Tabouli salad or Tabbouleh is a simple Mediterranean salad of very finely chopped vegetables, lots of fresh parsley and bulgur wheat, all tossed with lime juice and olive oil. Grab my tips and watch the video for how to make tabouli below.
Tabouli is likely the topmost famed Mediterranean/Middle Eastern salad there is. Because it is now sold in most large supermarkets around the world, I feel compelled to dispel one thing: the “star of the show," so to speak, in a tabouli recipe is not the bulgur. The idea is to have a little bulgur with the salad, not a little salad with your bulgur.
What is in Tabouli Salad?
The true star in a tabouli recipe is the very finely chopped parsley--lots of it! Parsley holds well against the citrus in the dressing; that's why tabouli is even better the next day. Some tabouli recipes like this one, call for a few fresh mint leaves and green onions, while others use only parsley and red onions instead. This recipe is closest to the version I grew up with, but feel free to make it your own.
Important tips for this tabouli salad recipe:
1- In this tabouli recipe, I recommend extra fine bulgur. Extra fine bulgur does not need hot water nor too much time to soak before adding it to the salad. If you end up using coarse or extra coarse bulgur, then hot water is recommended and you will need to soak it for 45 minutes or so.
2- To achieve the right tabouli texture, you will need to chop the vegetables as finely as possible. Can one use a food processor to chop tabouli ingredients? You can use one to chop the parsley, if you like, but I would advice you to chop the tomatoes, green onions etc. using a sharp knife.
3- Be sure to use firm tomatoes. Once chopped, place the tomatoes in a colander to drain excess juice.
4- Tabouli does not traditionally call for cucumbers. This is my own twist, I like the extra crunch added. I use English Cucumbers also known as hothouse cucumbers, they are long, thin skinned, and generally seedless. If you choose to use the more common American cucumbers, be sure to remove the skin; cut the cucumber in halves and remove most of the seeds then proceed to chop.
5- No dressing but a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice and quality extra virgin olive oil like our Early Harvest olive oil. It's an exquisite Greek extra virgin olive oil from the estate of the Kotsovolas family in Christianoupolis, Greece. Hand-picked; cold pressed; from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olive oil; and of extremely low acidity (0.35%.) Learn more about our Early Harvest olive oil here.
6-For best results, cover the tabouli and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. If you like, serve the tabouli with a side of pita and romaine lettuce leaves, which act as wraps or "boats" for the tabouli.
What to serve with Tabouli
Tabouli makes a great and bright addition to the dinner table next to your grilled kabobs or shawarmas, for example. But it can also be included as part of mezze along with other small plates like, Creamy Hummus; Falafel; Turkish fried eggplant; and spicy Middle Eastern Potatoes.
Watch How to Make Tabouli (tabouleh)
NEVER MISS A RECIPE! JOIN MY FREE E-MAIL LIST HERE TO RECEIVE NEW RECIPES, WEEKLY MEDITERRANEAN DINNER PLANS, AND MY FREE E-COOKBOOK WITH 15 HEALTHY RECIPES TO TRY!
SHOP OUR ONLINE STORE FOR QUALITY OLIVE OILS, ALL-NATURAL SPICES AND MORE.Print
Tabouli Salad Recipe
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
Traditional tabouli salad recipe with parsley, mint, bulgur wheat, finely chopped vegetables and a zesty dressing. Recipe with step-by-step photos.
- ½ cup fine bulgur wheat
- 4 firm Roma tomatoes, very finely chopped
- 1 English cucumber (hothouse cucumber), very finely chopped
- 2 bunches parsley, part of the stems removed, washed and well-dried, very finely chopped
- 12-15 fresh mint leaves, stems removed, washed, well-dried, very finely chopped
- 4 green onions, white and green parts, very finely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoon lime juice (lemon juice, if you prefer)
- 3-4 tablespoon Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil
- Romaine lettuce leaves to serve, optional
- Wash the bulgur wheat and soak it in water for 5-7 minute. Drain very well (squeeze the bulgur wheat by hand to get rid of any excess water). Set aside.
- Very finely chop the vegetables, herbs and green onions as indicated above. Be sure to place the tomatoes in a colander to drain excess juice.
- Place the chopped vegetables, herbs and green onions in a mixing bowl or dish. Add the bulgur and season with salt. Mix gently.
- Now add the the lime juice and olive oil and mix again.
- For best results, cover the tabouli and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. If you like, serve the tabouli with a side of pita and romaine lettuce leaves, which act as wraps or "boats" for the tabouli.
- Other appetizers to serve next to tabouli salad:Hummus; Baba Ganoush; or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
- The finer you chop the vegetables, the better. See additional tips above.
- To serve a smaller crowd, simply cut the recipe in half.
- You can keep tabouli refrigerated in a tight-lid container for 2 days or so. It’s important to try and drain some of the juice out before refrigerating leftover tabouli.
- Recommended for this Recipe: Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives)
- SAVE! Try our Greek Olive Oil Bundle!
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: tabouli salad, tabouli, tabbouleh, tabouli recipe, tabouli salad recipe, tabbouleh salad, tabbouleh salad recipe, middle eastern salad, how to make tabouli
SHOP The Mediterranean Dish
More Recipes to Try
Egyptian Vegan Stew with Peas and Carrots
What amount is a "bunch of parsley"? Could you estimate a weight or measured amount, and specify whether it is before or after chopping/de-stemming? Thanks! I grow my own parsley, and just not sure of the amount to use.
Hi, Jacque. I recommend starting with 25-30 stems of parsley, remove the stems and chop finely. You can always add more if you feel it's needed. Enjoy!
Thank you for sharing your tradition and your explanations are really helpful!
I haven't tried this yet but it looks fantastic! Also I love that you've included a nutrition label, but the sodium content is missing from the nutrition label. Many of us are limited as to sodium intake so that would be very helpful if that could be included. Thank you so much for the recipe!
Thanks for the feedback! I'll check on this and see if we can do it via the program we currently use. With sodium numbers, it really will vary for individual taste and the kind of salt and amount used, so it is tricky. In all, the nutrition information provided here is a best estimate.
Hi, I also am Lebanese and grew up eating this. Fixed for my kids when they wers young..got the ingredients today to make tomorrow, called my son to ask if he wanted some. Didn't even get the question finished before a resoundind Yes! I love making my kids HAPPY. I think it's a Lebanese mama thing!
Thanks for the memories!
Awww! I always find one easy way to make my kids happy is to cook for/with them :). Definitely great memories made through the years!
I love this salad. However, the recipe says 20 minutes. That must be after the 1 1/2 hours of mincing and chopping…. But it was still totally worth it. ( I tripled the recipe, maybe that’s why it took so long). I will definitely make it again.
Wait, aren’t we supposed to cook the bulged?
Nope! You just need to soak it here, if using extra fine bulgar.
Which parsley is recommended?
Hi, Elena. I prefer Italian/flat leaf parsley here.
I want to try this, it looks delicious, and a real nutritious powerhouse. Can I use beefsteak tomatoes?
Sure, Eliz. You could give that a try.
Always use this recipe when im making chicken pitas for dinner ! Such great flavour &even better the next day !
All her recipes Ive tried have never failed me !
Awww! Thanks, Tasha!
Fabulous! I come back to this so I probably already commented but I rarely make the same thing on any given day of a year. I have to use quinoa to keep it GF and it works so well. Outsourced some hummus and dolmas to go with that and my homemade chicken tonight. Hubby gets pita bread. Love you❤️
Awww! Thank you, Yvette!
This was the best recipe for tabouleh ever. I didn’t have bulgar wheat so I substituted quinoa instead. Other than that I made the recipe per Instructions. Definitely will made again 👍🏻
I don't know if I did it wrong or not but I followed the directions and...is the bulgar wheat supposed to be hard? It had the texture of quinoa that hadn't been cooked.
Hi, Natala. The bulgur should not be hard. This particular recipe calls for extra fine bulgur... is that what you used? If not, that could be the issue here.
I used curly parsley because I didn’t realize the flat leaf was a better option. You should make it specific in the recipe for people like me who don’t know.
Would you toast the bulgar first for a nuttier crunch or would it end up burnt?
Hi, Dixie. I have never tried toasting the bulgar for this one, so it's hard for me to advise. If you give it a go, please stop back and let us know your thoughts!
I follow many recipes from your blog ! Love how authentic the taste is…I even added some black olives to this recipe for extra flavour ! Thank you for all the great tips you add . Mediterranean cuisine is common weekday meal at our house !
Wonderful! Thanks, Monica!
I made this recipe (no cucumbers) this week to serve with falafel. Due to lockdowns, I had to make do with what I had and so substituted the bulgar with lightly Boiled quinoa. It was definitely best the next day after the acids in lemon had "cooked" the parsley a little. Thanks for the recipe. I'll be keeping this one.
very easy to do and it was very good
Because several in my family are gluten-intolerant, I use cauliflower "rice". I actually prefer it to the traditional bulgur. Otherwise, I pretty much follow the recipe.
Thanks for sharing that substitution! We also have a great cauliflower salad that you and your family may enjoy: Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad (Gluten Free Tabouli)
I have made this twice this week and it’s been sandy both times. I soaked the parsley and mint but again today you get a bite of sand in your mouth. Do you have any ideas what I’m doing wrong , thank you
Hi, Sarah. Maybe instead of soaking, run the veggies under a flowing faucet so all of the dirt/grit runs off. Then dry very well.
Hello Sarah. I find swirling my parsley in a bowl of water, rinse and repeat, until no grit is found in the bowl works well for extra-gritty herbs.
I love tabouleh but since I must eat gluten free I make a version with hemp hearts. I know it’s not authentic but the taste is very close to the Lebanese tabouleh I know and love. The hemp hearts are also higher in protein and fiber and lower in carbohydrates so for those who need to eat lower carb, it’s a marvelous substitute.
Your recipe works well with the hemp.
Wow! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing that, Dee!
An excellent Tabboule recipe. I enjoyed the addition of cucumber which adds moisture and crunch, also the lime juice is a great idea as it is a little less acid than lemon. Wonderful.
So glad you enjoyed it, George!