This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Crunchy, colorful and flavor-packed vegan Thai noodle salad with a red cabbage slaw with kale and Thai noodles tossed in a tangy peanut-lime dressing.
This cold Thai noodle salad is a crisp and fresh lunch salad or vegetable side dish for any meal. It’s loaded with flavor, and super-healthful. Plus, it’s easy to double for a crowd (like a backyard get-together).
It starts with rice noodles tossed with a crunchy slaw made with shredded red cabbage. chopped kale and fresh herbs. To put it all together, a tangy-sweet peanut dressing adds just the right amount of spice and acidity.
This salad makes a sensational side dish for a cookout or to make ahead for lunches during the week. It’s light yet satisfying, full of tasty umami-loaded ingredients.
This combination noodle salad + veggie slaw pushes all the buttons if you love eating fresh meals. The irresistible combination of crisp, cool texture from the vegetables and peanuts along with and sweet-sour flavors will have you hooked right away, too!
Ingredients in Thai noodle salad
This vibrant salad is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, made with a mix of colorful vegetables you can grab straight from the produce drawer of your fridge:
- Red cabbage
- Curly green or purple kale
- Red bell pepper: Use purple, yellow or orange peppers if you’d rather — they are all sweet and beautiful.
- Red onion
- Green onion (scallions)
- Fresh cilantro leaves: Thai basil is another herb to add in if you have a bunch.
- Cooked noodles: Udon, ramen, soba noodles or pad-thai rice noodles will all work in this salad.
- Optional: Add in a handful of any other fresh vegetables you might have on hand, such as matchstick-sliced carrots, snow peas or snap peas.
Noodle salad dressing
The secret sauce behind this flavorful salad is a peanut-lime dressing that bursts with freshness. Here’s what you need to mix it up:
- Thai peanut sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Fresh lime juice
- Prepared Thai peanut sauce
- Tamari (gluten-free) or soy sauce
- Toasted peanut oil or sesame oil
- Roasted unsalted peanuts (cashews work well too)
- Maple syrup
- Korean chili pepper (gochugaru) is a crushed red chili pepper that has a mild heat. You can use crushed red chili pepper flakes or cayenne instead (just use about half the amount).
Assembling and making ahead
Too hot to cook? The best part of this noodle salad is that after you’ve prepped the vegetables and whisked the dressing, you can mix the salad in a matter of minutes.
- The cooked noodles and vegetables will keep separately in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the salad.
- Cabbage and noodle salads are perfect to make ahead because they hold up well for hours, and up a day or two refrigerated. The sturdy cabbage and noodles will only absorb the flavor, so they often taste even better!
- Top off this salad with grilled chicken, cooked shrimp or glazed tofu for extra protein.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Cool and Crunchy Thai Noodle Salad
Thai Peanut Dressing
- ¼ cup (60 ml) Thai peanut sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons toasted peanut oil or sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Korean chili pepper (gochugaru), or ½ teaspoon crushed red chili or cayenne
- 8 ounces udon, ramen or pad Thai noodles, cooked, rinsed under cold water and drained
- 4 cups (175 g) shredded red or green cabbage, or a combination
- 2 cups (135 g) green or purple kale, sliced into ribbons
- 3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
- ½ cup (80 g) thinly sliced red onion
- ½ red or orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons crushed unsalted peanuts or cashews
Make the dressing
- Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until blended.
Make the slaw
- Add the cold noodles to a serving bowl with the cabbage, kale, onions, bell pepper and cilantro.
- Pour the dressing over the noodles and toss together with tongs. Top with the chopped nuts and serve.