Cold Thai Noodle Salad

Cold Thai noodle salad topped with peanut dressing, crushed peanuts, ground pork, cucumbers, basil and mint
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Cooked-til-crisp ground pork, and a 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. 

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

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

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, garlicky 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!

Cold Thai Noodle Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14oz) package rice noodles
1/2 cup basil leaves, packed
1/2 ccup mint leaves, packed
4 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (partially crushed)
2 limes, cut in wedges for serving
1 cup Thai Peanut Salad Dressing

Method

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil cook the pork in a large pan over medium high heat until cooked through and beginning to get crispy. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes until garlic is tender and fragrant.
  3. Add the rice noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the instructions on the package. Rinse the cooked noodles in cold water, drain and place in a bowl with ½ a cup of Thai peanut dressing. Add the pork, cucumbers, mint, basil and roasted peanuts, toss. Serve with extra herbs and a drizzle of the salad dressing.