Couscous Vs Bulgur: Which Is Better?

Another comparison episode we’ll be addressing today is the couscous vs bulgur. 

When it comes to similar foods, couscous and bulgur are often confused. And that’s understandable. 

Because when you look at them side-by-side, it is tricky to tell them apart. They look almost identical.

But don’t be deceived! 

There are many differences between these two grains. And this article tells you everything you need to know to decide which is best for your diet!

Enough talking! Stick around while I quench your curiosity.

Couscous Vs Bulgur

Couscous is not a whole grain. Instead, couscous comes from crushed wheat, called semolina.

Couscous was traditionally made from millet. However, it is referred to as semolina wheat in the US.

When making couscous, semolina is mixed with water and formed into tiny, uniform pellets. And most packaged couscous is refined.

On the other hand, bulgur is a whole grain that can be prepared quickly and is quite versatile.

It is made with whole, broken grains of different types of wheat.

Since bulgur is partially cooked, dried, and packaged before consumption, it cooks significantly more quickly than other types of wheat.

In addition, bulgur has a flavor usually described as nutty or earthy. Meanwhile, couscous has a nutty, sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with stews and roasted veggies.

One of the critical differences between couscous vs bulgur is how they are cooked. Let’s get straight to that:

Couscous Cooking 

Mix 1 part couscous and 1.5 parts water to prepare couscous. Gently pour boiling water over the couscous, cover, and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

You can season it with salt and a little bit of butter. 

Bulgur Cooking

Bulgur is added after bringing water to a rolling boil (2 parts water to 1 part bulgur). Cook with the lid for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the bulgur is fluffy. The water must have been absorbed.

These cooking times show that couscous will cook faster than bulgur, irrespective of the method employed.

Aside from that, these two nutritious grains are made of wheat and contain about the same calories.

Cooked bulgur has 150.4 calories, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 6.14 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 7.9 grams of fiber per cup.

Regarding micronutrient content, bulgur is high in manganese, B vitamins, and iron. And the two plant-based solutions are comparable when it comes to satisfying protein.

On the contrary, a cup of cooked couscous has 176.3 calories, 0.3 g of fat, 6.2 g of protein, 37.3 g of carbohydrates, and 2.25 g of fiber.

Whichever you choose, they both have shallow fat content and essentially identical carbohydrate profiles.

But couscous has a higher glycerin index than bulgur (65), which increases blood sugar.

And here’s where bulgur plays an important role. It contains nearly four times the total amount of fiber as couscous.

Fiber-rich foods fill you up, making bulgur a great option.

Related: Barley Vs Quinoa: Key Differences

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Preserve Bulgur?

Bulgur’s storage isn’t a headache. And when stored correctly, it will stay fresh for more than a year.

If your bulgur is uncooked and kept in an air-tight container, storing it at room temperature would be a bad idea.

However, cooked leftover bulgur should be kept in a tight-fitting container in the refrigerator.  

Sadly, you don’t have much time, as discarding it after three to four days is recommended.

The shelf life of cooked bulgur might stay much longer, but it isn’t like the raw freezer storage that can last up to a year.

Where Can You Find Couscous In The Grocery Store?

Finding couscous in the grocery could be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with that store. 

But don’t worry, as every grocer will likely keep couscous in the grain aisle. 

There you will find anything quick-cooking rice, pre-seasoned rice mixtures, and unusual grains.

Next is to wander around the foreign aisle’s Middle Eastern and kosher food sections.

The healthy food section is another place worth trying. 

But if all else fails, the bulk aisle might be your final resort if you need help finding it there.

How Is Bulgur Made?

Whole wheat groats are partially boiled until they crack, dried in the sun, and ground into various sizes to make bulgur.

Commercially produced bulgur is parboiled, oven-dried, mechanically processed, and divided into several grades.

How Is Couscous Made?

To produce couscous, coarsely ground durum wheat (semolina) is commonly soaked and combined with fine wheat flour until tiny, rounded granules of pasta dough are formed.

These little pasta balls are then allowed to dry for several hours before being quickly steamed to prepare them.

The majority of couscous sold in grocery stores is described as “instant” or “quick cooking,” It has been partly steamed to reduce cooking time by half.

Couscous is typically combined with water and olive oil in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia before being cooked over a simmering stew for taste.

Can I Replace Bulgur With Couscous?

Due to their shared similarities in appearance and slightly in flavor, whole wheat couscous may be an alternative whenever you’re in a pinch. 

You can add it to roasted vegetables or salads.

And don’t forget its milder flavor, which makes it ideal not to subdue the other ingredients. Moreover, it has more protein and fiber.


My final thought about couscous vs bulgur is that there’s not much difference.

The majority of differences are due to individual subjective tastes and cooking times.

Although bulgur tends to be sweeter with a touch more depth of flavor and fiber, couscous has a more prosperous, baked flavor.

However, bulgur is superior when choosing a pasta substitute because it has more fiber, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

And because it has already been partially cooked, you can prepare it quickly. This is a plus if you’re rather pressed for time over dinner.