Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad A light & healthy parsley salad packed with all of the fresh flavours of the Mediterranean in each bite. The perfect light plant-based lunch & doubles as a great side dish for summery dinners or potlucks. Light, delicious, & super meal prep-friendly – naturally Vegetarian & Gluten-Free, easily Vegan & Dairy-Free.
The Lebanese tabbouleh (tabouli) is one of the most famous salads in the Mediterranean! I would even say it’s more popular than fattoush. This humble yet mighty little parsley salad has become mainstream throughout the western world! Which is rather impressive, to say the least.
It’s no wonder why this salad is so popular with the bright, citrusy Mediterranean flavours from the lemon, parsley, mint, & tomatoes. It’s such a refreshing treat for your tastebuds.
However, the downside to the tabbouleh trend is the loss of its authenticity. In order for recipe creators to be original, they tend to completely disregard the traditional preparation of cultural recipes.
The authentic tabbouleh recipe
Tabbouleh (a.k.a tabouli) is a parsley salad with a sprinkle of bulgur. The authentic recipe for tabouleh only contains parsley, tomatoes, onions, bulgur, lemon, & olive oil. Mint is optional but often added.
When making the tabbouleh with cucumbers, lots of bulgur & garlic, it’s actually called bulgur salad (Salata bulgul). Both salads are delicious, and I recommend trying them, but their names are different.
What you’ll need to make Lebanese Tabbouleh
The beauty of this salad is its simplicity, you’ll only need 6 ingredients to make this tasty salad.
- Parsley: The star of the dish! I prefer to use curly parsley when making tabbouleh; however, flat-leaf parsley will also work. look for the freshest parsley you can find.
- Mint. According to some people, mint isn’t a part of the traditional tabbouleh salad, yet others will say it’s a must. I’m of the opinion it’s a must-have for the best-tasting tabbouleh.
- Tomatoes: You’ll need ripe yet firm tomatoes for the best results. If they’re too juicy, remove the seeds and juice before dicing. I love using Roma tomatoes for tabbouleh for their meaty flesh and good taste.
- Green onions: The whole onion is used in this recipe. You can swap the green onion for regular onions if you want. I prefer green onions for their subtle taste.
- Bulgur: Use the smallest bulgur you can find! Bulgur comes in different grind sizes; you’ll need #1 grind size. It’s important you use the smallest grind because you’re not going to be cooking the bulgur for the salad.
- Lemon: Select fresh juicy lemons, and stay away from concentrated lemon juice.
- Olive oil: Use the highest quality extra virgin olive oil for the recipe.
How to make Tabbouleh
I love starting my tabbouleh by soaking the bulgur in lemon juice until the grains soak up all the lemony flavour. You’ll need a little bit of patience when soaking the bulgur, so you don’t end up with crunchy grains in your tabbouleh.
So start the bulgur first, then sharpen your knife and get chopping. By the time you finished mincing the herbs and vegetables, the bulgur will be plump and tart.
There are two ways to make tabbouleh.
- Water Method. This is the most common method is soaking the bulgur in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Drain the bulgur, then add the rest of the ingredients.
- Dressing Method. The second way is to add the lemon & olive oil to the bulgur and let it soak up all the flavours. Then add the rest of the ingredients.
I love preparing the tabbouleh with the dressing method. The tabbouleh doesn’t get waterlogged, and the lemony flavour is more pronounced. I’ve included both methods in the recipe card for you to choose which method you like best.
Recipe tips & tricks
Follow these tips, and you’ll be making your tabbouleh just like a Lebanese Siti (Grandma, a.k.a the cooking master chief) 😉
- Wash your parsley the night before. You need the parsley to be dry, so when you dice it, it’ll fluffy and plentiful looking. Plus, it’s so much easier to dice when dry.
- Finely dice the parsley. It’s all about the presentation! Yes, it’s tedious, but you’ll get to show off your knife skills, or you’ll improve on them. Don’t get lazy and use a food processor; if you do, you’ll wilt the parsley and ruin the texture.
- Finely dice the tomatoes. Yes, more knife practice, but that’s the way of the tabbouleh. That’s why it’s important to select a firm yet ripe tomato for this recipe. You want the tomato to be firm for the knife and ripe for the taste. If your tomato is too juicy, just remove the seeds if it’s still too juicy, strain the tomatoes in a mesh colander.
- Select #1 bulgur. The bulgur must be very fine for this salad, you should barely be able to see it in the salad. Tabbouleh is all about parsley, it’s the true star in this recipe.
- Room temperature lemons. I found when testing this recipe that the bulgur plumps up quickly at room temperature or lightly warm.
How to serve tabbouleh
You can enjoy this on its own or with a side of protein as a meal. It’s traditional to serve tabbouleh with lettuce, cabbage or grape leaves and then scoop up the salad with the leaves and eat it with your hands, like a taco. 😀
For a fancier presentation, you can serve tabbouleh as a hand-held salad. Add a few scoops of tabbouleh into gem lettuce leaves and serve on a platter. I love serving salads this way it looks so summery, fresh, flavourful and very healthy.
more delicious Meze recipes to try
Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad
- 2 tbsp fine bulgur (#1)
- 1/3 cup lemon
- 2 Roma tomatoes finely diced
- 2 green onion finely diced
- 1/4 cup onion finely diced
- 1/4 cup mint 2-3 sprigs
- 1 bunch parsely finely chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Wash the Parsley. It's best to wash the parsley the night before, so it'll be completely dry before chopping.
- In a small bowl, add the bulgur & lemon juice and let it soak until it is soft and plumped: about 15-20 minutes. Set aside and continue with the rest of the ingredients.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables by finely chopping them. When preparing the tomatoes, it helps to use a colander to drain the excess juice. remove access juice help prevents the bulgur from becoming too bloated.
- Place the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Add the optional mint. Season with salt and pepper. Then pour the bulgur and olive oil over. Gently toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold, with lettuce or cabbage, if desired.