April 23, 2018

Fresh Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Sauce

Colorful, crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad tossed in the most amazing homemade garlic-ginger peanut sauce! Vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.

This salad is bursting with bright rainbow colors, delicious Thai flavors, plenty of fresh crunch, and awesome plant-based nutrition. I'm continually surprised at how pleasantly filling it is! The key component for me is really the peanut sauce. Delicious, savory, and SO full of flavor! Plus it's a great choice for make-ahead meals & lunches (it still tastes awesome the next day after the flavors get a chance to mingle.)

I've made versions of this salad with the quinoa base seen here and also the more typical rice noodles, and enjoy it both ways so feel free to substitute the quinoa for your own favorite noodles/rice noodles as well. I find myself trending more towards the quinoa option for both the nutrition boost and sometimes the delicate rice noodles break apart on me creating a bit of a mess. (But a happy, delicious mess nonetheless!) For more notes and detailed instruction on the sauce, see my full post here for the Thai Peanut Sauce. Hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Come join The Garden Grazer on Instagram 🍓 and share a pic if you make this! I love seeing your recreations!

Vegan, gluten-free (with tamari), oil-free
Serves about 4-5 (more as a side)

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups red cabbage (shredded)
1 medium carrot
1 red bell pepper
2 green onions
1/3 cup cilantro
1/2 cup cashews (or peanuts, or a combo of both)
Other additions: snow peas, edamame, tofu, cucumber, broccoli, fresh Thai basil, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, shredded kale, spinach, etc.

{For the garlic-ginger peanut sauce}
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use creamy, natural)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar or maple syrup (more/less to taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. tamari/soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
1-2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger, or more to taste
Hot water (to thin to desired consistency)
Optional: red pepper flakes

Rinse and cook the quinoa according to package instructions.*
Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: mince garlic and grate ginger. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except water. Heat about 3/4 cup of water to just under boiling. Slowly add water, a couple tablespoons at a time, and whisk. Continue adding water and whisking until sauce reaches your desired consistency. (I usually end up adding roughly 1/2 cup water.) Set aside.
Prepare veggies: thinly slice or shred cabbage, grate carrot, thinly slice or dice bell pepper, slice green onions, and roughly chop cilantro (stems removed). Place in a large mixing bowl.
Add cashews (and/or peanuts) and cooked quinoa.
Add dressing and toss well to combine.
Top with more nuts or cilantro if desired.

I simmer 3/4 cup quinoa in about 1 1/4 cup water or veggie broth covered for about 20 minutes. (I use water for this recipe since it has plenty of other flavor going on, but otherwise I like to use veggie broth to cook my quinoa for a nice flavor boost.)
This salad keeps well covered in the fridge for about 3-4 days, making it a great choice for take-along lunches, picnics, etc.!

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Looking for more salad inspiration? 🌿
Check out these 12+ Fresh, Colorful Salads!


  1. Looks delicious and I want to make it this week. Are the cashews raw or roasted?

    1. Hi Lisa! I used raw cashews but feel free to toss in whatever you have on hand :) Hope you enjoy it - have a beautiful week! -Kaitlin

    2. Thanks Kaitlin! Hope to make this today. I bought all the ingredients last week and never got around to it.

  2. This was an amazing recipe. So colorful and nutritious. I'm afraid it won't last long! Thank you thank you. A real winner

    1. Aww that’s lovely to hear! Thanks so much for the sweet message - I’m happy you enjoyed! Wishing you a wonderful weekend! -Kaitlin

  3. I made this today for lunch for my husband and myself and wow! it was delicious. I added edamame to my serving and my husband ate his in lettuce wraps. So good!!

    1. Hi again Lisa!! Thanks for leaving a comment to inspire others to try it in lettuce wraps - fantastic idea! So thrilled you and your husband enjoyed it!

  4. I made this for a family gathering. It was so delicious! Loved it!! It was devoured, I'll definitely be making this again. I like the other commenters suggestion to use in lettuce wraps.

    1. Hey Kat! Yay, so fun to hear you made this for a family gathering! Glad it was enjoyed, thanks for the sweet comment :) (And yes to trying this with lettuce wraps!! Such a great idea, need to try it soon!) Have a beautiful week! -Kaitlin

  5. This was delicious! The peanut sauce was my favorite part. We used crunchy peanut butter

    1. Hi Margaret! YAY!! So happy to hear you enjoyed this - thanks for the feedback! Glad it worked well with the crunchy PB too (some added texture, yum!) Wishing you a lovely rest of the week! -Kaitlin