Asian noodle salad dressed in a scrumptious Thai-style peanut dressing makes for a delectably cool and flavorful lunch. It's filled with tasty add-ins like shredded chicken, crisp red cabbage and carrots for added protein and color, plus a sprinkle of crushed peanuts for a nutty bite!
Asian Noodle Salad, a Cool Lunchtime Treat
Over the years, I've often noticed that one of the most popular items in the “prepared foods” section of the market is a cold, Asian-style noodle salad.
I love a chilled Asian noodle salad, especially one with a slightly tangy and spicy Thai-style peanut dressing on the side to drizzle over. This particular cool and flavorful salad used to be one of my personal favorites to “grab and go” on occasion back when I was a student many years ago, before I began preparing it myself.
The first time I had an Asian noodle salad I fell in love with the peanut-y flavor of it. After experimenting a bit, I found that it was easy to replicate at home to have on hand anytime I had a taste for it.
All it takes is a few colorful ingredients added to cooked and chilled noodles. For my recipe, I opt for shredded chicken, red cabbage and carrots to create that colorful crunch.
And that scrumptious Thai-inspired peanut dressing that totally gives this salad its irresistible flavor? That's a breeze as well, made simply with a hint of creamy peanut butter and just a few other tangy and spicy ingredients to round out the flavors.
This Asian noodle salad recipe with peanut dressing makes the perfect cool lunchtime treat for four people, or for two people with some left over. But honestly, because it's so easy to make and so delicious, I'll typically double this tasty recipe to have a big bowl of it on hand to enjoy for a few days!
How to Make Peanut Dressing for an Asian Noodle Salad
When I'm making a larger quantity of peanut dressing for a larger quantity of salad, I'll typically pull out my trusty food processor and process my ingredients to expedite the process.
But when I'm preparing a smaller batch of dressing, like for this particular recipe, I'll simply use a bowl and whisk—nothing fancy needed for that.
As far as ingredients go, I've found that to achieve that perfect Thai-style peanut dressing flavor—that slightly sweet, tangy and spicy flavor—I reach for creamy peanut butter as my base, and then add to that some soy sauce for savoriness, a bit of honey for sweetness, rice vinegar for mild tang, garlic for a pop of flavor, a teeny drizzle of fish sauce, a few drops of Sriracha, plus a hint of neutral oil and a kiss of water.
When this peanut dressing is tossed together with all the other delicious ingredients, this version of Asian noodle salad tops the market's “prepared foods” version any day in both flavor and freshness.
Truth is, you just can't beat homemade!
Here's a glance at my Asian noodle salad recipe with peanut dressing: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- I like to prep my peanut dressing first, so I begin by whisking together all of my dressing ingredients in a medium or large bowl, and set that aside.
- Next, I cook up a batch of noodles (you can use rice noodles, gluten-free noodles, ramen noodles, or regular linguini noodles like I do), then drain and rinse them in cold water, and allow them dry a bit.
- I add to my cold noodles some cooked and shredded chicken (leftovers or rotisserie are perfect for this recipe), some shredded carrots and red cabbage, then toss together with my peanut dressing.
- To serve, I spoon into bowls (or onto a large serving platter if doubling the recipe), then top with crushed peanuts, some green onion and some cilantro.
Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
by Ingrid Beer
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 487 calories (per serving)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes (for noodles)
Total time: 30 minutes
Asian Noodle Salad Ingredients:
- 4 cups cooked and cooled linguini noodles (or your preferred noodles), drizzled with a touch of oil
- 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie is great)
- ½ cup red cabbage, shredded thinly
- ½ cup carrots, shredded thinly
- 2 green onion, sliced, plus extra for garnish
- ¼ cup crushed peanuts, plus extra for garnish
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Peanut Dressing Ingredients:
- 4 tablespoons natural peanut butter, creamy and unsalted
- 2 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 4 to 6 drops (more or less, depending on spice level) Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or your preferred type of neutral oil)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Prepare the peanut dressing: in a bowl, combine all of the ingredients with a small whisk until very well blended and smooth; set aside until ready to use.
- To prepare the roughly 4 cups of cooked and cooled noodles needed, cook roughly 6 ounces of dry noodles according to package instructions; then, drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water, allowing the water to completely drain out; set aside.
- To assemble the Asian noodle salad, add the cooked and cooled noodles to a large bowl along with the shredded chicken, red cabbage and carrots, then drizzle in the dressing and toss together.
- Add in the 2 green onions, the ¼ cup peanuts and the 2 tablespoons of cilantro, and toss to combine.
- Spoon the salad into bowls or a serving platter, and top with additional green onion, peanuts and cilantro leaves before serving.
Tips & Tidbits for my Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing:
- Choice of noodles: When it comes to chilled noodle salad, I personally like a hearty and chewy texture, so I opt for traditional linguini noodles. I love to use the linguini noodles because they're toothsome and stand up well to the dressing. But you can use rice noodles, ramen, or udon if you prefer.
- Pre-cooked chicken: Feel free to use rotisserie chicken for this recipe, and simply shred it into bite-size pieces using your fingers. You can also sear/grill up a couple of skinless, boneless chicken breasts and slice those up as well, whichever you prefer!
- Options for fresh and colorful add-ins: Shredded red cabbage and carrots pretty much always make an appearance in my Asian noodle salad. But when I'm wanting to add in even more fresh veggies, I'll even slice up some baby bok choy very thin, and add in some arugula greens—super tasty!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!