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This easy Thai peanut salad (peanut slaw) combines fresh, crunchy veggies with a creamy, tangy, sweet, savory peanut dressing in just 10 minutes—perfect for pairing with a plant protein and enjoying as a main or side dish at picnics, potlucks, BBQs, or a mid-week meal!

completed Crunchy Thai Peanut Salad in a white bowl against a white background
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Fresh and Creamy Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing

If you or someone you know isn’t a fan of salads, we think you/they just haven’t tried the right one. Sure, limp lettuce and a few chopped tomatoes aren’t going to inspire much.. but have you ever tried a recipe like this crunchy Thai peanut salad?

If anything, this Thai cabbage salad is closer to a slaw than a traditional salad, with a combination of shredded crunchy vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, and carrot. The difference is that it’s doused in a super creamy peanut butter dressing for a crisp, flavorful, filling, nutritious, and satisfying Thai crunch salad.

Not only is this recipe made with simple, inexpensive, highly nutritious ingredients and easy to throw together in just minutes, but the addictively creamy, tangy, slightly salty, slightly sweet peanut salad dressing will have you coming back for more.

When combined, all the ingredients make for a salad full of flavor, color, and texture, along with tons of fiber, plant-based protein, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals in every bite. So enjoy it as a light dinner tonight and save the leftovers for lunch tomorrow—you won’t regret it. Did we mention it’s gluten-free, low-carb, vegan, and can be made keto-friendly and nut-free, too?!

Have any leftover peanut sauce? It’s ready to make almost any dish 100x better. Pour it over buddha bowls, noodles, other salads, baked tofu, and more! Why not also try more flavor-packed salads, like Mediterranean quinoa salad, mixed bean salad, or sweet potato salad.

The Ingredients

Just 10 frugal yet nutrient-dense ingredients are all you need to pull together this Thai peanut salad recipe.

ingredients for Crunchy Thai Peanut Salad against a white background

The Peanut Slaw

  • The vegetables: This salad uses a selection of
    • Shredded romaine lettuce (or iceberg lettuce/ shredded kale)
    • Shredded red cabbage (or green cabbage/ a combination of the two)

You could use pre-packaged bagged coleslaw mix to save time, but the Thai peanut slaw won’t be as fresh or crunchy.

  • Cilantro: Use fresh cilantro and adjust the amount to taste, or use 50/50 cilantro and green onions.
  • The plant protein: (optional) We used edamame for this version, but you could also use chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, seitan, or a store-bought vegan chicken alternative.
  • Peanuts: (optional) Add some chopped peanuts for a crunchy garnish, raw or roasted but unsalted work best. Sesame seeds or chopped almonds also work.

The Thai Peanut Salad Dressing

This creamy peanut salad dressing really takes this vegan Thai salad to the next level, so you’ll want to come back to it time and time again.

  • Peanut butter: Use a creamy peanut butter. Almost butter works in a pinch, but the flavor will change.
  • Garlic and ginger: Fresh is best, but you can use garlic and/or ginger paste, too.
  • Soy sauce: Use regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce. If gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Apple cider vinegar: For tang. Alternatively, use unseasoned rice vinegar. Add depth by using 50/50 vinegar and lime juice.
  • Maple syrup: Or another sweetener like agave or even brown sugar (though liquid sweeteners work best). To make a keto/sugar-free version, use a sugar substitute like sugar-free maple syrup or erythritol.

You’ll also need some water to achieve the correct dressing consistency.

Optional Add-Ins

  • Noodles: A cold peanut noodle salad is one of the most popular variations. You can use any of your favorite noodles, like thin or flat rice noodles, soba noodles, etc.
  • Quinoa: Instead of noodles, adding quinoa is another popular option and helps to add extra fiber and plant-based protein. Millet would also work.
  • Avocado: For more heart-healthy fats and creaminess.   
  • Other veg: You can experiment with many crunchy veggies, like thinly sliced bell peppers, cucumber, or sugar snap peas, and shredded Brussels sprouts or broccoli.
  • Mango: Thinly sliced to add juicy sweetness to the Thai cabbage salad.
  • Lime slices: To serve with the Asian peanut slaw for added brightness.
  • Chili: Use minced red chili/ jalapeño (remove stem and seeds first) to add heat to the Thai peanut salad. Alternatively, add red pepper flakes or sriracha to the dressing.
  • Sesame oil: Add a small amount to the dressing for a toasty, nutty depth.
  • Fried shallots: To garnish for crunch.

How to Make Thai Peanut Salad?

  • 1) First, mince the garlic and ginger, combine all the Thai peanut dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisk until smooth and creamy, and set aside.

Alternatively, add everything to a mini food processor/blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Start with a little water and increase until it reaches a good salad dressing consistency.

  • 2) Meanwhile, prepare all the salad ingredients by shredding the lettuce, cabbage, and carrots and transferring them to a large bowl with cilantro and the plant protein of your choice.
  • 3) Toss the Thai cabbage salad with the dressing, then serve, optionally sprinkling the salad with chopped peanuts to garnish. Enjoy!

It’s best to only add the dressing just before serving for the crunchiest peanut coleslaw/ salad.

FAQs

How to shred cabbage?

First, remove any wilting outer leaves, cut the cabbage in half, and cut out the tough core using a V-shaped cut. Then, cut the two cabbage halves into half again and use a long, sharp knife, food processor shredding disk, or a mandoline to slice it as thin/thick as needed.  

Can I make it without peanuts?

Though the flavor won’t be the same, you can use almond butter and chopped almonds for a peanut-free Thai crunch salad. As a bonus, this version is also paleo-friendly. For a nut-free version, try sunflower seed butter.

completed Crunchy Thai Peanut Salad in a white bowl against a white background

Recipe Notes

  • For a well-balanced meal: Make sure to include an added plant protein. For a heartier meal with carbs, also add noodles or quinoa.
  • To save time: Use pre-shredded ingredients or use a food processor shredding disk to get the job done in practically seconds.
  • Allow it to marinate: We recommend preparing the dressing in advance to allow the flavors to meld. An hour is great, but overnight is even better.  
  • Tweak to taste: You can adjust any of the peanut dressing ingredients to taste.

Storage Instructions

If you’d like to prepare this Thai cabbage peanut salad in advance, you can prepare the vegetables and peanut sauce separately and store them in airtight containers in the fridge for 2-3 days in advance.

Thai peanut salad dressing tastes best when left to meld for at least an hour, but overnight is even better and will last up to 5 days in the fridge.

Once fully assembled, it’s best to enjoy it immediately. However, any leftovers will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days, softening over time.

We don’t recommend freezing this crunchy Thai peanut salad because of all the fresh vegetables.

Serving Recommendations

This peanut salad makes for a hearty and well-balanced meal already. However, you can also serve it in smaller portions, like a peanut slaw, or as a side alongside:

More Vegan Thai Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Crunchy Thai Peanut Salad

5 from 71 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
This easy Thai peanut salad (peanut slaw) combines fresh, crunchy veggies with a creamy, tangy, sweet, savory peanut dressing in just 10 minutes—perfect for pairing with a plant protein and enjoying as a main or side dish at picnics, potlucks, BBQs, or a mid-week meal!

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup of creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of agave or brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups of shredded purple cabbage
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • ½ cup of chopped cilantro
  • Chopped peanuts, optional for garnish
  • Plant-based protein of your choice (we used edamame in the photo), optional

Instructions 

  • In a standard bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, water, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and sweetener, until thoroughly combined.
  • In a large bowl, add the romaine, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro.
  • Pour in the dressing and toss together. Sprinkle on the peanuts and plant-based protein, if using.

Video

Notes

  • For a well-balanced meal: Make sure to include an added plant protein. For a heartier meal with carbs, also add noodles or quinoa.
  • To save time: Use pre-shredded ingredients or use a food processor shredding disk to get the job done in practically seconds.
  • Allow it to marinate: We recommend preparing the dressing in advance to allow the flavors to meld. An hour is great, but overnight is even better.  

Nutrition

Calories: 181kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 365mgPotassium: 511mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 10365IUVitamin C: 39mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Method: No Cook
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really tasty! I used a different but very similar peanut dressing to pour on top and added baked tofu. I will definitely make it again!

  2. 5 stars
    This crunchy Thai peanut salad has so much flavor! Love the crunch and it’s so easy to make. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    My favorite salad! The combination of crunch, peanutty goodness and a tiny bit of sweetness make for the perfect meal. Love!

  4. 5 stars
    You can neer go wrong with a delicious salad recipe! I can’t wait to make this along with the peanut dressing!

  5. 5 stars
    Yum! I have some of this salad mix in the fridge. Now all I have to do is add the delicious peanut dressing, cilantro, and peanuts for my lunch today. Thank you so much for the delicious recipe!

    1. We at Plant-Based on a Budget haven’t tried that out yet so can’t guarantee the results. But if you do end up trying out a different nut butter, please let us know how it goes in the comments!