Tabouli Salad Recipe (Tabbouleh)
Tabouli (Tabbouleh) is a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern salad made with fresh parsley, tomatoes, cucumber and a bright lemon dressing. This recipe is made with quinoa rather than the traditional bulgur wheat, so it’s gluten-free. You’ll love this light and healthy salad!
I first shared this recipe on the blog years ago, after a reader requested a really good tabouli recipe. A bit of recipe testing later and this easy tabouli recipe was born. It’s since become a reader favorite!
Tabouli (also spelled tabbouleh) is often found on Mediterranean menus, and its light and bright flavors are perfect served alongside dishes such as hummus and pita bread, falafel and kabobs. It’s bursting with fresh flavor and vibrant colors, so it not only makes your taste buds happy but also looks beautiful on your plate.
Tabouli Recipe Ingredients
Traditional Lebanese tabouli salad uses lots of fresh parsley and a relatively smaller amount of bulgur wheat. The dressing is a simple mixture of lemon juice and olive oil, plus salt for seasoning. I’ve added a bit of fresh garlic and black pepper to really make the flavors pop.
While tabouli is traditionally made with bulgur wheat, I like to swap the bulgur for protein-packed quinoa. Using quinoa also makes this tabouli recipe gluten free. You can use bulgur wheat if you prefer, just follow the cooking instructions on the package.
Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:
- Quinoa: Cook it according to package directions, or follow my stovetop Quinoa Recipe or this Instant Pot Quinoa recipe.
- Lemon Juice: To dress the salad.
- Olive Oil: For the dressing. Use a good quality olive oil for the best flavor.
- Garlic: Brings more flavor to the dressing.
- Salt & Pepper: Season the dish to your tastes with salt and pepper.
- Cucumber: For some added freshness and crunch. If you use an English cucumber, the thin skin does not require peeling and you will not have to remove the seeds.
- Tomatoes: If your tomatoes are juicy, be sure to strain off the juices so that they don’t water down your salad.
- Green Onions: For a pop of mild onion flavor.
- Fresh Parsley: Lots of fresh chopped parsley is the main ingredient in tabbouleh. You’ll need one large bunch or two smaller bunches of fresh parsley.
- Mint Leaves: Fresh mint adds another dimension of flavor.
Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below. Feel free to customize the recipe to your tastes, adding more or less parsley or quinoa as desired. I sometimes like to add feta cheese for a salty pop of flavor.
How to Make Tabouli
- Cook the quinoa. You want to cook the quinoa first so that it has time to cool before you mix it with the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Make the dressing. While the quinoa cools, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. I like to whisk the dressing together in a large bowl and then add the other salad ingredients directly into the bowl with the dressing.
- Add the salad ingredients. To the bowl with the dressing, add the chopped cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, parsley and mint. Then add the cooled quinoa.
- Stir it all together gently until well combined.
Tabouli Salad Recipe Tips
- To help the quinoa cool more quickly after cooking, spread it out on a large rimmed baking sheet (or a plate).
- You can chop the fresh herbs by hand or pulse them in a food processor to chop. You want the parsley and mint to be finely chopped, just like when making Chimichurri Sauce. Remove any large parsley stems before chopping.
- I like to use cherry tomatoes in this recipe. You can also use roma tomatoes, but be sure to drain them well after chopping so they don’t add too much liquid to your salad.
- Tabouli salad is also delicious with some feta cheese added.
A Perfect Make Ahead Salad
Tabouli tastes best after it has been chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours. When you make it ahead, the flavors have time to develop. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container.
What to Serve with Tabouli
Tabouli is often served wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves, or as a meal with pita bread and hummus on the side. It’s an ideal light dish to enjoy with falafel or shawarma, along with pita bread and tzatziki or hummus. We also love to serve tabouli as a side dish with grilled chicken, grilled salmon, kabobs or veggie burgers.
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¾ cup quinoa, see note
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 6 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches fresh parsley, chopped
- 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water; drain. Add the quinoa to the boiling water, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed. If you prefer bulgur, follow the instructions on the package and drain well.
- Transfer quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet or large plate to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Peel the cucumber, slice it lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds. (If using an English cucumber you do not need to peel or seed it.) Chop the cucumber into ¼-inch pieces.
- Add the finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, parsley and mint to the bowl with the lemon juice mixture. Stir to combine.
- Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl and stir gently to mix.
- Tabouli can be served immediately, but is best if made ahead and chilled for at least 12 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Enjoy within 3 days.
- You can make this recipe with extra fine bulgur wheat instead of quinoa. Just follow the cooking instructions on the package.
- You can chop the fresh herbs by hand or use a food processor.
- If using whole tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes, drain them well after chopping so that their juices don't water down the salad.