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Thai Salad Dressing Recipe

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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!

Bowl of sour Thai salad dressing on banana leaf with floral decor.

Looking for authentic Thai salad recipes? Here are just a few of my collection for you to try: authentic Thai ground beef larb recipe, easy larb gai salad, and pla goong with shrimp.

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.

Thai Yum dressing beside a glass noodle salad garnished with herbs and lime.

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?

Thai salads come in a myriad of aromas, colors, and flavors. Often with a perfect balance of the key flavors in Thai cuisine: spicy, sour, sweet, and salty.

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.

Making som tam pla ra in a mortar and pestle with a large pink spoon on a wooden background.
Thai green papaya salad, som tum, made in a clay mortar with wooden 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.

Long bean salad (som tum tua) and tam sua are two more variants, one with yard-long beans and the other with rice vermicelli.

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.

Close-up of Thai beef larb highlighting the tender ground beef mixed with sliced shallots, fresh herbs, and a hint of chili.
Beef larb, a staple in Thailand, especially in Isan.

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:

Yum salads

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!

Try yum talay, a seafood version, yum nua with beef, or yum pla muk recipe with fresh squid.

Yum woon sen pork (Thai glass noodle salad) in a clay bowl with a wooden fork on top, surrounded by flowers, on a bamboo serving tray.
Yum woon sen, a Thai glass noodle salad with pork and fresh vegetables.

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.

Freshly prepared Thai salad dressing with Thai glass noodle salad full of tomatoes, pork, and celery.

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
  • Coriander
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Celery

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.

Psst, if you’re looking for more Thai sauces, make sure to try this Thai green chili sauce and authentic Thai peanut sauce recipe later!


Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

Top-view of ingredients for Thai salad dressing recipe: chili sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, coriander root, garlic, fish sauce, garlic water, and fresh chili peppers.
  • 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.

Cooking instructions

Garlic and coriander root being ground in stone mortar.

1. Crush garlic and coriander root with a mortar and pestle.

Ingredients like chili, garlic, and coriander root in a stone mortar for Thai dressing.

2. Add chilies and pound. Then, add palm sugar and pound once more.

Thai salad dressing prepared in a mortar.

3. Use your pestle to stir in the pickled garlic juice, fish sauce, chili sauce, and lime juice.

Kitchen tools

  • 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!

If you like spicy and sour flavors, you can use it as a dipping sauce for Thai shrimp rolls and Thai fresh spring rolls.

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

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Thai Salad Dressing Recipe

Thai salad dressing in a ceramic bowl on a banana leaf, a traditional setting.
Easy, quick, and delicious! Perfect to dress your favorite yum salads. Add a few tablespoons, or more or less to taste.
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Salad
Serving Size 6 servings


  • 2.7 fluid ounces lime juice
  • 1.7 fluid ounce fish sauce
  • 0.85 fluid ounces pickled garlic juice
  • 3.2 ounces palm sugar
  • 0.35 ounces coriander root
  • 0.7 chilies add to taste
  • 1.05 ounce garlic
  • 0.85 ounces chili sauce


  • 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.


  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.

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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe looks delicious, but I can’t find any information on garlic water! Is there a recipe for it? I’m mostly finding results for garlic water used in gardening, not cooking.

    1. Hey! That’s supposed to be pickled garlic juice! Thank you for noticing, my bad. If you have any questions about pickled garlic juice, please feel free to contact me once more.

  2. 5 stars
    Hello! I’m looking forward to trying this dressing! What is garlic water? Is this the juice from pickled garlic?

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