This fresh vegan tabbouleh salad is easy to make and packed with bright flavors. It creates a light, yet incredibly tasty side dish that compliments almost any meal!
Tabbouleh is traditionally a Lebanese recipe and is a super nutritious, refreshing dish. With whole grains and fresh herbs, this salad is as delicious as it is nutritionally balanced!
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Is Tabbouleh Vegan?
Most tabbouleh recipes are vegan! Tabbouleh is primarily made with parsley and bulgur with other vegetables. It’s flavored with olive oil and lemon juice which make up the salad’s “dressing”.
If buying a pre-made salad from a store, or when at a restaurant, it’s always best to check if something is vegan.
Ingredients for Tabbouleh Salad
This fresh salad is made with simple, summery ingredients. While there are substitutions you can make, the original combination of ingredients is fantastic!
- Bulgur: Bulgur is a whole grain that’s made from cracked wheat berries. It’s more commonly eaten in West Asian and Mediterranean countries. If you need a gluten-free option for this recipe, quinoa is a nice substitute. The only bulgur I can find at a local grocery store is mixed with red quinoa, which is what I’ve used in this recipe.
- Parsley: This is the main ingredients for a tabbouleh salad, and you’ll need a lot! Parsley is one of the freshest herb flavors and brings a ton to this salad.
- Tomato and cucumber: These two vegetables add variety to an otherwise parsley-loaded salad. Tomatoes provide some acidity and sweetness while cucumber can bring a slight crunch.
- Green onion and garlic: The mild taste of green onions and pungent raw garlic add great flavor to this salad. Use a different type of onion for sharper flavor. There’s only a small amount of garlic in this salad, but since it’s raw, a small amount is all you need.
- Olive oil: Some healthy fats from olive oil help meld the delicious flavors of this recipe. Fats are also important to help absorb the vitamins and antioxidants in this nutrient-rich recipe.
- Lemon juice and zest: Lemon is the perfect citrus to pair with parsley! I use lemon juice and zest for this recipe; you can leave out the zest for a milder lemon flavor, but I can’t resist zesting fresh citrus.
- Salt and black pepper: Round out and enhance the flavors in this salad with salt and black pepper. Add both ingredients in an amount to meet your taste preferences.
- Fresh mint: Nothing says bright, fresh flavor quite like fresh mint leaves. These are a great addition and I highly recommend using fresh mint if you have access to it.
How to Make Vegan Tabbouleh Salad
This is a simple recipe to make and can be completed in 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Cook Bulgur
Cook your bulgur according to package directions. You can typically cook bulgur the same way as other grains.
This recipe uses ½ cup bulgur, so you’ll need 1 cup water. Add both to a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower to a simmer, place a lid on the pot, then simmer for 12-15 minutes until the bulgur is cooked through.
You could also use a rice cooker or Instant Pot if you prefer; use the same method as cooking rice or quinoa.
Once cooked, remove the bulgur from your pot and refrigerate until ready to use. It’s ideal to fully cool the bulgur before mixing into your tabbouleh salad.
Step 2: Prep Other Ingredients
Wash and chop the parsley. I like to remove large stems, but smaller stems are okay to use. If you’ll also use mint, remove the leaves from their stems before chopping. Mint stems are very bitter and you shouldn’t include them.
Then chop the tomato. To prevent a watery salad, it’s best to remove the tomato seeds first.
Next, finely chop the cucumber and green onion. You’ll also need to mince 1-2 cloves garlic.
Finally, zest then juice a lemon.
Step 3: Mix Salad and Serve
Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. This includes all the prepped vegetables and herbs, the seasonings (salt, pepper, olive oil) and the cooked bulgur wheat.
Toss to combine everything.
If the bulgur is still warm when you add it to the salad, refrigerate the tabbouleh and cool completely before serving. If the bulgur cooled completely, you can serve right away.
How to Serve a Balanced Vegan Meal
Tabbouleh is meant to be served as a side dish or salad along with a main meal. It contains lots of nutrient-packed vegetables, and some healthy fats and carbohydrates, but is lower in protein.
This is an ideal recipe to serve with falafel and tahini sauce! The flavors of tabbouleh work perfectly with falafel; and tahini sauce rounds out the meal by adding creamy healthy fats and lots of flavor.
See some variations below if you want to turn this tabbouleh recipe into a stand-alone meal.
While I love the classic version of tabbouleh, there's a few tasty variations you can try.
First, if you want to make this into a well-rounded meal, consider adding cooked lentils. These add plant-based protein and some extra energizing carbohydrates! You’ll likely want some extra olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper to flavor the added lentils.
Chickpeas are another great choice for adding plant-based protein to the tabbouleh salad and creating a balanced meal!
You can also make this with different grains. Quinoa is a great gluten-free option.
As this is a salad, you can also get creative with the vegetables you include. It may not be considered tabbouleh anymore, but adding extra veggies can change the flavors and make for endless possibilities!
Grilled zucchini and/or eggplant are other tasty options to add. Fresh or grilled bell peppers are also a flavorful choice.
Lastly, if you want to make this salad more satiating, consider tossing in some tahini sauce. This is a great way to add healthy fats and flavor to your refreshing side salad.
How to Store Leftovers
Refrigerate leftover tabbouleh in an airtight container for up to 5 days. This is a tasty recipe to meal prep and pack for school/ work.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Tabbouleh Salad
- ½ cup bulgur (100 g)
- 3 cups parsley , packed (80 g, about 2 bunches)
- 1 cup tomato (185 g, about 1 medium-large) *
- 1 cup cucumber (170 g, about ½ large cucumber)
- ⅓ cup green onion (35 g, about 2-3) **
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (45 mL)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (45 mL)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup fresh mint , optional
- black pepper (to taste)
Step 1: Cook Bulgur
- Cook your bulgur according to package directions. Generally, this requires you to add the bulgur to a pot with twice as much water (1:2 bulgur to water ratio). Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot and cook 12-15 minutes, until the water is absorbed, and the bulgur is soft.½ cup bulgur
- Let the bulgur cool completely before using in your salad (refrigerate for quickest prep time).
Step 2: Prep Other Ingredients
- Wash and chop your parsley. I like to remove the large stems first.3 cups parsley
- Remove seeds from your tomato and finely chop.1 cup tomato
- Finely chop some cucumber and green onion.1 cup cucumber, ⅓ cup green onion
- Mince the garlic.1-2 cloves garlic
- Zest a lemon then juice it.3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons lemon zest
Step 3: Mix Salad and Serve
- Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl or salad bowl.½ cup bulgur, 3 cups parsley, 1 cup tomato, 1 cup cucumber, ⅓ cup green onion, 1-2 cloves garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup fresh mint, black pepper
- Toss to combine.
- If you fully cooled the bulgur before mixing, you could serve right away. If not, refrigerate the salad and serve when it’s cold.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.