Tabouli, tabbouleh, tabboule are all the same words describing the most popular Lebanese parsley salad. This tabouli recipe is made the traditional way with bulgar wheat, Italian parsley, fresh mint, tomatoes, onions, lemons, and lots of olive oil. This quinoa tabbouleh recipe is equally delicious if you are looking for a gluten-free version.
The best tabouli I've ever had has been from my Aunt Sonia and my father. Tabouli salad is an art, and it's very easy to get the ratios off. I hope this recipe post details all the tips and tricks for the best tabouli recipe. And if you'd like more amazing Lebanese recipes, check out 22 of the best Lebanese recipes.
What I Love About This Recipe
Tabouli is one of my favorite salads to have with grilled meats, like lamb kabobs, shish tawook, and beef shish kabobs. It's lemony, juicy, and textured. Parsley is an herb packed full of antioxidants and vitamins, so there are lots of health benefits of this parsley salad.
This might sound odd, but I love that this recipe tastes different in every home. There are a lot of variations of tabbouleh, and each Lebanese family has their own recipe. Here is my family's authentic Lebanese tabbouleh recipe from the mountains of Lebanon (Dhour Shweir).
- Italian parsley: Fresh flat leafed parsley (Italian parsley) is the main ingredient in tabouli. Italian parsley looks a lot like cilantro, so be careful when choosing which one to buy at the grocery store. If you can't find flat parsley, curly parsley will also work in taste, but the texture will be different.
- Green onions: My father prefers to make his tabouli with green onions or white onions.
- Ripe tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes are great to use for tabouli. Use juicy tomatoes that are ripe and ready to eat.
- Fine Bulgar Wheat #1: There are different sizes of bulgar wheat. It's important to get the fine bulgur wheat #1 size grain. The fine bulgar wheat softens quickly when you add water to it. Bulgur wheat is also known as cracked wheat, and it's used in baked kibbeh.
- Fresh mint (optional): Fresh mint is optional but really adds a lot to the salad.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Use high-quality extra virgin olive oil for the best tabbouleh.
- Lemons: Use ripe lemons to make fresh lemon juice.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Tabouli Salad
Add the dried fine bulgar wheat to a small bowl.
Measure out cold water onto the bulgar wheat. Mix with your hands and set aside as the bulgar wheat softens.
Hint: Don't wash the Italian parsley until it's chopped.
Cut the bottom portion of the parsley bunch to remove most of the stems.
Finely chop the bunches of parsley using a sharp knife, almost like shredding a head of cabbage.
Add the chopped parsley to a strainer that fits inside a large bowl. Once the parsley is all chopped, fill the bowl and strainer with water. Drain. Repeat until the water runs clear. Keep the parsley in the strainer until the excess water has drained completely.
Wash the green onion prior to chopping. Finely chop the green onions. Add the green onions to the washed and drained parsley. Wash the fresh mint leaves (if using). Remove the leaves from the stem. Finely chop the mint leaves. Add to the chopped parsley leaves.
Finely dice the tomatoes. Cut the tomato in half. Place the flat side down on the cutting board. Moving parallel to the cutting board, slice 2 to 3 layers about ¼" thick. Then, slice the tomato in ¼" strips longways. Finally, rotate the tomato and chop it into ¼" cubes. The tomato should be cut in 3 directions for the smallest diced size.
Add the tomatoes to the chopped parsley and chopped green onions.
Add the soaked bulgar wheat to the chopped parsley, green onions, and tomatoes.
Squeeze the lemons separating the seeds from the lemon juice.
Hint: Lemons come in different sizes and juiciness. If you want a more accurate measurement, measure the lemon juice before adding it to the salad.
Add the lemon juice and olive oil dressing to the tabouli. Mix the tabouli really well.
Tips and Tricks
- The biggest tip for making killer tabouli is the ratios, especially the dressing ratio of the lemons, olive oil, and salt. The recipe card at the bottom of the post includes measured quantities to give you a starting point on the ratios. Important: While adding the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, continuously taste the salad and adjust. The ratios of the simple olive oil lemon dressing are key to authentic lebanese tabbouleh salad.
- Traditional Lebanese tabbouleh uses lots of fresh parsley. Some online recipes are made with diced cucumbers and high ratios of bulgur wheat, which is not really the authentic Lebanese version.
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute curly leaf for flat leaf (Italian) parsley.
- Use quinoa in lieu of bulgar wheat - If you are looking for a gluten-free alternative, try this quinoa tabbouleh recipe.
- Use white onion in lieu of green onion.
- Soak the bulgar wheat using the juice of the tomatoes or the lemon juice. Add the freshly chopped tomatoes on top of the dry bulgar wheat instead of adding water. Alternatively, add some of the lemon juice in lieu of the water.
- Sharp chef's knife to finely cut the parsley, onions, and tomatoes.
- Large cutting board
- Fine mesh strainer and large bowl to wash the finely chopped parsley
- Large bowl to serve the tabouli
Store the tabouli in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The tabouli will change colors and sweat while being stored in the fridge. There will be a lot of juice in the container. This is normal.
Eat tabouli with pita bread, cabbage leaves, Romaine lettuce, or simply eaten as is. Serve with kabobs, grilled meats, or kibbeh.
Nothing! It's just a different English spelling for an Arabic word. Tabouli, or tabbouleh, is a chopped parsley salad with tomatoes, onions, bulgar wheat, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Yes! It's made with all-natural ingredients like fresh parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemons, olive oil, and bulgar wheat. The quantity of olive oil and bulgar wheat can be modified to suit specific dietary needs. Additionally, there are gluten-free options for tabouli by using quinoa in lieu of bulgar wheat.
Authentic Lebanese Recipes
Delicious Mediterranean Salads
Join The Tribe
Lebanese Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh)
- 3 bunches of Italian parsley about 6 cups finely chopped
- 3 bunches of green onions about 4 cups finely chopped
- 8 to 10 Roma tomatoes about 5 cups finely chopped
- ¾ cup dried fine bulgar wheat #1
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon water for the bulgar wheat
- 3 to 4 lemons about ½ cup of lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 1 bunch fresh mint about 1 cup chopped
- Measure ¾ cup of fine bulgar wheat into a bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoon of water on top of the bulgar wheat. Mix with a spoon to evenly coat the bulgar wheat and set aside.
- Don't wash the parsley bunch until it's been chopped. Cut the stems off. Finely chop the parsley. Add the parsley to a fine mesh strainer. Once all of the parsley is chopped, place the fine mesh strainer in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with water to wash the chopped parsley. Drain and repeat until the water runs clear. Keep the parsley in the mesh strainer until the water has drained. Move the parsley to a large bowl once it's finished draining.
- If using fresh mint, wash the mint and remove the leaves. Finely chop the mint leaves. Add to the chopped parsley.
- Wash the green onions. Finely chop the green onions. Add the chopped green onions to the chopped parsley.
- Finely dice the tomatoes. Cut the tomato in half. Then slice ¼" layers parallel to the cutting board. Slice the tomato in ¼" strips, then turn the tomato to dice into ¼" cubes. Add the tomatoes to the chopped parsley and green onions.
- Add the softened bulgar wheat to the chopped vegetables.
- Squeeze the lemons. Measure out the lemon juice (should be about ½ cup of lemon juice). Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste. Mix the tabouli well. Adjust the salt and lemon for a balanced salad.
- Substitute quinoa in lieu of bulgar wheat for a gluten-free tabouli salad.
- Use white onions instead of green onions. Substitute 3 cups of white onions for 4 cups of green onions.
- Add fresh mint if available.