This Thai Quinoa Crunch Salad is a favorite quinoa salad recipe! So much flavor and texture is packed into this healthy dish, it’s a great light dinner, lunch, or side dish recipe!
This Protein Packed Thai Quinoa Salad Recipe is Bursting With Flavor!
This summer I have been super into chopped salads…the crunchier, and the more extra add-ins the better! So when I had the idea to make a Thai-inspired salad, I new I was going to try and get as many flavors packed in as possible!
AND I loved the thought of adding quinoa into a crunchy salad as well as adding some crispy quinoa on top for extra crunch! The crisp cabbage, carrots, edamame and red bell pepper pair beautifully with the easy peanut butter Thai dressing, and it’s all balanced with some salty cashews and nutrient-packed quinoa. I DEFINITELY feel like this is a Power Salad!
What I Love Most:
Protein and flavor PACKED!
Add some salmon, chicken, or steak on top to really make it a full meal.
Make it at the beginning of the week and have it for lunch for the next few day. The salad holds up to the dressing and stays crunchy!
What Ingredients Do You Need?
Of course you need tons of veggies, but the protein packed ingredient in this salad is the quinoa! It’s a great addition to make your salad more filling, as well as adding dietary fiber and iron too! Quinoa has a naturally nutty flavor which pairs amazingly well with the peanut dressing in the salad. I just love this flavor combo so much and I know you will too!
And of course, beyond the quinoa there are lots of other great veggies added like:
Cabbage. I actually love using the prepackaged cole slaw mix for this salad. It saves a step in chopping, which is always a shortcut I will take! Plus, the cole slaw mix has carrots sliced up too! You can easily chop your own cabbage and carrots if you prefer.
Red Bell Pepper. The sweetness and crunch of a red bell pepper shouldn’t be skipped in this salad, as I find it adds so much! You could definitely use an orange or yellow pepper too!
Green Onion. I am not a huge fan of onions, but a few green onions sliced up in this aren’t overpowering, and add another layer of flavor.
Edamame. I adore edamame and love adding it to this salad. You can certainly leave it out if you’re not a fan, but it’s another protein packed ingredient that I adore.
Cilantro. I know everyone either loves or hates cilantro. I LOVE it, so I always add extra, but if you aren’t on board with cilantro, totally omit it!
Cashews. I use salted cashews because I am a salty girl, but certainly use unsalted if you prefer. You could also sub in peanuts or almonds!
How Do You Make Thai Dressing:
The dressing is super easy and requires just a few ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now. Just whisk them all together and that’s it! Here’s what you will need, plus a few substitutions if necessary:
Peanut Butter. I prefer to use creamy, but you can absolutely use crunchy, and certainly you could use almond butter, or any nut butter in its place.
Soy Sauce. Use low sodium soy sauce in this recipe. Or you can swap it out for coconut aminos, or tamari too.
Honey. You can also use agave syrup or even maple syrup too.
Red Wine Vinegar. Rice wine vinegar, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar can be used also.
Fresh Lime Juice. You can absolutely use fresh lemon juice too. If you don’t have fresh lime juice you can use the bottled as well, but I always recommend fresh…it just tastes better!
Fresh Grated Ginger. You can use ginger paste that comes in the tube, the little frozen ginger cubes, or even ginger powder.
Chili Paste. I use Sambal Oelek, but any brand is fine. You can also use sriracha.
Olive oil and Sesame Oil. There really isn’t a sub for sesame oil, and it imparts a really nice flavor.
How To Make Thai Quinoa Crunch Salad
This is a fantastic salad recipe to make as a lunch, light dinner, or side dish. It’s a great recipe to make in advance as well if you’re entertaining, or to bring in your lunchbox to work or school. You can even prep the salad completely and keep the dressing on the side if you want to eat it throughout the week!
Simply chop up all the veggies, cook the quinoa and mix together!
Making the Quinoa Crunch
The quinoa crunch is my favorite part of this salad. While the vegetables are crunchy for sure, the quinoa crunch add the perfect texture. It’s easy to make, so definitely don’t skip this step!
Once you quinoa is cooked fluff it with a fork, heat a skillet with a little oil and simply toast the quinoa until it’s golden brown and crispy! Allow it to cool, and add it as a garnish o top. The crispy quinoa will soften as it sits in the dressing, so add it right before you serve!
Make It Your Own/Variations:
This is an easy salad recipe to adapt and make it your own! Here are a few ideas:
Add in some fish sauce into the dressing to add a little flavor. A little goes a long way
What Can You Serve With This Quinoa Salad?
Like I said, this salad is great as a main dish, but is also an amazing side dish. Here are some great ideas of what to serve with this salad:
Grilled Chicken. Or any kind of chicken, really!
Burgers. Of course. I feel like this is a great salad to pair with anything off the grill!
Shrimp. Bake them, skewer them, steam them…up to you!
Steak. A nice sliced flank steak would even be great sliced on top of this salad!
optional garnish – chopped cilantro, chopped cashews, sriracha or chili paste
Prepare the dressing: Add the peanut butter and soy sauce in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 10 seconds to thin it slightly, and whisk together. Whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients. Add more chili paste if you would like more spice. If the dressing is too thick, add in a teaspoon of water at a time until desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
Make the Crispy Quinoa: Place oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup cooked quinoa to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently for 10-12 minutes until golden and toasted. Set aside to cool.
Assemble the Salad: Place the remaining quinoa in a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing on to the quinoa and stir to coat. Add the cole slaw mix, red pepper, onions, cilantro, and edamame into the same bowl. Mix the salad together combining the quinoa and the vegetables. Add the remaining dressing, or as much as you prefer, to the salad and toss to coat. Lastly add in the cashews and lightly toss.
Portion the salad into bowls and top with the toasted quinoa and any additional garnishes.
Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Wait to top the salad with the crispy quinoa until ready to serve, as it will soften as it sits.
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