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Thai salad dressing recipe is quick, easy, and ready in just 10 minutes! It’s a perfect blend of spicy and sour Thai flavors with a hint of sweetness, SO GOOD. This is a versatile dressing that doubles as an irresistible, refreshing dipping sauce for seafood, perfect for busy weekdays!
What is Thai salad dressing
Thai salad dressing is a flavorful blend of fish sauce, lime, and palm sugar, offering authentic Thai flavors of spicy, sour, and slightly sweet. This dressing is easy and perfect for adding a unique, tangy kick to salads and it doubles as a delicious dipping sauce.
Before we can move on to the salad dressing, let’s talk a bit more about the types of Thai salads, so you can understand exactly how to use this dressing.
What are the types of Thai salads?
There are three main categories, each with their unique ingredients and texture.
Som tam – som tum (green papaya salad)
Papaya salad is diverse, often made with fresh tomatoes and always with crunchy papaya shreds.
It comes in different varieties, often different in every Thai region you travel to, but always made with a Thai mortar and pestle.
Som tum Thai is a real classic, often the choice for tourists in Bangkok but also beloved throughout Thailand and even around the world. It’s the perfect summer salad – fresh, healthy, and light!
Som tam pla ra is a classic in Isan, the rural region of Thailand. The Northeastern Thai cuisine is known for its spicy food, especially for the use of fermented fish sauce (pla ra). For many, it’s an unfamiliar and rather pungent ingredient, but in Laos and Isan, it’s a daily staple.
Larb – laab
Larb is a meaty salad. It can be prepared as a chicken salad, pork, beef, or even duck. Everything gets tossed in a tasty dressing with red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of toasted rice powder. Sometimes, MSG can elevate the flavors to bring you those authentic Thai flavors in the best way possible.
This salad is another staple in the Northeastern part of Thailand, where it’s often paired with Thai sticky rice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
This Thai food blog has many recipes for larb salad:
- Thai raw beef salad recipe
- Mushroom larb recipe
- Shrimp larb recipe
- Fried chicken larb
- Larb ped recipe
These Thai mixed salads are always full of fresh, crisp greens like Chinese celery, onions, tomatoes. They can be topped with lots of different protein from juicy beef to fresh seafood or just shrimp.
The dressing is a balance of flavors that are just right. It’s easy to make and perfect for lazy days!
Yum woon sen is another type of yum salad – it’s a Thai glass noodle salad and can be made with sausage, shrimp, ground pork, and other protein. The dressing is a tangy mix of spicy, salty, and slightly sweet. It has been my top choice for dining at Thai restaurants ever since I was a kid!
The Thai salad dressing we’re making today is perfect for yum salads!
Thai yum dressing
So many Thai salads, and no two are the same. Each one’s got its own flavors, ingredients, and textures. So, the idea of a Thai salad dressing that fits all? That’s simply not possible.
It wouldn’t be authentic, and this is your go-to for authentic Thai recipes, where every salad gets the character and dressing it deserves.
What about this Thai salad dressing? Well, you can use this one to whip up your favorite ‘yum salads’!
Simply make a batch of this dressing, store it in your fridge for several days, and whip up the best yum salads within minutes.
Authentic Thai yum salads are typically made with the following vegetables:
- Green onions
Simply chop your greens, soak and drain your glass noodles, and then toss with the dressing. So easy!
Why try this Thai spicy salad dressing
- Full of authentic Thai flavors: This dressing offers true Southeast Asian flavors, perfectly balancing the spicy, sour, salty, and sweet notes.
- Better than store-bought: Forget those bland store-bought dressings and enjoy something fresh and preservative free with your homemade dressing for Thai yum salad.
- Quick and easy: This simple dressing comes together in just 10 minutes.
- Versatile: It’s not just for yum salads, it’s amazing as a dipping sauce or a zesty addition to your favorite dishes.
For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Fresh chili peppers – A staple in Thai cuisine, fresh chilies like bird’s eye chilies and Thai Jinda peppers bring a spicy flavor to our dishes and this salad dressing. They’re essential for that bold, spicy kick that Thai food is famous for.
- Coriander root – Coriander root infuses the dressing was a hint of citrus and a subtle aroma, as well as adding a complex flavor.
- Pickled garlic juice – Enhances the overall taste with a gentle, nuanced garlic flavor.
- Palm sugar – Essential for balancing the spicy and sour notes in Thai cuisine. It brings a caramel-like sweetness that balances the heat of the chili and acidity of the lime. Avoid using white sugar, maple sugar, brown sugar, or other types. To replicate the exact flavor, use palm sugar.
- Chili sauce – Enhances the overall flavors and color. Any store-bought chili sauce will do, or use my Thai hot sauce recipe for homemade sriracha.
- Fish sauce – Fish sauce is a key ingredient, the backbone of Thai flavor. It’s a salty, savory liquid derived from fermented fish, used to season dishes like stir-fries, soups, and this salad dressing. Go for a high quality brand like Megachef. It’s not as salty as some are.
- Garlic – A staple in Thai kitchens for that pungent, aromatic kick to many of our dishes. In Isan, some locals eat raw garlic cloves with their larb salads.
- Lime – Fresh lime juice is essential for its fresh, zesty kick. It adds a perfect splash of acidity to balance out the dressing. Its bright, citrusy flavor is very present and really shines in yum salads and this dressing.
All ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores or markets.
1. Crush garlic and coriander root with a mortar and pestle.
2. Add chilies and pound. Then, add palm sugar and pound once more.
3. Use your pestle to stir in the pickled garlic juice, fish sauce, chili sauce, and lime juice.
- Mortar and pestle (a food processor or blender can be used if you don’t have a mortar and pestle)
- Measuring cups and spoons
How to customize this sour salad dressing
Here’s how you can easily adapt this dressing to your taste:
- Salty and umami: Vary the amount of fish sauce for a stronger or lighter umami flavor.
- Adjust the spice: Simply add more or fewer chilies to control the spice. For a spicy sauce, use bird’s eye chilies. For a mild variant, go for milder options.
- Sweetness: Alter the amount of palm sugar. Avoid making it overly sweet.
- Sourness: Increase or decrease the fresh lime juice to suit your preference.
Most importantly, adjust the taste of your Thai dressing for salad before using it. Tasting as you go is what Thai cooking is all about.
How to serve
Simply serve this dressing for Thai salad over your favorite yum salads for an authentic Thai flavor. Feel free to experiment with other type of salads!
How to store
Store the dressing in an airtight container like a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The flavors will deepen over time but make sure to check for freshness before using.
Frequently asked questions
Is this Thai salad dressing gluten-free?
Yes, it’s naturally gluten-free. The key ingredients don’t contain gluten. However, it’s important to double-check the labeling of your store-bought ingredients for gluten-free.
What is Thai salad dressing made of?
It’s a blend of fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, chili peppers, and garlic, offering a mix of savory, tangy, and sweet flavors.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes. Making it ahead allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. You can store it in your fridge for up to 3 days.
How do I use this dressing?
Toss it with your yum salads or use it as a dip for grilled seafood or fresh spring rolls.
Is it spicy?
Yes, it’s quite spicy! But you can adjust the heat to your preference.
Is it sour?
Yes, the sour flavor should be present in a Thai yum salad dressing.
More Thai salad recipes you’ll love
- Yum kanom jeen (cold Thai rice noodle salad)
- Spicy Lao cucumber salad recipe
- Thai pomelo salad recipe
- Thum khao poon recipe
- Thai tuna salad
- Nam khao tod
Thai Salad Dressing Recipe
Easy, quick, and delicious! Perfect to dress your favorite yum salads. Add a few tablespoons, or more or less to taste.
Crush garlic and coriander root with a mortar and pestle.
Add chilies and pound. Then, add palm sugar and pound once more.
Use your pestle to stir in the garlic water, fish sauce, chili sauce, and lime juice.
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 79kcal
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 0.06g1%
- Total Carbohydrate 19.33g7%
- Dietary Fiber 0.4g2%
- Sugars 16.08g
- Protein 1g2%
* 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.