israeli salad + pita chips

[2018 Note: I’ve been making this salad my whole adult life. I share it here in 2007 and called it Israeli Salad but it could just as easily be called Arab Salad. Salads following essentially this same recipe — that is tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, lemon juice, and olive oil but no lettuce — have widespread popularity throughout the Middle East and particularly the Levant. I dreamed of going on a tomato-cucumber salad world tour in this recipe.]

First I talked about madeleines, and although they’re lovely (though mine were less so), they don’t exactly have a high originality quotient. Then I totally side-stepped my week of non-cooking by throwing some “new feature” at you, and now, well now I’m going to tell you that you can make a salad out of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. And I know you’ve got to be thinking: you don’t say!

Although on another week–perhaps one without heaps of barbecues for all that red, white and boom spread about–I might skip over the simple Israeli Salad, I know that if you’re still looking for that easier-than-pie dish to bring to a pot-luck barbeque tomorrow, we really need to talk. Israeli Salad isn’t just as dish, as much as it is a palette to build your salad dreams upon.


Aside from tiny cubed cucumbers and tomatoes, the base salad recipe includes red or green onions, finely minced parsley, a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and if you’re me, or you just want to trust me on this, you’re going to run out this afternoon and buy some sumac powder. Not only is it the most phenomenal rusty red, adding a bold hue to any everyday salad, it’s flavor–I always think of it as a cross between sour lemon and smoked paprika–is so wonderful, it’s a shame we don’t see it in more non-Greek, non-Mediterranean dishes.

But from there, let the salad be your canvas, as the possibilities are endless. Some of my favorite additions include a can of drained chickpeas, diced bell pepper, a handful of crumbled or cubed feta or roughly chopped olives. Finely chopped fresh mint leaves are also common, but that doesn’t mean you should try dill instead, if that’s your thing. Yet if you really want to show off, my absolutely favorite addition to this salad is some broken up pita chips that have been toasted with olive oil, sea salt and either sumac or za’atar. If you make the chips, leave them separate until the very last minute because they’ll get soggy shortly after they’re tossed in. Alternately, you could make larger chips that people can use to scoop the salad directly into hungry mouths. Finger food is always the most welcome guest at barbeques. Well, after you, of course.

israeli salad

Israeli Salad

  • Servings: 2 to 4
  • Print

  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 pound seedless (English) or Persian cucumbers, unpeeled, cubed
  • 1/2 medium red onion or 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon, or more to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

You can either toss all of the vegetables in one large bowl, and pour over it the parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and sumac mixture you whisked separately in a small bowl, or if you’re in a hurry just toss everything all at once.

Other additions: 1/2 to 1 cup crumbled or cubed feta, 1 bell pepper, cut into cubes, 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped olives, 1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced mint or dill or pita chips (see below). You could also whisk a couple tablespoons of tahini into the dressing for a thicker, sesame-coated flavor.

Pita Chips

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

We use these for lots of things: hummus, other dips, tossing with the Israeli Salad at the last minute (so they don’t get soggy) or for scooping it up. I find it a relief to be able to eat crunchy, tasty chips without the deep-fat fried guilt.

  • 6 large pitas, cut into eight wedges each, then each wedge split into two layers (for small chips) cut into six wedges and split (for large, scoopable chips)
  • Olive oil cooking spray or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar or sumac

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, arrange all of the pita slices so they do not overlap. Either brush or spray with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and your spice of choice. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they begin to color. Let them cool completely before using, or bagging for later.

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90 comments on israeli salad + pita chips

  1. I love the pita chips (but of course I would, since I’m such a fan of baking and microwaving all kinds of chips instead of deep frying them). I love this kind of salad. Very funny that the google ad just up there says “Are you Close to God?”

  2. I love the israeli salad, but having grown up on it in Russia, I wonder if the Russians brought it over back in the day?? Yay for bbqs and celebrations, I’m making a sour cherry pie tomorrow – can’t wait! And maybe some other treats!

  3. That’s funny. I had an Israeli salad yesterday for the first time, and I loved it!

    Well, now my office closing early and I am off to the burg to meet Jill for drinks on my roof! See you tomorrow!

  4. Sophie-Anne

    Hi! I have been looking for a recipe for “Fatouche” for months! Now I know the special ingredient’s name – sumac! I will go straight to the grocery store! Thank you for your lovely blog.

  5. Marie

    Hi Deb — Your pics, always amazing, are even more beautiful now you’re using the new lens. Those gooseberries, wow!

    I make a salad called Panzanella. It’s the Italain version of this type of salad. The only difference is I toss big cubes of French bread with olive oil and garlic, toast them in the oven. After I take them out, I sprinkle them with parmesan cheese. I toss the bread cubes in with the salad and dressing and let it all marinate for at least a half-hour so the flavors can marry and the bread can soak up some of the tomato juices and dressing. It has that fresh, summer’s here taste.

  6. I have cucumber, tomato, and red onion in a salad on my blog today too. I love that combo of flavors. Mine isn’t nearly as pretty as your’s though. Your salad is gorgeous!! I’ve never used sumac powder and am not sure what it is actually.

  7. Khrystianyia

    Deb – First time post, but LONG time reader. In fact, there is rarely a day that I don’t say, “hmmm…I wonder what Deb made last night”. Last night, I made your Israeli Salad, and incorporated some leftover roasted cauliflower and bowtie pasta (from a Food Network salad the night before that was just, “meh”). The Israeli Salad was a huge hit! We served the salad with a no-fail falafel chicken (chicken tenders dipped in falafel mix, and grilled on a grill pan) recipe, and some homemade tzatziki (my version is just plain yogurt, dill and shredded kirby cukes). Great meal, in just under 45 minutes. Today, I’m trying your pickled potato salad (we are also of Russian descent), and Ina’s bbq sauce. Thank-you for the kitchen inspiration, and Happy 4th!

  8. I’m actually a little weirded out because I made this salad, minus the sumac powder, for dinner last night with red pepper hummus, olives, feta and pitas. I’ve never stumbled upon something I’ve just eaten so quickly before!

  9. We are hosting a BBQ tonight and I am so uninspired by what others are bringing. Doesn’t that sound snotty of me? Anyway…wish I would have had your list ahead of time to pass out to people for ideas!

  10. ann

    Really? that’s what sumac tastes like? Oh yes I will be running to the Syrian bodega on the way home from work today to buy some! Thaaaaanks!

  11. Catherine

    This post inspired me to do a slightly different version yesterday: cuke, tomato, sweet onion, avocado, lemon olive oil and cilantro from my garden. It was just what I needed, and I have leftovers for lunch today! Thanks for the inspiration, as always.

  12. This looks and sounds lovely! Based on an inspiration from Toni over at Daily Bread Journal, another thought might be to stir in some cooked couscous.

  13. Megan

    I love the taste and idea of salads like this, but after a short while, all the ingredients seem to release their juices at once, leaving the vegetables to wallow in a large (albeit pleasantly seasoned) pool. One recipe that I’ve seen called for salting the cucumbers for 20 min. prior to adding them in with the rest of the ingredients, but it didn’t do the trick. Maybe these salads aren’t my thing after all? Or is there a trick I’m missing? I guess I’m asking how to make water-heavy vegetables retain their water.

  14. I can’t think of anything better for the summer… or to bring to a BBQ than an Israeli Salad. It cools you down so much better than a traditional lettuce-based one. My one big problem is it takes me forever to chop everything into cubes.

  15. Diane

    You know, if you add Feta cheese & Kraft Greek Feta & Oregano salad dressing to your cucumber & tomato salad… It’s awesome…I’ve been making it for a few years now and it’s a winner every time.

    Did you know you can also make a salad out of raw brocooli, cheese, bacon, red onions and raisins?

  16. Megan, once salt hits “water-heavy” vegetables, they do indeed release their water. The best thing I can offer is serve them with a slotted spoon so the liquid stays in the serving dish.

  17. Horiatiki (Greek salad) is also good:
    * 3 – 4 tomatoes
    * 1 onion
    * feta cheese
    * 1 cucumber
    * olive oil
    * salt
    * olives
    * oregano
    Cut the tomatoes, the onion and the cucumber in slices. Mix them, add salt and some pieces of feta cheese, oregano and at the end pour some olive oil.

  18. Jill

    Homemade pita chips are a party fave at our house — everyone always thinks you’ve gone to so much trouble and I love that! I always add chopped fresh rosemary in addition to the olive oil and salt and the crunchy rosemary is amazing. This goes great with my super artichoke dip and there’s never a crumb or a bit of either left.

  19. Louise

    Weird, like the person that mentioned the Russian salad above, there is a Persian version (ha) of this salad. It’s a Shirazi salad, from the city of Shiraz.

  20. deb

    Sumac is a dark red powder with sort of a sharp/sour taste. Za’atar is more of a spice blend with a range of stuff, but often thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds and salt. Some varieties, but not all, have sumac in them. Hope that helps.

  21. Jazz


    This is actually not Israeli, it’s Palestinian and it’s called Fattoush. Brings back lots of homey memories! In Lebanon however, my hometown, we add green bell pepper, radish, shredded lettuce, and sometimes carrot to Fattoush and of course it is always garnished with either fried or toasted pita chips.

    It looks amazing in your pictures though:)

  22. chavi

    Since I live in Israel, I consider myself the expert on Israeli salads. It’s taken a while for me to perfect it, but here it goes:
    2 large tomatoes (or 4 plum)
    4 israeli cucumbers (smaller and with less seeds – slightly large than pickling cukes)
    1 small red onion
    rind of a lemon
    handful of fresh parsley, half a handful of fresh mint, chopped
    lemon flavored olive oil
    sea salt

    Cut the vegetables into tiny cubes (like the size of a dice). Toss with remaining ingredients and serve immediately. My daughter makes herself one every day and occasionally tosses crumbled bulgarian cheese on top.

  23. NN

    The main defining features of Fattoush are the summac and the pitta bread (baked or even fried) but I’ve always found that getting the balance of flavours right to be tough (and of course a matter of personal taste). I doubt that it found its way to Israel via Russian immigrants (!) — far more likely through Sephardic Jews. I’m sure Claudia Roden has a recipe in one of her books somewhere. A couple of handfuls of pomegranate seeds can also add a nice touch.

    1. Rasha

      It just taken from the local Palestinian population that they occupied. This salad is made by leventine arabs – Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Palestinians

  24. Nancy

    THANK YOU!!!!! I can not even tell you how long it has been that I’ve been trying to search and find out what the red seasoning is in various mid eastern salads I’ve had. SUMAC!!!!! I can not wait to try your Israeli salad recipe!

  25. Liz

    Hey Megan (and others), here’s a tip from Israel to keep your Israeli salad from getting soggy — it’s the salt and the acidity that turns everything into a wet mess, so if you’re not going to eat the salad immediately after you make it, don’t mix in the tomatoes, lemon, or salt — put them each in a separate container, and then drain off the liquids and mix right before eating. Cheers!

  26. I am a diabetic type one and just fell in love with thefatouche salad…it is very low carb and sooo healthy. In summer i could eat it three times a day. My tongue just dances due to all the falours that explodes in your mouth. mmmmm Lucie

  27. Jess-Dublin

    I know my coffee must not have kicked in yet, or at least that’s what I’ll blame my present thickness on, because I’m confused about the cutting instructions on the pita chips (which is a great idea and I plan to incorporate them as appetisers for my next party). The recipe calls for “6 large pitas, cut into eight wedges each, then each wedge split into two layers (for small chips) cut into six wedges and split (for large, scoopable chips)”. I’m ok until we get to splitting them into two layers, which I understand we’re only supposed to do if we want small chips, but how do you then get another six wedges out of…ah, coffee just kicked in. Those instructions come in pairs. Either 8 wedges and split, or 6 wedges and split. 8 for small, 6 for large. Split them regardless. I get it. Sorry I’m so slow! I’ll post this even though I’ve resolved the confusion now, just in case someone else’s brain is also slow to warm up.

  28. India

    Israeli salad we called #Salat Katan’ in Israel meaing ‘littl salad’ and the most important feature is that everything should be finely chopped. We have it even for breakfast – it’s healthy and fresh. One pointer – once you have put your dressing on it, leftovers will wilt an go mushy so make your dressing and only use on what you will eat – unless of course you know that everyone will eat it up at that specific time. This sa;ad is brilliant with Hamin- we have it every Shabbat – look that up – Claudia is a good source – but do look for the Sepharadic version – This is good Eastern food – the Russians did not invent the Israeli salad. And should you prefer blander version of Hamin – then try the Ashkenazi version.

  29. Lindsay

    Made this last night for dinner instead of my traditional lettuce-based salad. Delicious! I’ve made Israeli salads before but never felt like I got the proportions of the ingredients correct (it was always just sort of a mix of diced tomatoes, cukes, and onion with oil, lemon, salt, and pepper) and it never tasted as good as I hoped it would be after listening to friends rave about it. This tasted great, and I think the sumac is what really added the needed bit of zing – it almost gives it a vinegar-like tang which really complements the crispness of the veggies. My husband thought there was too much onion, so next time I make it I will decrease that by a third or by half, but everything else will stay the same. Thanks for finally helping me get Israeli salad right!

  30. sarah

    This salad is so colourful and mouthwatering but i needed to highlight something as this salad is Lebanese and not Israeli and its called Fattoush.

  31. Jessica

    Oh my this looks delicious! I went to Israel last fall and have been craving everything I ate there since! This is exactly what I needed!

  32. hans

    sometimes I like to add some tahina (sesame paste). I don’t know if I actually picked that up in Israel or if it’s my own creation. in any event, ta’im me’od.

  33. ooh, just got back from a trip to israel and ive been craving this already!! one thing ive been trying to find a good recipe for is this amazing sandwich i found at a lot of the falafel joints – it’s called sabeach (sp?) and is basically roasted eggplant and hard boiled egg, plus all your usual delicious picked cabbage / carrots and such. mmm off to google some more!

  34. Susan @ One Less Thing

    Great recipe and thanks to Liz for the do ahead tip.
    And Deb, did you think you would start a political discourse by posting a recipe? Good God. It’s about the food people. Get over the politics on a food site.

  35. Asya

    I’ve never left a comment before, but I LOVE your blog, and I grew up on something like this salad, but better. And the better comes from : UNREFINED SUNFLOWER OIL. You can buy it at your local Russian (or Eastern European) store, and the scent is to die for. It brings out so much more in the vegetables than olive oil is capable of doing. I also think the dill is infinitely better than parsley in this combination.

  36. Heidi

    Served this today at a potluck – WOW was it good! It all went and lots of rave comments. Love this blog, the recipes never miss.

  37. This is my absolute FAVORITE salad. I learned to make it living on Kibbutz Grofit (sp) on the Negev in Israel. It was for any meal. Down the middle of our dining tables would be bowls with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, lemons and cukes. Everyone just broke off or cut what they needed and made their own. Often served at the same meal…a big bowl of hard boiled eggs…still in the shell. Take what you want. And lastly,homemade hard crusted bread served with their own recipe for dark chocolate spread. It was popular at the time to put some Nescafe crystals in a cup with at least a t of sugar. Add a tiny bit of water and crush and swirl with the back of a spoon until it turns light beige. When hot water is added, a beautiful frothy cup of dark coffee below and beige froth on top. A perfect meal!!!

  38. Sheena

    Hey dumbasses: different countries sometimes have the same food. They just have different names for it. Bread=pain=pane=pan. Get the FUCK over it and stop shirt stirring. Its a recipe, not a political statement.

  39. Sarah J

    Sheena – could you be any ruder? Calm the hell down. The truth is that it is a Lebanese/Palestinian salad in origin, but has of course been adapted and taken to other places too. And Fatouche is indeed it’s actual name. Thank you very much for the recipe, and I absolutely adore this website! I’m not a salad person but this and tabbouleh are the only ones I’ll ever have :).

  40. Sephyra Lambe

    It’s so funny that I ate this salad for the first time at a little Greek restaurant last night, and here’s the recipe! I’m adding this to my list of must-try that I’ve collected so far from back-reading the blog.

  41. Rebecca

    Regarding the naming of the salad:
    As some have already said, the same salad is eaten in various places around the Middle East and Mediterranean.

    Lebanon and Israel were both founded at around the same time, in 1943 and 1948 respectively. The area that is now Lebanon was formerly part of the French Mandate, and the area that is now Israel was formerly part of the British Mandate, both of which were previously part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, which was split up politically after World War I. The term Palestine is derived from the Roman and Greek names for the region.

    So it doesn’t make any sense to say that it comes from one of these countries more than the other. Really it’s a regional dish that “belongs” to everyone in the area equally.

  42. loulou

    funny, cause when you add pita chips it becomes Fattoush, a lebanese salad. i call it a palestinian salad since Israel was founded mainly on that part of the region

  43. Marguerite

    #57 Rebecca: thank you for your thoughtful explanation of the regional overlap of this dish. It’s a wonderful salad, in all its variations.

  44. Mike

    I usually slice the tomatoes before chopping them and cut out the seeds. Then I chop and rinse before adding the chopped cucumber. It keeps it crisper longer.

  45. Nicole I

    Just got back from Israel and they truly do eat this salad with every meal (yes, salad for breakfast!) although I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to pick out all my own dining destinations so we never had an Israeli salad as good as this one! Thanks for sharing!

  46. ih mls

    this a classicall southern lebanese fatouch dressing , or even a classical lebanese salad dish. it’s not a so called israeli salad ?!

  47. Rita

    I just stumbled upon this and read all the political statements. Although I have no issues with countries all over the world having this dish and even claiming it as their own, at least call it by its name – Fattoush. I don’t believe Ireland has ever called pizza, “Irish pie” & I would never say “Lebanese soup” for Motzah Balls. Israel has been doing this a lot with food. it may seem silly to a lot of people who are not from that region, but it’s insulting to hear Israeli Humus and Israeli Couscous. There’s pretty much an Israeli empire made over humus (the ARABIC word for chickpea). in saying that, i don’t think this website was trying to make anything political statements & I will continue to learn from it. My comment is for the jerks who are telling people to “shuttup.”

  48. yael

    Israeli salad is chopped bigger than the Arabic salad..It is only with salt olive oil and lemon sometime with parsley..Israeli Humus is different from the Alex Sabich is Iraqi food you take A Pita you put Humus roasted Eggplant Hard boiled egg Arabic salad with Onion Parsley Tehina and on top AMBBA..The real Piza from Italy does not look like the American Piza and what you call “Motzah Balls” soup is called Chicken soup with Kneidalach..Lets all think positive.. And eat a lot of salad..

  49. Jimmy

    This is not an Israeli salad. As others have said, just call it fattoush or whatever but this is no way an “Israeli” salad, complete ripoff.

  50. kiley

    deb, do you have any falafel recipes or at least your go-to one? the only thing i see in your cookbook is the falafel-esque meatballs… and can’t seem to locate any on here. i make your hummus, tzatziki, pita bread and this… but i need a good falafel recipe to complete them. Thank you!

  51. liz

    good grief, quit harrassing deb for labeling this salad “israeli salad”. while she could have included more background on how this salad appears–in various forms–throughout the middle east, israeli salad IS slightly different than fattoush: the addition of pita chips (which deb suggested as an aside) is NOT a core component of israeli salad.

    i certainly am not one to blindly agree with the state of israel on all matters of policy, but the level of vitriol aimed at those (including deb) who in any way evoke israel (in contrast with every other inevitably corrupt nation-state in the world) is worrisome.

    on a more positive note, those interested in palestinian-israeli coalition through food should check out the cookbook “jerusalem.”

  52. KARA!

    I made this yesterday for the fifth or sixth time and it is so delicious every time. I took your additional ingredient suggestion and added feta. Thank you for posting this great recipe! My family loves it!

  53. Boni Stevens

    Discovered this salad on a recent visit to Israel. Came home and made it for our church cookout thinking that if noone liked it I would have plenty left over for me. Not a morsel left for me to bring home so i had to make another batch. LOL

  54. lawfulninja

    I love this salad because it makes a perfect side dish or a healthy snack on hot days. I’ve also used crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese. It’s cool and refreshing and a family favorite! I definitely recommend it! Thanks for posting.

  55. JP

    I made this salad tonight, and I don’t care who claims it, it was delish! For the spice, I had no sumac but did have barberry and that seemed just right. So quick, fresh and good. Thanks for the inspiration as always!

  56. wanderedwest

    I added about a 1/4 cup cooked quinoa to the salad and a tablespoon of tahini to the dressing. Then I crisped a can of chickpeas according to your recipe for crisped chickpeas with herbs and I sprinkled them on top of each serving. Delicious!

      1. Elena

        Amen. I’ve called this Israeli salad since my family visited Israel when I was 16; a long time ago. My Father is Israeli and when we were there that’s what it was called. That doesn’t matter overall because what it is, is a delicious salad that everyone can make their own. Just enjoy it!