Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad is a delicious twist on a potluck classic ~ quick to prepare using common ingredients, the Asian flavors in this colorful pasta salad really pop. It’s an easy summer side salad recipe perfect for barbecue season!
I got the idea for this Thai spaghetti salad from my grocery store deli!
I get some of my best recipe ideas from the deli counter at my favorite market. They make surprisingly good salads and we like to pick 2 or 3 and call it dinner during the summer months when it’s too hot and sticky to cook. I chose three last week and I loved them so much I’m recreating each one for the blog. This Thai spaghetti salad is a twist on a potluck staple, spaghetti salad.
the shortcut to a copy cat recipe
Prepared salads are usually easy to copy because they usually have their ingredients printed right on the label of the container. By law they have to list the ingredients in descending order of the amount used. I just used the label on my saved plastic container to build this wonderful spicy Thai spaghetti salad, starting with the pasta, red cabbage, and carrots, right through to the cayenne pepper and peanuts. It was fun, and it turned out perfect.
a useful pasta salad to have on hand for potlucks and barbecues
It’s hearty, colorful, and can be made ahead of time, the flavors actually benefit from a little time in the fridge. It’s an economical way to feed a crowd, and there’s no mayo to spoil outdoors, either. The Thai flavors make it unique.
Thai inspired flavors are so refreshing, and none of them are unusual or hard to find.
You’ll use regular spaghetti for the noodles, and for the peanut dressing you’ll use rice vinegar, regular peanut butter like Jiff, oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper. The result is a tangy dressing with just the right amount of peanut butter flavor without being overpowering.
Fresh basil and cilantro are essential for this salad, so make sure you have some on hand. Better yet, buy small herb plants at your local nursery and keep them on the windowsill or back porch so you’ll always have fresh herbs available.
classic summer potluck salads
They’re some are some of the best eating out there…the most successful ones are sturdy, have mass appeal, and can be made ahead ~
- Cowboy Caviar
- Mediterranean Bean Salad
- Dill Pickle Potato Salad
- Layered Rainbow Salad
- Israeli Salad
- Pasta Salad with Tuna
tips for making Thai spaghetti salad ~
For best texture, shred your carrots in your food processor fitted with the shredding blade. A box grater can make wet and mushy shreds.
I sliced my red cabbage on my mandoline slicer set on the 1/8 inch setting. This results in longer, fine shreds that retain their texture.
Use regular spaghetti, not the thin or thick style. Thin spaghetti can become mushy, and thick will overpower the veggies.
Reader Rave ~
“This salad is delicious, I uses white cabbage because that’s what I had and it’s amazing too. Thanks for the great recipe, easy to make and a great hit at my granddaughter’s graduation as well. She is vegetarian so it was perfect.” ~Bertha
Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad
- 8 ounces of regular spaghetti, broken in half, cooked in plenty of salted water to al dente and rinsed well with cold water
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 bunch (about 6-8) green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 handful basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 heaping Tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- To make the dressing put all the ingredients in a small bowl and use an immersion blender to process into an emulsified dressing. Thin with more oil or vinegar to taste, if necessary.
- Put the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Make it a main course ~ add chunks of chicken, tender steak, or grilled shrimp.
- Make it gluten/grain free ~ try this with zucchini noodles (spiralized zucchini) or spaghetti squash.
- Make it with more veggies ~ try frozen and thawed edamame beans, broccoli, or bok choy, snap peas, or green beans.
Questions and Reviews
I’m surprised there’s no sesame oil and/or fish sauce which I’ll add, also garlic. Good recipe though. I’m got make it soon.
I thought this was delish! I saw another poster mention that she omitted the oil and thought the dressing was sour and I had done the same and thought the same so next time I am including it. I also added shredded zucchini. Loved it! Thinking of adding chopped water chestnuts next time.
Can I substitute almonds and almond butter for the peanuts and peanut butter?
Yes, you could. It won’t have quite the same authentic flavor profile, but it will work for sure.
I made this last night. Because of Hurricane Sally, the September weather turned unseasonably chilly here in Atlanta, so I had to figure out a way to make this cold side into something warm and more substantial. I substituted rice noodles because I have a wheat allergy. These I served warm at the bottom of the bowl. I picked up crispy spring rolls and boneless bbq spare ribs from a Chinese restaurant. I added these to the salad along with diced cucumber and fresh mint. It was a hit! As my daughter said, “this makes my tummy so happy!” I made it in about 15 minutes using preshredded carrots. The sauce was terrific and so quick! Thank you for a quick and delicious recipe that can be easily adapted to suit the situation.
You sound like a resourceful cook Nilha ~ hope those hurricanes die down soon!
Amazing! Took to a friend’s birthday party. It was gone! I would change nothing at all. But, I would double the dressing recipe. Use half to toss the add the rest when ready to serve. I’m so excited about this dish!!
This recipe looked great and has a lot of nice fresh flavors. I omitted oil and added edamame for a whole-food plant-based dinner. Maybe it was the lack of oil, but the dressing was incredibly sour. I’d use half or maybe even a quarter of the amount next time.
This was very tasty! Added shrimp and shaved brussel sprouts – perfect!
Hey, this was great! I made one for myself and one for the Fourth of July barbecue. I’m happy I did because it was lunch today. I made additional dressing as the noodles absorbed it overnight.
This salad is delicious. It takes a lot of prep – I shredded both the carrots and cabbage rather than buying pre-shredded ones. Consequently there’s a lot of cleanup after assembling the salad, so it’s definitely a make ahead salad. Omitted sesame seeds and nuts cus my husband can’t eat them.
I’ll cut the recipe in half next time since it makes a lot. We liked the flavors a lot.