Turkish Bulgur and Vegetable Pilaf

Turkish bulgur and vegetable pilaf

The Spruce 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
245 Calories
14g Fat
28g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 245
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 17%
Saturated Fat 5g 24%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 1297mg 56%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 30mg 152%
Calcium 42mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 402mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Click Play to See This Turkish Bulgur and Vegetable Pilaf Recipe Come Together

Whether you are looking for a new and tasty side dish or you are trying to get your family to eat healthier, a traditional Turkish recipe for bulgur pilaf with vegetables will fit the bill. It is a simple and delicious way to receive all the nutritional benefits of bulgur wheat, as well as tomatoes and peppers while enjoying the flavors from Turkey. Bulgur pilaf with vegetables is an ideal side dish to go with grilled meats and chicken, or just about any time you might eat rice.

If you've never tried bulgur, also called bulgar wheat, don't worry—it's more familiar than you think. (If you've ever eaten tabbouleh, you've likely tasted it.) Bulgur is used in a number of Middle Eastern recipes. It's comparable to rice and couscous but has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. 

This pilaf dish most resembles Spanish rice, but with a heartier texture from the bulgar. Like many Turkish dishes, it is made with very economical ingredients that are easy to find; you may actually already have most of them on hand. If you've never cooked with this grain before, you can find bulgur in most supermarkets in the rice, international foods, or organic food sections, as well as online and at any Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, or Greek groceries.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or margarine

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, grated and well drained

  • 1 large tomato, grated, with juice

  • 1 small green bell pepper, grated

  • 2 cups coarse bulgur

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 4 cups chicken broth, or water

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or grilled pepper, chopped tomato, and fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Turkish bulgur and vegetable pilaf
    The Spruce
  2. Melt the butter with the oil in a covered skillet or shallow pan. Fry the drained grated onion until tender but not brown—about 5 minutes.

    Onion cooking in melted butter and oil
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  3. Add the grated tomato and juice and the grated pepper. Continue to fry until the vegetables have softened and the liquid is reduced.

    Grated tomato and juice and grated pepper added to onion
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  4. Add the bulgur and stir well to combine using a wooden spoon.

    Bulgur added and stirred into tomatoes, peppers, and onions
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  5. Add the salt, pepper, tomato paste, sugar, and broth and stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low.

    Add spices
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  6. Let the bulgur simmer gently until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Keeping the pan covered, remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool. 

    Let the bulgur simmer
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  7. Gently stir the pilaf before serving to make sure all the ingredients are well blended.

    Gently stir the pilaf
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  8. Garnish each serving with a piece of fresh or grilled pepper, tomato, and some fresh Italian parsley. Serve and enjoy!

    Garnish and serve
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  • After grating the onion, be sure to set it in a colander to drain. It's important to remove all of the liquid, or else the mixture will taste bitter.
  • Once you remove the pan from the heat, the bulgur will continue to steam. For more even steaming, place a few paper towels or a sheet of newspaper under the lid. Do not remove the lid until ready to serve.

How to Store and Freeze Bulgur Pilaf

This dish will keep well in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. If you'd like to freeze it, it's recommended to freeze in individual portions, which will make it easier to take out for personal servings. Otherwise, freeze it in increments that make the most sense for your family.


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