Wondering what the difference is between freekeh and bulgur? You wouldn’t be the only one wanting to know, as the two grains look similar, have the same texture, and are both considered healthier grain alternatives to rice.
In fact, both freekeh and bulgur are often compared with quinoa – another grain (also classed as a seed!) that’s grown in popularity due to its health benefits and high nutritional value when compared with rice.
So what’s the deal with these two grains? How do they compare in terms of taste, healthiness, cooking uses, and more?
You’ll find everything you need to know about freekeh and bulgur, including their differences, in this simple guide.
What Is Freekeh?
Freekeh, or farik, is a type of grain, often called an “ancient” grain, that is made from green durum wheat.
It is a popular grain in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, but has since gained popularity in other countries as a healthy and tasty alternative to other grains, like rice and quinoa.
Freekeh is made by harvesting young green durum wheat that’s roasted. This burns away the outer straw and chaff, leaving the grain, which is then broken down into smaller pieces.
Due to the roasting process, freekeh has a smoky flavor and a subtle taste of nuts, with a chewy texture. It is used as a substitute for rice in various dishes, as well as an ingredient in salads, soups, and more
What Is Bulgur?
Bulgur is a type of grain, like freekeh, that’s popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
It’s also become increasingly popular in countries around the world for its taste, texture, and nutritional value when compared to other grains.
However, unlike freekeh, bulgur is made from cracked wheat kernels that have been cooked and dried, then broken down into smaller pieces. These pieces can be fine or coarse, depending on the desired result.
Bulgur has a natural nutty flavor, along with a chewy texture. As a result, it can be used as a substitute in almost all rice dishes, as well as a great ingredient in salads, stews, and soups.
What’s The Difference Between Freekeh And Bulgur?
Both freekeh and bulgur are types of whole grain that are becoming more and more popular as substitutes for rice. One big difference between freekeh and bulgur is how they are made!
Freekeh is made from green durum wheat that is harvested young and then roasted over an open flame. Bulgur, on the other hand, is made from cracked wheat that has been slightly cooked and dried.
After these processes, both grains are then cracked into smaller pieces to make them ready for cooking and consumption.
So this process is something that both grains share, as well as their appearance, which is usually similar enough for the two to be mistaken for the other!
More differences between freekeh and bulgur include taste, nutritional value, and cooking times, which you’ll find more information on below.
Due to its roasting process, freekeh has a smoky flavor – in addition to a slight nutty taste. Bulgur, however, has a distinctly nutty taste, which is more noticeable than the nutty flavor of freekeh.
So if you prefer smoky flavors or nutty flavors, this can be a great way to choose between the two grains.
Despite that, both freekeh and bulgur have a fluffy yet chewy texture, which can be likened to quinoa or even brown rice, depending on how long it’s cooked for.
Freekeh is a good source of fiber, protein, and nutrients such as iron, calcium, and potassium. Bulgur is also a good source of fiber and nutrients, but has a slightly lower protein and fiber content than freekeh.
Where the two grains also differ is the amount of calories. Freekeh has a lot more calories than bulgur. Despite that, both are about the same when it comes to carbohydrates and fat content!
As a result, freekeh is the better choice if you’re looking for a grain that has more protein. If you prefer fewer calories, however, then bulgur is the better choice over freekeh.
One of the advantages of bulgur is that it typically cooks quickly, usually in 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size of the grain). Bulgur can be cooked on the stovetop like rice, soaked in water and heated until it becomes fluffy.
Freekeh, on the other hand, can take longer to cook—up to 20 to 25 minutes—especially if the grain isn’t cracked into smaller pieces. Freekeh can sometimes also require soaking before cooking (for more information on cooking freekeh, click here).
The time it takes to cook freekeh and bulgur aren’t that far apart, however, and can still depend on the size of the grains used. Thankfully, both grains are cooked in the same way, which doesn’t require that much effort!
What’s Healthier Freekeh Or Bulgur?
In general, freekeh and bulgur are both healthy whole grains thanks to their nutritional value and healthful benefits.
Both are high in fiber and protein, as well as low in carbohydrates and fat, making them good grains for weight loss.
Where they differ, however, is that freekeh is higher in protein and fiber. Bulgur has more minerals than freekeh, including manganese, calcium, zing, and iron. Bulgur is also much lower in calories.
Are Freekeh And Bulgur Gluten-Free
Unfortunately, for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, freekeh and bulgur are not gluten-free. Both grains are made from wheat, which contains gluten. So if you avoid gluten, you’ll also want to avoid eating freekeh and bulgur.
There are many gluten-free grains available that can be cooked and used in the same way as freekeh and gluten, however, which include brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, oats, and millet – many of which are also considered healthy.
Is Freekeh Or Bulgur Better?
As mentioned above, freekeh and bulgur are both nutritious and healthy grains that can be used as better alternatives to rice.
Whether freekeh or bulgur is considered better mainly comes down to nutritional goals, taste, and cooking time.
If you want to get more protein in your diet, freekeh is the better choice. For lower calories, however, bulgur is better. Bulgur also has more minerals than freekeh, including manganese, iron, calcium, and zinc.
As for taste, you’ll prefer freekeh if you like smoky, nutty flavors. For a nutty taste without the smoky flavor, then bulgur will be more to your liking.
The cooking times are also worth considering, as freekeh can sometimes take longer to cook than bulgur, especially if the grains are bigger.
All in all, the best way to decide whether you prefer freekeh or bulgur is to try them both and see which one you prefer to eat with your meals!
Overall, freekeh and bulgur are different due to how they are made, their flavors, nutritional benefits, and cooking times.
Both grains are considered healthy, but which is preferred will depend on personal taste, nutritional goals, and cooking preferences!
As for the similarities between freekeh and bulgur, both grains have a chewy texture, slight nutty taste, low fat and carbohydrate content, and can be bought in small or large pieces.
Freekeh and bulgur are also not gluten-free, due to them both being made from wheat.