Packed with crunchy veggies, edamame, rice noodles and a scrumptious garlicky, gingery peanut-lime dressing, this cold Thai Peanut Noodle Salad recipe is make ahead ready and simple to pull together! This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. [ VIDEO in recipe card ]
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Discovering Thai Flavors
When I transitioned to a vegetarian way of eating, it opened up a whole new world of flavors I hadn’t previously known. Thai flavors quickly rose to the top of my list of favorites. What I love about Thai food is that it’s fresh, umami packed and is easily plant focused.
While the crunchy veggies and slurpy noodles shine in this cold peanut noodle recipe, it’s the totally mouthwatering Thai noodle salad dressing/sauce that ties the textures and flavors together. The dressing is garlicky, gingery, peanutty, with just a touch of sweet and has that mouthwatering umami I’m forever after.
Ingredients for Thai Noodle Salad
Load up on the most colorful and favorite Thai inspired veggies. Thin or wide rice noodles (rice vermicelli or rice stick noodles) work beautifully for this salad.
For the Salad:
- Rice Noodles or Rice Sticks – I use Thai Kitchen Thin Rice Noodles, but you can use just about any noodle you like. Note that preparing a different noodle of choice may be different than the recipe method.
- Frozen Shelled Edamame – find this ingredient in the frozen international cuisine section of your grocery. If you can find organic, all the better.
- Cabbage – purple and green for color, thinly sliced.
- Carrots – for flavor, crunch and color.
- Bell Pepper – look for sweet peppers, red, yellow or orange or for maximum color, a combination.
- Sugar Snap or Snow Peas – either may be included in the noodle salad, for crunch and color.
- Green Onions – green onions are milder than yellow or red onions. You can use the green parts only for a mild flavor or white and green parts, for a more onion forward flavor.
- Cashews – you’ll toast the cashews until golden. Rough chop them for even distribution throughout the salad.
- Sesame Oil – optional, to loosen the rice noodles, but it adds such a nice flavor to the overall salad. I like toasted sesame oil, but plain may be used.
- Fresh Herbs – Cilantro, Thai Basil, Mint (optional) really brighten the salad. You can use one or more herbs… whatever is preferred.
For the Dressing:
Thai noodle salad dressing is easily whipped up in a food processor. Thin with water as needed, but not too much or the dressing won’t stick to the noodles and veggies. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Peanut Butter – use natural creamy or crunchy peanut butter.
- Lime Juice – fresh for best flavor.
- Fresh Ginger and Garlic – add so much earthy flavor to this dish. Use fresh for best flavor.
- Water – to thin the dressing as desired.
- Maple Syrup or Honey – adds just a bit of sweet to balance out the spicy. You can adjust this ingredient to taste.
- Tamari – or soy sauce for a salty and umami punch! You can adjust this to taste. Start with half the amount called for and add as desired.
- Sriracha or Red Pepper Flakes – for a hit of spice. You can adjust to taste.
Quick Guide: How to Make Thai Noodle Salad
This tasty salad comes together in about 30 minutes. And, although it can hang out for days in the fridge, the fats in the peanut butter are softest at room temperature. Toss the salad with the Thai peanut salad dressing just before serving for the best texture.
- First, boil the edamame, then use its cooking water to soak the noodles. Soak the noodles until tender, not mushy. About six minutes for thin stick noodles.
- Second, toast the cashews. Allow to cool then chop.
- Third, prepare the veggies by chopping and using a Julienne peeler for the carrots. Chop the herbs.
- Continuing, whip up the Thai peanut lime dressing in a food processor.
- Last, layer the ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the dressing.
If sharing after the salad has been chilled, allow it to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes so the fats in the dressing can soften. Or, dive right in! Either way this salad is quite tasty.
Related: Love Meal Prep Ready Salads? Find more like this salad on my 10 Vegetarian Salad Recipes to make for lunch or dinner post!
- Easy Swap: This recipe calls for Tamari in the Thai peanut dressing, which is naturally gluten free. However soy sauce can be used if desired.
- How Spicy? For a spicier Thai peanut noodle salad, share with Sriracha on the side or include up to three teaspoons in the dressing.
- Leftovers: Depending on how much dressing you like on the salad, you may have some peanut sauce left over. It stores beautifully for weeks in the fridge. I’ve used it as a dipping sauce for summer rolls, tossed it into curry and have poured it over these Thai Lentil Lettuce Wraps.
- Noodle Soaking Tip: When soaking the rice noodles, keep an eye on them as they can go from perfection to mush quickly. The Kitchn shares helpful tips on soaking rice noodles.
- Herby or Not: This Thai noodle recipe calls for a hefty portion of herbs such as cilantro, Thai basil and mint. They add so much freshness to the salad. If you have particular (ie: picky) eaters in your house, share herbs on the side.
More Thai Inspired Recipes to Love
- Thai Mushroom Pumpkin Curry
- Thai Ginger and Garlic Noodle Bowls
- Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowl with Coconut Forbidden Rice
- Sweet Potato ‘Noodle’ Pad Thai – by Foolproof Living
- Thai Vegetable Fried Rice with Cashews
- Vegetarian Pad Thai (Instant Pot) – by Kitchen Confidant
- Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad with Cashews
Thai Peanut Noodle Salad Recipe
For the Salad
- 1/2 C (65g) Cashews or peanuts
- 1 C (140g) Shelled Edamame frozen
- 4 oz (110g) Rice Stick Noodles
- 1-2 tsp Sesame Oil optional, *see note
- 1 1/2 C (155g) Red or Yellow Bell Pepper about 1 large, I like to mix red and yellow
- 1 C (45g) Carrots shredded
- 3 C (190g) Cabbage green and purple mixed, shredded
- 1 C (100g) Sugar Snap Peas or snow peas, sliced into bite size pieces on the bias
- 1/2 C (30g) Green Onions sliced thin on the bias
- Herbs such as Thai basil, mint and cilantro use to taste - I like a combo of all three, fine chop about 4 Tbs. Use whole leaves to garnish.
For the Dressing (makes about 1 C (260g))
- 1 inch (2.5cm) Nub Fresh Ginger peeled
- 2 Plump Cloves of Garlic
- 6 Tbs (100g) Peanut Butter smooth, natural
- 2 1/2 Tbs Lime Juice from about one lime
- 3 1/2 Tbs Tamari **soy sauce may be used if desired (see note)
- 2 Tbs Maple Syrup or honey
- 2 tsp Sriracha or 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 3-4 Tbs Hot Water to thin the dressing
For the Salad
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and toast the cashews for 8-9 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Rough chop. Set aside 2 Tbs for garnish.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add the frozen edamame. Set a timer for five minutes and cook the edamame on high heat. The water should return to a boil. Set a strainer inside a large bowl to retain the water from the edamame. After 5-6 minutes of cooking and the edamame is tender, strain the edamame reserving the water in a large bowl. Rinse the edamame under cool running water. Set the edamame aside.
- Working quickly, into the reserved water, add the rice noodles. Allow the noodles to soak for 4-6 minutes in the previously boiled edamame water. Loosen with a fork and check on them every few minutes. They should be tender, not mushy, when ready. Strain and rinse with cold running water, tossing, until the water runs clear. Wipe the bowl dry and add the rice noodles to the bowl. Drizzle with sesame oil if using and toss. Otherwise, add the edamame to the rice noodles.
- To the mixing bowl add the cashews, peppers, carrots, cabbage, peas, onions and herbs. Set in the refrigerator while making the dressing.
For the Dressing
- Into the bowl of a food processor, add the ginger, garlic, peanut butter, lime, Tamari, maple and Sriracha. With the processor running drizzle in a few Tbs of hot water. Process until smooth. Check consistency. The dressing needs to be thick enough to stick to the noodles and veggies. If too thin, it'll sink to the bottom of the bowl. Add up to two more Tbs of water if desired.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, holding out about 1/4 C. Toss salad thoroughly so that all the noodles and veggies are covered. Add additional dressing if desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle additional herbs and 2 Tbs of cashews over the top. Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha.
- Thai Peanut Salad holds well in the fridge for up to three days. If desired, set out at room temperature at least 30 minutes prior to serving to allow the fats to soften.