The Best Easy Tabbouleh Recipe

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The Best Easy Tabbouleh Recipe – bulgur wheat tossed with parsley, mint, lemon, olive oil – and ripe cucumbers and tomatoes for a delicious vegan salad bursting with Lebanese flavor!

Picture of tabbouleh in a bowl on a table
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Mediterranean Parsley Bulgar Salad

This dish is a traditional Lebanese salad – and the fresh Mediterranean flavors are simple, delicious, and shine through! Every year for Pascha (Orthodox Christian “Easter”), I have a few dishes I make a beeline for at our church’s big picnic – and Tabbouleh is always one of them!

This salad is incredibly light, and absolutely loaded with parsley flavor, with tons of mint and lemon. It’s great alongside other light meze-style appetizers and dishes, as well as hearty meaty dishes.

We’re adding ripe tomatoes and a cucumber for extra crunch and flavor – but this salad can be made without them as well. We’re also adding plenty of garlic flavor – which is not strictly traditional, but we think the garlic helps add another crave-worthy layer of flavor.

We love serving tabbouleh alongside seafood, chicken, lamb, and beef – and while not incredibly traditional, we also love to serve tabbouleh with pork.

Tabbouleh is not gluten free – it’s main component is bulgar, a type of wheat – but you can swap for quinoa to make a gf version. Tabbouleh is loaded with fiber, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

To see our web story for this recipe click here.

Tabbouleh is a fresh, vegan salad made of bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, lemon, and olive oil. It also can use other vegetables for additional flavor. Tabbouleh is Levantine – meaning it is from the Eastern Mediterranean countries of Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and Jordan. Tabbouleh is also often called Tabouleh or Tabouli.

picture of tabbouleh in a dish

How To Make Tabbouleh

For this recipe, you can use any variation of bulgur.

  • Bulgar – I prefer red, fine-ground, for it’s coarse, tough texture and earthy, nutty flavor.
  • Boiling water – bulgar softens by soaking in boiling water for an hour, instead of boiling like pasta. Once soft, drain pasta and lightly press to release any additional water.
  • Ripe tomatoes – tomatoes give a bright red color, lightly sweet and tart flavor, and juicy soft texture to tabbouleh. It is an optional addition, but I love adding tomatoes into tabbouleh salad.
  • Cucumber – cucumbers are crunchy, crisp, cool, and have a light vegetal and watery flavor that is a nice balance with peppery parsley in tabbouleh. It is optional to add in, but adds a fresh twist and the crunch is a nice touch.
  • Garlic – garlic has a hot, pungent, earthy flavor that is addictive and savory, and is a great balance to bitter parsley.
  • Lemon juice – lemon juice’s tart and sweet fresh flavor is a great bright acid to counter savory peppery parsley and earthy, nutty bulgar.
  • Coarse celtic sea salt – when adding salt to a recipe, I like adding one for texture, and in tabbouleh a course sea salt gives a bit of crunch that is delicious.
  • Parsley bunches – parsley is peppery and bitter, with a strong, fresh flavor, bright green color, and strong aroma. You can add more or less parsley for your tabbouleh depending on your preference – your salad can be mostly bulgar or mostly parsley, depending on how you like it.
  • Mint leaves – mint’s lightly sweet, vanilla, anise, and citrus flavors add a layer of complexity to tabbouleh that we love, and helps balance the earthy parsley flavor.
  • Scallions – scallions are lighter than onions and not quite as bitter and hot, adding an earthy, pungent flavor, without being overpowering like a raw onion.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – olive oil adds important fat content to the salad, keeping the bulgar from drying out and sticking together, acting as a dressing, and adding a light savory flavor.
  • Freshly ground black pepper – pepper’s heat and smoky flavor starts to fade after cracking, so we prefer using freshly cracked pepper whenever possible.

First, we will need to prepare bulgar which involves a considerable soaking time. To make our bulgur we will use the following method:

  • Boil water.
  • Pour bulgar into water and stir, remove from heat and let soak 1 hour.
  • When bulgar is soft, strain and squeeze out any extra water.
  • Place in large bowl, set aside.

Once you’ve gathered ingredients, we will follow this method:

  • In a food processor, add mint, scallions, garlic, and parsley and mince (do not pulverize or liquify – this shouldn’t be like pesto) – OR chop to mince finely. We prefer chopping by hand because we like a more rustic texture, some prefer more finely minced texture.
  • Add to bowl with bulgar and stir.
  • Stir tomatoes and cucumber into bulgar and minced herbs, toss to mix.
  • In a small bowl, mix olive oil and lemon – stir well to combine.
  • Drizzle olive oil and lemon over tabbouleh, tossing to evenly coat.
  • Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste.
  • Enjoy!
picture of tabbouleh in a bowl

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Tabbouleh & FAQs

Make variations. We’re going to run through some of our favorite twists on tabbouleh – so you have plenty of ideas of how to put your own delicious spin on this Mediterranean dish:

  • No cucumber and tomatoes. You can skip the cucumbers and tomatoes in this recipe, and make with lettuce instead – or just leave the bulgur, mint, and parsley to shine!
  • No garlic. Traditionally, tabouleh doesn’t call for garlic. We love the additional flavor – but you can omit for a more traditional take.
  • Gluten free. If you’d love to try tabbouleh, but can’t eat wheat – swap the bulgur for quinoa! Prepare according to package directions and drain well.
  • More parsley. We tend to use a little bit less parsley than some traditional recipes – the recipe shown here has one bunch of parsley, instead of a more traditional two bunches. Add anywhere from 1-2 bunches of parsley, finely chopped or minced in a food processor, and mix in according to your tastes.
  • Semolina. Tabbouleh can also contain semolina instead of bulgur traditionally, and for a different flavor you can swap semolina for bulgar.

Know which bulgar you’re using. There are a few types of bulgur that can be used in tabbouleh – fine, medium, coarse, and very coarse. For this recipe, we recommend fine or medium – preferably fine, but if you can only buy medium, it works just fine. We used Bob’s Red Mill Red Bulgur for our photos – we love the nutty flavor of the red bulgur. You can use whatever you can buy!

picture of tabbouleh in a dish

Recipe FAQ’s

How long can tabbouleh last in the refrigerator?

Tabbouleh works really well as leftovers – it can last up to four days, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.
Tabbouleh tastes even better cold – so making it ahead of serving and chilling is fine!

Do I have to add cucumbers and tomatoes?

Adding cucumbers and tomatoes is purely optional and just for additional flavor – you can add them or leave out according to your tastes.

Do I have to soak bulgar?

Yes – bulgar is dry and crunchy, like pasta, before cooking – so it needs to boil and soak to soft before eating.

Should I blend or chop tabbouleh?

You can rough chop or whiz parsley and mint in a food processor depending on your preference. I prefer a very fine chop so I use a food processor, but some people prefer a more rustic-style rough chop.

picture of tabbouleh in a bowl

What To Serve With Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is great served with pita, hummus, vegetables, and other light dishes as a meze meal.

We also love the light, fresh flavor of tabbouleh alongside some of our favorite meat main dishes:

You can click here to find our complete vegan dish recipe archives.

picture of tabbouleh in a bowl on a table

The Best Easy Tabbouleh Recipe

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An easy tabbouleh salad made with tomatoes and cucumbers

The Best Easy Tabbouleh Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bulgar Soaking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

The Best Easy Tabbouleh Recipe - bulgar tossed with parsley, mint, lemon, olive oil, cucumbers and tomatoes for a delicious fresh salad!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulgur (I prefer red, fine-ground)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 medium sized ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse celtic salt
  • 1-2 bunches of parsley, stems removed (1 bunch is pictured, 2 is more traditional)
  • 1½ cups mint leaves
  • 4 scallions
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Boil water.
  2. Pour bulgar into water and stir, remove from heat and let soak 1 hour.
  3. When bulgar is soft, strain and squeeze out any extra water.
  4. Place in large bowl, set aside.
  5. In a food processor, add mint, scallions, garlic, and parsley and mince (do not pulverize or liquify - this shouldn't be like pesto) - OR chop to mince finely. We prefer chopping by hand because we like a more rustic texture, some prefer more finely minced texture.
  6. Add to bowl with bulgar and stir.
  7. Stir tomatoes and cucumber into bulgar and minced herbs, toss to mix.
  8. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and lemon - stir well to combine.
  9. Drizzle olive oil and lemon over tabbouleh, tossing to evenly coat.
  10. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste.
  11. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 129Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 292mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 3gSugar 6gProtein 2g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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1 Comment

  1. This recipe sounds so good. I have a aunt who was married to a Lebanese man and he gave her a recipe hint which was to soak very fine bulgar in the lemon juice. Instead of cooking the bulgar you let it soak for about an hour in the lemon juice which in turn gives the cracked wheat a very acidity flavor which is lovely.