How to make authentic Lebanese Tabouli (Tabbouleh) – this version is full of flavor, vegan, and can be made with bulgar wheat or quinoa and is infused with a hint of Lebanese 7-Spice, that truly elevates. With a video. 

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. It’s been a long time coming here to the blog, mainly because I get teary every time I try to share it.  I’ve held it tightly to my heart, feeling a little protective of it. But it is time.

My Finnish mother Lea, learned how to make “real” Tabouli for my Egyptian father from a good family friend, Nadia, who was Lebanese. And of course, Nadia taught her an authentic Lebanese version, which in our household became the only version that ever mattered after that.

Tabouli 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 and healing it felt to my body- and my hope is that somehow you feel this too.

How to make Tabouli | 60-sec video!

Tabouli Ingredients:

  1. Parsley (curly or flat-leaf)
  2. tomatoes
  3. scallions
  4. mint
  5. bulgar wheat (or quinoa)
  6. lemon
  7. olive oil
  8. salt
  9. Lebanese 7-spice ( see recipe below)

how to make tabouli

Tips to making authentic Lebanese Tabouli:

  • Authentic Lebanese Tabouli is mostly parsley, with a little bit of bulgar. 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 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 Bulgar: Typically, authentic Lebanese Tabouli is made with fine grain bulgar 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 bulgar where I am right now, and thought, maybe you can’t either, so I’ll show you how to make it with medium grain bulgar 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 the Best Tabouli:

bulgar wheat

Step 1: Soak the Bulgar wheat.

If using medium grain bulgar 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 bulgar (traditional) you can just toss it right into the salad. It will soften, but not fully cook, allowing the bulgar 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 bunch, and then it makes cutting neat and tidy.

how to make tabouli

Step 3: Dice finely. 

This is how my mom taught me to dice a tomato. Keep the stem side intact. Then turn it on its side and dice finely. A sharp chef knife really helps here.

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

Add a Turkish cucumber if you like. It is not typical in Lebanese Tabouli but we really enjoy the texture.

Step 5: Combine and dress with salt, lemon and olive oil

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

As you see, Lebanese tabouli is mostly parsley. Here I’ve only used 1/2 cup bulgar with 4 bunches of parsley ( 7 cups parsley!)

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.

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 any lose any bitterness.

Tabouli will taste great for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the fridge!

Spoon the flavorful tabouli into warm pita bread with a slathering of baba ganoush or hummus, and a falafel!

This Tabouli recipe is bright and lemony and full of nutrients. Parsley is one of the most nutrient-dense plants we can put into our bodies. 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: As of last week, we’re down a cat. I knew when we brought Cookie down to California, that it would probably 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 “one person cat”, and all spit and vinegar when it came to anyone else.

So when my mom died, she immediately ran away from 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 towards her. She began to purr. 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.

I miss her little warm purring body more than I can articulate.  She 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”.

She purred in my arms to the other side.

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

So here you go- my mom’s Lebanese Tabouli. Hope it brings you as much joy as has brought me.

xoxoxo

What to serve with Tabouli:

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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 (aka Tabbouleh)

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Category: salad, vegan
  • Method: tossed
  • Cuisine: Lebanese
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

How to make authentic Lebananese 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

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

Keywords: tabouli, tabouli recipe, Lebanese tabouli, authentic tabouli, traditional tabouli, best tabouli recipe, tabouli with quinoa,

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Comments

  1. I’ve come across this recipe a couple of times now but was always held back by how much cutting it seemed to involve and the fact that I was never really that enthusiastic about parsley. Finally made it today & stuffed some pita pockets with it for a light dinner — it was really tasty. It was a lot of work because I was also making pita from scratch at the same time but it was worth it. Only had about 5-6 cups of parsley and local stores seemed to be out of fresh dill so omitted & used quinoa. I love dill so I’m excited to make this again next time when all ingredients are available.

  2. Can’t wait to try the addition of 7 spice. I make often, and sometimes use green lentils. I prefer them to quinoa.

  3. First, thank you for starting this recipe off with Gibran. As a first generation American of Lebanese immigrants I grew up with his poetry. As both parents have passed this excerpt in particular was a comforting way to start my day.

    Your memories of your mother’s dish is something that I can relate to. I miss all of her dishes but this one in particular. Your recipe is spot on and the addition of cucumbers is a must!

    I also want to add that I first came to “know you” through your no knead sourdough recipe and videos. You simplified what I thought was a daunting undertaking. Your “how to” video such win a prize! I now make sourdough bread regularly and have referred others to your videos/recipes.

    Lastly, I love the kind and helpful spirit that comes through all of your posts. Your creative and healthy recipes are a delight. Thanks for all that you send out to us.

    1. Awwww, thanks so much Dee. Glad the quote was a comfort to you, and that you are enjoying the blog. ♥️

  4. Amazing! I layered this over hummus sprinkled with vegan feta and served with pita chips – everyone LOVED it! Adding mint and 7-spice is the perfect “secret ingredient”. Thank you so much for sharing this family recipe!

  5. Hi – I appreciated your words re loss – ive just lost my dad and I’m broken – have reread your words many many times and they help – thank you. Will make your tabulleh in the hope that it heals and nourishes my body and soul.

    1. Hi Maria, I’m so sorry about your dad. So very hard. I understand your feeling of brokenness, and my heart goes out to you. I find the best “medicine” for heartbreak, is allowing those tears to come out, as often, and as much as they need to. Sending you love and hugs.

  6. Thank you so very much for sharing your recipe. I made a box mix of this recipe but always wanted to try to spice it myself and did not know what spices to use. Grateful to you today.

  7. Would it be okay, do you think, to use dried mint, and possibly dried dill? I forgot about the mint when I shopped for making the salad. Also, for the olive oil, would using a real, flavorful ‘first cold hand pressed’ type of oil be good, or would it be overpowering? This looks like a really terrific recipe. I hope I can make a version now, missing those couple things, and get them for next time. Thanks!

    1. Hi Samantha- the oil should be fine as long as it is not bitter (taste it?). But fresh mint will elevate it here- haven’t tried this with dried mint, not sure how it would turn out??

      1. Thanks for your reply. I did end up going ahead, using the dried mint (it had been dried from bunches of fresh mint and so it was full of nice flavour), and I used the oil. The salad was most excellent. I thought your recipe looked good, and I was totally happy with the results. Next time, with the fresh mint, it will only be more perfect! Well done with the recipe, the directions and the pictures.

  8. Thank you for sharing your mom’s special recipe! I have an overabundance of flat parsley in my garden (the only herb I can grow well), so this was perfect! I, too, feel recharged and more healthy with each bite. Thank you!

  9. Delicious! I love tabbouleh and this recipe is really authentic! Thank you so much and also for sharing about Cookie. I had a huge black and white cat with the same name who passed recently and it seems like she had the same temperament as yours. Condolences for your loss.

  10. Made this last night – very yummy! I like my tabouli super lemony so I tripled the amount of lemon juice and it’s perfect! Thank you, too, for including both the graphic as well as # of cups for the parsley. I’m in San Diego and perhaps our produce is more bountiful but I found that I needed less than 2 bunches of parsley to equate to the 7 cups. So glad I found your wonderful recipe! Thank you!

  11. I am Lebanese and this is the only Tabouli recipe I have ever found that is almost exactly like my mother used to make and your comments on the Lemon and spices are right on .

    1. Tabouli is based around parsley. It’s basically a Parsley salad.:) So’ I’m having trouble substituting it in my mind! 😂

      1. What if he mixed chopped kale and cilantro? Would that work?
        I think your mom’s recipe sounds mouthwatering! I’ve always wanted to try tabouli and I’m honored and humbled to be eating it for the first time with your mom’s recipe. Your story is beautiful. Thank You!!

  12. This Tabouli is just sensational, and in fact every recipe of yours I have tried is just divine, including the vegan ones I’ve served my meat loving husband! I recommend your blog to anyone who will listen and will be sure to go back and review all the others as well. I’m here everyday after all looking for inspiration, thank you so much!

  13. Delicious tabbouleh! It makes a lot but keeps well. I didn’t have bulgar or quinoa around so used amaranth. It was delicious! (And the amaranth is a great breakfast cereal, too.) Thank you – again!

  14. Wonderful recipe, everyone loved it and so easy to make. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas you share.

  15. So sorry to hear about your loss. I’m at work and am trying not to tear up. I have a little dog and I know I’ll be a mess when she goes.

    The recipe looks great! I love the addition of dill. I’ve never thought to add it to it before and my dill is growing like crazy. I’m adding it to as many things as I can lately.

  16. My husband and I love tabouli and eat it on a regular basis. So yesterday I made your mother’s recipe and of course, it’s outstanding! Better than the usual recipe I follow. Thanks so much for this recipe, it’s wonderful, I have a bowl in the fridge right now for the next few days. Also, thank you for the tip on dicing tomatoes. Really needed that. Sissy

  17. My heart goes out to you on the loss of your Mom and her cat, Cookie. I lost my Mom in July of 2017 and my cat, Luna (who, by that time, we had “adopted” from my Mom when she could no longer take care of her) shortly thereafter, in October of 2017. I miss and think about my Mother every single day, several times a day. I have yet to adopt another kitty, but when I do, I hope Luna will lead me to the right one. Sending you lots of love and a big hug from me to you. And, yes, I love your recipes and cannot wait to make your Mom’s Tabbouleh! Tabbouleh is one of my favorite foods, too! Thank you for sharing her recipe.

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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