Finally! I’ve figured out how to make the best tabbouleh. It’s just as good, if not better than, my favorite local Middle Eastern restaurant’s. If you try it, I think you’ll agree.
Tabbouleh (also spelled tabouli) is a super fresh herb and bulgur salad, with parsley being the number one ingredient. It’s dotted with diced cucumber and tomato, and dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice. It’s refreshing, light and packed with healthy ingredients.
You’ll often find tabbouleh as a side dish on Mediterranean menus. It’s right at home with hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, feta, olives… all of my favorite things.
I’ve attempted tabbouleh at home over the years, and I’m so pleased to share what I’ve learned with you today. Ready to make some great tabbouleh?
Bulgur is parboiled cracked wheat, so it’s a whole grain. Once prepared, it’s tender and fluffy. Bulgur is often confused with couscous, but they’re not the same (couscous is actually tiny pasta).
Authentic tabbouleh is made with super fine grain (#1) bulgur and it’s soaked rather than cooked, but I haven’t been able to find it at regular grocery stores. There are several other varieties of bulgurs, and you’ll probably find only one option at the store. So, cook (or soak) it according to the package directions.
Authentic tabbouli uses a ton of parsley. That’s why this salad is so green! I tried both flat-leaf and curly, and for once, curly is the way to go. Even when it’s chopped very small, curly parsley offers some extra volume that makes this tabbouleh so pleasant to eat.
Fresh Mint and Green Onion
Mint is standard and adds even more fresh flavor. That said, it can be expensive if you don’t grow it at home, so you can skip it if you’d rather.
Green onion is my mild onion of choice. It’s perfect in tabbouleh.
Cucumber and Tomato
Fresh cucumber and tomato add more texture and color, and build on the refreshing factor. Have I said refreshing enough yet?
Lebanese readers have informed me that cucumber is unusual in tabbouleh, which is news to me! You can skip it if you’d like, but it’s quite nice.
Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and Garlic
Tabbouleh is dressed in a simple combination of olive oil and lemon juice. You won’t find garlic in every tabbouleh recipe, but I think that one clove makes this recipe extra delicious.
How to Make the Best Tabbouleh
1) Salt your tomato and cucumber, and drain off the excess juice.
Fortunately, this doesn’t take any extra time. Tomato and cucumber release a lot of moisture when they’re exposed to salt, and will make your tabbouleh way too watery if you do not drain it off.
Simply combine the tomato and cucumber in a bowl with some salt (you’ll find these instructions in the recipe below), and set it aside while you chop the parsley. Drain off the excess juice before you stir the salad together. Easy!
2) Use lots of parsley and chop it finely.
This recipe calls for three bunches of parsley, and the easiest way to chop that much parsley is in your food processor. You can do it by hand, but it will take a while. Don’t worry about removing the thin parsley stems—they offer a lot of great flavor.
3) Season sufficiently with lemon juice and salt.
Tabbouleh should be zingy and full of flavor, and you’ll need to use enough lemon and salt to get there.
Watch How to Make Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh Serving Suggestions
Tabbouleh is typically served chilled or at room temperature. It’s a perfect side dish or salad to offer with Mediterranean/Middle Eastern meals. Here are a few suggestions:
- Dips and spreads: Creamy Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Tzatziki, Tahini Sauce
- Crispy Baked Falafel
- Fattoush Salad with Mint Dressing
- Mujaddara (Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions)
- Dukkah with bread and olive oil
Please let me know how your tabbouleh turns out in the comments! I hope you love it.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Various
- Cuisine: Lebanese
Learn how to make delicious, authentic tabbouleh at home! This tabbouleh (also spelled tabouli) is even better than your favorite Lebanese restaurant’s. Recipe yields 6 servings (a little over 1 cup each).
- ½ cup bulgur
- 1 cup diced cucumber (1 small-to-medium)
- 1 cup diced tomato* (1 large)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 3 medium bunches curly parsley
- ⅓ cup (⅔ ounce) chopped fresh mint (optional but recommended—you can chop it in the food processor with the parsley)
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced green onion
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- Cook or soak the bulgur until tender according to package directions. Drain off any excess water, and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the diced cucumber and tomato in a medium bowl with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Stir, and let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes, or until you’re ready to mix the salad.
- To prepare the parsley, cut off the thick stems. Then, finely chop the parsley and remaining stems—you can do this by hand, but it’s much easier in a food processor with the standard “S” blade. Process 1 bunch at a time (it should yield about 1 cup chopped), transferring the chopped parsley to a large serving bowl before proceeding with the next.
- Add the cooled bulgur, chopped fresh mint (if using) and green onion to the bowl of parsley. Strain off and discard the cucumber and tomato juice that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl (this ensures that your tabbouleh isn’t too watery). Add the strained cucumber and tomato to the bowl.
- In a small measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Pour it into the salad and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust if necessary—add another tablespoon of lemon juice for zing, or salt for more overall flavor.
- If you have the time, let the salad rest for 15 minutes before serving to let the flavors mingle. Otherwise, you can serve it immediately or chill it for later. Tabbouleh will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.
Make it gluten free: Bulgur is not gluten free (it’s cracked wheat). Substitute quinoa for an untraditional gluten-free option. You’ll use the same amount (½ cup) uncooked quinoa, or 1 ½ cups cooked leftover quinoa. Here’s how to cook quinoa.
*Tomato note: Use the most ripe and red tomatoes you can find! If you’re making this salad when tomatoes aren’t in season, cherry tomatoes might be your best bet.
That was the best version of tabbouleh I’ve ever made. Can’t wait to try with garden tomatoes and mint. Thanks for that.
Thank you for sharing, Alan!
Outstanding. Proportions in this recipe are spot on, and then you can fine tune the lemon juice and salt after it has rested in the fridge 15-20 mins. I chopped the parsley (and mint) in the food processor. Definitely the way to go, just pulse and stop and mix as necessary. I put my cooked Bulgur Wheat in the refrigerator uncovered and stirred a few times while I was preparing everything else, that cooled it down nice. I made this recipe for me to take for lunch this week as a side, and based on how much I like to eat at a time, it yielded 3-4 servings. Thank you Kate for doing the hard work for us refining this recipe. No wonder it’s at the the top on Google Searches for Tabbouleh Recipes.
You’re welcome! I’m happy you enjoy it.
My hubby and I loved!
Thank you soo much!!!
You’re welcome, Mila! I appreciate your review.
I’ve commented in the past about how great this tabboulah is, but it has become an obsession. I double the recipe and make it every week. I add extra lemon, garlic and mint. The flavor is unbelievable.
Happy to hear that, SJ! Thank you for your review.
Excellent!! So good. You must get small bunches of parsley- I only needed 1 for about a cup of chopped. Soaking the garlic in lemon juice before mixing in the olive oil mellows it a bit. Thanks for the great recipe!!
Thank you for your review, Laura!
I used your recipe for the1st time making Tabbouleh – It tuned out so delicious that I have made it several times in the last couple of months :) I sprinkle a little feta cheese on top of it – Yummy!!!
I was craving real tabbouleh (i.e. mostly parsley and little bulgur, versus what you often find in North American restaurants) and this totally hit the spot. I added quite a bit more lemon, since I like a strong lemon taste, and also extra salt. Topped with hot sauce and some crumbled feta and it was delicious! Thanks, Kate, for another terrific recipe.
I’m glad it hit the spot, Deborah! I appreciate your review.
I’ve been making this recipe for over a year now and it is a solute my my goto GREEN HIT! ;);) It’s addicting! And such a powerhouse of a way to catch all parsley’s health benefits for such greens we use as garnish normally and now my pestos and dishes like this gem – loaded with endless minerals, hard to get in any other form but upload! Lol same with cilantro as a garnish can be made into a paste like the very expensive tube of both – Ave a bundle and reap high value properties we did not realize can make part of a mea l or side or whole dish on its own where parsley shines as your GREEN since we can’t possible eat so many in a diet for f dark leafy greens – garnish??
Not anymore ! Thank you
I’m glad you make this often and it’s a go-to for you, Jocelyn. Thank you for your comment!
This recipe is AMAZING! I made it two weeks ago and everyone loved it. And we coasted on it for several days for a super health lunch salad. However, I did find the regular curly parsley too ‘scratchy’ and am about to make it again with the flat parsley. I’m sure it will be just as good.
I like this one – used cauli rice one time instead of grains and that was nice (had cauli that needed using).
Very tasty, but cucumber not my thing. Extra mint / garlic / lemon – very nice.
I made this with quinoa and a friends daughter remarked that it was “the only salad she has ever liked” and it’s like Lay’s – once you pop, you can’t stop… something like that or maybe I’m off on the brand. No matter, this was an absolute hit with everyone we had over. So easily gluten free. What a perfect use for all of our garden parsley!
Hooray! That’s great to hear. Thank you for your review, Kate.
The best taboule I ever made or had. Salting the cucumber and tomato puts it over the top with nice flavor and texture; not soggy. I had it tonight with cold drumsticks and a sweet potato, and will have tomorrow with salmon. This recipe is a keeper!
That’s great to hear, Paul! Thank you for sharing.
Could I substitute couscous or is quinoa a better substitute. I’m not gluten-free just have some couscous I’d like to use up.
Sure, you can try it.
I want to make for my partnwrs WFPB family and they don’t consume oil. What would you suggest? Thank you :-)
Hi, You could try to omit. Sorry I don’t have a better option!
Kate — I’d love it if you play with chia gel as an oil substitute. It lacks the flavor olive oil provides, but it adds body to oil-free dressing. Perhaps chia gel, lemon juice & ??? for flavor?
Hi, I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. Sorry!
Great recipe! Only change I made was to substitute 1 cup of hemp hearts instead of bulgur. Wonderful for adding nutrition to keto diets. I also top it off with a scoop of feta cheese, yum.
Thank you, Jan! I’m happy you enjoyed it.
Love this recipe! Thank you for sharing your fav Tabouleh recipe it’s now in my fav’s list. Cheers
That’s great, Deb!
Love this recipe!! Simple, delicious and tangy. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Alison!
Do you rinse the cucumbers from the salt once you drain them?
Nope! Just strain. I hope you love it.
Tried this recipe today and it was so delicious. Adding that extra bit of lemon juice was a great call. Thank you so much for sharing it!!!
You’re welcome, Mercy! I appreciate your review.
Hello lovely one
I have yet to make this for I have a wee question.
Letting the cucumber and tomato sit in salt, does this not make them over salty?
Thanks so much
Hi! I like this method. I hope you love it! I find it works great.
OMG this was amazing. The ratios are spot on. I couldn’t wait the 15 minutes. I usually just use recipes as guidelines but mostly stayed with this one (used Meyer lemon juice that I had, 2 cloves of garlic, chocolate mint because I have tons of it). Got fresh pita at Farmers Market and can’t stop eating it.
Thanks for another healthy delicious recipe!
Wonderful to hear it, Jane! Thank you for your review.
I live in SoCal and easy to find fine bulgur. I just soak it with lemon juice and the diced tomatoes, I don’t have to cook it. Like the recipe mentions tomatoes are juicy and those juices are perfect to allow to soak along with the bulgur and lemon juice as it absorbs the liquid. I also toss in the garlic in the soaking process so the lemon juice mellows out that flavor. For less tang, I do add a little water.
I can eat a whole bowl by myself.
I love the cucumbers in it and the Persian cucumbers don’t release as much liquid.
I have Lebanese friends who view cucumbers in tabbouleh as heresy, and they are very particular about using “medium bulgur”, which I have never seen in a supermarket, but there you go. I lived in the Middle East, and I’ve even seen tabbouleh with chopped raw zucchini and arugula, and yes, cucumber. The fanciest versions have very little bulgur but a whole lot of fresh herbs of various types. Always parsley and mint. Dill is really good, and sometimes I add basil–as long as it’s green, work with what you have. Flat parsley is preferable to curly. I am a bit more hesitant to add garlic, because it can so easily overwhelm all the more delicate flavors. It really isn’t necessary to cook the bulgur, but you should rinse and soak it for half an hour or so if you don’t. I soak mine in salted lemon juice and a bit of the juice from the chopped tomatoes. I’ve made it with quinoa, and it’s really good that way too. Tabbouleh tastes even better the day after you make it, so if you have the time I recommend that. Some like it dry, some like it wet. This recipe is on the wet side, probably due to the cucumber. Overall, this is an excellent recipe, and I have no problem giving it 5 stars, cucumber and all!
Thank you for sharing, Ula! I do know it can be made in different ways. I appreciate your comment and review.
Added some preserved lemon instead of salt, and subbed tomato with red pepper for allergy reasons. Lovely.
Best tabbouleh ever ..thanks for sharing this great recipe :)
I’m glad you loved it, Char! Thank you for your review.
I made this with freekeh instead of bulgur and it was absolutely banging I put some coriander in aswell. Sooooo good!!
Haven’t made tabbouleh in years. Came across your recipe and made it today, delicious! This will be a new staple in my meal planning. Thanks!
Replace the bulgar wheat with skinned and chopped almonds. Deseed and peel the cucumber and tomato, and add some chopped dried apricots. Bet you love it even better and it is great for those that don’t eat wheat/gluten etc.
I just made it According to the recipe. Best tabouli I ever made. I cut up the parsley more than I usually do. Also, I added black pepper. I made this to go with grilled steaks.
I just made it According to the recipe. Best tabouli I ever made. I cut up the parsley more than I usually do. Also, I added black pepper. I made this to go with grilled steaks. I did have fresh mint because I grow it in my herb garden.
Thank you for your review!
My aunt was born & raised in Ireland but married an Armenian & his mother taught her how to cook all things middle eastern. She was the best cook so I learned many recipes from her. I use to make traditional Tabbouleh all the time, minus the mint but since going gluten free I make it with cauliflower rice! I also add radish’s & a little red onion, finely chopped. Still not a fan of mint so I leave that out! I love Tabbouleh!
Yes used some of your process … instead of bulgar, I used wheat berry slightly processed in my bullet blender. Then added seasoned and brewed rice vinegar and Roses Sweetened lime juice and orange n yellow peppers, raw slivered almonds and raw sunflower seeds … yum
Is it 1/2 cup cooked bulgur or 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur which translates to 1 cup cooked bulgur (after it volumizes during cooking/soaking)?
Hi! 1 cup roughly 3 cups cooked, so I it will be roughly 1.5 cups as it calls for .5.
This recipe is OUTSTANDING!!!! The flavors and textures are wonderfully balanced, and the preparation method for the tomatoes and cucumbers keeps the salad light and fluffy (soggy tabbouleh has been our culinary Waterloo!)
Your recipes and descriptions are tantalizing and oh-so approachable. Thank you!
I’m excited you loved it, Anne! I appreciate your review.
This is excellent! I did not have mint but made it anyway. Also only had quinoa but flavor is the best.
Have used several of your recipes and I alway come back to them. When I google search I look for your name and try to make that one.
Great to hear, Julie!
Your recipe is a lovely classic recipe for tabouli. I agree on the need for curly parsley rather than Italian for the recipe. I have modified my recipe for tabouli to substitute quinoa for the bulgur wheat. I also sometimes add chickpeas and/or feta cheese if I want to turn it into a main dish.
I love the flavour of parsley and it’s cheap enough for my tight budget but I can’t eat bulgur and don’t remember its size and texture well enough. I’m all out of quinoa but still have some millet that’s been sitting in the pantry for too long. Would that be okay for this recipe?
I’ve only just discovered your blog and I’m looking forward to spending lots of time on these pages.
I haven’t tried it with millet, but I would be interested to hear if you try it.
This is sooo tasty. Ialso addded a small amount of minced fresh garlic to the dressing – great for me, potentially not so great for my co-workers :’)
Just to clarify, is it 1 or 3 cups of finely chopped parsley total?
I’ve made this recipe multiple times but with just one cup chopped parsley – it was very good but rereading the recipe again today I’m second guessing myself
Hi! You want 3 bunches of parsley. I would estimate that one bunch is roughly 1 cup – so roughly 3 total. If you liked it how you made it, I say go with it!
Lovely receipt. Can I freeze this??
I’m glad you enjoy it! I don’t know if this is the best option to freeze. If you try it, let me know how it works for you.
After trying tabbouleh earlier this year in the Middle East I decided to make it when I got back home, this is a wonderful recipe and I’ve made it several times now, absolutely delicious and all the family love it too. Thank you for the recipe
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lesley! I appreciate your review.
How much water do I use to cook the bulgar?
See the package directions.
I love the recipe. my daughter-in-law is a fan of tabouleh but not tomatoes but she will eat Salsa. So I increased the cucumbers (I seeded before I diced so did not drain) and added about 2-3 tablespoons of a mild salsa to my recipe. Tastes quite nice and I used quinoa instead of bulger just because I had it and did not have bulger in the house. thanks for the recipe
It was delicious! I substituted Quinoa for bulgur; I didn’t have any on hand. I followed the ingredients otherwise.
I served it and topped it with plain Greek yogurt. I love to mix my tabouleh and yogurt in a bowl together. Again, delicious!
I enjoy your recipes!
Thank you for sharing, Leslie! I appreciate your review.
This is basically a very good recipe..but being Lebanese it needs 1 more cup of well drained tomotoes, garlic is never used in our taboulé and cucumber is not authentic though it could blend well…
Your recipe is very close to mine. I use red onion instead of green onions. I’ll have to try your idea. Also, I add a very finely diced jalapeño. I’ve just added the bulgar to my grocery list.
Can’t wait to try your tabouli!
Let me know what you think when you try it!
I just plain loved it. So very easy and tasty. I made it over the weekend and making it again today. Made with mint and parsley picked fresh from my garden. In Florida, I can have fresh herbs year-round. I even shared it with the neighbors, with the recipe attached. Thank you.
I really loved this recipe, however found it difficult to understand the cup measurements. Would it be possible for you send me the measurements in UK grams or fluid ounces.
Amazing recipe! Loved it – used nearly all ingredients from our own herb garden
I make tabouleh quite often and one hack that I employ is when soaking the wheat I add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to the hot water , also a little salt at that time. The wheat is so tasty after soaking in salted lemon water that it makes a great side on its own
JENNIFER M MORALES
Great recipe. You are my go to when I am looking for a recipe I can Trust. Thank you for your service.
Thank you, Jennifer!
Thank you for sharing this recipe! What a wonderful way to indulge in one’s favorite herb…
(I substitued chopped Walnuts for the Bulgur and doubled up the quantities for the dressing in order to lower carbs and increase fat. That worked perfectly :-)
Thank you for sharing what you enjoyed, Dennis.
Yum! Made this but realized I had no bulgur or quinoa so I took a head of cauliflower and grated half it on the large holes of a box grater. What a wonderful, fresh salad. Bulgur is on my shopping list for sure. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Chris!
This tasty recipe even beats my go-to tabbouleh from an excellent middle eastern cookbook! Love your recipes you two. A 5 bark rating!
Thank you, Marlena!
I agree with your review. I have no problem giving it 5 stars either.just an aside but I always keep dry mint on hand. The mint comes in in 3.5 oz package and is imported from Albania Most of the mom and pop fresh fruits and vegetable stores carry tons of middle Eastern products
.It is a God send.
Looks great but as someone who’s middle eastern this has way too much burgul in it. Maybe try it with a but less burgul im sure it’ll taste much better!