How to make Turkish Bulgur Pilav

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Turkish Bulgur Pilaf is a traditional dish made with bulgur, a nutritious and versatile grain. It is a flavorful and wholesome pilaf prepared by sautéing onions, peppers, and other aromatic ingredients in olive oil, then adding bulgur and cooking it with vegetable or chicken broth until tender. The pilaf is seasoned with spices like cumin, paprika, and black pepper, giving it a rich and aromatic taste. It can be served as a delicious and satisfying side dish or as a main course, accompanied by yogurt or a fresh salad. Turkish Bulgur Pilaf is not only tasty but also a healthy choice, as bulgur is high in fiber and provides essential nutrients.

Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

Short history

Bulgur pilaf, also known as “bulgur wheat pilaf,” is a delicious and nutritious dish with a rich history. Here’s a short history of Bulgur Pilaf:

Ancient Origins: Bulgur wheat, the main ingredient in bulgur pilaf, has ancient origins. It is believed to have been first cultivated in the ancient Fertile Crescent region, which includes present-day Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, around 4,000 years ago. The process of making bulgur involves parboiling, drying, and cracking whole wheat grains, which results in a partially cooked, nutty-flavored grain.

Middle Eastern Staple: Bulgur wheat became a staple food in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria. Its popularity can be attributed to its versatility, ease of preparation, and high nutritional value. Bulgur pilaf emerged as a popular dish, often served as a side dish or as a main course accompanied by various toppings or sauces.

Ottoman Influence: During the Ottoman Empire’s reign, which lasted for centuries until the early 20th century, bulgur pilaf gained even more prominence in the region. The Ottomans greatly influenced the culinary traditions of the Middle East, and bulgur pilaf became a favorite dish among the imperial court and the general population alike.

Global Spread: As Middle Eastern cuisine gained popularity worldwide, so did bulgur pilaf. It began appearing in various international cuisines, particularly Mediterranean and vegetarian dishes. It became a favorite among health-conscious individuals due to its high fiber content, low glycemic index, and nutrient-rich profile.

Modern Variations: Today, bulgur pilaf is prepared in various ways, reflecting regional and personal preferences. Traditional recipes often include ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices like cumin and cinnamon, while modern variations may incorporate additional vegetables, nuts, or proteins like chicken or lamb.

Bulgur pilaf continues to be enjoyed by people around the world for its delicious taste, ease of preparation, and its status as a wholesome and nutritious grain dish.

Recipe variations to explore

Bulgur pilaf is a delicious and versatile dish that can be prepared in various ways. Here are a few variations you can try:

Vegetable Bulgur Pilaf: Sauté onions, garlic, and your choice of vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, peas, or zucchini. Add the bulgur and vegetable broth, then cook until the bulgur is tender. Season with herbs like parsley, thyme, or oregano.

Mediterranean Bulgur Pilaf: Cook the bulgur with vegetable or chicken broth, then stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Spiced Bulgur Pilaf: Toast the bulgur in a bit of olive oil, then add chopped onions, garlic, and your favorite spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, or turmeric. Cook with vegetable or chicken broth until the bulgur is fluffy and aromatic.

Nutty Bulgur Pilaf: Toast some chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts in a dry skillet until lightly browned. In a separate pan, sauté onions and garlic, then add the bulgur and cook with vegetable or chicken broth. Stir in the toasted nuts before serving.

Lemon-Herb Bulgur Pilaf: Cook the bulgur with vegetable or chicken broth, then stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped fresh herbs such as mint, dill, or basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mushroom Bulgur Pilaf: Sauté sliced mushrooms with onions and garlic until they release their moisture. Add the bulgur and vegetable broth, then cook until the bulgur is tender. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or thyme.

Tomato Bulgur Pilaf: Sauté onions and garlic until softened, then add diced tomatoes and cook until they break down. Add the bulgur and vegetable or chicken broth, then cook until the bulgur is cooked through. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs like basil or oregano.

Feel free to experiment with these variations by adding or substituting ingredients based on your personal taste preferences.

Serving options

Bulgur pilaf is a delicious and nutritious dish made with bulgur wheat. It is a versatile dish that can be served in various ways to complement different meals or cuisines. Here are some serving options for bulgur pilaf:

  1. As a side dish: Bulgur pilaf can be served as a side dish alongside grilled meats, roasted vegetables, or stews. Its nutty flavor and fluffy texture make it a great accompaniment to a wide range of main courses.
  2. Salad base: Use bulgur pilaf as a base for a hearty salad. Add fresh vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs. You can also include protein sources like grilled chicken, chickpeas, or feta cheese. Drizzle with lemon juice or a light dressing for added flavor.
  3. Stuffed vegetables: Stuff vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or tomatoes with seasoned bulgur pilaf. Bake them in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the pilaf is heated through. This makes for a flavorful and nutritious vegetarian main course.
  4. Wrap or roll: Spread a layer of bulgur pilaf on a flatbread or tortilla, and add your choice of fillings such as grilled chicken, falafel, or roasted vegetables. Roll it up and enjoy it as a wholesome wrap or roll.
  5. Breakfast bowl: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast bowl by topping cooked bulgur pilaf with Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, nuts, and a drizzle of honey. It’s a wholesome and filling way to kickstart your morning.
  6. Mediterranean mezze: Serve bulgur pilaf as part of a mezze platter alongside other Mediterranean dishes like hummus, tzatziki, olives, and pita bread. It adds a delicious grain element to the spread.

Remember, these are just a few suggestions, and you can get creative with your serving options based on your personal preferences and the ingredients you have on hand.

Turkish Bulgur Pilaf ~ Pisto, Spanish Vegetarian Stew ~ Baked Bean and Chickpea Falafel

The best kind of drinks that go well with Turkish Bulgur Pilav

When it comes to pairing drinks with Bulgur Pilaf, you have a variety of options to choose from. The choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and the flavors you want to complement or contrast with the dish. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Water: Bulgur Pilaf has a hearty and wholesome flavor, and a simple glass of water can help cleanse the palate and refresh your taste buds.
  2. Ayran: Ayran is a traditional Turkish yogurt-based drink that complements many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. Its tangy and refreshing taste pairs well with the rich and savory flavors of Bulgur Pilaf.
  3. Mint Lemonade: A cool and refreshing mint lemonade can be a great choice to balance the flavors of Bulgur Pilaf. The citrusy and minty notes can provide a contrasting taste that enhances the overall dining experience.
  4. Pomegranate Juice: If you’re looking for a slightly sweet and tangy option, pomegranate juice can be a delightful choice. Its vibrant flavor can complement the nuttiness of the bulgur and add a refreshing touch to the meal.
  5. Herbal Tea: A cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile or mint tea, can be a soothing and light beverage to enjoy with Bulgur Pilaf. These herbal infusions can provide a calming effect and pair well with the earthy flavors of the dish.
  6. Light-bodied Red Wine: If you prefer alcoholic beverages, a light-bodied red wine like a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais can be a good option. Their fruity and subtle flavors can complement the pilaf without overpowering it.
  7. Sparkling Water with Lemon: For a bubbly and zesty option, consider sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon. The effervescence and citrusy kick can enhance the flavors of the dish while providing a refreshing sensation.

These are just suggestions, and you can experiment with different drinks to find the combination that pleases your taste buds the most.

Here are some interesting facts about Bulgur Pilav

  1. Bulgur Pilaf, also known as “bulgur wheat pilaf,” is a traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dish made with bulgur wheat and various ingredients.
  2. Bulgur wheat is a whole grain made from durum wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and cracked into smaller pieces. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture.
  3. The origins of bulgur wheat can be traced back to ancient times, particularly in the regions of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, where it has been a staple food for centuries.
  4. Bulgur Pilaf is commonly prepared by sautéing onions and other aromatics in olive oil or butter, then adding bulgur wheat and cooking it with vegetable or chicken broth until tender.
  5. Various vegetables, herbs, and spices can be added to Bulgur Pilaf to enhance its flavor and nutritional value. Common additions include diced tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, peas, and parsley.
  6. Bulgur Pilaf is often served as a side dish alongside grilled meats, stews, or roasted vegetables. It can also be enjoyed as a main course, particularly when mixed with legumes or served with yogurt.
  7. This dish is highly nutritious as bulgur wheat is a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is also low in fat and cholesterol, making it a healthy alternative to rice or pasta.
  8. Bulgur Pilaf is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit different dietary preferences and restrictions. It can easily be made vegan or vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting any animal products.
  9. In addition to its nutritional benefits, bulgur wheat is known for its quick cooking time, making Bulgur Pilaf a convenient and time-saving option for meals.
  10. Bulgur Pilaf has gained popularity worldwide due to its delicious taste, simplicity of preparation, and its place in various cultural cuisines. It is a flavorful and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

How to decorate

Decorating Bulgur Pilaf can be done in various ways to make it visually appealing. Here are some ideas to decorate your Bulgur Pilaf:

  1. Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle freshly chopped herbs like parsley, cilantro, or dill over the pilaf. Not only will they add a pop of color, but they will also enhance the flavor.
  2. Lemon Zest: Grate some lemon zest over the pilaf for a vibrant burst of citrus flavor. This will also add a touch of brightness to the dish.
  3. Toasted Nuts: Toasted nuts like almonds, pine nuts, or chopped pistachios can provide a contrasting crunch to the pilaf. Sprinkle them on top just before serving.
  4. Pomegranate Arils: Add a handful of pomegranate arils to the pilaf. The jewel-like red seeds will provide a beautiful pop of color and a burst of sweetness.
  5. Sliced Olives: Arrange a few sliced olives, such as Kalamata or green olives, on top of the pilaf. They can add a savory touch and create an attractive visual contrast.
  6. Roasted Vegetables: If you have roasted vegetables on hand, such as roasted bell peppers or cherry tomatoes, you can place them strategically on top of the pilaf. This will not only add color but also add a depth of flavor.
  7. Yogurt Drizzle: Consider drizzling some plain yogurt over the pilaf. You can create decorative patterns or swirls with the yogurt using a spoon. The creamy white yogurt will create a lovely contrast against the golden pilaf.

Remember, the key is to create a visually appealing presentation while complementing the flavors of the Bulgur Pilaf. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions or come up with your own creative ideas to make your dish visually enticing.

Health benefits

Bulgur pilaf is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with cracked wheat known as bulgur. It is often cooked with various vegetables, herbs, and spices. Here are some potential health benefits associated with bulgur pilaf:

  1. High in fiber: Bulgur is an excellent source of dietary fiber. A high-fiber diet is essential for maintaining digestive health, preventing constipation, and promoting regular bowel movements.
  2. Rich in vitamins and minerals: Bulgur contains several essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as niacin, thiamin, and vitamin B6), iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. These nutrients play crucial roles in supporting overall health, including energy production, immune function, and bone health.
  3. Low in fat: Bulgur pilaf is typically prepared with minimal amounts of added fat. This makes it a healthier option compared to other rice or pasta-based dishes that may contain higher levels of saturated or trans fats.
  4. Good source of plant-based protein: Bulgur is a plant-based protein source, making it a suitable option for individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets. Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, repair, and overall growth and development.
  5. May help manage weight: Due to its high fiber content, bulgur pilaf can promote a feeling of fullness and satiety, which may aid in weight management. Additionally, its low-fat nature and relatively low calorie count make it a healthier choice compared to many other carbohydrate-based dishes.
  6. Potential blood sugar control: The fiber content in bulgur may help regulate blood sugar levels. High-fiber foods are known to have a lower glycemic index, which means they have a slower impact on blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage their blood sugar levels.
  7. Provides antioxidants: Bulgur contains various antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, which have been associated with numerous health benefits. Antioxidants help protect the body against oxidative stress, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, and age-related conditions.

It’s worth noting that while bulgur pilaf can offer several health benefits, the overall nutritional profile may vary based on the specific ingredients and preparation methods used.

How to store

To store Bulgur Pilaf properly, follow these steps:

  1. Cool down: Allow the Bulgur Pilaf to cool down to room temperature before storing it. Leaving it at room temperature for too long can lead to bacterial growth.
  2. Refrigeration: Transfer the Bulgur Pilaf to an airtight container. Place it in the refrigerator promptly. The airtight container helps to maintain the freshness and prevent odors from seeping in.
  3. Labeling: Label the container with the date of preparation. This will help you keep track of its freshness and avoid consuming it past its recommended shelf life.
  4. Shelf life: Bulgur Pilaf can generally be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. Beyond that, the quality may start to deteriorate, and it’s best to discard it to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.
  5. Reheating: When you’re ready to eat the stored Bulgur Pilaf, reheat it thoroughly. You can do this in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add a little water or broth if needed to prevent it from drying out during reheating.

Remember to always use your judgment and discard the Bulgur Pilaf if you notice any signs of spoilage, such as an off smell, unusual texture, or mold growth.

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Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

Nutritious and flavorful Middle Eastern dish made with bulgur wheat, sautéed vegetables, and aromatic spices.
3 from 1 vote
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Turkish
Servings 4
Calories 260 kcal


  • Saucepan or Pot: You’ll need a medium-sized saucepan or pot with a lid to cook the bulgur pilaf. Make sure it’s large enough to hold all the ingredients comfortably.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: A wooden spoon or spatula is ideal for stirring the pilaf and preventing it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Avoid using metal utensils to prevent scratching the pot.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: You may need a cutting board and knife to chop ingredients like onions, garlic, or vegetables if you’re adding them to the pilaf.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precise measurements are essential in cooking, so having a set of measuring cups and spoons is useful for measuring the bulgur, water, and other ingredients accurately.
  • Fork: A fork is handy for fluffing the cooked bulgur pilaf before serving, ensuring that the grains are separate and light.
  • Serving Spoon: You’ll need a serving spoon to transfer the bulgur pilaf from the saucepan to a serving dish or individual plates.
  • Optional: If you choose to garnish the bulgur pilaf with herbs, lemon zest, or other toppings, you might want to have a grater or zester on hand for grating or zesting those ingredients.


  • 300 grams of coarse bulgur
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 3 tomatoes grated
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 750 milliliters of water or chicken/vegetable stock


  • Rinse the bulgur until the water runs clear and let it soak until ready to use.
  • On medium heat, sauté the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then, add the green pepper and cook until it softens.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the grated tomatoes. After 3 minutes, add the tomato paste and whisk until well combined.
  • Drain the soaked bulgur and add it to the pan along with the stock or water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove from heat and let the pilaf cool down.
Keyword bulgur, Fiber-rich, grains, pilav, quick cooking, Traditional dish, Turkish recipe

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