That’s “keen-wah tab-ooh-lay.” Don’t let the name scare you away from this incredibly simple and refreshing salad! I’ve been obsessed with tabbouleh since I first tried it as a child. It’s full of texture and tons of super fresh, vibrant flavors. Traditional tabbouleh uses bulgur (cracked wheat) as the bulking agent, but that’s not always easy to find in American grocery stores. Quinoa, on the other hand, has been trending hard for the past 5+ years and can be found just about everywhere these days, and even for a reasonable price. So, I swapped out the bulgur and made Quinoa Tabbouleh instead!
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Other Grain Options for Tabbouleh
If you can’t find quinoa or bulgur, couscous is a great third option. All three items cook quickly and are usually available in bulk bins so you can buy just the amount you need.
You can use either flat leaf or curly parsley for this salad, but the curly leaf will give the Quinoa Tabbouleh more loft and volume. The final volume of salad that this recipe makes will vary depending on the size of your tomato, cucumber, and parsley bunch, but it’s extremely flexible so don’t stress about the size of your vegetables. My salad yielded about 8 cups, but you could even add a second bunch of parsley if you want to stretch it out more. It will “shrink” as it refrigerates and the vegetables begin to wilt.
Quinoa Tabbouleh is Great for Meal Prep!
This is an excellent salad to prepare ahead for the week. The vegetables are crunchiest on day one, but the flavors improve as they mix and meld in the refrigerator. Day two is my favorite, but every time I make this salad I enjoy it for a good four days or so. It’s great to keep in the fridge to either dish out as a snack, a side dish, or to add some chicken and feta to make a whole meal!
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa ($1.40)
- 1 large lemon ($0.69)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.52)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 1 large tomato ($1.10)
- 1 large cucumber ($1.49)
- 1 bunch curly leaf parsley ($0.89)
- Rinse the quinoa under cool running water. Place the rinsed quinoa in a pot with 1.75 cups of water. Put a lid on top, bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat. Allow the quinoa to cool before making the salad or else the heat will wilt the parsley and vegetables. To cool it faster, spread it out on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad. To make the dressing, squeeze the juice from the lemon into a bowl (about 1/4 cup). Mince the garlic and add to the lemon juice along with the olive oil and salt. Whisk to combine, then set the dressing aside.
- Dice the tomato and cucumber. Rinse the parsley well to remove sand and grit, then chop well. Add the cucumber, tomato, and parsley to a large bowl.
- Once the quinoa is cooled, add it to the bowl with the vegetables. Pour the dressing over top, then stir until everything is well coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. Give the salad a brief stir just before serving.
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How to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh – Step By Step Photos
The first thing you’ll want to do is rinse the quinoa well. Quinoa is naturally coated with a substance called saponin that has a soapy, almost bitter flavor. Rinsing the quinoa will remove it and make the quinoa taste a LOT better. Place 1 cup rinsed quinoa in a pot with 1.75 cups of water. Place a lid on the pot, bring the pot up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, the quinoa will have soaked up all of the water. Allow the quinoa to cool before making the salad because you don’t want the heat to wilt the parsley or vegetables. To make it cool faster, spread the quinoa out on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. It should cool significantly in 30 minutes. You can prepare the rest of the salad as the quinoa cools.
Fresh lemon is really important for this recipe, so make sure you don’t cut corners here. Squeeze the juice from one lemon. You’ll need at least 1/4 cup lemon juice, but if you have a little more (up to 1/3) that’s okay.
To the fresh lemon juice add 1/4 cup olive oil, four cloves of minced garlic, and 1 tsp salt. That’s it! Just whisk them together, then set them aside.
Next, dice one large tomato and one large cucumber. You’ll want them to be fairly small pieces, so dice them a little small. Rinse your parsley well, then chop it fairly finely as well. Place the cucumber, tomato, and parsley in a large bowl.
Finally, add the cooled quinoa to the bowl.
Pour the prepared dressing over top.
Then just stir until everything is coated in dressing! That’s really all it takes!
You can serve your Quinoa Tabbouleh immediately, or refrigerate for later. I like it after a little refrigeration, when the flavors have a little time to meld and the salad is ice cold! YUM.
Didn’t have parsley so I added a little dried mint and dried dill. So delicious and refreshing.
I love this recipe and have used it many times. My question: I failed to rinse the quinoa before cooking. Can I rinse it after it is cooked? Drawbacks?
Hmm, I can’t say I’ve ever tried that before so I don’t know what would happen.
I go back to this recipe about every 2 weeks. Not only is it cheap and healthy, it’s delicious and fresh at any time of year. I love to add a can of chickpeas for extra protein!
My local winco has bulgur for .48/lb in the bulk bin. I put about a cup of dried bulgur in a bowl then fill the bowl with water until it fully covers it, then I leave it for an hour or two. (You don’t have to cook the bulgur)Then I add the rest of these ingredients. I like to add a bit of cilantro and red onion as well. I go easy with the lemon because you can always add more. My wife helps me season to taste.
I serve with homemade falafel, hummus, pita, and I make a dill/cucumber yogurt sauce to go with.
Its a family favourite.
I’ve literally made this every couple months for the past few years. It’s cheap, easy, and tastes great! I end up eating a bowl for lunch all week. Also, as an aside, a lot of foods don’t agree with my stomach (Celiac), but these budget bytes quinoa salads are perfect for me. It’s like they’re what my stomach is designed to digest. Anyway, thanks!
P.S. fresh lemon and freshly chopped garlic definitely take this to the next level.
This was my first time trying quinoa and wow was I pleasantly surprised! Not only did I find out I like quinoa, but I LOVED this dish!! I added a basil balsamic marinated chicken breast and your homemade naan and they were the perfect compliment! I will definitely be making this again
Pretty good but I used the bottled lemon juice and put 1/4 cup and it turned out too sour. I would use less lemon juice next time. I topped this with tahini chicken and it it balanced out the sourness and was a good combo!
I love making Tabbouleh because I love eating it, but also because it’s such a versatile meal! This was the first time I made it with quinoa, but won’t be the last! I also use a little less parsley by adding cilantro and basil to the mix (they all have healthy nutrients and I love the flavors). When preparing for my non-veg friends, I like to add a meat (chicken, turkey, salmon, or tuna) and a cheese (feta or queso fresco). All the various options make it seem like a different meal each time and it’s so economical and fast to make! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us!
I like this dish. I added 1 TSP of pepper and 1 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar to the dressing. I also added some chopped onion and chopped red pepper to the salad. I would definitely cut back on the parsley next time, a full bunch of parsley is a bit much and overpowers the dish a tad. Will be making again for sure!
I’m looking for some quinoa recipes and this one looks so delish I can’t wait to try it. I have a feeling there’s a new go to recipe in town!! THANKS ~
I will make an after comment too
Omgosh! This is heaven!
This is, hands down, one of my favorite recipes on this site. I have made it many times and it turns out perfect every time. Tastes even better the next day! Thanks, Beth!