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What has the perfect combination of fresh, crunchy veggies, sweet pineapple, and a spicy chili kick? This Thai salad recipe! I love a spicy Thai beef salad or Thai shrimp lettuce wraps for a meal, but when I want something lighter as a side dish, this Thai peanut salad does the trick. It’s bold, it’s flavorful, and it’s just the right balance of sweetness (with no refined sugar) and heat.
Why You’ll Love This Thai Salad Recipe
- Sweet, spicy flavors
- Crisp, crunchy veggies
- Simple grocery store ingredients
- Ready in 15 minutes
- No refined sugar
- Naturally gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan
- Works as a side dish or an easy, healthy lunch
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for Thai peanut salad, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
Sweet Chili Dressing Ingredients:
- Honey – I used zero sugar honey for this Thai salad dressing, but any kind works.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – Adds a spicy kick and balances out the sweetness. You can substitute with cayenne pepper or chili powder for a similar effect.
- Rice Vinegar – You can substitute white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even lime juice if you like.
- Garlic – I used fresh minced garlic cloves, but you could also use 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic for convenience.
I didn’t include any oil in the dressing, but you can add a tablespoon of sesame oil if you like.
VARIATION: Make a Thai peanut salad dressing instead!
Simply whisk or blend together 1/4 cup of peanut butter, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos (or low sodium soy sauce or tamari), 1/2 tablespoon of honey (or sugar-free honey), 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of water. Adjust the amount of water as needed to thin the creamy peanut dressing to your desired consistency. This is basically a scaled down version of my peanut sauce recipe!
Thai Salad Ingredients:
- Mixed Greens – You could use arugula, spinach, or other leafy greens.
- Pineapple – For the same tropical flavor, try mango or papaya instead.
- Veggies – I used carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and red cabbage for a variety of fresh flavors and textures. You can also add or swap out other crunchy veggies here, like jicama, daikon radish, or snap peas.
- Peanuts – I used roasted peanuts and crushed them, but you can leave them whole if you prefer. Feel free to use other nuts, such as cashews or almonds, replace with sunflower seeds or pepitas for a nut-free option, or omit altogether.
- Sesame Seeds
- Green Onions – Scallions or chives can be a great substitute.
- Fresh Herbs – I like to garnish this salad with fresh cilantro and mint, but you could use Thai basil for a more traditional flavor.
How To Make Thai Salad
This section shows how to make Thai crunch salad, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Make the dressing. In saucepan, combine honey, chili flakes, rice vinegar, and garlic. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Combine the salad. In a large bowl, incorporate mixed greens, pineapple, carrots, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and cabbage.
- Add peanuts. Sprinkle crushed peanuts over salad mixture.
- Toss together. Drizzle Thai salad with sweet chili dressing. Toss to combine. If desired, add sesame seeds, green onions, cilantro, and/or mint.
Thai peanut salad tastes best fresh, but you can chop the veggies and make the dressing ahead of time. Store them separately in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. If you have leftover salad, you can store it in the fridge for 1 day with the dressing or 2 days without the dressing.
What To Serve With Thai Salad
Thai salad recipes are packed with bold flavors and refreshing ingredients, but choosing the right side dish can take your meal to the next level. Here are some ideas:
- Rice – Rice is a classic Thai accompaniment. Go for steamed jasmine rice, sticky rice, or classic fried rice. For lighter options, try cauliflower rice or cauliflower fried rice.
- Beef – Pair this salad with Asian cuisines like Hunan beef, or slice a grilled sirloin steak and serve over the salad to make it a meal.
- Chicken – Serve pan seared chicken breast or air fryer chicken breast mixed into the salad, or make pan fried chicken thighs on the side. For Asian flavors, try coconut chicken curry or chicken satay.
- Stir Fry – For a quick and easy pairing, make a chicken stir fry, tender beef and broccoli, or even a simple vegetable stir fry.
More Asian Salad Recipes
If you love the fresh and vibrant flavors of Thai cuisine, you’ll love these delicious and easy-to-make Asian-inspired salad recipes:
Thai Salad (Sweet & Spicy)
You'll love this healthy, fresh Thai salad recipe with peanuts, crisp veggies, and sweet chili dressing. Perfect for lunch or as a side dish!
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them.
Sweet Chili Dressing:
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, and garlic. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2-4 minutes, until bubbles form and the dressing is thickened to your liking. Remove from heat and cool completely.
In a large salad bowl, combine mixed greens, pineapple, carrots, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and cabbage.
Sprinkle crushed peanuts over the salad.
Drizzle Thai salad with sweet chili dressing.
If desired, add other garnishes – sesame seeds, green onions, cilantro, and/or mint.
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Serving size: 1 1/2 cups Thai salad + 1 tablespoon dressing
Nutrition info uses sugar-free honey, and does not include optional garnishes.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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