Healthy enough for a weeknight family dinner and big enough for a potluck, this cold Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad is loaded with fresh veggies. Crisp peppers, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, cilantro and crunchy peanuts are all tossed together with rice noodles and a spicy peanut sauce! Gluten-free.
(A record number of you have been making (and loving!) this Thai Noodle Salad lately. It's been hanging out as an old favourite in the archives for a while. So for any of you who have yet to give it a try, I thought I would bump this recipe back to the top of the blog for everyone to enjoy this summer.)
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- Makes a big salad! Need a salad recipe for a crowd that everyone seems to love? This is it!
- A family fave! This Thai Noodle Salad is a long-time favourite of mine. It has vibrant colours, contrasting textures, and it's easy to make it as spicy or as mild as you like. I often make a big bowl for a family dinner and serve it with my Easy Thai Chicken Skewers.
- Gluten-free. Full of crisp, crunchy veggies, it's tossed with rice noodles, so it's naturally gluten-free.
- Healthy veggies and the best peanut sauce! Crisp peppers, cabbage, carrots, cucumber and crunchy peanuts are all tossed together with rice noodles and a spicy Thai-style peanut sauce. Adjust the amount of chili sauce in the recipe if you like it spicier!
- Prep ahead of time. This cold Thai noodle salad is easy to make and most of it can be made in advance.
🛒 Ingredients and substitutions
You'll find a complete list of ingredients with amounts in the recipe card below. But before we get to the full recipe, here are a few notes about some of the key ingredients for this crisp and cruncy Thai noodle salad with peanut sauce dressing!
- rice noodles: your choice--thin or flat rice noodles, brown rice noodles, vermicelli, or try it with well-drained zucchini noodles!
- green cabbage: Savoy or Napa
- red cabbage: aka purple cabbage
- bell peppers: 1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow
- cucumber: I used a Long English cucumber
- green onions and radishes
- peanuts: you can substitute almonds or cashews if you're following a paleo diet or want this to be allergen-friendly
- sesame seeds: either white or black
To make homemade spicy peanut sauce, you'll need
- peanut butter: substitute almond butter if you're avoiding peanuts or on a paleo diet
- full-fat canned coconut milk
- gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (or coconut aminos for paleo diet)
- rice vinegar
- garlic: fresh is always best!
- ginger: again, fresh is always best. Fresh ginger has much more flavour than powdered ginger.
- sweet chili sauce
- lime juice
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make this recipe perfectly. You'll find complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Just break down the recipe into these steps:
- Make the Spicy Peanut Sauce first. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Save the remaining part of the can of coconut milk for another use, or toss it in your morning smoothie. You can make the peanut sauce a few days in advance as it keeps well in the refrigerator. You'll have extra, so store leftovers it in a small jar in the fridge or freezer.
- Cook the rice noodles. Put the rice noodles or vermicelli in a large pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions, stirring once after 2 minutes to break up the noodles. Drain, rinse thoroughly in cold water, and set aside.
- Chop the vegetables. Use a julienne cutter or very sharp knife to slice the cabbage, peppers, and green onions and radishes. If your cucumber has lots of seeds, remove them by scraping the length of the cucumber with a spoon. Seeding the cucumber will help to avoid having too much water in the salad. Use a julienne tool for the carrots or a box grater to coarsely grate them.
- Toss the salad, garnish and serve! Toss the vegetables and the rice noodles together until well combined. You may need to give the rice noodles another rinse if they are starting to stick together. Add the peanut sauce and toss again. Garnish with chopped cilantro, coarsely chopped peanuts and sesame seeds just before serving.
🔁 Possible Variations
Avoiding peanuts? Switch out the peanut sauce for avocado cream or cashew cream. Garnish with coarsely chopped almonds instead of peanuts.
Feel free to switch in your favourite veggies from your garden or farmer's market.
👍🏼 Helpful Tips
Make ahead! Chop or slice all the vegetables for this salad a day or two in advance. Store in a covered container in the fridge.
You can also make the peanut sauce days in advance. I make this sauce on repeat and always have a jar or two of it in the freezer.
I usually use thin rice noodles or vermicelli, but wide rice noodles (sometimes called Pad Thai noodles) are delicious in this recipe, too.
You'll need a large bowl, a sharp knife, a julienne too or a grater.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
⏰ Storage Instructions
Store leftover salad separately from the peanut sauce dressing in a covered container in the fridge.
🗒 More healthy salad recipes
When you make this Thai rice noodle salad, please leave a comment and a star rating below. I love hearing when you've made one of my recipes! Thanks in advance. Subscribe to my newsletter and have new recipes delivered straight to your inbox.
Super Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad
Spicy Peanut Sauce
- ½ cup peanut butter, natural, no-sugar added, creamy style
- ½ cup coconut milk, canned (full-fat)
- 2 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce) or coconut aminos for Paleo diet
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ - ½ inch slice fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
Cold Thai Noodle Salad Ingredients
- 1 12-ounce package rice noodles
- 3 cups Napa or Savoy cabbage very finely sliced
- 1 cup purple cabbage, very finely sliced
- 4 large carrots, julienne cut or shredded
- 2 med. red bell peppers, very thinly sliced
- 1 med. yellow bell pepper, very thinly sliced
- 1 med. orange bell pepper, very thinly sliced
- 1 long English cucumber, seeded
- 8 green onions, chopped
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup peanuts, or cashews, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional
- Prepare the Spicy Peanut Sauce first. This can be made up to a few days in advance. Blend all peanut sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. You can thin the sauce with a little water if you like. Set aside if using right away, or refrigerate (or freeze) if making it in advance.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add rice noodles to water and let stand for 8 - 10 minutes (or follow package directions, depending on the type of noodles you're using), stirring after 2 minutes to break up noodles. Remove from heat, drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.
- Prepare all vegetables and transfer to a large bowl with the cooled, rinsed and drained noodles.
- Just before serving, toss with the peanut sauce and garnish with cilantro, peanuts, and optional sesame seeds.