Tabbouleh Salad Recipe – Rachel Cooks®

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Taboulleh salad is a traditional Middle Eastern salad that’s both flavorful and versatile!

How long it takes: 30 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, whisk, bowls
Servings: makes 8 cups, about 8 servings

Tabbouleh salad in a large bowl with two wooden serving spoons.

 

If we’re getting carryout for dinner, often it’s Lebanese food. Really, I could probably make all my Lebanese favorites at home like I do with chicken kofta and shish tawook, but I do love a good carry-out meal and a night off from cooking!

I wanted to be able to make my own tabbouleh because I always order extra so I have leftovers for lunches. One of my favorite lunches is warm pita bread with hummus and tabbouleh salad. A close runner up is red lentil soup with fattoush salad.

The bright flavors of the minced parsley and mint, green onions, and lemon juice make tabbouleh truly unforgettable, and as it sits in the fridge, the flavors really come together. I think it tastes even better the second day!

What is Tabbouleh?

Tabbouleh is a popular Middle Eastern salad often served as an appetizer or small plate, or as part of a mezze. It features finely chopped parsley, complemented by bulgur, tomatoes, onion, and mint, with a light vinaigrette of lemon juice and olive oil. It may be called tabouli, taboulah, or tabooli. There are many variations of the salad depending on the region and the cook (Wikipedia).

Close up image of tabbouleh on a large wooden serving spoon.

Reasons to Love Tabbouleh Salad

  • Fresh, herbaceous flavor. Instead of traditional salad greens, tabbouleh is made with lots of fresh parsley and mint. The leaves are minced finely to release all of their deliciousness. This salad has simple ingredients but big flavor!
  • Easy to make. There’s no special technique or hard-to-find ingredients which means tabbouleh salad is pretty easy to recreate at home. This salad is just a matter of prepping quality ingredients and then stirring them together.
  • Versatile. You can serve this recipe as a side dish or stir in chickpeas or shredded chicken to make it a complete lunch. I also like to use it as a base for Middle Eastern-inspired meal bowls with tahini sauce!

About Bulgur

Tabbouleh is traditionally made with extra fine bulgur which is soaked but not cooked, but it can be difficult to find. I tested fine bulgur (#1) and medium bulgur (also labeled #2 or cracked wheat) for this recipe and found that my family preferred tabbouleh made with fine bulgur. That said, medium bulgur will also work if that’s what you have on hand or it’s all you can find. You might also see it spelled burghul or bulgure.

Overhead view of ingredients needed for recipe, including fresh herbs.

Ingredients

  • Fine Bulgur Wheat: Please refer to the above note regarding different types of bulgur. Follow the instructions on the package for cooking the bulgur since it may vary depending on what type you buy. Very fine bulgur doesn’t require any cooking at all.
  • Fresh Parsley: Parsley is a major component of tabbouleh; I usually buy at least 2 bunches to make sure I have enough. Curly or flat leaf Italian parsley can be used in this recipe, although I prefer curly parsley in tabbouleh salad.
  • Mint: Tabbouleh is traditionally made with spearmint but usually grocery stores sell just one kind of mint. If you’re pulling it from your backyard garden or buying it at a farmers market, I’d choose spearmint over peppermint.
  • Tomato: Remove the seeds and core. Squeezing out the seeds helps keep the tabbouleh salad from getting watery.
  • English Cucumber: Any tender-skinned cucumber will work. If you want to use a garden cucumber, peel it and scoop out the seeds first.
  • Green Onions: You’ll use both the white and green parts.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice (not bottled!) makes the best tabbouleh salad.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: If you have a high-quality fruity EVOO on hand, use it here!
  • Garlic: The lemon juice mellows the garlic, giving this tabbouleh salad oomph without overwhelming it.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: Always essential!

How to make Tabbouleh Salad

Prep the bulgur. Cook the bulgur as directed on the package. Fluff the cooked bulgur with a fork and let it cool completely in a large bowl. You can make it a day ahead if you like.

Fluffy bulgur in a white bowl.

Prep the parsley. Rinse the parsley thoroughly and dry it as much as possible. I use my salad spinner to dry it or you can shake off the excess water and pat it dry. Trim off the large stems; small stems are fine. Chop it finely; you’ll need 3 cups of very finely chopped parsley. Some folks use a food processor to accomplish this. It’s a much faster method but I prefer it chopped by hand. It’s up to you!

Prep the mint and vegetables. Rinse the mint thoroughly and dry it. Remove the leaves from the stems and chop them finely. You’ll only need ¼ cup of minced mint. Rinse and cut the tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions into small uniform pieces.

Combine with the bulgur. Add the chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and green onion to the bowl of cooled bulgur.

Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the fresh lemon juice, olive oil, minced or pressed garlic, salt, and pepper until thoroughly mixed.

Combine. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss lightly to combine.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Try a spoonful of the tabbouleh and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.

Chill. Refrigerate the tabbouleh salad for at least 1 hour. Stir well and serve.

Tabbouleh salad in a large serving bowl with serving utensils, garnished with lemon slice.

How to make this Tabbouleh Salad your own

  • Add feta: When I’m stretching out leftover tabbouleh for lunches, I love to add crumbled feta.
  • Use freekeh: In the original version of this recipe, I used freekeh instead of bulgur; it’s also a cracked wheat but it’s roasted, so it has a little more depth to the flavor. I also use it in this Thai freekeh salad and Moroccan freekeh pilaf.
  • Swap in quinoa: Another option is to make tabbouleh with quinoa, which has a higher protein count, making the salad more filling.

What to Serve With This Salad

Make Ahead Ideas

Make the tabbouleh salad on Sunday and enjoy it for lunch for the next three days! I like packing it in a box with compartments and putting grilled chicken or falafel in one and fresh fruit in another.

Storage Suggestions

Store leftover tabbouleh salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @rachelcooksblog on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Tabbouleh salad with a large wooden spoon, garnished with lemon slices.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Chilling Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

8 servings

Prevent your screen from going dark

With bulgur, plenty of fresh parsley and mint, crisp cucumbers, and juicy tomatoes, tabbouleh salad is a refreshing, summery recipe bursting with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bulgur wheat (see note)
  • boiling water (see bulgur package directions)
  • 3 cups loosely packed, finely chopped fresh curly leaf parsley, about 2 large bunches (see note)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup diced tomato (3 medium tomatoes, seeds and core removed)
  • 1 English cucumber, finely diced (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped, more to taste (use green and white parts)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 /adjustable] large lemon)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (grated, pressed, or minced)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  • Cook bulgur as directed on package. Drain if needed. Fluff the bulgur with a fork and let it cool completely in a large bowl.

    1 cup fine bulgur wheat, boiling water

  • Meanwhile, rinse the parsley thoroughly and dry it as much as possible. I use my salad spinner to dry it or you can shake off the excess water and pat it dry. Trim off the large stems; small stems are fine. Chop the parsley finely. If you prefer, a food processor can be used but traditionally it’s chopped by hand.

    3 cups loosely packed, finely chopped fresh curly leaf parsley, about 2 large bunches

  • Remove the mint leaves from the stems and prep it in the same way as the parsley. Finely chop the tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions.

    ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves, 1 cup diced tomato, 1 English cucumber, finely diced, 3 green onions, finely chopped, more to taste

  • When the bulgar has cooled completely, add the chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and green onion to the bowl.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

    ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste, ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste

  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together until well combined.

  • Taste the tabbouleh and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.

  • Refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Tabbouleh can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

  • Before serving, give it a good stir and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve chilled.

Notes

  • We tested this recipe with fine bulgur (labeled #1) and with medium bulgur (labeled #2 or cracked wheat). Since there are a number of varieties, it’s important to follow cooking directions on the package that you purchased. We prefer the tabbouleh made with fine bulgur but both fine and medium work well.
  • Curly leaf parsley and flat leaf (Italian) parsley both work for this recipe, but we prefer curly parsley (and this is one of the only times you’ll hear us saying that!).
  • This recipe was retested and revised 5/2024. It was originally made with freekah and included feta cheese. 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 223kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Sodium: 313mg, Potassium: 370mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 2078IU, Vitamin C: 41mg, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 3mg

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.

Did You Make This?Be sure to upload a photo & tag me at @RachelCooksBlog. I love seeing what you made!




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