

You can use this option in a variety of foods, including soups, stews, and even salads. The nutty flavor of quinoa along with its chewy texture makes it an excellent substitute for bulgur.

In a bulgur vs quinoa comparison, you’ll find both options are easy to work with and offer a lot of nutrients. These are both fairly healthy choices and you can choose either without any worry. It’s worth noting that quinoa is naturally gluten-free while bulgur contains gluten.

2. Buckwheat

Here’s another pseudo-grain that can take on this job and complete it rather well. Buckwheat has a nutty flavor with bitter undertones. When cooked, it takes on a chewy texture that makes it feel quite similar to bulgur. While there is a slight difference in flavor, it isn’t troubling enough to be a distraction. 

On the other hand, the texture being a close match means you get a similar mouthfeel from both these ingredients. That’s a big plus. You can have buckwheat solo or add it to soups, stews, and similar recipes.

3. Wheat Couscous

Couscous is a common ingredient that many people have in their pantry. Interestingly, couscous is more of a pasta than a grain! It is made from crushed durum and is available in the form of small granules. While it’s not a healthier choice as compared to bulgur, it’s a relatively easily available option should you need a replacement.

One of its big strengths is that couscous is flavor-neutral. This makes it an easy pick for recipes that require bulgur. It helps that couscous has a texture similar to bulgur.

4. Amaranth

Though something on the verge of being rare and exotic, amaranth flour is a pretty versatile grain. Feel free to use it as a bulgur substitute, but keep a few things in mind. It’s best to soak amaranth overnight so it gets a better flavor and consistency. Other than that, there isn’t much to worry about when using this grain.

Amaranth is impressively rich in nutrients and has heaps of minerals, proteins, fiber, and antioxidants. It does suffer a bit in flavor, but other ingredients of the recipe should pick it up right away.

5. Teff

Teff is one of the first plants to be domesticated and is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The same region is also the primary cultivation for this plant. The grain and plant are both known by the same name. Teff is gluten-free and has a mild nutty flavor.

Interestingly, the flavor of the grain can vary depending on its color. The darker the grain, the nuttier the flavor of the teff! While it dipped in popularity a while back, the nutritious grain is making a comeback and is finding more favor and uses.

Keep in mind, this grain is tiny. Teff is basically the same size as poppy seeds! The difference in size will figure in your recipe. If the grainier characteristics of bulgur are what the recipe demands, be extra careful with the substitution.

6. Rice

Rice is the answer! The staple for most parts of the world, this grain can be a good substitute for bulgur. Rice is available in several varieties and though you can use any to substitute for bulgur, it is the brown rice that makes the best impression. Its nutty flavor and chewy texture make an excellent impersonation of bulgur.

White rice can work too, though it has a different color and a milder texture. Rice is extremely versatile and can work with all recipes that call for bulgur. Boiling, grilling, frying, or even converting it into flour – rice can do it all. 

7. Cracked Wheat

Bulgur and cracked wheat differ on a small process, yet it is what makes all the difference! Cracked wheat is basically whole raw wheat milled into smaller pieces. Bulgur comes after wheat undergoes some more processing. This involves cracking wheat, parboiling (or steaming), followed by drying, and then milling and grinding into various sizes.

Different as the process is, it gives both these ingredients a similar texture and flavor. You can count on this similarity to use cracked wheat as a bulgur wheat substitute. 

8. Farro

You could call farro a cousin of bulgur. Farro comes from three species of hulled wheat, which are spelt, einkorn, and emmer. Sometimes, the grain is erroneously called spelt (ignoring the other two varieties) and sometimes it’s confused with the dish made with steamed or boiled farro.

In any case, you should be using steamed (or boiled) farro when choosing a replacement for bulgur. Its nutty flavor and chewy texture line up well with bulgur. Besides, since they’re both sourced from whole wheat, the similarities allow for easier substitution.

9. Millet

Millet is an ancient grain that’s still fairly popular in Africa and Asia. The grains are small and round, and tend to be hard. It has a strong nutty flavor which makes it easier to use this grain as a replacement. It doesn’t tick all boxes when used as a replacement, but millet is quite versatile and easy to work with. If you’ve got this grain on your hands, it can definitely be useful in replacing bulgur in a recipe.

10. Orzo

Orzo, also called risono, is a type of pasta typically made from flour, though it can also come from whole grains. In that sense, it is quite similar to couscous, which takes on more of pasta’s attributes and can be a substitute for bulgur.

Since its size is almost the same as a rice grain, orzo provides a similar texture and size as bulgur. Its neutral flavor profile allows you to work on orzo for most of your requirements, allowing it to work with almost all recipes.

FAQ On Bulgur Substitutes And More

Quinoa VS Bulgur Nutrition Facts

As we look at two popular and nutritions foods in the shape of quinoa and bulgur, it is only natural that we compare the two. It shouldn’t be a surprise that quinoa has the upper hand. First off, quinoa is gluten-free, while bulgur contains gluten.

Moving on to specific nutrition facts, Each cup of cooked bulgur has 110 calories, while the same amount of quinoa contains 220 calories. Similarly, bulgur has four grams of protein in every cup, while quinoa holds eight grams. 

Quinoa’s protein content is actually impressive – not just because of its number, but also because it contains all nine amino acids that humans need.

Is Bulgur Gluten Free?

Bulgur is derived from wheat. And as with most grains, it contains gluten. Those whose body doesn’t work so well with gluten, or those suffering from celiac disease should avoid bulgur. While bulgur is a healthy food and its global popularity is on the rise, the health conscious should realize that it contains gluten.

What Is Bulgur?

Bulgur is a cereal made from cracked whole-grain kernels. Wheat groats are parboiled, dried, and ground to create bulgur. It has a light and nutty flavor and shows off a chewy texture after cooking. Though it contains gluten, it is still seen as a very nutritious food item.

Bulgur VS Couscous – What You Should Know

Bulgur and couscous are sometimes seen as similar items, though they are quite different. Couscous, for example, tends to be more of a pasta than a grain. Bulgur, on the other hand, is a cereal. The neutral taste of couscous allows its use as a substitute for bulgur in many foods. However, bulgur itself has a nutty flavor backed with a chewy texture.

Is Farro The Same As Bulgur?

Farro is very similar to bulgur, though they are both different foods. Farro comes from a mix of three hulled wheat varieties (spelt, einkorn, and emmer). It also offers the same chewy texture and nutty taste as bulgur. 

In most situations, farro is the more nutritious choice. A cooked cup of farro contains 330 calories, compared to 110 calories in bulgur. A cup of farro will have a fat content of 2 grams, compared to 0.5 grams in bulgur. Similarly, while a cooked cup of bulgur has about 5 grams of protein, a cup of farro will have about 14 grams.

Getting To Work With A Bulgur Replacement

Bulgur is often seen as a healthier grain. It comes from whole wheat and the grain doesn’t undergo too much processing. However, there might be times when you want a bulgur substitute. Going with quinoa or brown rice can be excellent choices in such a scenario. If you need more options, take a look at the list here.

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