My Mother's Lebanese Tabbouleh

July 18, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: "My mother's is best" is an adage that fits this recipe perfectly. There are a lot of variations of tabbouleh out there—some mostly made of bulghur, some without cucumbers, some with spice—but I always compare those variations to my mother's recipe and they never stack up. Her recipe has the perfect parsley to bulghur ratio, it has enough lemon to keep it dressed but not soggy, and it has crispy cucumbers that add a nice contrasting bite. She learned how to make tabbouleh from my grandmother who never used a written recipe, making it each time to taste just the way she liked, as grandmothers usually do. It's the perfect simple summer salad to keep your menu light and fresh. Enjoy! cdilaura

Food52 Review: WHO: Cdilaura brings us generations-old Italian and Lebanese recipes, and she also brings beautiful products to Provisions as our VP of Commerce Operations.
WHAT: The best possible way to eat a lot parsley.
HOW: While your bulgur soaks, dice a whole lot of parsley and some mint, too. Toss the grains and herbs with chopped tomato and cucumber, then dress with lemon juice and olive oil.
WHY WE LOVE IT: All too often we buy a whole bunch of parsley, use a couple of leaves, and then let the rest wilt in the fridge. No longer! This tabbouleh uses a load of parsley to make a refreshing and surprisingly simple salad that’s more herb than grain. We love to eat it by itself, with hummus, stuffed into a pita with falafel, or as a bed for grilled fish.
The Editors

Serves: 6


  • 1 cup fine bulghur (sometimes called #1)
  • 2 bunches curly parsley
  • 12 large mint leaves
  • 5 scallions
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper, plus more to taste
In This Recipe


  1. Put the bulghur in a bowl, cover it with an inch with water (it will double in size), and let it sit at least 20 minutes.
  2. Wash and dry the parsley and mint. Remove the stems, finely chop the herbs together, and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Peel and deseed the cucumber half. Slice it lengthwise into thirds, then chop. Chop onion and tomato and it them to the cucumber, parsley, and mint.
  4. Squeeze any remaining water out of bulghur and it to the vegetables.
  5. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well, taste, and adjust seasoning and olive oil as needed.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!
  • This recipe is a Community Pick!

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Reviews (49) Questions (0)

49 Reviews

Michele August 19, 2018
I love tabbouleh. this is the way I enjoy it. since I don’t like the tomatoes when they get mushy I just thought of a variation instead of tomatoes add a bit of chopped Greek olives and feta. And now I have a new dish.
Linah B. September 26, 2017
You can make a healthier version (gluten free) if you replace the bulgur with quinoa. Boil Quinoa, let it cool completely and put in the taboule instead of the bulgur.
Connie T. September 26, 2017
Some would argue (including me) that gluten-free is not necessarily healthier. I want and need my gluten for valuable fiber and nutrients. I do love quinoa too, but please don't make those of us who eat gluten sound like a bunch of poor eaters!
Margaret August 13, 2017
I love the freshness of this dish! I have no bulgur and am wondering whether orzo (a very small pasta) will work well.
ExPat August 13, 2017
I vary the salad with many ingredients and love it. Hard boiled eggs, bacon bits, Japanese cucumber, pine nuts, tuna, Feta, plain Greek yogurt, other chopped greens. Watching the combo of soft and crunchy and keeping
# of ingredients to a minimum seems best. Not traditional, but flattering variations. Orzo sounds great.
Linah B. September 26, 2017
you can use Quinoa instead.
Ashley S. August 9, 2017
Can anybody please tell me if this is better the second day or on the day it is made. I'm planning to bring this to a potluck this weekend, and just planning it out. Thank you!
lebanese G. August 10, 2017
The tastiest way to eat it is immediately...
Sahtein means bon appetite in Lebanese language 😊
lebanese G. August 10, 2017
The tastiest way to eat it is immediately...
"Sahtein" means bon appetite in Lebanese language 😊
Seerah July 25, 2017
Great recipe! israel (and usa) has no cuisine other than that of the native people. No culture other than white supremacy. All that they claim was taken from the indigenous peoples. If you others are uncomfortable with politics, but don't come to our table to eat culture our soul food and our pride if you ain't on the side of anti imperialism.
Iz C. March 7, 2018
You are a hater, no one likes a hater.
AliceInWanderland July 5, 2017
After enjoying it many times at the Bashera home in Houston, I asked the cook how to make it. Again, with no measurements, just ingredients, her answer was simple: a lot of fresh minced curly parsley, a little soaked bulghur (not too much), juicy fresh chopped tomatoes, minced onion, lemon juice, and oil. No garlic. No mint. And NO cucumbers.
ExPat July 5, 2017
I also like mushrooms and pine nuts for crunch (tuna, chick peas not as much). You don't have to call it Tabouleh, but it was the inspiration and start point.
ExPat July 5, 2017
I use something similar as a base but also salt chopped tomatoes to let them drain and add protein items like boiled egg, tuna, shrimp for a more substantial meal. After chopping all items, they go into food processor. As much as I love it, removing parsley stems is tedious and backbreaking. I tried with store-chopped kale instead (which I steam/chop). Also threw in some candied pecans, paprika, Tabasco. I miss the parsley, but it's good.
BarnOwlBaker July 4, 2017
This is a delicious recipe! Light and tasty. The only change I made was to use only 1/4 cup of olive oil, which worked well for us. Will make again and again....thanks!
ellen February 27, 2017
I'm eating this right now & it is absolutely delicious! (I doubled the lemon juice & used the entire bunch of mint.) It is super light & fresh- thanks for a great recipe! 😍
Liz M. January 22, 2017
Does the water have to be boiling or can it be room temperature water?
Debbie August 23, 2016
I just made this today. Very good. As nice as our local Lebanese restaurants. I used drier pickling cucumber in mine and it's a pleasant addition.
Amanda P. March 15, 2016
Exactly how I make it, as I learned from my Lebanese grandnother! Yum!!
June R. September 23, 2015
Thank you
Connie T. February 25, 2015
Here in northern Maine we have a significant population of Lebanese folks. I learned from them. You left off the cinnamon, 3/4 tsp.. Absolutely vital to a proper tabbouleh.
Amanda P. March 15, 2016
No, no!! Cinnamon does not belong in tabouleh at all. Wro,g flavor! Needs to be fresh w lemon and parsley, not warm w cinnamon!
Tamara April 27, 2018
Cinnamon and white pepper...
NanJ May 15, 2018
My Lebanese neighbor's recipe has allspice. It absolutely makes tabbouleh special. Any other tabbouleh tastes flat to me. Their family recipe also does not have cucumber and uses a much less bulger for 2 bunches of parsley. It should be mostly green with flecks of white and not too much tomato.
V.E.D. February 21, 2015
Cucumbers are not a traditional part of the recipe, but my mother added them for a little extra crunch. She always used curly just holds up better, but feel free to make any changes you wish.
chiara S. January 7, 2015
I use curly parsley and all spice, no cucumber
Alex T. November 28, 2014
It sounds very yummy, but in Lebanon they don't cucumber in the Tabbouleh at all, and they do use flat leaf parsley.
kristina November 24, 2014
my husband is Lebanese and we have refined our recipe over the years, it is very similar to this except never heard of cucumbers being added so will try that next time. we use much less bulghur, not even half a cup and have found that roma tomatoes work best. we sometimes personalize by adding a little sumac.
insecureepicure September 1, 2014
This is a great recipe but as I am gluten free, I use quinoa.
Petite F. August 24, 2014
I learned to soak my bulgar in the juice from the tomates especially if the tomatoes are juicy. I let the tomates drain from a fine sieve into a bowl then pour the juice into the bulgar instead of water. I notice it takes on a great added flavor to this awesome dish.
Thanks for sharing! awesome recette...
Sharon September 2, 2014
Great suggestion! Never waste that tomato juice. Thanks.