How to Substitute Bulgur Wheat for Ground Beef in Your Recipes – Save Money & Be Healthy!

Bulgur Wheat

While some people eliminate or reduce the amount of beef in their diet for health, religious or ethical reasons, many others do so because of economics – beef can be an expensive part of a grocery budget.  An easy way to replace ground beef in recipes is to substitute bulgur wheat.  Bulgur is a quick-cooking type of whole wheat, commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking, that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried, and ground. It offers 7 grams of fiber in a serving (1/4 cup uncooked), which only has 140 calories and half a gram of fat.

It makes a great stand in for ground beef in dishes like tacos, chili, casseroles, “meat” sauce for pasta, etc. When using bulgur wheat, one cup uncooked will replace about 1 pound of ground beef.  Preparing it is very easy. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil with 1/2 tsp salt. Stir in 1 cup of bulgur, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. This makes about 2½ cups of cooked bulgur.

If you’re hesitant to jump in and totally “de-meat” your recipes, you can start by replacing just half of the ground beef with the prepared bulgur.  It will really stretch the meat in your recipes, saving you money and making them healthier.

You can find bulgur wheat in the natural foods section of your supermarket or at your local health food store.  Many health food stores will even sell it in bulk.  I like to order mine from Vitacost.  They sell Bob’s Red Mill Light Bulgur in a 28 oz package for only $6.30. This package contains just shy of 5 cups, which means it would replace 5 pounds of ground beef. That would be the equivalent of only $1.26 per pound!  (If you haven’t ordered from Vitacost, you can get a FREE $10 credit to use on your first order – great deal!)

One of my favorite recipes to make with bulgur is this Vegetarian Tamale Pie Recipe.  Mario LOVES this recipe and actually likes it better with the bulgur than with the ground beef.  You can also try this yummy Stretch Your Beef Sloppy Joe recipe.

If you make a recipe using bulgur, I would love to hear how it turns out and how your family likes it!


If you like what you read, or have something to add, PLEASE leave a comment at Thrifty Jinxy! Thanks!**' About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 8-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as three lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.


  1. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. It really works! See here.

  2. I’ve never used this but am interested to try. I might have to sneak off to the health food store so my husband doesn’t notice 😉 haha, he would NEVER approve of this if he knew 😉

  3. This new, I had not heard of this. I will give it a try.

  4. I had never thought of this! I love Bob’s Red Mill, too! Unfortunately, I can’t implement this tip because we’re a GF household but I’m going to forward it on to my mom. She’s always interested in ways to stretch her food budget and increase nutrition!

  5. Great Idea. I’m going to be like Katrina though and have to hope my husband doesn’t notice

  6. When I clicked on the link for this article I wondered if you knew about bulgar wheat! My mom used to do this and now I do the same with my family.

  7. This would be really interesting to try! I’ve never eaten it before.

  8. This is great, I’m going to have to try it.

  9. Boy oh boy we eat a lot of ground beef at our house. I would really love to give this try. Like others my husband would have to be no where near the kitchen. I tried using ground turkey before in sloppy joes, tacos, and such and he hated it. Ground beef really is going up in price too. Next shopping trip I’m going to sneak some in, hehe.

  10. I’ve never tried bulgar wheat, but we eat so much meat in my house I think I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for posting!

  11. interesting—does it have the same consistency as meat and does it have a wheat taste? My kids are so picky so I’m wondering if they would detect t

  12. I also have never heard this tip but it sounds great and in tacos and such I don’t think my husband would even notice as long as I use some ground beef. Thanks for the links to the recipes, they sound great


  13. How does it taste? Would you notice the difference if you substituted? Do you think my family would notice if I swapped it? It sounds great, but that’s my main concern.. It will have been wasted $ if nobody likes it and won’t eat it…

  14. I am going to have to try this just to see how it goes over. Anything to help stretch the food dollar! Thanks

  15. That sounds great, only thing is we are all on gluten free, so I won’t be using it. Thanks anyway for sharing.


  16. Never thought of it, but it’s a great idea and healthy too!
    Michelle Tucker

  17. Never heard of Bulgur Wheat but going to have to give it a go if it saves $ and calories! I’ll have to keep an eye out for it, thanks for sharing!

  18. I’m glad I found this post. I’ve been eating almost no beef, but no real good substitute. I must try this! I may have some bulghur, too!!! I’m very excited to see this, I read so many articles about eating less meat, I’m surprised I haven’t seen this before. but thank you very much!

Add Your Comment