This easy Tabbouleh salad recipe is made with bulgur wheat, fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumber, and lemon juice. It’s so simple and wonderful, with bright and fresh flavors! Serve as a side or on its own. Healthy, vegetarian, low carb, low calorie, light, and great for summer or year round!
My sister and I used to meet for lunch at an Indian place every few months and I would always eat my weight in hummus, naan, and tabbouleh. Just thinking about it makes me so hungry. The restaurant isn’t all that close by, though, so I make these items at home all the time to get my fix!
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh (or Tabouli) salad is a simple Middle Eastern dish made with a lot of fresh parsley, bulgar wheat, finely chopped vegetables, and tossed in olive oil and lemon juice. It’s bright, fresh, and loaded with healthy ingredients.
Ingredients for Tabbouleh
- Parsley – authentic tabbouleh uses a ton of fresh parsley, chopped very fine. Either flat-leaf or curly can be used.
- Bulgur – bulgur is parboiled cracked wheat. It’s high in fiber, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. It’s soaked, not cooked, and once prepared, it’s chewy and fluffy. People often mistake it for couscous, but they are not at all the same. Bulgar is a whole grain, while couscous is tiny pasta.
- Vegetable Stock or Water – I always soak my bulgar in veggie stock, which adds another layer of flavor. Simply use water to make this salad vegan.
- Fresh Mint and Scallions – mint is another traditional ingredient and adds a fresh and cool flavor to the salad. Scallions (green onion) are mild, but lend a little zippy flavor.
- Tomato and Cucumber – tomatoes add sweetness (and also beautiful color!), while cucumber lends more freshness and texture. (NOTE: my understanding is that cucumber is not part of authentic Tabbouleh, but I always include it and honestly can’t imagine this salad without it.)
- Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and Salt – Tabbouleh is tossed in a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
Recipe Tips for Perfect Tabbouleh Salad
- Chop everything with a knife for best texture and avoid using a food processor.
- If including cucumbers (recommended!), English (a.k.a. hothouse) cucumbers are best, since they are typically seedless and don’t have as much liquid. If using the common cucumber, remove all of the seeds before chopping.
- Don’t skimp on the olive oil or the salad will be dry.
- Cover the tabbouleh and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for best flavor. It’s even better the next day!
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Tabbouleh Recipe Variations
- This recipe calls for fine bulgur wheat, which requires soaking in hot water for about 30 minutes. If using extra coarse bulgur, you’ll need to soak it for much longer or even boil it. Prepare it according to package directions.
- If ripe tomatoes aren’t available where you are, you could use sun-dried tomatoes instead. However, this will give the dish a sweeter flavor.
- Use water instead of vegetable stock to make it vegan.
- Make it gluten free by substituting quinoa for the bulgar. You’ll use the same amount of uncooked quinoa, but it will need to be cooked, unlike bulgar which simply soaks in liquid.
- Tabbouleh is a wonderful salad on its own, but can also be served with a side of pita bread or wrapped in lettuce leaves.
How to Store Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh will keep well in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.
Watch the video for Tabbouleh
How to Make this Tabbouleh Recipe
- 1 cup fine bulgur wheat
- 1 cup vegetable stock (or water for a vegan dish)
- 1 teaspoon salt , divided
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh parsley , very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint , finely chopped (about 6 mint leaves)
- 3 firm Roma tomatoes , seeded and finely diced, excess liquid drained (1 cup)
- 1 small cucumber , peeled, seeded and finely diced, excess liquid drained (1 cup)
- 2 whole scallions , greens and white parts, finely diced
- pita bread and/or romaine lettuce leaves , for serving, completely optional
- Place the bulgur in a medium sized bowl.
- In a small saucepan (or microwave safe bowl) bring the vegetable stock and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil, then pour it over the bulgur. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain any liquid that hasn’t evaporated.
- Add the olive oil and lemon juice to the bulgur and mix well.
- Add in the rest of the other ingredients, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix to combine. (Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary - add a little more lemon juice for zing, or salt for more overall flavor.)
- You can eat it immediately, but it's much better if you let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes - and it's even more amazing the next day.