Kisir is a Turkish bulgur salad made with fresh parsley, pomegranate molasses, and red pepper paste. It’s vegan, nutritious, easy to make, and satisfying. It's a simple way to prep for healthy lunches and dinners all week long. 

An overhead photo of kisir Turkish bulgur salad in a serving bowl with wooden serving utensils.
Photo Credits: Ali Redmond

Not all salads need lettuce! And Kisir, written as "kısır” and pronounced “ku-sur,” is living proof. Tart, sweet, and mildly spicy with a pleasantly chewy texture, this is unlike any salad you’ve tried! With its satisfying texture and perfect balance of flavor, this simple Turkish bulgur salad is crave-worthy, hearty, and refreshing all at the same time. 

Fine or extra fine bulgur—the same cracked wheat used to make Tabouli and Kibbeh—is rich in B vitamins, selenium, and magnesium. One cup boasts about 6 grams of protein. When it comes to making grain salads bulgur is one of the easiest grains to use. Simply soak it in hot water for 15 minutes or so and it’s good to go.

In Turkey, Kisir is served chilled as a light and healthy meal during the sweltering summers. I love it on its own, scooped into lettuce cups, or as part of a mezze spread. 

Table of Contents
  1. Kisir Bulgur Salad Ingredients and Substitutions
  2. Ingredient Spotlight
  3. How to Make Kisir
  4. What to Serve with Kisir
  5. More Grain Salad Recipes
  6. Kisir (Turkish Bulgur Salad) Recipe
Ingredients for kisir turkish bulgur salad including extra fine bulgur, olive oil, tomato paste, Turkish red pepper paste, Urfa pepper, cumin, salt, pomegranate molasses, lemon, green onions, roma tomatoes, and parsley.

Kisir Bulgur Salad Ingredients and Substitutions

Though some of these ingredients may seem exotic, they’re all easy to source online and well worth the effort. Trust me: a few Mediterranean pantry staples will open up a whole world in terms of flavor. You’ll need:

  • Fine bulgur serves as the base of the salad (more info below).
  • Olive oil allows the pepper and tomato paste to heat and caramelize without burning, all while enriching the flavor. Use a high-quality extra virgin variety. We offer olive oils from Greece, Spain, and Italy in our shop.  
  • Tomato paste and Turkish red pepper paste (Biber Salçası) add a concentrated depth of flavor. You can make the pepper paste yourself, find it in select Middle Eastern markets, or order it online.
  • Urfa biber is a red chili flake from the Turkish city of Şanlıurfa, which adds a mildly spicy and tannic quality that compliments the pomegranate molasses nicely.
  • Ground cumin adds an earthy, warming element. 
  • Kosher salt enhances the flavor.
  • Pomegranate molasses adds a complex depth of flavor: sweet, syrupy, tangy, tannic, and a tiny bit earthy. You can make it yourself from fresh pomegranate juice, or order my favorite store-bought version at our shop.
  • Lemon juice balances the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses and gives the salad a fresh zing. Lime juice also works.
  • Green onions add oniony goodness without dominating the flavor. Shallot, chives, or a small amount of red onions work as a substitute. 
  • Parsley adds freshness and a lemony, peppery flavor. I wouldn't substitute with dried parsley, but you could use fresh mint or cilantro instead.
  • Tomatoes: Use juicy, sweet tomatoes that are still firm when ripe. I used Roma, but cherry or grape tomatoes would be good choices as well. 
An overhead photo of a serving of kisir Turkish bulgur salad on a plate with a fork and two lemon wedges. Next to this is the rest of the salad in a serving bowl.

Ingredient Spotlight

Bulgur is made from cracked wheat and ranges from fine to coarse, with each variety bringing a pleasantly nutty flavor and chewy texture. Though not as common in the US, bulgur is a major staple of the Mediterranean Diet.

This whole grain is particularly popular in Turkey and the Middle East where it’s used in soups, salads, and even as a wrapping for meatballs, as with Turkish İçli Köfte or Middle Eastern Kibbeh. It's incredibly easy to make, quick, and nutritious.

In fact, you don’t even need to cook fine bulgur! It just needs a quick soak in hot water. Plus, it’s high in fiber and protein, low in fat, rich in essential vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium (see the USDA for the full breakdown).

An overhead close up photo of kisir Turkish bulgur salad.

How to Make Kisir

This bulgur salad is best served cold. Try to give the bulgur enough time to chill in your fridge. Here are the steps:

  • Get ready. Bring just over 2 cups of water to a boil. 
  • Cook the bulgur. Place 2 cups of fine or extra fine bulgur in a mixing bowl and pour about 1 cup of boiling water over it. Stir. The bulgur should immediately absorb the water. Pour another 1 cup of boiling water over top, enough to just cover the bulgur. Cover the bowl and set aside until the bulgur is tender and has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes.An overhead photo of the bulgur cooking in boiling water in a bowl.
  • Prepare the paste. In a small pan over medium heat, stir together 3 tablespoons olive oil with ¼ cup tomato paste, 3 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste, 1 teaspoon Urfa Biber, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and a big dash of salt. Stir until the pasted, oil, and spices have combined. The ingredients for the paste for the kisir turkish bulgur salad being combined and heated in a skillet.
  • Pour the paste mixture over the bulgur. Add 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses, the juice of ½ lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well (or knead with gloved hands as is traditional) until the bulgur is fully coated in the paste. An overhead photo of the cooked bulgur and the prepared paste in a bowl just before being mixed together.
  • Cool. Set the bulgur in the fridge to cool while you chop the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Prepare the veggies and herbs. Trim and finely chop 6 green onions (both white and green parts). Chop enough parsley leaves and tender stems to yield 1 cup chopped parsley. Dice 3 tomatoes—if they are too soft or watery, you may want to halve them and squeeze out the seeds over your sink before chopping.
  • Mix the kisir salad. Once the bulgur has fully cooled, mix in the chopped onions, parsley, and tomatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. An overhead photo of the prepared bulgur and chopped green onions, tomatoes and parsley in a bowl just before being mixed together.
  • Finish and serve. Garnish with more fresh parsley and serve.
An overhead photo of 3 servings of kisir Turkish bulgur salad in lettuce boats on a plate with three lemon wedges.

What to Serve with Kisir

You can serve Kisir salad on its own as a light lunch, or as a part of a mezze spread with other light bites like Dolmas and Bean Salad with Tahini. You can always dress it up a little if you’d like by scooping the bulgur salad into lettuce cups and sprinkling pomegranate seeds on top.

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop.

More Grain Salad Recipes

5 from 1 vote

Kisir (Turkish Bulgur Salad)

Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish. In the kitchenSuzy Karadsheh
An overhead photo of kisir Turkish bulgur salad in a serving bowl with wooden serving utensils.
This classic Turkish summer mezze is light, satisfying, and best served cold. Try to allow 30 minutes or so to chill in your fridge.
Prep – 15 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total – 45 minutes
Cuisine:
Turkish
Serves – 6
Course:
Salad

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Cook the bulgur. Place the bulgur in a mixing bowl and pour about 1 cup of the boiling water over it and stir. The bulgur should immediately absorb the water. Pour the remaining water, enough to just cover the bulgur. Cover the bowl and set aside until the bulgur is tender and has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes.
  • Prepare the paste. In a small pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil with the tomato paste, Turkish pepper paste, Urfa Biber, cumin, and a big dash of salt. Stir until the pastes have melted and combined.
  • Pour the paste mixture over the bulgur. Add the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and a drizzle more olive oil. Mix well (or knead with gloved hands as is traditional) until the bulgur is fully coated in the paste.
  • Cool. Set the bulgur in the fridge to cool while you chop the rest of the ingredients.
  • Prepare the veggies and herbs. Trim and finely chop the green onions (both white and green parts). Dice the tomatoes–if they are too soft or watery, you may want to halve them and squeeze out the seeds over your sink before chopping.
  • Mix the kisir salad. Once the bulgur has fully cooled, mix in the chopped onions, tomatoes, and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  • Finish and serve. Garnish with more fresh parsley and serve.

Notes

  • Shop this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including the bulgur, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and spices used in this recipe.
  • Serve on its own, or top in lettuce cups. 
  • Swap the tomatoes for fresh pomegranate seeds depending on the season. 

Nutrition

Calories: 272.1kcalCarbohydrates: 47.2gProtein: 7.5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.3gSodium: 174.3mgPotassium: 569mgFiber: 10.7gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1615.9IUVitamin C: 28.7mgCalcium: 54.1mgIron: 2.9mg
Tried this recipe?
Extra fine bulgur from the Mediterranean Dish shop.

Try Turkish Bulgur

Authentic all natural extra fine bulgur made from hard red winter wheat berries.

Share it with the world

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.
5 from 1 vote

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Roxanne says:

    Eek! I just realized my Bulgur is the Coarse variety! Do I cook it the same way??? Help!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Roxanne. Course bulgur does need to be cooked differently. You can click here to find all of our tips and tricks for cooking bulgur!

  2. JoAnn says:

    5 stars
    Saw this recipe this morning, ate it for dinner! It was wonderful. Didn’t have the pepper paste, but used the red pepper (with eggplant & garlic) spread from trader joe. Yum!!!!

    1. TMD Team says:

      So glad you loved it, JoAnn!

  3. OMAR GUABA says:

    I think this Turkish bulgur salad is awesome if you are vegan and in a hurry. It is also a tasty salad that you can enjoy right away.