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Balela Salad – A quick and easy Middle Eastern chickpea salad recipe featuring fresh flavors, herbs and spices and makes a healthy salad, dip or pita filler!

a side angle view of balela salad in a white serving bowl with silver utensils with black handles

What is Balela Salad?

Balala salad is an incredibly easy Middle Eastern style bean salad featuring chickpeas and black beans, tossed together with diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, parsley and mint. Add to that a bit of sumac, olive oil, lemon juice, mineral salt and pepper, and you’re in for a deliciously, nutrient dense and satisfying meal!

Trader Joe’s Copycat

If you’re an avid Trader Joe’s shopper, you may have already seen this salad in the refrigerated section by the prepared foods. Most of the time when I go to grab a tub, there’s only a few left. It’s a hot commodity at my local TJ’s so I set out to come up with my own version. Making it yourself is super easy and you’ll have much more than a little tub!

I used the ingredient list on the Trader Joe’s Balela Salad package and came up with my own version. The only thing I changed was adding diced cucumber, which lends a refreshing flavor to the overall dish. It tastes just as good, if not better, as the store bought!

top down, side by side, view of the ingredients for balela salad on a linen dishtowel, next to the produce chopped and ready to use

Balela Salad Ingredients

  • 2 cans (14 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) black beans
  • 2 firm roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon

What if I don’t have sumac?

The sumac called for in the recipe is a uniquely flavored spice. It’s noted for being slightly sour and bitter, as well as sweet and salty. It’s a new addition to my spices and I can’t get enough of it. If you haven’t added sumac to your spice collection or don’t have it on hand, your salad will be fine without it. There is enough flavor from everything else for it to be satisfying.

top down view of the ingredients for balela salad added to mixing bowl before mixing

How To Make Balela Salad

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas and black beans
  • Dice the veggies. I diced them on the smaller side so they would be about the same size as the beans, or just slightly smaller. No need to skimp on the veggies, if you feel you’d rather use more of anything, by all means add as much as you like!
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, garlic, mint and parsley (shown above).
  • Add the sumac, a good drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine (shown below).

This makes a large batch so you’re likely to have leftovers, unless you’re taking it to a potluck or gathering. If simply making it for yourself, you’ll be glad to have the extra for meals throughout the week or weekend. It may not even last that long!

How To Store Balela Salad

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days. I don’t recommend freezing this with the addition of the cucumber. If you plan on freezing omit the cucumber for best results.

top down view of balela salad just mixed together in a large bamboo mixing bowl with silver utensils with black handles

How To Serve Balela Salad

  • Balela salad can be served as is, chilled or at room temperature.
  • Serve your Middle Eastern chickpea salad with a handful of arugula thrown in. The arugula pairs well and looks great in the salad!
  • It also makes a great filler for pita sandwiches (shown below) and wraps. Slather a bit of creamy hummus inside the bread, add a little arugula and fill it up with the bean salad. It’s flavorful and delicious!

More Recipes You’ll Love

I love the flavors of the Mediterranean and Middle East! And they are always healthy and delicious too (or at least I make them that way). Take a look at these other recipes, you just may find a new favorite.

a side angle view of balela salad in pita bread making balela pita wraps

If you try this easy chickpea recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.



A flavorful and nutritious Mediterranean chickpea & black bean salad! Pairs perfectly with pita bread, arugula and hummus.

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serve - 6
  • Category: Salad, Entree, Side
  • Cuisine: Vegan


  • 2 cans (14 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 firm roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 34 tablespoons olive oil (I used a garlic infused olive oil)
  • juice of 1 large lemon

optional ingredients to serve with


In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, garlic, mint and parsley. Add the sumac, a good drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

This salad is perfect in pita bread that’s been slathered with hummus and layered with arugula. Alternately, you can add a large handful of arugula to the salad and serve with pita bread and hummus on the side.

Serves 6


Try adding a dash of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for a little heat.


  1. Walter Muelken says:

    Good vegetarian dish but misses, by a wide mark, the flavor of Trader Joe’s excellent version. Is it because TJ’s uses no lemon but, instead, distilled white vinegar?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      It could be from not using distilled vinegar. At the time of making this, I preferred using a natural lemon (vs. processed vinegar), but I might now be a bit partial to using apple cider vinegar. Also, the flavor will be a bit different since the recipe is made fresh, whereas the TJ’s is made well ahead and has lots of time to let the flavors mingle. I love their version too. I just had it a few ago! :) Thanks for sharing, Walter!

  2. This recipe is super simple and easy to make. Makes for a great snack or lunch. Sumac is easily found online, and it’ the hardest to find item. I found some in a local health food store, and I live in a rural area.

  3. Vivian Fenner-Evans says:

    I followed the recipe exactly and it is superb. Thank you so much.

  4. Yum! I was craving something fresh and easy to throw together after the heavy foods of the holiday season and I thought about TJ’s balela salad. Glad you’re recipe was here so I could make it myself. So simple and delicious. Thank you!

  5. Jackie Barron says:

    I’ve been eating TJ’s salad on a regular basis, and this is an absolutely perfect replica, if not even better as I imagine mine is fresher! I also love being able to control the amount of oil-TJ’s can be a bit heavy. I went to a Middle Eastern store to find the sumac, and glad I did as the flavor was so perfect. Thanks!

  6. Denver Joe says:

    A few chopped olives couldn’t hurt.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      I agree! In fact, when I first saw the tub of balela salad at TJ’s, I thought the black beans were olives. Ever since, I’ve thought olives would be great in this, even replacing the black beans. :)

  7. How large, approximately is a serving? This sounds amazing, came wait to try it!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      I’d say about 3/4 to 1 cup is a serving size.

      It’s delicious, and I think you’ll love it too!

  8. My goodness, I have fallen in Love with this TJ’s salad also! I was so happy to find your recipe. I made it today for dinner with grilled vegetables and couscous. The salad was wonderful and perfect for this rustic dinner. Thank you!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      What a perfect dinner! Cheers :)

  9. Sharon Goffe says:

    This dish was fantastic! My husband and I both enjoyed it. I will definitely be making this again. This portion will feed a large crowd. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Yah! Glad you both both enjoyed it. :)

  10. Hi Julie!! I love your blog and your recipes…I started with the roasted nourish bowl and was hooked!! I am not a vegan but my daughter is and she is a great cook….she told me about sumac awhile back, but I have not purchased it yet….I am always looking for new recipes to make for her when she comes over for dinner, I made this Balela Salad today and it is super good!! I modified it to my taste, I omitted the parsley, mint and sumac…I added fresh corn, pickled red onions instead of fresh, the juice of a lime, one shredded carrot, a drizzle of honey and a little garlic powder….although I think this salad would be great all year round, I think it would be particularly refreshing on a hot summer day when heating up the stove to cook is out of the question!! Thank you so very much for your recipes, info and guidance!! Namaste!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Thank you Sandy! I’m so glad you’re finding recipes to enjoy. You’re subs on the Balela Salad sound delicious! Namaste! :)

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