This fresh + colorful Thai-inspired Quinoa Salad is tossed in the most amazing homemade peanut sauce! It's so nourishing and great made ahead for picnics, meal prep, and more. (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
This healthy quinoa salad is nourishing AND beautiful!
It combines bright colors, delicious flavors, and lots of fun textures.
Plus it's pleasantly filling and a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, and iron.
This meal is perfect for make-ahead meals, lunches, and meal prep. (It tastes great the next day after the flavors get a chance to mingle.)
My favorite part is the homemade creamy peanut sauce. It's rich, luscious, and adds so much flavor!
Ingredients for Thai Quinoa Salad
For this salad portion you will toss together:
- White quinoa: You will need one cup quinoa for this recipe (which is about 4 cups cooked quinoa). Or substitute with your favorite noodles or rice noodles for a noodle salad instead.
- Red cabbage: This is also known as purple cabbage. It contains antioxidants called anthocyanins that are responsible for the deep purple color. It's also rich in sulforaphane (a powerful phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables). Sulforaphane has been linked to many health benefits such as heart health, digestion, anti-cancerous benefits, and more.
- Red bell pepper: Or you can use yellow or orange bell pepper instead. (I wouldn't recommend the flavor of green bell pepper for this recipe.)
- Green onion (scallion)
- Fresh cilantro: I like the freshness this adds, but if you don't care for cilantro, simply omit it.
- Cashews: Or substitute peanuts or slivered almonds if desired. This adds some really great crunch to the salad.
Ingredients for Peanut Sauce
For the peanut sauce you will whisk together in a bowl:
- Peanut butter: I use creamy and natural. But you could also substitute another nut butter like almond butter if desired.
- Pure maple syrup: This is a great way to naturally sweeten the dressing, but you can use brown sugar instead which works great too.
- Tamari: Or substitute soy sauce, but I use tamari for gluten-free. Coconut aminos could also work.
- Fresh lemon juice: You will need about two tablespoons lemon juice, which is about half of lemon. (Or you can use fresh lime juice instead.)
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh ginger: Use as much or as little as you prefer.
- Hot water to thin
Tip: For more notes and detailed instructions, see my full post for the Easy Peanut Sauce.
Vegetables: Add other veggies like snow peas, cucumber, broccoli, bean sprouts, shredded kale, spinach, etc.
Extra protein: Include cooked, shelled edamame or your favorite baked tofu for extra plant-based protein if desired.
Herbs + seeds: Garnish your bowl with fresh Thai basil, red pepper flakes, or sesame seeds before serving.
Store leftovers covered in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
It's versatile! This salad is great for meal prep, a main dish or side dish, take-along lunches, picnics, etc.
Fresh Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Sauce
- 3/4 cup white quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 1/2 cups red cabbage
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 green onions
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup cashews (or peanuts, or a combo of both)
For the 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 (or 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 peanut sauce 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.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
If you are enjoying this Thai Quinoa Salad recipe with peanut sauce, also check out:
- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Vegan Taco Salad with Creamy Southwestern Dressing
- Cucumber Salad
- Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing