Sometimes bulgur is incorrectly labeled as cracked wheat. The two look alike and can be substituted for each other, but they aren't exactly the same: cracked wheat isn't precooked, as bulgur is.
A staple in Middle Eastern kitchens, bulgur is made from whole wheatberries that have been steamed, hulled, dried, and cracked. Because it's already cooked, it only requires rehydrating and no further cooking to serve. Bulgur's flavor is wheaty, its texture crunchy-tender. Try serving it hot as a pilaf with lentils and warm spices, cold in salads like tabbouleh, combined with chickpeas for a side dish or stuffing, or mixed with ground beef or lamb.
1 cup raw = 3-1/2 to 4 cups cooked
You can substitute cracked wheat, but because it isn't precooked, it needs about 15 minutes of simmering to get tender.
Bulgur comes in several grinds. A fine or medium grind is good for salads and baked goods, and medium or coarse grinds are better for pilafs or stuffings. Bulgur can go rancid quickly, so buy small amounts from a source with high turnover.
No soaking is necessary since bulgur is already cooked. To reconstitute it, put the bulgur in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling salted water over it, using 1 part bulgur to 1 to 2 parts water. The bulgur should absorb the liquid and fluff up in 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the coarseness of the grind (finer grinds take less time). If there's excess water once the bulgur is tender, drain it. Let the grains rest for 10 or 20 minutes to help them dry out and separate, then fluff them with a fork.
Store in a cool, dry place and use within a couple months.