Healthy, hearty, and loaded with colorful veggies this Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad is as scrumptious as it looks. It’s tossed in a flavorful peanut dressing and topped with crushed peanuts, cilantro, and lime juice and will make a perfect addition to really any meal. It’s a salad that will wow your guests and your tastebuds! Thai-Inspired Peanut Quinoa Salad is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan-friendly.
Weekend grill-outs, weeknight dinners, meal prep lunches – Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad is a winner for all!
It’s a hearty salad making it great for meal prepping and because it comes with so much flavor it’s an easy solution to spruce up any menu. We like to serve it with juicy grilled chicken, grilled pork chop, or grilled salmon to really round out the meal (yet keep it simple). In fact, during the grilling months, our favorite kind of meal is a meal that is made up of a delicious salad and grilled meat or fish. Super simple but totally delicious and satisfying. For meal prep, we like to make the salad and add cubed or shredded chicken to it. It’s a lunch we most definitely look forward to!
And we can’t forget to mention how nutritious this Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad is! It’s complete with healthy and satisfying fats, 5 g of fiber, and 10 g of plant-based protein per serving and a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and mineral thanks to all of the bright, colorful veggies. A salad that’s incredibly healthy, totally scrumptious and super satisfying is a win in our book!
Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this salad. We have also included any appropriate substitutions.
For the Salad:
- Quinoa – a hearty grain that makes for a great addition to salads. Any color of quinoa will work. Rice would make for a great substitute.
- Cabbage and carrots – a mix of shredded cabbage and carrots. Broccoli slaw would work, too!
- Snap peas – crunchy and sweet!
- Red bell pepper – orange, yellow, or mini sweet bell peppers would also work.
- Green onions – adds a nice mild onion flavor.
- Cilantro – fresh basil would make for a tasty substation in this recipe.
- Dry roasted peanuts – you’ll love the salt and crunch from the peanuts. For a nut-free version, substitute dry roasted sunflower seeds.
- Sesame seeds – black or white sesame seeds. If you don’t have these on hand, feel free to omit.
- Lime wedges – for serving.
For the dressing:
- Natural peanut butter – substitute almond butter, for a nut-free version substitute sunflower seed butter.
- Coconut aminos – tamari would make for a great substitution in this recipe and add similar flavor as coconut aminos.
- Lime juice
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Fresh ginger – may substitute ¼ teaspoon ground ginger.
- Garlic clove – may substitute ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
This dressing also makes for a tasty meat marinade!
How to make Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad
The first step of this recipe is to make the quinoa so that it has a chance to cool. While the quinoa cooks you can chop the veggies and make the dressing. After the quinoa is cooked and cooled, simply toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl and top with crushed peanuts and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges if you wish.
How to prep Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad
Whether it’s for your weekend meal prep or you’re trying to get a head start on dinner preparation here’s what I recommend for both scenarios.
- Weekend meal prep: prepare this salad as written but do not add the crushed peanuts. To keep the crunch of the peanuts I recommend adding those just before serving. Store the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just before serving, add a squeeze of lime juice and top with crushed peanuts.
- Dinner prep: the bulk of this salad can be prepared the day before you plan to serve it. Feel free to make the dressing, cook up the quinoa, chop the veggies. Store each of those items in airtight containers and then just before serving, toss everything together
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Other quinoa salads to try
For the Salad:
- ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 cup of water
- 4–5 cups shredded mix of cabbage (any color), carrots, broccoli slaw
- 1 cup sliced snap peas
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- ½ cup dry roasted peanuts*, rough chopped + additional for topping
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds
- Lime wedges
- ⅓ cup natural peanut butter*
- ¼ cup coconut aminos (may sub tamari)
- 3 Tbsp. lime juice
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger (may sub ¼ tsp ground ginger)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (may sub ½ tsp. garlic powder)
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- Warm water if needed
For the quinoa:
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer with water.
- In a small pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Gently reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until all water is absorbed.
- Remove the quinoa from heat, cover the pot, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool.
For the salad and dressing:
- In a bowl combine the cabbage mix, snap peas, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, peanuts, sesame seeds, and cooled quinoa.
- For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients and whisk mix together well. If needed, add warm water 1 teaspoon at a time to achieve a smooth dressing like consistency. This will depend on the consistency of the peanut butter used.
- Pour dressing over the salad and stir gently to combine.
- To serve, top with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
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How to store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
*for peanut-free use sunflower seed butter and sunflower seeds.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe (1 1/2 cups)
- Calories: 270
- Fat: 16 g
- (Sat Fat: 2 g)
- Sodium: 450 mg
- Carbohydrate: 23 g
- (Fiber: 5 g
- Sugar: 5 g)
- Protein: 10 g
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter.