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Cold Thai Noodle Salad

June 10, 2024

Cooked-til-crisp ground pork, and creamy Thai peanut dressing add a hint of heft to fragrant fresh mint, basil, cooling cucumber and delicate rice noodles in this lively cold Thai noodle salad.


Cold Thai noodle salad topped with peanut dressing, crushed peanuts, ground pork, cucumbers, basil and mint

Too Hot to Cook? May We Suggest Assembly Instead?

Full disclosure, this cold Thai noodle salad does require you to turn on the stovetop (but only for about five minutes) and boil water (but just until it comes to a boil). Otherwise, it’s all cold cold cold. Cold Thai peanut dressing, cucumber slices, cooling mint and fresh basil—this cold noodle salad is designed to restore and refresh, and pairs perfectly with a condensation-coated glass of ice water—or even a super frosty Singha lager, if want to go all out.

Cold Thai Noodle Salad 1

All of Your Rice Noodle Questions, Answered!

They’re fast, delicious and (usually) gluten-free—what’s not to love? It’s time to make room in your meal plan for rice noodles! Here’s a little rice noodle 101 to get you started on your rice noodle love affair:

  • What are rice noodles?If you have eaten Pad Thai, you’ve had rice noodles. They’re simply a type of noodle that’s commonly used in Asian cuisine—especially Thai and Vietnamese food. Rice noodles are made from rice flour, and sometimes they have a little tapioca or cornstarch mixed in, too. They are available in a variety of thicknesses—experiment and see which size and brand you like best!
  • How to cook rice noodles: unlike Italian pasta, rice noodles don’t need a long boil. These delicate noodles just need a good soak in just-boiled water. Bright a kettle of water to a boil, put your rice noodles in a heat-proof bowl (like a Pyrex) and pour the boiling water over the noodles. Using tongs or a noodle ladle, stir the noodles as they sit so that they don’t stick or clump. Refer to the package the rice noodles came in for soaking time—depending on the thickness of the noodle, they’ll need to soak anywhere from three to ten minutes.
  • Are rice noodles gluten free? Generally speaking, yes, rice noodles are gluten-free! As ever, it’s a good idea to check on the packaging to be super safe, as ingredients can vary from brand to brand.

Thai Basil VS Italian Basil—Which Basil is Best?

Italian basil may be more ubiquitous, but we’re seeing more and more Thai basil at our local farmers market, and even at the grocery store sometimes. If you’re lucky enough to find it—look for something that looks a bit like Italian basil, but with purple-tinged leaves and a harder center stalk—Thai basil will add a lovely spicy, assertive flavor to this cold Thai noodle salad recipe. However, Italian basil will be equally delicious, if that’s what you’ve got on hand.

Black plate of Cold Thai noodle salad topped with peanut dressing, crushed peanuts, ground pork, cucumbers, basil and mint

Cold Rice Noodles + The Best Ever Thai Peanut Dressing=Happiness All Around.

Once you’ve mastered the boil-and-soak rice noodle cooking method, all that’s left to do is whip up a delicious Thai peanut sauce for those delicate, chewy rice noodles! Our creamy, zingy Thai salad dressing is the peanut butter sauce that this cold Asian noodle salad needs—a little hefty, a lot savory and just the right amount of rich, it’s as easy as it is addictive. Here’s the recipe, and here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tamari or soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • Peanut butter
  • Fish sauce
  • Light olive oil, or other neutral-tasting oil
  • Fresh lime juice
  • White vinegar
cast iron skillet of cooked ground pork
glass bowl with rice noodles and thai peanut dressing being tossed together with cooking tongs

How to Make Thai Noodle Salad

As we’ve mentioned, these cold peanut sauce noodles are really more about assembly than cooking. Here’s how we approach this cold Thai noodle recipe:

  1. Make the lime-tinged, fish sauce-flecked, peanut butter dressing. We do this first because it’s best to give the flavors time to meld. The Thai dressing can also be made a day (or even two) ahead of time. So—if you’re super organized—you can do this ahead of time as part of your weekly meal prep.
  2. Begin to soak the rice noodles.
  3. While the noodles soak, cook the pork! Just a quick sauté until it’s cooked through and a little crispy.
  4. Toss! Drain the noodles—they may seem clumpy, but the dressing will loosen them—toss them with the cooked pork, Thai peanut dressing, cucumber, basil, mint.
  5. Make a decision! You can serve this right away, or give it a good chill. If you’re going to chill it for a while, wait to add the toasted peanuts until right before you serve it. If you’re going to serve it right away, go ahead and toss in the peanuts.
  6. Gobble at will. Repeat steps 1-6 as necessary.
Cold Thai noodle salad topped with peanut dressing, crushed peanuts, ground pork, cucumbers, basil and mint

Tools You’ll Need:

Other No-Cook (or Almost No-Cook) Recipes We Love:

OK, So Did We Convince You?

Did you make this Thai peanut noodle salad? Did you know that these bright, lively, delicious flavors could come out of your very own kitchen? We hope you loved this easy Thai salad and we hope you let us know how it all turned out! Snap a photo of your finished noodle salad, and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and#themodernproper so we can see!

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Cold Thai Noodle Salad

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 538


  • 1 (14-ounce) package rice noodles
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Thai Salad Dressing
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, cut in wedges, for serving (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice noodles and cook according to the package instructions. Drain.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Cook undisturbed until the meat is beginning to brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

  3. Rinse the rice noodles in cool water to separate. Transfer the rice noodles to a large bowl along with ½ cup of the dressing. Add the cooked pork, cucumbers, basil, mint, and roasted peanuts, toss to combine.

  4. Drizzle with the remaining salad dressing. Serve with the lime wedges and red pepper flakes, if using.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories538
  • Protein21 g
  • Carbohydrates54 g
  • Total Fat25 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol54 mg
  • sodium770 mg
  • Total Sugars7 g

Cold Thai Noodle Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Ann

    I am making this for a camping weekend. If I prepare ahead should I keep all ingredients separate? Once assembled other than the chopped peanuts how long will it keep in the fridge? Thanks!

    You can keep it all separate if you want. It should last a few days in the fridge. Hope you enjoy, have fun camping!

  • Stefani

    The recipe title says "Cold" but there isn't anywhere in the instructions that mentions refrigerating it. Should I mix it all up and put in the fridge before serving it? Thanks!

    You can serve this right away, or give it a good chill. If you’re going to chill it for a while, wait to add the toasted peanuts until right before you serve it. Hope you enjoy Stefani!

  • Miss

    I'm trying to eat less red meat/pork, is there an alternate animal protein (chicken or turkey), some plant based ground product, or a traditional vegetarian option (tofu or tempeh) that would work well here instead? I don't want to lose out on having protein or a crispy aspect to the meal!

    Hi! Yeah definitely! You can try the Beyond Meat "crumbles" (they're usually in the freezer section of the grocery store)—those would be a really easy swap. Or tempeh might work, too!

  • Lauren

    This recipe is fabulous. I ate it hot right after making it and cold straight out of the fridge (eating the leftovers now, hah) and *chef's kiss*. It's tangy and herby and so satisfying. My 2 year old even gobbled it down. I did use stir fry noodles instead of rice noodles, as that's what I happened to have on hand, but will do rice noodles next time for sure. 10/10 will be making again and again.

    Thanks Lauren, so happy to hear you loved it!

  • Imogene

    Such a simple and easy meal! I will make this in the future as a meal prep and add that delicious thai peanut dressing as needed. Looking forward to these flavors again :)

    Thanks Imogene! So glad you loved it!

  • Jenn

    This is so delicious! I've made it with ground pork and ground chicken and both ways were great!

    Thanks Jenn, glad you love it!