Thai Chopped Salad with Peanut or Cashew Drizzle
Thai Chopped Salad – A fresh chopped salad loaded with colorful, crunchy veggies, bright vinaigrette & a creamy peanut drizzle. Scroll down for the video + recipe! (Gluten free, paleo-friendly)
Chopped salads are one of my favorite easy all-in-one dinners or lunches. They’re fresh, packed with veggie goodness + protein, and usually they’re pulled together with a dynamite dressing. They’re also GREAT for family dinners, since you can keep the components separate if you like and have everyone build their own (which works GREAT for picky eaters!).
This Thai Chopped Salad is no exception. It’s got crunch, color, protein, veggies, and the kind of dressing I could eat by the spoon. (Seriously. It’s SO GOOD.) It works for fresh, healthy lunches or dinners, and did I mention THE DRESSING? Because woah, baby.
Let’s make it, shall we?
What do you need for Thai Chopped Salad:
A DELICIOUS LEAFY BASE – This Thai chopped salad uses a similar base to my Chinese Chicken Salad. It’s a crunchy, colorful mixture of romaine lettuce, green cabbage, and red/purple cabbage. (Or, see the next section for an easy shortcut!)
PLENTY OF VEGGIES – A bright mix of shredded carrots, diced bell peppers, cucumbers, green onions, and fresh cilantro add a huge burst of flavor and even more color. Yum!
SOME PROTEIN – My Thai chopped salad recipe is fully loaded, and that means a punch of protein. I use leftover cooked chicken (or even a rotisserie chicken!) to keep things simple. Easy-peasy.
SWEET CHILI & LIME VINAIGRETTE – A mixture of Thai sweet chili sauce + fresh lime juice makes a bright, fresh complement to the bold flavors in the salad base.
A PEANUT OR CASHEW DRIZZLE – I could eat this by the spoonful. This creamy peanut sauce drizzle MAKES this salad! I combine peanut butter (or cashew butter!), coconut milk, a little tamari, and pure maple syrup for a salty-sweet-umami-filled finish. I add it on right before serving and it tastes *incredible.*
CRUNCHY NUTS ON TOP – I opt for lightly salted cashews or peanuts for some satisfying crunch at the end!
Shortcuts & Substitutions for this Thai Chopped Salad:
Paleo? Read this! Thai chopped salad can absolutely be made paleo friendly. You’ll simply swap cashew butter and cashews for the peanut butter and peanuts. Then, you’ll swap in coconut aminos in place of the GF tamari. Then, you’ll want to choose a compliant sweet chili sauce. This one is easy and paleo friendly!
In a rush? Try this shortcut! You can absolutely swap in a tricolor coleslaw mix in place of the green and purple cabbage. I still like to add the shredded carrots, since most coleslaw mixes are light on carrots.
Let’s talk allergies – If you don’t tolerate peanuts, you can use cashews & cashew butter in this recipe. You can also try almond butter, but I don’t care for that quite as much as the cashew & peanut versions. If you don’t do coconut, you can use any milk you like to thin out the peanut drizzle (dairy, cashew, rice, etc.). Whatever works for you!
Other add-in ideas & variations – I love playing with recipes! My favorite way to mix it up is by adding a bit of diced mango. Or, you can make it vegan by omitting the chicken and adding some edamame instead. Or, you can vamp up the Thai-inspired factor with the peanut sauce by adding a dash of fish sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions + Tips for the Best Thai Chopped Salad:
Gluten Free & Paleo – Again, Thai chopped salad is totally paleo friendly. Just use cashew butter & cashews in place of peanut, use the coconut aminos option, and use a compliant sweet chili sauce, like this. (In a rush? Skip the vinaigrette!)
A Tip For Blending Your Peanut Sauce – If you’re using natural peanut butter or cashew butter like I do, you may need to be patient when whisking your peanut sauce. It’ll take a bit longer, but it WILL come together. You can speed things up by warming the peanut butter slightly, or by mixing the peanut sauce with an immersion blender (my favorite).
Make Ahead Notes – If you’re not serving your Thai chopped salad immediately, I recommend storing the vinaigrette and peanut sauce separately, and the salad mixture (other than the cashews) in an airtight bag in the fridge. Stored this way, it’ll keep 2-3 days at least. Then just mix up what you need when you’re ready!
Turn it Into a Mason Jar Salad! This chopped salad is Mason jar friendly, which makes it easy to pack to work. Use a wide-mouth mason jar and follow this formula: First, add the peanut sauce and chili vinaigrette to the bottom of the jar, followed by the chicken, veggies, and lastly the greens. Add cashews right before serving!
Want More Kick? You can add a little extra kick to your Thai chopped salad with some sliced red Thai chilis (or less-conventional jalapeños if you can’t find Thai chilis). They’re hot(!), so proceed with caution 😉
Love Big Salads? You Might Also Like:
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- My Ultimate Guide to Chicken Salad (8 Different Recipes!)
- BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
- BLT Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocados
- Powerhouse Quinoa Salad
Thai Chopped Salad with Peanut Drizzle
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: About 5 servings 1x
Thai Chopped Salad – A fresh, crisp salad topped with sweet thai chili vinaigrette and a creamy peanut sauce drizzle. (Gluten free & paleo friendly!)
For the salad:
- 2 cups romaine lettuce
- 2 cups napa cabbage, shredded
- 2 cups (about 8oz) shredded cooked chicken breast
- 1 1/2 cups red cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup diced bell pepper (about 1 bell pepper)
- 1 cup diced cucumber (I like English or Persian cucumbers)
- 2 green onions
- 1/4–1/2 cup cilantro, minced
- 1/3–1/2 cup cashews or peanuts (raw or lightly salted)
For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
For the peanut drizzle:
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (or cashew butter)
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (canned or refrigerated)
- 2 Tbsp. gluten free tamari (I like reduced sodium), coconut aminos (paleo), or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
For the salad:
- Add lettuce, red and green cabbage, chicken, carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, green onion, and cilantro to a large bowl.
- If not serving immediately, store in an airtight bag for 2-3 days.
- When ready to serve, toss salad with chili-lime vinaigrette until well coated. Then, serve with peanut or cashew drizzle on top and sprinkle with cashews or peanuts.
For Chili Lime Vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, stir together Thai sweet chili sauce and lime juice. Whisk to combine. Store separately, and toss with salad right before serving.
For the Peanut or Cashew Drizzle:
- In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter or cashew butter, coconut milk, tamari/coconut aminos, and maple syrup. Whisk until completely smooth. (Or, you can use an immersion blender to combine quickly)
- Drizzle over salad when ready to serve.
Make Ahead Notes: If you don’t plan to serve this immediately, store the dressing and drizzle separate from the salad. Stored separately, the components of this salad will last at least 2-3 days in the fridge.
Paleo & Gluten Free Notes: To be paleo compliant, use cashews, cashew butter, and coconut aminos. You can choose to omit the sweet chili sauce, or use a homemade compliant version like this one. For gluten free, use coconut aminos or gluten free Tamari (I prefer low-sodium).
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main Dish, Salad
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Thai, Asian, American
Keywords: Thai Chopped Salad, Thai Chicken Salad, Thai Chopped Chicken Salad, Chopped Salad, Paleo, Gluten Free, Peanut Sauce,
Recipe + Post + Photos Updated Feb 2019. Originally posted May 2013.
This looks delicious! It reminds me a lot of a salad I used to order at a pizza joint in Montana called MacKenzie River Pizza Co.!! I loved that salad and can’t wait to try this one! Thanks!
I definitely cannot resist this salad. I love these flavors!
I LOVE Thai salad, pizza, food in general. This sounds refreshingly divine!
What a beautiful salad! DH loves peanut sauce so I think he will go for this in a big way. I can imagine some leftover grilled chicken in this as an option, too. Thanks for the recipe!
I loved this recipe! The peanut drizzle put it over the top and I can envision mixing it up and using whatever greens I have on hand to make this in the future. Thank you!
I put that peanut drizzle on SO MANY THINGS! It’s so good!