Bulgur Cucumber Salad with Basil and Chili Oil

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Close-up, side angle photograph of a cucumber salad tossed with bulgur and sesame seeds.

This salad is what happens when you have just a small bit of grains leftover from dinner the night before. Cool, crisp cucumbers are paired with bulgur and an easy chili-oil. Easily multiply this recipe to feed more. I love it served with some corn fritters and hummus.

The Cucumbers

I love a good cucumber salad and side dish during the summer. It’s crisp, it’s refreshing, and it’s usually easy enough to through together in a few minutes. This cucumber salad is true to all of that. I love keeping the cucumber fresh but I’ve noticed quite a few options for grilling cucumbers as well.

Want to switch it up? Try using fresh tomatoes with or in place of the cucumber (think cherry tomatoes!)


I’m notorious for cooking just a few too many grains to where I only have ¼ to ½ cup leftover (usually from dinner the night before!) This salad uses the scraps of bulgur. However, bulgur cooks quickly so if you needed to make it with the salad- it only adds about 15 minutes.

Other grains that would work well include quinoa or millet. This would help keep the overall dish gluten-free too!

Add some cheese

I left it out but this salad would be delightful with a salty cheese like feta. I’d even go as far to say look for a sheep or goat feta- I find they balance the spice from the chili flakes nicely while keeping a prominent flavor.

Spicy Swap

I know spice isn’t everyone’s game, so swap out the chili flakes for a bit of ground smoked paprika (about 1/2 teaspoon). I feel like the chili flakes really bring everything together so I wouldn’t recommend just leaving them out completely.

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Bulgur Cucumber Salad

2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • ¼ cup cooked bulgur
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (plus extra for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons basil (plus extra for topping)
Chili Oil
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced preserved lemon (or zest from ½ lemon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  1. Cut the cucumber into bite-sized slices or cubes (doesn’t really matter the shape- whatever you find appealing!) Place in a bowl with the bulgur, sesame seeds, and basil.
  2. Heat a small skillet and add olive oil. Once it’s hot, turn off the heat and add the chili flakes. Let cool then stir in the lemon and a pinch of salt. Drizzle over the cucumber mixture and toss until combined. Taste and adjust the salt levels if needed.
+ I like to usually use Armenian cucumbers for this type of dish but any type of cucumbers will work well.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time :5 minutes

Overhead photo of a tan bowl on marble background with a cucumber salad.

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Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

a few good grain recipes

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