Thai Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing is an easy 30-minute vegetarian Thai Noodle Salad filled with crunchy greens, cashews, fresh herbs, and rice noodles. Topped with a creamy, delicious, and super-flavorful Peanut Butter Coconut Dressing, you’ll wish you made extra.
It’s no big secret that a few of my favorite things include peanut butter, crunchy salads, and noodles. I mean, if you come over to my house, chances are, you will be offered at least one of those things. However, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that it occurred to me that I could actually eat all three of these…together. The idea of all three fused together as a single happy, healthy, and delicious Thai Noodle Salad seemed crazy.
But I like crazy. Crazy is different and often a little unusual. And this, cold Thai noodle salad, well, it’s the perfect balance of unusual, crazy, and crazy normal.
INGREDIENTS IN THIS COLD THAI NOODLE SALAD
- Sugar snap peas
- ALL THE HERBS
- Red Chilies
- Sesame seeds
- Rice noodles
- Mung bean sprouts
This is what I call the base for any noodle salad. Of course, depending on personal tastes and preference, you may add or subtract specific ingredients. That said, you need a crunchy green like cabbage or romaine (preferably both), finely chopped vegetables, a handful of nuts, and HERBS.
Do not be shy when it comes to adding fresh herbs. I always add at least one bunch of cilantro and mint to any Thai noodle salad that I make. Herbs like cilantro, basil, mint, and parsley are ESSENTIAL to blending together the rest of the flavors. In fact, the day that I made this Tempeh Noodle Bowl with Sesame Garlic Dressing was when I really learned the importance of fresh herbs in all salads, not just Thai noodle salads.
INGREDIENTS IN THE CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER DRESSING
- Full-fat coconut milk
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Peanut butter
- Lime juice
- Soy sauce
- Fresh ginger
Here’s the thing…whenever you make a homemade dressing or sauce, it’s impossible to give a universal recipe for the perfect Thai peanut butter dressing. The truth is that many of us use different brands of peanut butter, soy sauce, and definitely buy differently sized limes. Each of us will make something slightly different. The only way to fix this is to tinker and adjust based on your own personal taste preferences. For example-
- For a sweeter dressing: add additional honey or, if you prefer, you may substitute honey with brown sugar or agave.
- You need more salt: if I need more salt I will usually add a little more soy sauce or just go for the real deal…salt. Fish sauce (not in this recipe but a fabulous addition), is another frequent addition to many of my Asian-inspired dressings and sauces.
- It’s too thick: if you need more acid, add additional rice vinegar and a little water. Otherwise, you may add just water (1 tbsp at a time) until you reach your desired consistency and tinker from there.
- I would use caution adding additional sesame oil and fresh ginger as each of those have very strong flavors.
- Adding additional peanut butter: never a bad idea, however, it will make your dressing thicker.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST THAI NOODLE SALAD
- Prepare the dressing first and keep it stored in the refrigerator. Since this Thai noodle salad recipe has a peanut butter dressing with coconut milk, I recommend making the dressing at the very beginning. This way you’ll know how much it will thicken up when it’s cold. When ready to serve simply add some water until desired consistency is reached and keep it cold, or carefully warm it up in a small saucepot over medium heat.
- Speaking of dressing, I always over salt my peanut dressing, just slightly. I don’t add additional salt or soy sauce to my noodles aside from what is in the creamy peanut butter dressing. The vegetables are all raw and the rice noodles plain, so you will want some super flavorful peanut butter dressing. Just trust me.
- Don’t overcook the noodles. Never overcook noodles.
- Just before serving, rinse the noodles in cold water to loosen them up or up-stick them.
- Store all leftovers separately. So much chopping shouldn’t go to waste. I recommend storing all the chopped greens and vegetables in one large ziplock bag with the air removed, the creamy peanut butter dressing in a separate jar or container, and the rice noodles in its own bag. This ensures that everything will remain crisp and fresh.
- Don’t chop your vegetables too big.
- Like those cucumbers below. shhhh, those were too big.
CAN YOU MAKE THIS THAI NOODLE SALAD GLUTEN FREE?
Yes. This entire salad is actually gluten-free aside from the soy sauce used in the creamy peanut butter dressing.
A great gluten-free substitute for soy sauce is Tamari (or Liquid Aminos).
CAN I USE ZUCCHINI NOODLES IN PLACE OF THE RICE NOODLES?
Yes! Spiralized zucchini noodles in place of rice noodles make a delicious and healthy, low-carb alternative.
I recommend storing the zucchini separate from the rest of the ingredients, however, just as you would the rice noodles and use within 2 days.
If you try making this Thai Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
For more salad recipes check out,
- Cucumber Salad Recipe
- Wheat Berry Salad with Orange Shallot Vinaigrette
- Vietnamese Garlic Prawn Noodle Salad
- Asian Chopped Chicken Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette
For more thai recipes check out,
- How to Make Thai Iced Tea
- Thai Cashew Coconut Cauliflower Rice Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
- Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tangy Cabbage Slaw
- Pineapple Coconut Thai Fish Curry
- Sweet and Spicy Thai Chili Sauce
Thai Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing
FOR THE SALAD
- 1 head romaine lettuce (finely chopped)
- 1 cup red cabbage (shredded)
- 1 cup green onion (chopped)
- 1 cup sugar snap peas (chopped)
- 3 carrots (shredded or made into noodles)
- 1 cup edamame
- 1 large English cucumber (chopped)
- 2 mango (cubed)
- ½ cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- ¼ cup fresh mint (chopped)
- ¼ cup fresh basil (chopped)
- ½ cup salted cashews
- fresh chopped red chilis (optional)
- sesame seeds (to garnish)
- 9 oz rice noodles
- First, prepare the coconut dressing. Add all ingredients for the dressing to the bowl of a high-speed blender. Process together until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Chop all ingredients for the salad EXCEPT for the rice noodles. Add all the fresh ingredients to a large salad bowl and toss well to combine. Set aside.
- Prepare the rice noodles according to package instructions. Or, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the rice noodles. Reduce heat to medium and boil the noodles until al dente. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Drain immediately and rinse well with COLD water.
- Transfer noodles to the salad bowl and gently toss. Drizzle with the salad dressing and toss again.
- Garnish with additional fresh herbs, red chilies, and sesame seeds, if desired.
- For the dressing- Keep in mind that the coconut milk and the peanut butter solidify when cold. If you prepare this dressing ahead of time, and you find that your dressing is extra thick, I recommend adding a bit of water and heating in the microwave for a few seconds.
- If you plan to prepare this salad ahead of time, I like to chop all the salad ingredients (except for the mango and rice noodles) and toss them all together before placing them in a large ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
- Recipe inspired by Sun-Kissed Kitchen.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)