Barley Vs Bulgur: Key Differences

The argument between barley vs bulgur has been ranging for years. 

Despite being from the same grain family, it poses several contradictory questions among culinary experts.

And to put a stop to this debate, we’ve put up a thorough and insightful comparison guide below. 

This will assist you in deciding which of these grains to purchase next time you’re at the grocery store.

I’d say barley is likely to win the debate, but it won’t be that easy because they are almost going neck-to-neck nutritionally. 

Barley is richer in Vitamin B1, B2, copper, Fiber, Zinc, and selenium. However, bulgur is dominant in manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B5. 

Also, Barley’s daily need coverage for Selenium is 64% higher. Meanwhile, the Vitamin B5 dosage for Bulgur is 4X Barley’s.

And there are more to compare below

Barley vs Bulgur

Barley is one of the most popular grains in the US.

It can be added whole to soups, ground into bread, cooked like rice, and added to salads.

The grocery shop sells it whole. There are two options available when buying barley: hulled and pearled.

On the other hand, bulgur is a very versatile whole grain that is simple to prepare.

Bulgur is made from whole-wheat kernels that are boiled, dried, and ground into different sizes. And they cook pretty quickly than other forms of wheat. 

This is because it has been partially cooked, dried, and packaged before being consumed. It is a widely used ingredient, especially in Middle Eastern cuisines.

Aside from that, barley and bulgur have slight flavor variations, even though they are often combined with similar ingredients and spices.

They have a chewy texture and a nutty flavor.

Bulgur has four grades—fine, medium, coarse, and very coarse. It also has two types: red bulgur and yellow. In comparison, barley can be yellow, blue, or purple. 

Barley should be used in place of bulgur because it makes the most sense in flavor.

Further, barley can be cooked by boiling water, adding grain, reducing heat, and covering the pan. Then let it cook for 30 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

On the other hand, Bulgur is cooked by covering cracked wheat with boiling water and letting it sit for about 15 minutes.

You might be wondering whether bulgur or barley are healthy for you.

This topic is challenging because they both benefit one’s health in numerous ways. Here are some nutritional facts for both:

Barley offers more than three times as many grams of carbohydrates and more than four times as many calories per serving as bulgur does.

However, barley has additional nutritional advantages over bulgur since it contains four times as much protein and four times as much dietary fiber.

Which of these nutrients has the highest nutritional value for you? That should determine whether you should substitute barley for bulgur.

Nevertheless, barley is more affluent in selenium, vitamin B1, fiber, copper, iron, vitamin B2, and zinc, whereas bulgur is richer in manganese, vitamin B5, and magnesium.

Compared to barley, bulgur has four times more vitamin B5. Barley has 0.29 mg of vitamin B5, but bulgur has 1.05 mg.

With bulgur having 343 calories per 100 grams and barley having 351 calories per 100 grams, it is pretty simple to figure out that the difference is around 3.0%.

Also, bulgur contains a more considerable amount of protein than barley.

Related: Barley Vs Brown Rice: Which Is Better?

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Store Bulgur?

Bulgur’s storage shouldn’t be a problem for you.

You can store uncooked in an airtight container at room temperature. That way, it will remain fresh for more than a year if properly stored.

After cooking bulgur, you can store any leftovers in a refrigerator-safe container with a tight lid. But after three or four days, it should be thrown away.

However, cooked bulgur lasts up to a year in the freezer.

Where Can You Get Bulgur?

Bulgur is available at almost all food stores. Look in the bulk goods area or the aisle with the other whole grains for baking.

Alternatively, look in the cereal section near the cereal grains and oatmeal.

Since bulgur is used in many regional Middle Eastern recipes, occasionally, you may see it in the international foods department, close to the hummus and falafel mixes.

Additionally, you can buy it online.

Where Can I Find Barley?

There are several options available to you while purchasing barley. You can either place an online order from a retailer or buy a bag of barley from your neighborhood grocery store.

The local grocery store is where you should start looking for the best deals on barley. Typically, grocery stores stock any bag of barley.

However, shopping online is preferable if you need access to a nearby food store because you can typically find higher-quality goods for less money.

Additionally, shopping online eliminates the inconvenience of driving to pick up your order because you can do it from the comfort of your home.

How Do You Prevent Barley From Becoming Soggy?

Avoid overcooking the food. However, it may get mushy if barely left in the water after cooking. Drain any surplus water straight away.

If you keep warm barley heaped in a bowl, it will soften due to the still present heat.

The best action is quickly chilling it in the refrigerator after spreading it on a plate or sheet pan.


There are two critical questions you should ask yourself. Is bulgur a nutritious grain? Is barley a healthy grain?

The answer to each of them is “yes.” But barley is a more nutrient-dense and healthier alternative.

Although they are similar, the primary distinction is that barley is entirely raw, requiring a longer cooking time.

Bulgur, on the other hand, is pre-cooked and requires less cooking time.

When you go shopping, be sure to get bulgur rather than barley because it can change the texture and cooking time of your meals.

However, barley is the way to go if you crave a delicious, fiber-rich, nutty-tasting grain.