How to make authentic, Lebanese-style Tabouli (Tabbouleh) with fresh parsley, mint, dill, bulgur wheat, and finely chopped tomatoes and onions, tossed in a lemon-olive oil dressing. Video. Vegan.  

How to make the BEST Tabouli - this authentic Lebanese version is full of flavor, vegan and can be made with bulgar or quinoa. Seasoned with 7- spice! #tabouli #tabbouleh
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.  Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable.  Kahlil Gibran 

When people ask me, what my favorite food is, my answer is always the same. My mother’s Tabouli. My Finnish mother Lea, learned how to make Tabouli for my Egyptian father from their family friend, Nadia, who was from Lebanon. And of course, Nadia taught her an authentic Lebanese version, which in our household became the only version that ever mattered after that. Tabbouli was on regular rotation for the first 20 years of my existence, an oddity with most of my childhood friends who would come over for dinner.

After I moved away from home, it was the one dish I yearned for the most, and none other could compare. Every time I visited, it was my mother’s love gift to me. She would make a double batch and let me gorge and refill my stores, teasing me that I was turning green!  I can’t tell you how nourishing, cleansing and healing it felt to my body- and my hope is that somehow you feel this too.

Watch How to make Tabouli | video!

WHAT is tabouli?

Tabouli is a middle eastern salad made of parsley, bulgur wheat, onions, and tomatoes, originating from the mountains of Lebanon and Syria. Its popularity has spread across the Middle East and Mediterranean countries, where different variations can be found.

Tabouli Ingredients

  1. Fresh Parsley (curly or flat-leaf) The main ingredient in tabouli is parsley! Lebanese tabouli has more parsley than bulgar, and actually looks green. My mother would use curly parsley, she felt it heals the dressing better, but I prefer flat leaf. A combo is nice too.
  2. Fresh tomatoes- vine-ripened summer tomatoes offer up the best flavor in this salad recipe!
  3. Green onions (scallions) add a nice savory bite- you can also add diced onion.
  4. Fresh herbs: fresh mint leaves and/or fresh dill add even more brightness and flavor.
  5. Bulgur wheat also called cracked wheat- or if gluten-free, feel free to use quinoa.
  6. Fresh Lemon Juice. Always use freshly squeezed vs. bottled for the best flavor.
  7. Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Salt, black pepper and Spices: Lebanese 7-spice ( see recipe below)
  9. Optional additions: cucumber, olives, avocado, feta cheese, other vegetables!

how to make tabouli

Expert Tips:

  • Authentic Lebanese Tabouli is mostly parsley, with a little bit of bulgur. Not the other way around. Yes, of course, you can substitute cooked quinoa, but only add a little bit. Otherwise, it’s a “quinoa salad” and not really Tabouli. 😉 Authentic Lebanese Tabouli typically does not contain cucumbers, but both my mom and I began adding them and love the crisp texture and coolness it brings. Fresh mint is a must, dill is optional but really tasty.
  • A note on parsley: Flat leaf or curly? Growing up my mother used curly parsley. I’m not sure if this is because that is all that was available back in the ’70s, but I remember when I questioned her about it later, she said she liked the way curly parsley cradled the grain. Perhaps she has a point, but I use flat-leaf parsley for ease of cutting – so basically use what you prefer, both work great.
  • A note on Bulgur: Typically, authentic Lebanese Tabouli is made with fine grain bulgur wheat. What is nice about this is you can toss this right into the salad (without cooking first) and it will soak up all the lovely tomato and lemon juices. I couldn’t find fine-grain bulgur where I am right now, and thought, maybe you can’t either, so I’ll show you how to make it with medium grain bulgur wheat which appears to be more accessible at mainstream grocery stores.
  • The last but perhaps most important thing that makes this Lebanese  Tabouli “authentic” is the addition of 7-Spice (or a little cinnamon and allspice). The spice is so subtle, like a whisper, but it elevates the tabouli beyond belief and gives it the crave-ability factor. Try it and see!

How to make Tabouli ( step-by-step INSTRUCTIONS)

bulgar wheat

Step 1: Soak the Bulgar wheat.

If using medium grain bulgur as you see here, soak equal parts bulgar and boiling water in a bowl, and cover with a lid while you prep the salad. If using fine grain bulgur (traditional) you can just toss it right into the salad. It will soften, but not fully cook, allowing the bulgur to soak up some of the lovely juices from the salad.

chopped flat leaf parsley for tabouli

Step 2: Chop chop chop!

Wash whole bunches of parsley under cool running water, holding them like a bouquet of flowers, letting any grit run down the stem end. Take the washed bunches outside and fling out the water. This is the fastest way to wash without disturbing the parsley bunch, making the cutting neat and tidy. You can also use a food processor if you like. I add thin stems. Place this in a large bowl.

how to make tabouli

Step 3: Dice finely. 

This is how my mom taught me to dice a tomato. It’s not the way you’ll learn in culinary school, but I like this way better. Keep the stem side intact. Then turn it on its side and dice finely. A sharp knife makes all the difference here! Add to the bowl.

Lebanese tabouli with 7 spice

Step 4: Make a batch of Middle Eastern 7 Spice.

You can use whole spices, toast, and grind, or for speed, use ground spices. Or you can skip this and simply use a combo of allspice and cinnamon. This will add a beautiful, subtle flavor that will elevate your tabouli.

tabouli recipe

 

Step 5: Combine. Add everything to the bowl and dress with salt, lemon juice and good olive oil. Adjust the salt and lemon until it is just right. You want it fairly lemony and slightly salty- which will both out mellow as the bulgar has a chance to soak it up a bit. Always re-taste before serving!

How to make the BEST Tabouli - this authentic Lebanese version is full of flavor, vegan and can be made with bulgar or quinoa. Seasoned with 7- spice! #tabouli #tabbouleh

Let the tabouli salad sit in the fridge a good 1-2 hours before serving, allowing the bulgar to soak up the juices from the tomatoes and lemon, and the parsley to soften and lose any bitterness.

Tabouli will keep for up to 4 days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Ways to serve Tabouli

  1. Serve as a salad on its own or over chopped romaine lettuce leaves, or in a lettuce leaf!
  2. Serve as a side dish with Easy Grilled Chicken Shawarma, or Lebanese Chicken with 7-Spice
  3. Spoon the flavorful tabouli into warm pita bread with a slathering of baba ganoush or hummus, and a falafel.

Is tabouli healthy?

This Tabouli recipe is chock full of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fiber, healthy fats, polyphenols and antioxidants. Parsley is one of the most nutrient-dense plants we can put into our bodies! Read about the many health benefits of parsley here. I feel so recharged and energized when I eat this!

How to make the BEST Tabouli - this authentic Lebanese version is full of flavor, vegan and can be made with bulgar or quinoa. Seasoned with 7- spice! #tabouli #tabbouleh

On the homefront:  I knew when we brought our cat Cookie down to California that it would be a one-way trip. She’s the old kitty we inherited from my mother 10 years ago, and believe me when I tell you, she was ancient when we got her. We had a bit of a rough start, Cookie and I. She had always been a cranky, “one-person cat”- all spit and vinegar when it came to anyone else. So when my mom passed, she immediately fled our home- disappearing into a new city, devastated, and quite disappointed that I was the backup plan. When she finally returned 10 days later, she had lost half her body weight. It was the first time she let me pick her up and the first time I felt a tenderness toward her. From that day forward, we began to get to know each other, and eventually form a bond. Looking back I see how much we needed each other, how each of us held a piece of my mom, for the other.  We had a ritual. She’s sit on my lap first thing in the morning and became my morning touchstone, bringing me to the present,  opening my heart with her loving presence. Even if nothing else got accomplished that day, those moments together, somehow felt “enough”.  A few days ago, she purred her way, to the other side, in my arms.  She lived a long life- 23 years?! I miss her little warm purring body more than I can articulate…

How to make the BEST Tabouli - this authentic Lebanese version is full of flavor, vegan and can be made with bulgar or quinoa. Seasoned with 7- spice! #tabouli #tabbouleh

More recipes you’ll love!

I  hope you enjoy this Tabouli salad and hope it brings you as much joy as has brought me!

xoxoxo

Sylvia

 

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
How to make the BEST Tabouli - this authentic Lebanese version is full of flavor, vegan and can be made with bulgar or quinoa. Seasoned with 7- spice! #tabouli #tabbouleh

Tabouli Recipe (aka Tabbouleh)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 20 reviews

Description

How to make authentic Lebanese Tabouli  (or Tabbouleh) – this recipe is full of flavor, vegan and can be made with bulgar wheat or quinoa with a hint of Lebanese 7-Spice that truly elevates. Enjoy with Pita bread, hummus,  or baba ganoush!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup dry bulgar wheat, ( fine grain bulgar, medium grain bulgar or 1 cup cooked quinoa)
  • 4 bunches flat-leaf parsley (or sub curly parsley), chopped fine (78 cups, 0r 1011 ounces chopped) tender stems OK.
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/41/2 cup dill, chopped (optional)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced small (3 cups)
  • 12 Turkish cucumbers, diced (optional)
  • 4 scallions, sliced (or 1 cup red or white onion- finely diced)
  • ——–
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon “7-Spice” (or sub 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)

7 Spice:

  1. 1 teaspoon cumin
  2. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  3. 1 teaspoon allspice
  4. 1 teaspoon coriander
  5. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

 


Instructions

  1. If using med grain bulgar, pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the bulgar wheat in a small bowl. Cover with a plate, set aside. If using fine grain bulgar, you can toss it right in the salad at the end (the same with cooked quinoa).
  2. If making the 7 spice– mix all the spices together in a small bowl. (see notes)
  3. See TIP below on washing Parsley. Chop the parsley as finely as you can, and some thin stems are ok to include. Place in a large bowl. You’ll need about 7 cups chopped or 10 ounces. Chop the mint and optional dill. Dice the tomatoes finely, place in the bowl along with all their juices. Chop the cucumber and onion and place in the bowl.
  4. Add the bulgar wheat- it should be al dente. Toss all to mix well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and 1 teaspoon 7-spice. Give a good stir.
  5. Place in the fridge for 1-3 hours and allow the flavors to meld. The parsley will soften and lose any bitterness, and the bulgar will soak up the flavorful juices, swelling.
  6. Before serving, give a stir and taste for salt and lemon. Adjust both to your liking, along with the spices. You want just the faintest whiff of the spices, like a whisper.
  7. Enjoy with Pita, Hummus, baba ganoush, and falafels.

Notes

TIP: To wash the parsley, keep the bunch intact. Hold each bunch like a bouquet of flowers with leaves pointing upwards under the cool running water, wriggling the band a little to let any dirt or grit release from the bottom stem end, down and away into the sink. Repeat with remaining. Go outside, and holding the stems tightly, swing each bunch like you would an overhead baseball pitch, or perhaps cracking a whip, flinging all the water away. This allows you keep the bunch intact for faster cutting. Plus it just feels good energetically, like you are flinging away all tension/anxiety away from the body. 😉

7-Spice Mix – Use the remaining 7- spice as a “rub” to coat chicken or tofu (make sure to season each with salt and pepper first) before pan-searing. Very tasty with the Tabouli!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 161
  • Sugar: 2.5 g
  • Sodium: 332.9 mg
  • Fat: 11.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.8 g
  • Fiber: 4.7 g
  • Protein: 3.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Share this with the world!

Subscribe
to get recipes via email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Comments

  1. Best tabouli I’ve ever tasted or made! Thank you. I didn’t have ground allspice so substituted sumac in my 7-spice mix, I only put a half a teaspoon because I wasn’t sure if it would work, worked splendidly.






  2. This recipe turned out fantastic! Using it as a side dish to roasted chicken dinner and making pita bread to go along with it. My husband even suggested we put it on top of the chicken. Thank you for an amazing recipe!






  3. Hi Sylvia, this recipe sounds amazing. I can’t wait to try it. I make a lot of your recipes. I just wanted to say how touched I was reading about your mother’s cat. They give such joy and it is so hard when they pass.

  4. Hi Sylvia,
    I think this is my first comment I have ever made after trying a recipe.
    I just want to let you know that I have made Tabouli a few times in the past, and I had nearly given up, as they were never really good. But I found your recipe and decided to give it one more try.
    All I can say is A+++, both my husband and I absolutely loved it! I am thrilled!!
    Thank you so much.
    Also, for some reason, I actually read the entire post (usually I just jump to recipe), and it was such a touching story, hit home with me.
    Thank you again, you made my day. I will definitely try some of your other recipes.
    Kind regards,
    Rebecca






    1. Awww… thanks Rebecca, appreciate you coming back to leave a comment and am happy you enjoyed the story and the tabouli- one of my favorites on the blog. 🙂

  5. Hi Sylvia, greetings from Byron Bay, Australia. What a delicious Tabbouleh and such a lovely story about your cat. We recently lost our furry feline friend who I was totally devoted to. She turned up one rainy night on our doorstep like a drowned rat and stayed all weekend. Then disappeared only to return a week later and to take over our whole lives. No cat collar. So she stayed for a week exploring every inch of our garden, our house, the garage, and finding her way inside the car. Turns out she was recently adopted by our next door neighbours. Anyway she adopted us as her new ‘people’, sometimes inviting her sister cat and spending all day in her new playground (territory). Never have I formed such a bond with a cat, she was by my side every day for the last two years. The most affectionate and friendly cat I have ever met and I am still devastated by her loss. That cat got me through the pandemic!
    Thank you for the recipe, for me tabbouleh is like summer comfort food and will be on our Christmas table. Merry Xmas
    ps. I added Sumac instead of 7-spice. Adds a nice citrus tang.

    1. Thank so much for sharing Roger. I hold this magical idea that people in our lives, who have passed, come to visit us through animals. I know, it is probably my imagination, but the thought makes me happy. Enjoy the tabouli and Merry Christmas. 🥂

  6. I haven’t made this yet but i know it is going to be so delicious. Thank you for the recipe – it will be on my table over Christmas

  7. Hard to fault but variations possible include including the lemon zest or substituting semi dried tomatoes for fresh!

    1. I would say it is best made in the morning and served that night. You could do some chopping ahead of time though, then combine on the day of?

  8. I really enjoyed this. The 7 spice (I used Baharat) really made it pop. I served it alongside a middle eastern-style chickpea dish and they complemented each other quite nicely. Thank you!






Our Latest Recipes