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Middle Eastern Syrian Salad

    This flavorful Middle Eastern Syrian Salad is dressed in lemon juice, fresh garlic, olive oil, and mint.

    syrian salad

    Considering the theme of The Lemon Bowl, it is probably no surprise that my favorite salad recipe contains all of my favorite ingredients: lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. This is, of course, the basis of a Syrian (or Lebanese) salad.

    Liz eating syrian salad

    I grew up shadowing my Great Aunt Vieve as she would prepare this delicious, fresh, and addictive salad. Dressing the salad directly on the greens, I sat in awe as she seasoned, tested, and adjusted. No measuring, no teaspoons, just instinct.

    Liz chopping red peppers

    Utensils were nowhere in sight. Instead, she would simply use her hands (your greatest tool in the kitchen, by the way) to gently toss the salad, being careful not to bruise the lettuce and herbs.

    Liz chopping radishes

    Although I have no proof, I am a firm believer that my Great Aunt Vieve lived a long and healthy life due to the daily consumption of raw garlic. (Cooked whole garlic has very little, if any, medicinal benefits.)

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    Not to brag, but I may or may not have written a research paper about the health benefits of garlic for my International Cuisine elective at Boston University. Shocker.

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    When consuming a rainbow of produce, don’t forget about the allium (or white) family which includes garlic, onions, scallions, etc. Chopping, mincing, crushing and grating garlic is the perfect way to release the essential oils and increase the flavor profile of any dish.

    Liz grating garlic over syrian salad

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why should you eat raw garlic?

    Allicin: this enzyme has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. They help lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots and reduces the risk of stroke, and lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol.

    Nutrient-rich: raw garlic is packed with minerals (and little calories) like manganese, Vitamin C, and selenium. Also small amounts of fiber, calcium, copper, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and potassium.

    Health benefits: Reduces the risk of cancer, especially in the digestive system, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

    What’s in a Syrian salad?

    A typical Syrian or Lebanese salad is very simple and contains romaine, cucumber, and tomato. My husband doesn’t eat cucumbers or tomatoes so our typical salad will also include red peppers and radishes. I love the white, spicy radishes but you could add anything you wish – carrots, celery, yellow peppers, red leaf, you name it. Heck, this dressing would be delicious on roasted cauliflower. Whatever you do, don’t forget the raw garlic!

    Does dried or fresh mint matter?

    Dried mint works really well during the non-growing season! Either one is just fine!

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    You can toss the salad directly before eating or chill first. Either way, you’ll be asking for seconds.

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    If the thought of making your own salad dressing without any teaspoons or measuring makes you nervous, don’t worry! I perfected (and measured!) my great aunt’s recipe over the years and am sharing it here with you. I’ve taken so many of my family’s beloved recipes and perfected them, wrote them down, and shared them with others in a series of cookbooks and here on this blog! Some of my favorites are Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash, Authentic Lebanese Falafel, and Homemade Classic Lebanese Hummus with Toasted Pine Nuts.

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    Your fork is waiting.

    syrian salad with tomatoes onions and cucumbers

    Middle Eastern Syrian Salad

    4.60 stars average
    This easy to make and flavorful Middle Eastern Syrian Salad is dressed with lemon juice, fresh garlic, olive oil and mint.
    PREP: 10 mins
    TOTAL: 10 mins
    Servings: 4


    • 6 cups romaine (chopped)
    • 1 large tomato (chopped)
    • 4 white radishes (thinly sliced)
    • 1 red pepper (diced)
    • 1 peeled cucumber (chopped)
    • ¼ cup chopped parsley
    • ¼ cup chopped mint (or 2 tablespoons dried mint)
    • 1 lemon (juiced )
    • 2 cloves garlic (grated/crushed)
    • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons za’atar
    • salt and pepper to taste


    • Place your salad ingredients of choice in a large bowl.
    • Add fresh herbs.
    • Squeeze the juice of one lemon around the bowl, carefully holding your opposite hand underneath to catch the seeds.
    • Grate garlic directly over the salad using a microplane.
    • Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the salad (this will help ensure the salad is dressed evenly as you toss.)
    • Using, hands, gently toss the salad together. Sprinkle with zaatar, salt and pepper to taste.

    Recipe Video


    Calories: 120kcalCarbohydrates: 16.9gProtein: 3.5gFat: 5.2gSaturated Fat: 0.8gSodium: 11mgFiber: 4.6g

    SHOW AND TELL ON INSTAGRAM!Show me your creation and rate it below! Mention @thelemonbowl or tag #thelemonbowl! I would LOVE to see!

    Check out more Lebanese recipes on my Pinterest board!


    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:


    1. When I lived in Cali, I used to ride my bike to a Lebanese restaurant that had the best salad. I’m wondering if they used Zatar, which I never heard of it before. I’m thinking that could be the secret. But it could be the garlic too. I’m gonna give it a try.

      1. Good Morning Alison! You’re welcome to use a traditional cucumber that you would peel or, like I did in this photo, use an English cucumber that is wax-free and doesn’t need to be peeled. Right now it’s cucumber season in Michigan so I’ve been using freshly picked pickling cucumbers that also don’t need to be peeled. :) Use what you have on hand is what I say! In terms of the recipe not being good or just tasting ok, can you explain a bit more? This is one of my most popular recipes of all time that millions of people have made and loved. I would love to help you brainstorm where you may have made a mistep. For example, did you add enough lemon? Did you use fresh garlic? Did you season with enough salt and pepper? Let me know – this is one of my most cherished recipes of all time I’d love to make it a win for you as well!

        1. So happy that I found your website!!! I grew up in metro Detroit all my life, then took a job transfer at 47yrs old to Maryland…can’t just run out to the tons of middle eastern restaurants we have there or to my friends house for home made middle eastern food, so I had to learn to make the food I love so much!! Your site and recipes bring me back home!! THANK YOU!!!

    2. This looks great! I see red onion in the photo at the top of the page, but don’t see any mention of it in the recipe. Does it make a big difference whether or not it’s included?

    3. This is very good! My grandparents came over from Lebanon and I watched my Sitto makes this many times. Its been a staple in my home, too. However, I don’t ever remember her using za’atar. It’s a nice addition to the dressing!

    4. This is a great salad but the authentic recipe calls for Sumac not Za’atar. I tried I.T with Za’atar and it’s good but not nearly as good as with Sumac. It’s a 5 star recipe with Sumac but a 4 star with Za’ata.

      1. I packed this salad for lunch this week and my bestie at work loved it so much that I shared the recipe with her. I hope you don’t mind.

    5. What great timing that this was just reposted! I am in charge of an annual banquet at church that features food from around the world and this fit perfectly with the theme. I have a garden full of fresh mint to use and over 70 people enjoyed this salad last night with almost none left over. Thanks for such a delicious and healthy recipe.

    6. Thank you for this recipe! It was very interesting to try. My five year old asked for more. The raw garlic had a bite- I never thought Id say this, but next time I’d use a little less. I didn’t think the mint added enough to the salad to justify its expense (we’re on a tight budget tho). My spice shop had the spice spelled Zahtar for some reason and again I was interested to try it but not sure this is the fattoush flavor profile I’ve enjoyed in the many Mediterranean restaurants here (we have a large Lebanese population here). I’ll keep looking for another fattoush recipe. So glad tho to have learned about grating garlic- never tried that!

      1. Erin I totally understand about the fresh mint… we only use it in the summer when it’s growing like a weed in our backyard. Dried mint works really well during the non-growing season! As for the garlic- did you grate it with a microplane? If you do it that way it literally will melt into the vinaigrette. Just a few tips as raw garlic is super healthy. As for za’atar, it varies quite a bit brand to brand so keep experimenting! This is my favorite brand:

    7. We had this for dinner tonight. I added some roasted chickpeas to mine, and served with toasted whole wheat pitas for a great vegetarian dinner. Thank you!

    8. I can not wait to get my hands on some za’atar! I love raw garlic on my salads with lemon & olive oil just like this!! So fresh & perfect!!

      1. I have made this 3 times and it is good..but not like my grandmothers? It looks just like hers..but the lemon and garlic is just a little too bitter? My grandmother came over from Lebanon when she was 50 and she did not speak English or change her recipes to North American standards. She made pita bread that was sooo good and use egg whites.

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