Tabouli – also spelled Tabbouleh – is a tasty and refreshing Levantine parsley and tomato salad mixed with bulgur, lemon juice, scallions, and olive oil.
Serve tabouli as a starter on a platter with other Middle Eastern foods, as a side dish, or make it ahead and bring it to picnics and potlucks.
Table of Contents
Tabouli is a delicious traditional Lebanese salad you can enjoy as an appetizer or a quick lunch with warm pita bread and creamy hummus.
Parsley is the main ingredient in tabouli, not bulgur or tomatoes.
This means that tabouleh should look mostly green, colored by the parsley, and not white from too much bulgur.
For the tomatoes, try to pick some that are meaty, ripe but firm to the touch, and not too watery.
We recommend serving this delicious salad on a mixed meze platter in romaine lettuce leaves with other small Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean dishes.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Flat-leaf parsley (not curly parsley) is the main ingredient in tabouli salad.
Remove the larger stems, then chop the leaves with a sharp chef’s knife on a cutting board.
Some recipes call for chopped parsley in a food processor. If you do so, pulse and not blend until you reach a finely chopped texture.
Mint is optional. We add finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Generally, tabouli has no other fresh herbs except parsley and mint.
We use large beefsteak tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes. Try to get them in season at a farmers’ market, as organically grown tomatoes grown outdoors (not in a greenhouse) tend to be less watery, meatier, and tastier.
We recommend a sharp knife or a serrated knife to chop them into small pieces.
If the tomatoes are very watery, you can let them drain in a fine mesh strainer for 10 minutes while you chop the parsley.
You can replace tomatoes with pomegranate seeds.
Scallions or green onions
Scallions – also known as green and spring onions – are another key ingredient of a traditional tabouli salad recipe. They add a little tang without being overpowering.
Like the other ingredients, they are also finely chopped up until their light green parts.
You can substitute white onions for scallions.
We use regular bulgur wheat that you can find in most supermarkets.
You can boil the bulgur in lightly salted water; however, authentic Tabbouleh is made with soaked bulgur.
If you don’t have bulgur, you can make a less authentic but delicious tabouli recipe with lentils, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, couscous, amaranth, and farro.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds freshness and acidity.
We recommend using extra virgin olive oil. It has a fruitier, nuttier, and more pleasant flavor than regular olive oil.
Salt and Pepper
We use sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Romaine lettuce leaves are optional.
You’ll see chopped lettuce added to the other ingredients in some variations.
In other variations, lettuce is used as a vessel to serve and eat the tabouli.
We like to pick some small lettuce leaves and stuff them with Tabbouleh so one can grab the leaf and eat it.
Other Ingredients (not authentic)
Other ingredients not included in the traditional tabbouleh recipe but that go well with it are cucumber, cherry tomatoes, crushed or minced garlic clove, feta cheese, olives, and other grains, quinoa, or cauliflower rice instead of the bulgur.
How to make tabouli
Prep the bulgur
Boil bulgur wheat in water per package instructions, drain, and let cool down for 10 minutes and add it to a mixing bowl.
Alternatively, soak the bulgur in a bowl with hot water for 20 minutes. Then squeeze the water out of the bulgur with your hands and add it to a mixing bowl.
Note: soaking the bulgur is more authentic when making Tabbouleh and will give you a chewier texture.
Chop the veggies
Finely chop the tomatoes into about 1/5-Inch (0.5 cm) pieces with a sharp chef’s knife or a serrated knife, drain some of their juice, and add them to the bowl.
Tip: if the tomatoes are very watery, let them drain in a fine mesh strainer for a few minutes while you chop the parsley.
Rinse and dry parsley and mint leaves with a kitchen cloth. Cut off the large stems, then finely chop the parsley and the mint and add it to the bowl.
Tip: use a sharp knife for best results. Dull knives mash the parsley leaves, making them wet and clumpy.
Finely chop the scallions, only the white and light green parts, and add them to the bowl.
Season with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
Mix well with a spoon, taste, and adjust for salt and lemon juice before serving cold or at room temperature.
Tabouleh should be served cold or at room temperature. We don’t recommend serving Tabbouleh warm or hot. You can serve it in romaine lettuce leaves.
Or on a platter with lemon wedges for people to squeeze on.
The best way to serve this delicious Middle Eastern salad is as an appetizer on a large mixed platter with other delicious Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. Try tabouli next to:
Quinoa is an excellent alternative to bulgur, especially if you want a gluten-free tabbouleh recipe.
It cooks at about the same time as bulgur; it’s about the same size and rich in nutrients and protein.
Lentil tabbouleh is a delicious alternative to bulgur tabbouleh, a classic Levantine salad beloved worldwide for its flavor and freshness.
This recipe is easy to make, and you can serve it as a starter or as a side dish with Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern dishes such as hummus and eggplant dip.
Check out our lentil tabbouleh recipe.
Make ahead: you can prepare tabouli the day before; however, we recommend adding the seasoning ingredients (salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice) a few moments before serving the salad.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for two days. The parsley in the salad does not keep well, and it will turn brown due to oxidation and the acidity of the lemon juice.
Freezer: we do not recommend freezing tabouli salad.
Tabbouleh is made of soaked bulgur wheat, parsley, tomatoes, scallions or onions, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
There is no difference between Tabbouleh and tabouli; it’s just a different way of spelling it.
Traditionally semolina is used instead of bulgur. However, you can also use other grains or pseudo-grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, couscous, and millet.
Tabouli salad comes from Lebanon and Syria and is widespread throughout the Middle East.
More Middle-Eastern recipes
If you love Middle-Eastern-inspired recipes, check out these tasty and colorful dishes:
More Salad Recipes
For more wholesome and delicious salads, check out:
- Green bean salad with creamy mustard dressing
- Carrot salad (carottes râpées)
- Sweet potato salad and black bean salad
- Easy chickpea salad and chickpea pasta salad
- Moroccan carrot salad with aromatic cumin dressing
- Refreshing and juicy watermelon salad
- Simple, tasty, and nutritious avocado salad
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
Tabouli (Tabbouleh Recipe)
- ¼ cup bulgur
- 3 packed cups flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- ¼ cup mint leaves finely chopped
- ½ pound tomatoes cut into small dice
- 5 scallions finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Boil ¼ cup bulgur in water per package instructions, drain, let it cool down for 10 minutes, then add it to a mixing bowl.Alternatively, soak the bulgur in a bowl with hot water for 20 minutes. Then squeeze the water out of the bulgur with your hands and add it to a mixing bowl.
- Finely chop ½ pound tomatoes into about ⅕-Inch (0.5 cm) pieces, discard their juice, and add them to the bowl.
- Rinse and dry 3 packed cups flat-leaf parsley and ¼ cup mint leaves with a kitchen cloth. Cut off the large stems, then finely chop parsley and mint and add them to the bowl.
- Finely chop the white and green part of 5 scallions and add them to the bowl.
- Season with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Mix well with a spoon, taste, and adjust for salt and lemon juice before serving cold or at room temperature.
- You can serve it in romaine lettuce leaves, on a platter with lemon wedges, or on an appetizer platter with other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.
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