Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad


This is a crazy thing, but I just tried pad thai for the very first time, just a few days ago. And I hated it. Okay okay, it had a few good things going on but the first problem may have been it lacked the most of what I wanted it to have. For example, my order came out to me with ONE leaf of cilantro on top.

Seriously, what good is that going to do :). Then it also had maybe 3 peanuts throughout the entire dish. Being an annoying foodie, I simply went and asked for more of both and it did offer much improvement once I added them.

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad | Cooking Classy

The thing I think I will have a hard time getting used to is the texture of rice noodles. I’m so used to Italian pasta that the rice pasta seemed soggy to me. The texture kind of freaked me out.

Then there were the scrambled eggs that had the texture of rubber but in the first place they seem strange to me there anyway. I was sure a dish like this could grow on me but it would definitely require some tweaking, at least to that version I had tried at the restaurant.

With that said, what I’ve made here is something very similar to pad thai but also much different. I left out the fish sauce (another ingredient that’s going to take me a while to want to reach for), left out any shrimp or chicken as well as eggs, and I didn’t plan on leaving out tamarind paste but I couldn’t find any at the store (but after all is said and done I don’t think this needs it anyway), then of course I left out the rice noodles and replaced them with quinoa.

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad | Cooking Classy

This is a vegetarian meal that doesn’t lack the flavor presence of protein, like chicken or shrimp (although you could definitely add them on if you’d like). I’ve eaten so much junk food lately that I was in the mood for making something healthy and nutritious, and this is just so.

And like I said, I wanted to make something pad thai like, that I actually liked. One of the best parts of making food at home is that you can make it just how you like. This recipe makes quite a bit so if you are making it, say for two people, you could definitely get away with making half of the recipe. Enjoy!

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad | Cooking Classy


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Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad

A flavorful vegetarian salad that's bursting with bright Thai flavors!

Servings: 6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes



  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp onion powder


  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 3 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 cups matchstick carrots
  • 8 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 cucumber , peeled and diced
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts , chopped (unsalted or lightly salted)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro , long stems removed
  • Optional add-ins: cooked chicken , pork, shrimp or tofu


  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare quinoa according to directions listed on package. To assemble salads (I just assembled each serving individually), layer cooked quinoa, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber, green onions and peanuts then garnish with plenty of cilantro. Drizzle each serving with dressing to taste and serve.
  3. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: Thai Salad
Author: Jaclyn


  • Lauren: Hi there, looking forward to trying this recipe! Do you think I could sub quinoa for farro or barley? I’m not a huge quinoa fan! Also, how many days in the fridge would this stay? Should I wait to dress it until right before I eat it? Thanks! January 29, 2017 at 10:15am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes you should be able to sub one of those and it should keep for a few days in the fridge. February 1, 2017 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Clare: Hi,
    I would love to try this salad but have never used agave nectar. Is there another ingredient that can be substituted?
    Thank you! January 6, 2016 at 9:06pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I would try maybe 3 – 4 Tbsp each honey and sugar. January 7, 2016 at 10:41am Reply

    • Caroline: Honey worked fine for me! Same measurements as the recipe. June 10, 2017 at 4:51am Reply

  • Kelly R.: Best….salad…EVER! November 23, 2014 at 10:57am Reply

  • thai peanut dressing | miki's kitchen: […] slightly adapted from Cooking Classy […] June 27, 2014 at 5:58am Reply

  • Internet-ing: FOOD BLOGS | DiniBlini: […] better than ANY cupcakes I’ve eaten ever. 2) The savory dishes are simple and good, like the Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad that kickstarted a salad binge in my house. 3) Really regular posts = key in this short attention […] May 7, 2014 at 10:08pm Reply

  • Surkhab: I love thai food ….and i need to make this .!! :) March 24, 2014 at 9:50am Reply

  • DiniBlini | Thai Inspired Salad with Peanut Butter Based Dressing: […] *Adapted from Cooking Classy. […] December 23, 2013 at 1:51am Reply

  • Mikelle Despain (@mikelledespain): I made this tonight for dinner and it was INCREDIBLE! I added a little extra peanut butter to the sauce because I wanted a little stronger peanut flavor, and my husband and I absolutely snarfed our salads. He is a meat lover and usually doesn’t care for the vegetarian dishes that I make (and thinks that most healthy dishes lack flavor), but this got double thumbs up and has a permanent spot in our dinner rotation. Thanks for the great dish! August 22, 2013 at 7:06pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That’s great to hear Mikelle! I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed this salad even with out meat :), thanks for leaving a comment! August 22, 2013 at 8:15pm Reply

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