This Easy Tabbouleh Recipe is a vibrant, filling side dish! Soft yet chewy bulgur wheat combines with fresh veggies, bright herbs, and a rich olive oil dressing. Simple to make, it’s the perfect pairing for all your favorite main courses.
What Is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh, also known as tabouli or tabbouleh salad, is a popular Middle Eastern side dish. No matter how it is spelled, the root of the word comes from the Arabic word ‘taabil’ which means to season or spice. The dish is believed to be more than 4,000 years old, having first been eaten by people in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria.
Today, there are many variations of the dish, but it always consists of fresh produce and contains a few staple ingredients such as bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, olive oil, and lemon juice.
With its satisfying texture and a bright, savory flavor, it’s not hard to see why tabbouleh has quickly grown in popularity throughout the world. In fact, it’s won over the heart of so many that the first Saturday of July is known as National Tabbouleh Day in Lebanon.
If you’ve never had it, tabbouleh is sure to become a fast favorite in your home.
Is It Healthy?
Generally speaking, tabbouleh is an extremely healthy dish. Naturally nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian, it’s full of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, making it a nutritious option.
Tabbouleh Recipe Ingredients
- Bulgur: Bulgur is sold in four different number sizes. Look for fine bulgur, which is labeled #1 and looks similar to couscous. This is used in traditional recipes and does not need to be cooked, meaning it’s easy to use.
- Vegetable broth: Chicken broth or water work great, too.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed is best.
- Salt and pepper: Season to taste.
- Fresh herbs: Parsley and mint are included to create the signature herbaceous flavor of the best tabbouleh recipes.
- Green onion: Use the entire onion from the white part all the way down the green.
- Roma tomatoes: Make sure they’re firm.
- Cucumber: I recommend English cucumbers as they have a sweeter flavor and thinner skin. However, regular cucumbers can be substituted, if preferred.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil here, not standard refined or light. We are looking for flavor, and extra virgin olive oil has the most flavor of the three.
How to Make Easy Tabbouleh
- Boil: Bring broth and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Soak the bulgur: Place the burglar in a large, heat-proof bowl, and pour the boiling liquid on top. Season with salt, tossing to combine. Then, set the bowl aside, allowing the bulgur to rest until it is almost tender.
- Dry: Spread the soaked bulgur in a single layer on several sheets of paper towels. Lay more paper towels on top, and gently press to remove any excess moisture. Return the bulgur to the drained bowl.
- Combine: Add the remaining ingredients except for the oil, and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Rest: Set the tabbouleh salad aside for at least 15 minutes.
- Toss: Pour the olive oil on top, tossing to combine, and enjoy!
- Quinoa or couscous: Some people like to replace the bulgur with couscous for a similar taste and texture. Or, for a gluten-free option, use quinoa instead.
- Cheese: Crumbled feta cheese adds extra depth, creaminess, and a satisfying tang.
- Pomegranate: These bright seeds are a great way to add a pop of color and a hint of sweetness to this tabbouleh recipe.
- Chickpeas: An excellent source of fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are a great way to turn this side dish into a vegetarian meal.
- Protein: Try adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or even beef on top of this tabbouleh salad for a healthy, high-protein recipe.
Serve this easy tabbouleh recipe chilled or at room temperature. It’s great to serve as a side dish or appetizer with options like oven roasted chicken shawarma, a Mediterranean grilled chese sandwich, or gyros with Greek chicken.
Is bulgur the same as couscous?
Bulgur and couscous are both grain-based ingredients and look similar once prepared. However, there are a few distinct differences.
- Bulgur is made from par-boiled cracked wheat and has a slightly chewy texture with a nutty flavor.
- Couscous is a type of pasta made from semolina flour and has a light, fluffy texture and a mild taste.
What does this easy tabbouleh recipe taste like?
Each bite of this tabboule salad recipe provides an explosion of tastes and textures. It has a strong, slightly nutty taste from the bulgur. Then, it is lightened up with a refreshing crunch from the veggies and a bright, herbaceous flavor thanks to the mint and parsley. Finally, the flavor is balanced out with notes of bright citrus that tie all the ingredients together for a smooth, well-rounded dish.
How long does tabbouleh last?
- Transfer leftovers to an airtight container.
- Store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Can I freeze leftovers?
I don’t recommend freezing this recipe as it’s likely to become soggy once and lose its flavor once it is thawed.
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- 1 cup bulgur
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
- 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 cups (135g) finely chopped fresh parsley (about 3 bunches, don't use thick stem)
- 2/3 cup (19g) finely chopped fresh mint (about 1 bunch, don't use thick stem)
- 1 cup (finely chopped) green onions (about 5)
- 3 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (1.5 cups)
- 1/2 English cucumber, seeded and diced (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Bring vegetable broth or water plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Pour bulgur into a large heatproof bowl then pour hot broth mixture over bulgur. Season with salt and toss mixture. Let rest until bulgur is nearly tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Transfer bulgur to several sheets of paper towels and spread out, then cover with more paper towels and press to remove excess moisture. Return bulgur to bowl.
- Add parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, remaining 3 Tbsp lemon juice and toss mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let rest 15 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 days in the fridge.
- Just before serving add olive oil and toss.
- Optionally you can also add 1 tsp minced garlic to the salad, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1/4 tsp cumin if you are looking to boost flavor even further.
- Recipe makes about 7 cups.