Larb Gai Salad Recipe (Thai Chicken Salad)

Experience the heart of Thai Isan cuisine with this healthy and delicious meal, filled with authentic flavors and simple ingredients.

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Larb gai salad served on a lettuce leaf, garnished with shredded carrot and a lime wedge, with a basket of sticky rice and decorative flowers in the background.

Larb gai salad recipe (Thai chicken salad) is the perfect choice for a quick, healthy meal on busy weeknights. This traditional Thai dish comes with tender ground chicken, perfectly flavored with an aromatic dressing, and served with white rice or in crunchy lettuce cups. Today we’re making an authentic version, just like you’d find in Thailand.

Thai woman enjoying a lettuce wrap, facing the camera. She's holding a clay dish with Thai chicken salad, fresh vegetables, and 2 flowers in her hand.

What is larb gai salad

Let me introduce you to a refreshing Thai salad from Northeast Thailand, Isan. A place close to my heart, where I was born and call my current home.

Larb, or as some might call it, “laab” or “laap” is a staple of Northeastern Thai cuisine. In Isan, we are blessed with the riches of nature and beautiful rice fields.

Lush green rice fields featuring a small banana tree, under a sky adorned with a vivid rainbow and scattered clouds.

Elder people of Isan try to incorporate as much of those nature elements in our food as they can. My grandparents love to make bamboo soup, insects, banana desserts, they eat what they can find and grow.

Thai minced chicken salad with sticky rice, a wedge of lime, carrots, and a lettuce wrap.

Isan cuisine is incredibly flavorful, we cook with many herbs and spices, and we love spicy and tangy flavors.

We love food like juicy grilled chicken, a crispy and spicy som tam Thai (green papaya salad), and fermented dishes.

Another staple food of this region is sticky rice – khao niao. Many Isan people prefer it over steamed rice, and it makes a great addition to this tasty Thai salad with ground chicken.

Simply roll up a ball of sticky rice, dip it into the dressing, and then scoop up some salad. It’s a fun, authentic, and unique way to enjoy this recipe!

Rolling a ball of sticky rice over a sticky rice basket.

Now, let’s talk about the minced chicken salad, a meal that’s surprisingly easy to make in your own kitchen. In this recipe we’re using chicken, but you can use other ground meat such as beef, raw beef (Isan cuisine), pork, turkey, and even shrimp.

I love it because it’s so flavorful while still being healthy, and there’s barely any cooking involved. It makes a great main dish or side-dish to pair with other Thai food.

Lettuce wrap with laab gai, a wedge of lime, and shredded carrot.

This meal is loaded with the freshness of green onions, coriander, mint, and culantro. Shallots are a key ingredient with a slight crunch and a subtle sweetness, while lime juice is needed for a tangy dressing. A simple mix of fish sauce and white sugar is enough for the right amount of flavor. And because I love a good spicy meal, we’re topping it off with dried chili flakes for that extra kick of heat and a hint of smoky BBQ flavor, this is totally optional.

The last ingredient is toasted rice powder, which is essential for adding an authentic flavor and extra crunch.

What is toasted rice powder

Toasted rice powder or “khao khua” is an important part of Thai cooking, particularly in the flavorful dishes of Isan cuisine. It’s easy to make by simply toasting raw sticky rice in a pan and moving it back and fort until it reaches a golden brown color. The rice grains are then ground into a fine powder. This can be done in the traditional manner with a mortar and pestle, which is very rewarding, or you can do it quick and simple with a food processor.

Thai toasted rice powder in a wooden mortar with pestle on a wooden cutting board.

This crunchy powder has a delightful nutty and toasty flavor and is a key ingredient in dishes like larb pork, grilled beef salad, and other dishes with origins in Laos and Thailand.

Close-up of toasted rice powder in a black spoon on a wooden cutting board. Behind it is a glass container with more of the powder.

A helpful tip is to make a larger quantity at once. It stores for a long time in an airtight container, so the next time you’re cooking Thai food, you won’t have to make toasted rice powder from scratch.

Cooking methods

This larb gai salad recipe is simple to make. The only cooking method is to cook the chicken in water, that’s it!

The chicken can then absorb all the wonderful flavors of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, no heat involved. I like to make the chicken salad this way so the herbs and spices retain their freshness.

Close-up of larb minced chicken with shredded carrots, a lime wedge, and sticky rice.

Some recipes may call for cooking everything together, but Thai people I know use a mixing bowl to mix all ingredients. Making it this way ensures that the aromatic herbs, crunchy shallots, and all our other ingredients keep their texture and provide maximum flavor.

The cooking methods, ingredients, and flavors of this dish can vary depending on the region you are or the Thai household who prepared it.

Flavor note

This authentic larb gai salad recipe has a perfectly balanced savory and umami flavor with a refreshing, tangy dressing. The herbs can be adjusted to adjust the taste of the dish to suit your preference.

Thai ground chicken salad on lettuce with shredded carrot, a lime wedge, and sticky rice.

For me, the flavors in this recipe are just perfect, with spicy and sour notes. But the beauty of Thai cooking is how versatile it can be, each dish allows you to adjust flavors and ingredients to your personal taste buds.

Cooking Thai food is all about tasting as you go. Since everyone has a unique taste preference, there’s never one recipe that can satisfy all. Perhaps you’re someone who enjoys mild flavors, or maybe you like it spicy, or incredibly sour. For a saltier taste, add in a few extra splashes of fish sauce. For extra sourness, squeeze in more lime juice. If you’re a spicy person, just like me, sprinkle on more dried chili flakes.


Minced chicken, dried chili flakes, toasted rice powder, fish sauce, white sugar, lime juice, shallots, culantro, green onions, coriander, mint, and water presented on a banana leaf in a bamboo serving tray.

Chicken – Ground chicken with a tender and moist texture is the primary source of protein. Using ground meat is the way to go, it soaks up the flavors of the salad dressing with ease. Chicken has a milder flavor compared to beef or pork, so feel free to experiment with different types of meat. I recommend using chicken thighs because that cut contains a bit more fat than chicken breast.

Dried chili flakes – Chili flakes are essential for adding a kick of heat that’s typical for Thai cuisine. They also contribute to an overall, well-balanced flavor.

Toasted rice powder – Toasted rice powder adds a delicious crunch and a unique nutty flavor. You can make it homemade or use a store-bought version from Asian grocery stores.

Fish sauce – Fish sauce is key for adding a salty and umami flavor to this Thai chicken salad.

White sugar – White sugar adds a touch of sweetness, just enough to balance the sour, salty, and spicy notes.

Lime – Lime is an essential ingredient for a burst of fresh flavor that brightens up this classic Thai dish. Use fresh lime juice for the best results.

Shallots – Thinly sliced shallots add a sweetness that goes hand in hand with the other flavors. Each bite has a hint of their taste, since its flavor spreads throughout the salad while mixing it. The thinner you slice them, the better.

Culantro, green onions, coriander, mint – My choice of fresh herbs, feel free to adjust to your personal taste preference.

Water – A few tablespoons of water are needed to cook the chicken. For extra dressing, add an extra tablespoon of water.

Short recipe video

Step-by-step instructions

This one-pot recipe comes together quickly with simple ingredients.

Total Time: 10 minutes

Add 3 tablespoons of water to a wok or skillet over medium heat and simmer the minced chicken until it’s fully cooked.Overhead view of cooked minced chicken in a pan.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a large mixing bowl and mix in fish sauce, lime juice, dried chili flakes, white sugar, and toasted rice powder.Overhead view of cooked ground chicken in a large glass mixing bowl.

Transfer the remaining ingredients – shallots, culantro, green onions, coriander, and mint – to the mixing bowl. Carefully mix until all ingredients and flavors are well combined. Serve immediately.Overhead view of larb minced chicken in a large glass mixing bowl.

How to serve

Larb is enjoyed with white rice or sticky rice to make it a complete meal. You can pair it with an array of fresh vegetables for an even healthier salad. Cucumber slices or crunchy carrots make great choices. And don’t forget to add dried chili flakes and a fresh wedge of lime on the side.

Serve in lettuce wraps

Try adding a few lettuce wraps to your dish. They add a delightful crunch to each bite, but also make it more fun.

Spooning a spoonful of minced chicken salad in a lettuce wrap over a clay dish with larb gai salad in it.

Just spoon a small portion of the salad onto fresh lettuce leaves. Any version works – romaine, butterhead, or iceberg. This way you can also serve them as a fresh snack or as an easy appetizer.

How to store

After the salad has cooled down to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container or seal the dish with plastic wrapper. You can then keep it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Before eating the leftovers, let them sit at room temperature for a while if you don’t like eating them cold.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

How many calories does larb gai have?

A traditional larb gai is usually low in kcal. This recipe only has 263 kcal, and it makes an authentic and delicious version of the salad. This recipe is low kcal because in an authentic larb there is no oil, instead the meat is cooked with a few tablespoons of water. Furthermore, we find healthy herbs, spices, and few flavoring ingredients in larb.

Is larb gai spicy?

The spiciness of larb can be adjusted to your personal taste. Simply add more or less dried chili flakes to control the spiciness. Some people like it spicy and some like it mild. The spiciness varies on the recipe or the chef that prepared it. When you order larb gai in Thailand, you can choose to have it mild or spicy.

Can I make this into a vegetarian recipe?

Yes, if you prefer a vegetarian meal, you can substitute the chicken with tofu. You can substitute the fish sauce with a vegetarian fish sauce alternative, which you can find in Asian supermarkets or on Amazon.

Can I make this in advance?

To make this salad in advance, I recommend cooking the chicken in advance and adding the herbs, spices, and other ingredients when you’re ready to serve.

Is larb healthy?

Yes, larb is considered a healthy salad. There’s protein from the meat, and it comes with healthy herbs. This salad is low kcal, low in fat, and low in carbs. Note that the healthiness depends on the specific ingredients used, but in general this is considered a healthy and fulfilling meal.

More Thai salads you’ll love

  • Enoki mushroom larb – A unique variation of this dish with crunchy enoki mushrooms.
  • Yum woon sen – Thai glass noodle salad with ground pork.
  • Som tam pla ra – A version of papaya salad with fermented fish sauce as the key ingredient.
  • Tam sua – Papaya salad with the addition of rice vermicelli.
  • Long bean salad – Enjoy a crunchy lunch with yard long beans, palm sugar, tamarind paste, and tomatoes.

Love this larb gai salad? You would do me a GREAT favor by leaving a star rating and/or a comment in the comment section! And if you wish to stay up-to-date with my latest Thai recipes, then don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter.

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 5 min Cook Time 10 min Total Time 15 mins
Servings: 2 Calories: 263


Enjoy an authentic flavor with this easy-to-make recipe for larb gai, a Thai chicken salad.



  1. Add 3 tablespoons of water to a pan or skillet over medium heat and simmer the minced chicken until it's fully cooked.

  2. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large mixing bowl and mix in fish sauce, lime juice, dried chili flakes, white sugar, and toasted rice powder.

  3. Transfer the remaining ingredients - shallots, culantro, green onions, coriander, and mint - to the mixing bowl. Carefully mix until all ingredients and flavors are well combined. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 2

Amount Per Serving
Calories 263kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4.5g7%
Saturated Fat 1.2g6%
Total Carbohydrate 10.9g4%
Dietary Fiber 1.2g5%
Sugars 2.6g
Protein 43g86%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.

Bundle up the larb in lettuce wraps or serve with white rice or sticky rice. Larb also makes a great side-dish to share with other people or to serve as part of a larger meal.

The chicken can be substituted for other proteins, such as minced pork or beef.

Keywords: larb gai, larb gai salad

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About Author


I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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