Thai Quinoa Salad

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Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Calories
218

Fluffy quinoa, crunchy cucumber, bright bell pepper and chewy cabbage are just a few of the ingredients that make this Thai Quinoa Salad stand out. It’s tossed with a classic sesame ginger dressing that packs the perfect punch of heat!

If you love a good quinoa salad like me then this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad or my Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing are a must!

Crunchy Quinoa Salad With Spicy Sesame Ginger Dressing

This is the type of side dish that always manages to steal the thunder of the main course. It’s delightfully crunchy, just the right level of spicy, and bursting with juicy goodness in every bite. If you don’t make a double batch, you’re probably going to regret that decision.

In addition to charming your taste buds, this fresh Thai salad will fuel your body with protein, fiber and a wealth of other nutrients. It’s completely gluten-free and vegan-friendly, making it a foolproof option for any potluck or cookout – especially one that may feature unfamiliar faces and unknown dietary needs. Believe me, it’s easy to make friends when everyone’s asking for your recipe!

A bowl of shredded carrots, a bowl of chopped green onions and the rest of the prepared ingredients in separate bowls on a marble countertop

What You’ll Need

First thing’s first, let’s go over the ingredients you’ll need to make this flavor-packed salad. Continue scrolling until you reach the recipe card to see specific amounts.

For the Thai Quinoa Salad

  • Quinoa: These hearty little seeds can be found in the grain section at your local grocery store.
  • Water: To cook the quinoa.
  • Red & Yellow Pepper: Diced into small chunks.
  • Diced Green Onions
  • Diced English Cucumber: This type of cucumber is practically seedless with a very thin skin surrounding it, so there’s no need to peel it or remove the seeds.
  • Red Cabbage: Thinly sliced.
  • Grated Carrots
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • Chopped Unsalted Cashews: Or peanuts.
  • Edamame

For the Spicy Sesame Ginger Dressing

  • Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed.
  • Tamari Sauce: If you don’t need this dish to be gluten-free, you can use low-sodium soy sauce instead.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar: This tangy-sweet flavor enhancer is a fixture of Asian cookery.
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Ground Ginger
  • Garlic: Freshly minced.
  • Sriracha Sauce: Feel free to add more or less depending on your spice tolerance.
  • Honey: Raw and unfiltered.
A close-up shot of homemade quinoa salad inside of a large serving bowl

How to Make Thai Quinoa Salad

This refreshing side dish or light lunch doesn’t require much effort at all. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Cook Quinoa: Add the quinoa and water to a medium-sized saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to simmer and cover the saucepan. Cook the quinoa for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is gone.

Let Rest & Fluff: Remove the quinoa from the heat and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Once it’s done resting, fluff it up with a fork and transfer it to a large serving bowl.

Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the prepared bell peppers, green onions, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, nuts and edamame to the serving bowl with the quinoa. Set the salad aside.

Make Dressing: Add all of the dressing ingredients to a small bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Add to Salad: Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until everything is combined and coated in dressing.

A wooden spoon being used to toss a quinoa salad inside of a large glass mixing bowl

Enjoy! Serve immediately.

Can I Make It Ahead of Time?

Yes – get a head start on this dish by cooking the quinoa, cutting up the veggies and making the dressing in advance. Refrigerate the quinoa, dressing and produce in separate storage bags or airtight containers until you’re ready to combine them and serve. The dressing and veggies should be used within 2 days while the quinoa will last for up to 5.

Thai quinoa salad in a bowl with two fresh lime wedges on top and a spoon digging into the salad

Tips for Success

Don’t dive headfirst into this recipe just yet – I have a few pieces of advice that will guide you toward a flawless quinoa salad.

  • Remember to Let the Quinoa Rest: You don’t want the quinoa to heat up your other salad ingredients. Let it cool until it reaches room temperature or for at least 5 minutes before you fluff it up and transfer it to the serving bowl.
  • Add the Dressing Just Before Enjoying: If you’re not serving this salad right away, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and wait to make the dressing. It’s best to add the dressing right before you dig in.
  • Customize Your Salad: From pepitas to bok choy to dried cranberries, there are so many yummy things you can throw into this salad. You could even swap out the sesame dressing for Homemade Peanut Dressing or another preferred alternative. Don’t be afraid to do something differently!

Serving Suggestions

Wondering what entrees would go well with this salad? You’re in good hands.

  • Serve With Thai Chicken Pizza: Sticking with the Thai theme is a great course of action – especially if you pair your quinoa salad with this Chili Chicken Pizza. Made with a crispy cauliflower crust, homemade chili garlic sauce and fresh produce, you won’t be able to stop at just a couple slices.
  • Add a Protein: I’d highly recommend serving this salad alongside my Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce or Honey Sriracha Grilled Shrimp.
  • Serve With Honey Mustard Salmon: The first time I ever made this quinoa salad, I partnered it with this flaky Honey Mustard Baked Salmon. I still indulge in that scrumptious pairing to this day!
A bowl full of crunchy quinoa salad on top of a kitchen countertop

How to Store Leftovers

If it’s possible that you might have leftovers, do not add all of the dressing to your salad at once. Instead, dress only the portions you know will get eaten and leave the rest of the salad and dressing separate. Store any leftovers in sturdy airtight containers for up to 3 days, tossing the salad with the dressing just before serving.

Does This Salad Freeze Well?

No, this particular salad isn’t well-suited for freezing. If you’d like, you can cook the quinoa ahead of time and freeze it in a heavy-duty storage bag as soon as it has fully cooled. Squeeze all the air out of the bag before you seal it and store the quinoa for up to 6 months. Thaw it out before you make your salad.

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A bowl of quinoa salad on a marble countertop

Thai Quinoa Salad

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • total_time Total Time: 45 minutes
  • yield Yield: 810 1x
  • category Category: Side Dish
  • method Method: Bowl
  • cuisine Cuisine: Thai

Description

Fluffy quinoa, crunchy cucumber, bright bell pepper and chewy cabbage are just a few of the ingredients that make this Thai Quinoa Salad stand out. It’s tossed with a classic sesame ginger dressing that packs the perfect punch of heat!

Scale

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1 cup of english cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup edamame

For the Spicy Sesame Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • ⅔ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 teaspoon honey

Instructions

  1. Add quinoa and water to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is gone.
  2. Remove the quinoa from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and add to a large serving bowl.
  3. To the serving bowl with quinoa, add red pepper, yellow pepper, green onions, cucumber, red cabbage, carrots, cilantro, peanuts (or cashews) and edamame. Set aside.
  4. To a small bowl, add toasted sesame oil, avocado oil, lime juice, tamari, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, ground ginger, minced garlic, sriracha and honey. Whisk the mixture until smooth and combined.
  5. Pour over the quinoa salad when you are ready to serve. Toss the salad until everything is coated in the dressing and combined.
  6. Serve.

Notes

  • To Make Ahead: Refrigerate cooled quinoa, dressing and produce in separate airtight containers. Dressing & veggies should be used within 2 days while quinoa will last for up to 5. Combine and toss just before serving.
  • To Store Extras: If leftovers are a possibility, do not add all dressing to salad at once. Instead, dress only the portions you know will get eaten and leave the rest of the salad and dressing separate. Store any leftovers in sturdy airtight containers for up to 3 days, tossing salad with dressing just before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 218
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Sodium: 253 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: asian salad, sesame dressing, salad dressing with ginger

More Asian-Style Sides to Try

Looking for more Asian-inspired appetizers and side dishes? You’re going to adore these easy recipes!

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Hey There

Krista
Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football!

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17 Responses
  1. carol

    is this to be served hot or cold?? i thought since it said ‘salad’ it was a cold side, but no mention of putting it in the frig before serving? Please advise?

    1. Krista Rollins Professional Photos-5
      Krista

      You can serve it either. I like it lukewarm. But I’ve had it warm when the quinoa is just finished cooking or the next day cold after sitting in the fridge. That’s the beauty of this salad. 🙂

  2. Cynthia

    I make a lot of quinoa salads and this is my least favorite. The toasted sesame oil is overpowering and if made ahead of time the moisture released from the cucumbers causes the salad to be a runny mess. I wanted to love this recipe, but will not make it again.

    1. Krista Rollins Professional Photos-5
      Krista

      Yes, this definitely makes quite a bit. I like to serve this during the summer for a crowd. If you are making it during the week and found it to be too much, maybe half the recipe and save the cucumbers for the end. However, I like to keep the cucumbers because the sauce really soaks in and brings out lots of flavor!

  3. Karin

    this is a great recipe! my kids love it! The only thing is that prep time takes me WAY longer than 15 minutes, but other than that, great meal! Thank you

    1. Krista Rollins Professional Photos-5
      Krista

      Yes. If you’re going to do that I wouldn’t put the cashews or peanuts in though because those tend to lose their crunch.

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