Lentil tabbouleh is a delicious alternative to traditional tabbouleh, a classic Levantine and Middle Eastern salad loved worldwide for its flavor and freshness.

In our recipe, we substitute green, brown, or black lentils for bulgur. The result is an earthy, nutritious, and satisfying salad you can enjoy all year round.

Lentil tabbouleh is excellent as a starter, side dish, or main dish, part of a mezze platter with other Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean recipes.

Lentil tabbouleh on a plate with a hand and red nail

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.

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What is lentil tabbouleh?

lentil tabbouleh with hummus and tahini sauce

This lentil tabbouleh recipe is a tasty and nutritious variation of classic tabbouleh, a famous Eastern Mediterranean salad made with fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and soaked bulgur wheat.

You’ll love this recipe because you can serve it as an appetizer or main dish with other small dishes such as hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, zaalouk, avocado spread, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, and some freshly baked pita bread.

Or you can have it as a refreshing and nutritious side salad.

lentil tabbouleh with a silver spoon

Like our other popular lentil salad, lentil carrot salad, and lentil quinoa salad, you can make lentil tabbouleh with brown, green, or black lentils.

These varieties keep their shape better than red lentils, and they have a nice bite that reminds us of the bulgur in the original recipe.

Uh, and remember: Tabbouleh’s main ingredient is parsley.

More specifically, the flat-leaf variety, often called Italian parsley. So get a few big bunches of fresh parsley to make this delicious lentil tabbouleh salad.

Lentil tabbouleh video

Ingredients & substitutions for lentil tabbouleh

ingredients for lentil tabbouleh

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Lentils

Use brown, green (Puy lentils), or black lentils (Beluga) as they keep their shape when you toss them with the other ingredients and have a nice bite and earthy flavor.

You can use either canned lentils or dry lentils that you cook yourself at home.

To cook dry lentils, boil them in lightly salted water for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils.

Small black lentils cook fast, in about 15 minutes. Larger brown lentils might take up to more than 30 minutes.

Here’s our guide on how to cook lentils, if you are interested.

Unlike chickpeas and beans, dry lentils don’t require soaking and can be cooked immediately.

We do, however, recommend rinsing them under running water to remove small debris from the harvest. Also, look for small stones that might hide between the lentils.

Substitute chickpeas, cannellini beans, barley, buckwheat, farro, bulgur, couscous, amaranth, and millet for lentils.

Parsley

Tabbouleh is a parsley salad, and to stay close to the traditional recipe, we make our lentil tabbouleh with plenty of fresh flat-leaf parsley, sometimes known as Italian parsley.

This variety is native to the central and eastern Mediterranean region, including Lebanon, where tabbouleh is akin to a national dish.

Mint

Fresh mint leaves are often combined with parsley to add freshness and a pleasant minty aroma to the salad. Those two fresh herbs are essential in this recipe.

Tomatoes

Red ripe tomatoes. You can use most varieties, including Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, as long as they are not overripe.

If your tomatoes are too seedy or too watery, we recommend discarding some of their liquid and seeds.

Substitute diced red bell pepper for tomatoes.

Green onions

Green onions, scallions, or spring onions add a mild zesty taste. We recommend using only the white and light green parts of the spring onions.

Substitute shallots or red onions for green onions; however, if you do so, we advise you to use half the quantities.

Olive oil

Try to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Its fruity and nutty flavor will make lentil tabbouleh ever more aromatic, healthy, and delicious.

Extra virgin olive oil is packed with polyphenols, plant compounds that can act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation in the body.

Substitute avocado oil for olive oil.

Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice is best, as used in the original recipe. It adds plenty of fresh citrus flavor and a pleasant tanginess that makes this salad delicious and refreshing.

Substitute a splash of apple cider vinegar for lemon juice.

Salt and pepper

We recommend sea salt or kosher salt to add taste. Freshly ground black pepper for a fragrant, peppery aroma.

There are no other spices in tabbouleh; however, if you want to spice things up, add half a teaspoon of ground cumin, cinnamon, or garlic powder to this lentil tabbouleh recipe.

You can also add a diced Persian or English cucumber.

lentil tabbouleh on a serving plate

How to make lentil tabbouleh

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Prepare the lentils

From dry lentils: If using dry lentils, the first step is to rinse and boil the lentils in a pot with lightly salted water until tender.

Optionally, add a bay leave and half an onion in the water. Dry lentils don’t need soaking. They can take from 15 minutes (black beluga lentils) to 30-40 minutes (brown and green lentils).

From canned lentils: drain and rinse the canned lentils under running water, then let them drain completely, trying to remove as much of the water as possible.

Chop the other vegetables

Cut the tomato into thin slices, then chop it into small dice of about 1/6 inch (4mm) each. We recommend using a serrated knife or a sharp chef’s knife.

If the tomatoes are watery, transfer them into a fine-mesh strainer and let them drain for a few minutes while you chop the other ingredients.

finely chopped tomatoes

Remove the larger stem of the parsley. Pick the mint leaves from their branch and add them to the parsley.

Finely chop parsley and mint. We recommend using a large and sharp chef’s knife; however, if you don’t have one, you could use a food processor, pulsing until the herbs are finely chopped.

finely chopped parsley

Trim the green part off the green onions and finely chop the white and light green parts.

finely chopped shallots

Mix the ingredients

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl, then season with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper.

mixing bowl with lentil tabbouleh ingredients

Toss well until the parsley and the lentils are evenly combined.

You’ll need a minute as the parsley might clump up. Finally, taste and adjust for salt and lemon juice before serving.

lentil tabbouleh with a silver spoon

Serving suggestions

Lentil tabbouleh is an excellent recipe to serve as a side dish, as part of an appetizer platter (mezze), or as a main dish next to other delicious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.

It’s also great as a make-ahead salad for potlucks and cookouts.

We recommend serving it with:

Variations

Classic Tabbouleh Salad

authentic tabbouleh salad

The original tabbouleh recipe is with bulgur. This is a classic, and we tried to be as authentic as possible.

You cannot go wrong with this one if you want an authentic Eastern Mediterranean and Levantine flavor.

Check out our tabbouleh recipe.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

quinoa tabbouleh

Quinoa is an excellent alternative to lentils and bulgur; it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook.

It’s also rich in protein, nutritious, and fulfilling. Its taste and texture match the parsley, tomato, and other ingredients in this tabouli salad.

Cook 1/2 cup (100 grams) of quinoa in 1 cup (250 grams) of water and a pinch of salt. Mix it with the other ingredients.

Storage & Make ahead

Make ahead: you can mix lentil tabbouleh the day before; however, if you do so, we recommend waiting to season it until shortly before serving it so that the lemon and salt won’t pull the water out of the tomatoes.

Refrigerator: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. The tabouli might change color and lose liquid on the second day. That’s OK; drain the excess liquid if it bothers you.

Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.

lentil tabbouleh with lemon and tomatoes on the side

More Lentil Recipes

Lentils are healthy, nutritious, and versatile as they don’t require soaking and can be used for everyday cooking. Here are some more lentil recipes for you:

More Salad Recipes

Are you looking for other delicious salad recipes? Check out our:

For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.

lentil tabbouleh with silver spoon and hand

Lentil Tabbouleh

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 14 votes
Lentil tabbouleh is a delicious alternative to traditional tabbouleh, a classic Levantine and Middle Eastern salad loved worldwide for its flavor and freshness.
In our recipe, we substitute green, brown, or black lentils for bulgur. The result is an earthy, nutritious, and satisfying salad you can enjoy all year round.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Course: Appetizer, salad, Side dish
Cuisine: International

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) lentils brown, green, or black, rinsed and drained. Sub ¾ cup dry lentils or 1½ cup cooked lentils.
  • ½ pound tomatoes chopped into small dice
  • 3 packed cups parsley finely chopped. Best if flat-leaf Italian parsley.
  • ¼ cup mint leaves finely chopped
  • 4 scallions finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Drain 1 can (15 ounces) lentils well. Chop ½ pound tomatoes into small dice. Finely chop 3 packed cups parsley, ¼ cup mint leaves, and 4 scallions (only the white part).
    chopped parsley, tomato, and spring onion.
  • To a mixing bowl, add the vegetables. Season with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.
    mixing bowl with lentil tabbouleh ingredients
  • Toss until well combined. Taste and adjust for salt and lemon.
    lentil tabbouleh with a silver spoon

Video

Lentil Tabbouleh (starter, side dish idea)

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for one portion of lentil tabbouleh out of six portions.
STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD
Make ahead: you can mix lentil tabbouleh the day before; however, if you do so, we recommend waiting to season it until shortly before serving it so that the lemon and salt won’t pull the water out of the tomatoes.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. The tabouli might change color and lose liquid on the second day. That’s OK; drain the excess liquid if it bothers you.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 98kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 272mg, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 520IU, Vitamin B6: 0.1mg, Vitamin C: 10mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 31µg, Calcium: 23mg, Folate: 84µg, Iron: 2mg, Manganese: 0.3mg, Magnesium: 22mg, Zinc: 1mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 14 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for Easter dinner and it was a hit! Some family members are vegan so I struggle making everyone happy. This salad filled all of my requirements. Thanks for something healthy, bright and delicious! Made it just like you presented and it was perfect for everyone.

  2. Thank You for your inspiring recipes. I served this Lentil/Tabbouleh-Salad yesterday evening for my guest. I added sweet and sour pommgranade-seeds to it which really worked well. For the marinade I added sugar. I am your big fan. Hugs from Berlin
    Behrouz

    1. Hi Behrouz,
      Thank you for the kind message, I’m so delighted you enjoyed the lentil tabbouleh salad.
      What a beautiful idea with pomegranate seeds on top!
      All the best from the Italian countryside,
      Louise