How to chop parsley

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Here is how to chop parsley, which is a labor of love when making tabbouleh salad! But so worth taking a moment to get the chopping down with these simple tips.

Finely chopped green parsley on a chopping board with a silver knife
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Follow my tips for how to chop parsley, a great way to put your knife skills to use for tabbouleh and many other recipes. Learning the best way to chop herbs is an important way to make cooking faster and easier.

The ultimate Lebanese tabouli salad recipe has taught me a lot about patience. It is one of those dishes that will taste just ok if the preparation is rushed, but will be splendid if you take your time to do the small but important tasks that make it great. It’s stunning to consider how this applies to a whole host of life experiences. If only I had in mind the wisdom of tabbouleh preparation at certain critical junctures…. Whenever I have tapped into this lesson in patience, in taking one’s time without haste, the results have been not just ok, but splendid.

Fresh herbs in a yellow kitchen towel on the counter

What kinds of parsley are there?

You will find two types of parsley at the market: curly and flat leaf. I’ve made tabbouleh with flat-leaf parsley leaves as well as with curly parsley. Curly parsley results in a lighter salad with more body, but both taste delicious. Flat-leaf parsley requires more for the salad because it doesn’t have as much loft as curly parsley. The parsley bunches you select should be entirely green with no yellow leaves. Look for bunches that are crisp and not droopy; parsley is firmer than cilantro.

How do you clean Parsley?

To clean parsley, dunk bunches in a big bowl of cold water in the sink and shake it immersed in the water. Pull the parsley back out, pour out the water and replace with new, and rinse it again. Then do it all again. Three times, making sure there is no grit in the last rinse water. Parsley from the garden and grocery store or market may look clean, but then when washed, the dirt that comes off tells another story!

Be sure to pull the parsley from the water before pouring it out or you’ll just be dumping the dirt back onto the parsley along with the water you’re discarding.

The best way to dry parsley is to shake it in the sink and then gently wrap it up in a dry, clean kitchen towel. You can spin it in a salad spinner as well. After getting as much water off the parsley as possible, let it air dry on the counter laid out on a towel. Separate the stems a bit to allow for air flow. Then bundle the parsley in a dry paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Refrigerate, ideally overnight so it’s crisp and plump before chopping.

Green parsley bunch in a white and yellow towel
Washing Parsley, MaureenAbood.com

Parsley leaves picked from the stems on a cutting board with a box of tomatoes on the side

How to chop Parsley

Step 1: Wash and thoroughly dry the parsley.

Step 2. Pluck the parsley leaves from the stems. Pinch all the way up against the leaves where they meet the stems. No stems allowed when chopping parsley! They will be bad news in your mouth. The stems can be used for making any kind of stock or broth. 

Step 3. Chopping is always easier with a large chef’s knife, your kitchen essential. Your workhorse knife! A sharp knife makes chopping so much easier and more enjoyable. Sharpen knifes every six months. Chop the parsley on a cutting board by making a big pile of leaves that are dry and have no water droplets in them. Wet parsley sticks to the edges of the knife and makes chopping difficult (and irritating!). Rough chop over the whole pile, then keep chopping over the pile back and forth until you have a fine chop. Keep gathering the parsley into a mound as you go.

Fresh herbs on a cutting board with a sharp knife

Can I chop parsley in a food processor or blender?

When you chop parsley for tabbouleh or any recipe in a food processor or blender, the results are wet and mushy. Parsley is much nicer chopped by hand with a sharp knife. However, for large quantities of parsley, using the food processor may make sense. Drain wet chopped parsley in a fine mesh strainer in the sink before using it.

How do you store parsley?

Store fresh parsley in the refrigerator after you wash and dry it. Wrap your bunch of parsley loosely in clean, dry paper towels and place in a zip top bag in the refrigerator. To store chopped parsley, keep it in an airtight container such as a zip top baggie.

Tips and FAQs

How do you store parsley?

Store parsley in the refrigerator after you wash and dry it. Wrap parsley loosely in a clean, dry paper towel and place in a zip top bag in the refrigerator.

What is Italian parsley?

Italian parsley is also known as flat leaf parsley. The leaves are flatter and larger than curly or regular parsley. Italian parsley is an herb used in many cuisines around the world, and particularly in the Mediterranean diet. Italian parsley has slender stems with flat, dark green leaves. The flavor of Italian parsley is fresh and herbaceous and rather subtle.

Can I use Italian parsley for tabbouleh?

Italian parsley is delicious in Lebanese tabouli salad. This parsley is flatter than curly parsley (regular parsley) so keep that in mind when determining quantity needed. Use double the amount of Italian parsley for tabbouleh.

Do you use the stems of parsley?

Parsley stems are too tough for salads and sauces. Don’t use parsley stems in most recipes for salads and sauces that call for parsley. Parsley stems are fine to use when making chicken, beef, vegetable or fish stock.

How to Make dried parsley

Dry parsley simply by leaving parsley leaves (removed from the stems) in a single layer on a paper towel, tray, or plate at room temperature until dry. The leaves will curl and lighten in color as they dry. Store dried parsley in a jar with the lid closed or in a zip top bag, the same way you store other dry spices such as basil, oregano, or mint. Crush the dried parsley leaves to a powder between the palms of your hands or in a mortar and pestle when using in recipes.

Parsley vs. cilantro

Yes, these two herbs are very different! Parsley has a more subtle flavor than cilantro. To tell the difference between parsley and cilantro, go by shape, smell, and taste. Cilantro leaves are slightly more rounded. Parsley leaves are larger, firmer, and more pointed on the tips. The scent of cilantro is more floral, some describe the scent of cilantro as soap-like. Parley has a mild, fresh, herbal scent. The flavors of the two herbs are like the scents: much different, cilantro more floral, parsley more fresh herbal and milder.

Tabbouleh Salad recipes

Lebanese Tabouli Salad is the ultimate way to eat parsley! The salad is primarily made with this fresh herb.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad substitutes bulgur with quinoa, making the tabbouleh gluten-free.

Avocado Tabbouleh is next level! As is serving the salad in little lettuce cups.

Tabbouleh Hummus Platter combines two favorites, hummus and tabbouleh, so every bite is a flavor explosion!

Chopped parsley on a board with a knife
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5 from 2 votes

How to Chop Parsley

Here is how to chop parsley, which is a labor of love when making tabbouleh salad! But so worth taking a moment to get the chopping down with these simple tips.
Prep: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 bunch parsley
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Instructions 

  • Wash and thoroughly dry the parsley by dunking the whole bunch in a large bowl of water several times, replacing with clean fresh water each time.
  • Pluck the parsley leaves from the stems. Pinch all the way up against the leaves where they meet the stems. The stems can be used for making any kind of stock or broth. 
  • Chop the parsley on a cutting board by making a big pile of leaves that are dry and have no water droplets in them. Rough chop over the whole pile, then gather the parsley into a mound. Keep chopping over the pile back and forth until you have a fine chop. Keep gathering the parsley into a mound as you go.

Video

Notes

Storage

Store fresh parsley in the refrigerator after you wash and dry it. Wrap your bunch of parsley loosely in clean, dry paper towels and place in a zip top bag in the refrigerator. To store chopped parsley, keep it in an airtight container such as a zip top baggie.

Nutrition

Calories: 21kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 0.5g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 316mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 4802IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 21
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29 Comments

  1. Bonnie Kashouty Nealon says:

    Love your site; love your recipes! Remind me so much of my Titee’s so many years ago.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Bonnie I’m so touched, thank you! We’re all in this love together!

  2. Meredith Bartek says:

    Thanks for the tips Maureen; as soon as my mint comes up I”ll make quinoa tabouli. Your advice about the parsley will help with the mint also. I have a cute little zester with a row of holes to strip herb leaves from their stems but it’s not practical for large quantities. Time to sharpen my knife and try Zen and the art of herb chopping!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hahahaha!!!! That quote is going with me!

  3. Patricia says:

    My mother was 100% Sicilian. We lived above my Lebanese grandparents in an upper flat in Detroit. My sittoo instructed my mom in all things Lebanese cooking and also grinding her own spices. My mom had 4 kids under the age of five and a full time job. I’m sure she cut corners out of sheer exhaustion. She made spinach pies for a
    Friday meal and we stood at the oven door waiting for them To Come out. We let the steam escape and practically arm Wrestled to be the first. The first bite was
    Exquisite. The next one – crunch. My mom took a bite of hers, sat down at The kitchen table and began to cry. All of
    That time and effort – she forgot to wash the spinach! Did that stop us? Hell no’.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hahahaha!!!! What a darling story and a dear mother!!!

  4. Lisa says:

    Your thoughts on patience are an inspirational lesson for all of life. Thank you!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you so much Lisa!

  5. Lisa says:

    Your thoughts on patience are an inspiration lesson for all of life. Thank you!

  6. Foxy Geezer says:

    Wash, wash and soak that parsley!

    I made eight 2×4 trays of kibbeh for my sisters wedding. Received so many compliments. Best kibbeh. Believe me, I was humbled.
    My Tabuleh on the other hand is legendary. (By the way, always organic parsley. (If I can get it. Brighter flavor.) Many Lebanese family cooks. So… guess who makes most of the food for get togethers? We all do and love it! Just love sitting around the table talking, rolling grape leaves and so on. Before you know it, Dinners for 30!
    Plus, we all have a translated cook book from Arabic to English with the as authentic recipes as can be. Amazing book.
    The rose water thing…not for me. And everyone else in my hood! ✌
    Happy Eating!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you Foxy, and what a great circle of cooks you have in your family!

  7. Virginia says:

    My mother used to gather up all the parsley in large leaves of iceberg lettuce to hold it all together, and then she’d chop away. So the iceberg lettuce was incorporated into the salad.

  8. Ginny Abood Baldini says:

    I always pick the parsley before I wash it. My mother always said that the first wash of parsley should be done in lukewarm, well salted water. The salt really cleans the parsley and my mom insisted the warmer water perks up even partially wilted parsley.

  9. joe jackson says:

    I’m gonna offer a parsley “life hack”. After thorough washing and drying, gather by the stems (think that a ’round’ about the diameter of a Quarter works best), take a very sharp knife and run it away from you at an acute angle and 1/8th of an inch off the stems up the bunch to the end. Turn the bunch over 90 degs and repeat, turn and repeat…etc. You’ll effective ‘shave’ the leaves from the stems leaving very little of the latter. This technique also works for other leafy herbs.

    1. Marilyn Nader says:

      It sounds like something I should try. Thanks.

      1. Maureen Abood says:

        Great Marilyn, yes!

  10. Christine Hogan says:

    I add picking cukes chopped and chopped celery.and regular onion chopped too
    …you are right have to pinch the parsley! its good to have helpers for this job!

  11. tasteofbeirut says:

    When you go to Lebanon you will find the parsley there unlike anything you have ever tasted; the leaves are so tender, so soft, it makes for an amazing tabbouleh.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Oh Joumana, I simply can’t wait!!

  12. Tina Hogan says:

    How about every year i make two trays of tabbouleh for our reunion. one with salt and one without! i do use the processor after pinching the parsley (most important) but only on pulse a couple of times. have to have red pepers, celery and cucumber in there!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Tina, your reunion tabbouleh is impressive!! I like all of the veggies you use…sounds delicious…

  13. katie dyos says:

    YUM!! Thanks for the inspiration Maureen. Your beautiful recipe will be made this weekend for friends in Tahoe. You are amazing. I love your blog.
    We miss you in SF!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Katie, thank you–miss you in SF!! Your tabbouleh in Tahoe will be so good.

  14. Michele says:

    Your posts and pictures are beautiful…now I know why I’ve never been able to work with parsley well, too wet!….I love the lesson of patience in cooking AND in life…thank you for the reminder and I’ll be passing this on.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Big hug to you Michele…I saw the pic of you and your baby from your visit with Peg. Beautiful!!

  15. Rina Thoma says:

    Beautiful Maureen, BEAUTIFUL:) You’re blog is my connection to my former life. A life where grocery stores have herbs like curly parsley and grains like cracked wheat:) Not around here sister! Gotta venture over to France for that. Good thing the border is only a 30 minute drive:) I love the simplicity in your recipes and I love your tabbouleh! The minute I can get my hands on some curly parsley and cracked wheat, I’ll be shakin my booty till the sun comes up!!!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Nobody rocks it like Rini!!!! Gotta go to France for the goods? I’ll meet you there!!

  16. Patti Markho says:

    Maureen, I just caught up on all of your August posts that I missed while I was on vacation and it was a delightful way to start my day. It was like taping five episodes of my favorite show and sitting down on my couch (uninterrupted) with a big cup cake to eat as I watch. They were all just delicious. I have to say that I think the Aunt Hilda post was my favorite. I’m thinking of starting the “Rose Water and Orange Blossoms Fan Club”. This is the best reading!! Keep’em coming!!!

  17. Peggy says:

    So so true about the washing, sister! I didn’t know about the overnight rest in the refrigerator to plump it up – will bear that in mind next time.