Lemon Bulgur Pilaf is one of my favorite recipes, it’s so easy to cook. It almost looks like I knew what I was doing. The lemon bulgur pilaf is cooked with an ancient grain that has been called many names over the last 4,000 years. Ancient Babylonians, Hittites, and Jews called this wheat product “arisah,” which is how it was referred to in the Bible.

Lemon + Bulgur + Garbanzo Beans + Raisins

What is Bulgur – برغل

Bulgur is made from wheat berries that have been cleaned, parboiled, dried, ground/cracked into particles, and sifted. A staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, bulgur is the main ingredient used in tabbouleh. Bulgur is a nutrient-rich whole grain made from cracked wheat. I like the chewy texture and the light, nutty flavor, and the fact that bulgur is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Lemon Bulgur Pilaf

Where to buy Bulgur

You can find bulgur pretty much in every grocery store. I always look in the international section, or if I can’t find it I order it online. I have the good fortune to be surrounded by awesome food markets and, as a bonus, what better food city to live in than Chicago. The city is a melting pot of ethnic cuisines and exploring Chicago neighborhoods and restaurants is one of my favorite things to do. Located on the Northside of Chicago, Devon Avenue has long been the center for Indian and Pakistani dining and shopping. From sari shops to great restaurants, tea shops, music, bookstores, and food markets. I love this street because it transports you to another world. I purchase my bulgur and spices like Aleppo pepper and Sumac, two of my favorite spices, in the food markets on Devon Avenue. There is also a great spice shop near Foster and Clark Street.

Varieties of Bulgur

Bulgur comes graded as fine, medium, coarse, and extra coarse.

  • Fine bulgur, you do not need to cook on the stove, cover with a ratio of 1 to 2 bulgur to water
  • Medium coarse bulgur #2 takes about 12 minutes to cook
  • Coarse bulgur #3 takes between 12 to 14 minutes
  • Extra coarse bulgur #4 takes about 15 minutes

Ras El Hanout – رأس الحانوت

I’m adding a few teaspoons of Ras El Hanout, a Moroccan spice blend to my Lemon Bulgur Pilaf. Ras El Hanout is incredibly flavorful with wonderful hints of cumin, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom garlic, etc. A spice blend that has been around for centuries. Ras El Hanout literally translates as “head of the shop,” and the phrase means “top shelf” and literally refers to the best spices that the store has to offer.  Seasoning the bulgur with Ras El Hanout and a pinch of Aleppo pepper creates a deep layer of flavors and tastes.

Lemon Bulgur Pilaf

It’s not all about Hummus

I love Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine, it uses aromatic and flavorful spices in abundance. Spices like cumin, harissa, cardamon, Aleppo peppers, and Za’atar are strong, highly fragrant savory spices that can be used to create a deep variety of flavors and tastes. Hummus is a stand-alone, and I love good hummus. However, Middle Eastern food has far more intricate recipes. My lemon Bulgur Pilaf is a whole grain recipe, that is easy to cook. A recipe that is full of amazing flavors, low in fat, and high in minerals, while providing a very good dose of dietary fiber. Everything you need for digestive and heart health. According to this article in Healthline, over 25% of your daily needs are in every one-cup serving!  A cup of Bulgur has only 151 calories, 8 grams of fiber, and nearly 6 grams of protein.

 Lemon Bulgur Pilaf, Lamb Meatballs, and Zhough

Another easy recipe with the Middle Eastern flavor of cinnamon, cardamom,
cumin, lemon, raisins, and fresh herbs.

Kisir Salad, an Ancient Grain for Modern Times

A traditional Turkish salad made with bulgur, parsley, and tomato paste,
seasoned with sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and crushed hot Maras pepper.

Lemon Bulgur Pilaf

Lemon Bulgur Pilaf

Chef Norbert
My lemon Bulgur Pilaf recipe is easy to cook, it's full of amazing Moroccan flavor, and is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, everything you need for digestive and heart health.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Better for you, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 4
Calories 282 kcal


  • 2 tbsp onion diced
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz bulgur medium # 2
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice fresh
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 10 oz garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock homemade or store-bought
  • 4 oz bell peppers, roasted diced
  • 1 1/4 tsp Ras El Hanout homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves fresh fresh, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley fresh, chopped


  • Heat a saucepan over medium heat, and add olive oil. Add diced onions and sauté the onions until they are translucent.
    1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp onion
  • Add vegetable stock to the sautéed onions and combine with bulgur, lemon juice, raisins, lemon zest, garbanzo beans, raisins, roasted peppers, Aleppo pepper, and Ras El Hanout. Give it a stir.
    4 oz bulgur, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, 10 oz garbanzo beans, 3/4 cup vegetable stock, 4 oz bell peppers, roasted, 1 1/4 tsp Ras El Hanout, 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper, 1/3 cup raisins
  • Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 F until most of the liquid is absorbed. Let pilaf rest additional 5 to 10 minutes remove foil and mix with chopped fresh mint and chopped parsley.
    1/4 cup mint leaves fresh, 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 515mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 5g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Better for you, Bulgur, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Side Dish
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. Irene Holtzer says:

    This dish was a perfect accompaniment to our grilled butterflied leg of lamb for Easter dinner. Wonderful mix of sweet and spicy. The Moroccan spice blend has a permanent place on my spice rack. Thanks Norbert! This was very good.

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Thank you Irene so much for the kind words and I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. Agreed, I love that recipe, the simplicity, and the layers of flavors that come with it. Serving it with a grilled butterflied leg of lamb on Easter dinner sounds like the perfect match, best Norbert

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