Real Tabbouleh – Recipe

Real Tabbouleh
Real Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of those dishes that usually loses its identity when it crosses the oceans. In the Middle East, it is an herb salad with a little bit of bulghur wheat for texture. In the United States, it usually becomes a soggy bulghur salad with a sad speck of parsley for garnish. 

The star ingredients in tabbouleh are the parsley and mint, seasoned with plenty of olive oil and lemon juice. The herbs need to be washed, scrupulously dried, and then finely minced. The easiest way to mince them is gather the leaves in a tight bunch and slice as thinly as possible, then go back and forth over them on the board with a rocking motion. In the picture above, they actually aren’t minced quite finely enough; I should have gone a little farther.

Please don’t skip the step of wringing the soaked bulghur out in a dish towel and then chilling it briefly. If it is wet or hot it will ruin the tabbouleh.

Serve this up with a Middle Eastern feast of hummus, baba ghanouj, falafel, and lots of pita, or stuff it in a pita sandwich.

Real Tabbouleh
Vegetarian and vegan (try cooked quinoa for gluten-free?)
Serves 4 

  • 1/2 cup fine bulghur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 bunches flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bunches mint
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber
  • 6 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (white and light green parts only)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  1. In a wide, shallow bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulghur wheat and quickly stir. Cover with plastic wrap or another bowl. Allow to stand 10 minutes. Drain off excess water, then squeeze very dry in a dish towel. Put the bulghur in a bowl, fluff with a fork, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes until no more than barely warm.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the parsley and mint. Wash the leaves thoroughly and dry them completely. A salad spinner works well for this. Mince them finely as described above.
  3. Fluff the bulghur again and toss it with the herbs. Add the tomatmoes, cucumber, green onions, salt, olive oil and lemon juice and toss thoroughly. Taste and add more salt, olive oil, or lemon juice as needed. It should be quite well dressed and piquant, but not sitting in a puddle of dressing.


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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 in Recipes, Salads, Vegan or Modifiable.

18 Responses to “Real Tabbouleh – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    November 22, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    I agree, soggy tabbouleh is not nice! Good one!

  2. Reply
    November 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Better yet, skip boiling the bulghur and let it soak in the chopped tomatoes. That’s how we’ve always done it. 🙂

    link to

  3. Reply
    November 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Yes, it totally works to use quinoa for gluten free tabbouleh. Love it!

  4. Reply
    November 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    Never tried making tabbouleh myself. It’s a nice refreshing dish I really need to try. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Reply
    November 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    I am a big tabbouleh fan but never knew to wring out the grains. This sounds like a great technique. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Reply
    November 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    This is great. I love veggie food and this is a great blog. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  7. Reply
    November 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    I’m ashamed to publicly admit I usually made the crappy Western modified version but, am happy to report I’ll be making this authentic and delicious version from now on. Thanks!

  8. Reply
    November 27, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    I always wondered why I didn’t care for tabouleh! It wasn’t real, and neither is the version on my site. Your tabouleh recipe sounds divine, and I just happen to have some primo parsley & mint in my garden. Looking forward to trying this tabouleh, and will be sure to pass it on. Thanks!

  9. Reply
    December 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Good call on the quinoa & I totally agree on america over-doing the grains…. we’ve got to cool our jets and get back to veggies, people! =)

    great recipe! Can’t wait to try it out soon!


  10. Reply
    December 3, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    This is a refreshing and healthy dish.. nice photo. Thanks for the tips on wringing the soaked bulghur out in a dish towel.

  11. Reply
    Phil B
    December 11, 2010 at 7:20 am #

    When I was in Israel I visited my friend’s Druze village where we had an amazing meal in a local restaurant. She passed me this bowl of chopped greens and said it was tabbouleh. I took my fork and lifted it up to see where the Bulgar was — she was so confused! There, it’s just a chopped herb salad eaten with pita. What culture does the bulgar aspect come from?

  12. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    December 11, 2010 at 7:41 am #

    No bulghar at all? Now that I haven't seen. Everywhere that I'm familiar with in the Middle East, it definitely is a salad of green, but it does have about, oh, maybe 20% bulghur by volume. Just goes to show you how food names are always changing, evolving and localizing. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Reply
    December 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    I love tabbouleh and have made it a few times recently. The recipe I use isn’t too dissimilar to yours. I’ve never soaked the bulghur wheat in boiling water. I simply rinse it under cold water in a colander and then let it dry on some paper towel. I will try your method next time I make tabbouleh. Thanks for the tip 😀

  14. Reply
    December 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    My mom and I have a recipe similar to this, however we swap mint for cilantro and lemon for lime. We jokingly call it Texas Tabbouleh since we live in Austin and here cilantro and lime are constant ingredients. If you feel the way I do about mint, cilantro is a delicious alternative.

  15. Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    This is one of my favourite salad, ever! I also find that the younger and tender the parsley leaves the better it is 🙂

  16. Reply
    July 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    Thanks for the real Tabbouleh recipe! Just an observation…”6 tablespooons thinly sliced green onions” has one extra “o” 🙂

    • Reply
      July 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

      Fixed, thanks!

  17. Reply
    July 13, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    You are welcome! But I just found another typo: “tomatmoes” from your directions #3. I noticed when I copied the recipe to a word document.

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