This easy Thai beef salad recipe has fresh summer vegetables, fragrant herbs, lime juice, and fish sauce. Once you gather all your ingredients for the salad, you’ll have a tasty meal in less than 30 minutes!
This easy Thai beef salad recipe is one of my all-time favorite salads! It has the perfect combination of fresh, healthy, and meaty flavors in one dish.
These recipes are a must for more delicious and healthy Thai beef salads. The best-crying tiger recipe with spicy Nam Tok beef waterfall salad. It must be accompanied by this amazing sauce Nam Jim Jaew recipe without sugar. Both have incredibly bold flavors!
The fresh ingredients in this spicy Thai beef salad recipe make this the perfect summer dinner out on the back deck! On a hot day, pair it with this tangy and sweet Thai Tom Yum cocktail to help wash down the spicy bites, and you are set!
Why this recipe works
- It's easy! It's the easiest recipe with simple ingredients and is quick to put together once the marinating is done!
- All the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store. So it's a one-stop shop.
- It's incredibly delicious and healthy, making it one of the first go-to meals for clean eating. And it's a low-carb meal!
- It's a great recipe that can be made any time of year! The beef for the salad can be cooked over the stovetop or the grill!
- It has many fresh herbs, making it fragrant and refreshing to eat!
- You can adjust the spice level to your taste buds! Add a little chili flakes for a mild taste, or mix it with spicy chilies as you'd like!
Salad Ingredients for Making this Recipe
- Grilling beef (top round roast, round steak, or flanks)
- Fish sauce. Soy sauce is not a good substitute for this recipe. Use salt instead.
- Fresh lime juice. Lemon juice will work, but lime juice is more tangy and sharp and adds a bold flavor to the salad.
- Oil. Use high smoking point, neutral oil like vegetable, canola, or avocado.
The dressing ingredients
- Lime juice.
- Fish sauce. Each fish sauce brand has a different level of saltiness. Add a little first, then adjust more at the end if necessary.
- Sugar. Use white, brown, or palm sugar.
- Chili flakes. Optional and adjustable as needed for spice level. Find chili flakes at your local Asian market.
For the salad
- Cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
- Shallots. Use red onion as a substitute.
- Cucumbers. Use English, Persian, or pickling cucumbers sliced long and thin.
- Celery, top leafy parts chopped into ½-inch pieces
- Celery stems, thinly sliced
- Mint leaves, lightly packed and chopped in large chunks
- Cilantro sliced ½ inch long
Check the recipe card below for measurements for the salad.
What Beef cuts to use for Thai beef salad?
While testing this recipe for you, I used three different cuts of beef for the salad: top round roast, round steak, and flank. My favorite is the top round roast because it holds the most flavors and is the most tender after cooking.
I cut the top round roast rather thick and long, around 2-2.3 inches thick and 4-5 inches long. I marinated it for a few hours and then pan-fried it for a few minutes to cook the meat.
You can try using any grilling beef for this recipe, but I find that the cut with just a tiny amount of fat on the meat adds extra flavor to the salad.
How to make Thai beef salad
Let’s get started on making this easy beef salad recipe! Let's make it; it will become one of your and your guests' favorites in no time!
Step 1. Marinate the meat with fish sauce and lime juice for a few hours in a Ziploc bag. Or marinate the meat in a glass container covered with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for refrigeration.
See the kitchen notes section below on marinating if you are short on time.
Step 2. Chop the vegetables and herbs as instructed and put them in a large bowl. Chop the vegetables into small pieces for this salad.
Step 3. Make the dressing by mixing the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl, whisk together, and wait until the meat is ready before adding to the mixture.
Step 4. On medium-high heat on the stovetop, add oil until warm. Add the beef to a large skillet, cast iron, or frying pan. Use a splash guard or a cover lightly with a lid.
*Do not throw away the extra marinating sauce. Add any leftover sauce to the pan and let the meat cook between 4-6 minutes per side or until the meat is cooked to your preference—rare, medium-rare, medium, etc.
* For best results, you'll want to cook the meat on the rare side so the meat is tender when added to the salad.
Step 5. When the meat is ready, remove it to a cutting board from the pan and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Step 6. While the meat is resting, Add the salad dressing to the vegetable bowl, mix well, and get ready to cut the meat.
Step 7. Slice the meat thin and long, and save all the juices from the meat. Then add the sliced steak to the salad bowl. Try not to taste too much of the juicy steak before adding to the salad! (;
Step 8. Add the chili flakes, mix well, and let it chill for a few minutes while setting the table—season with more fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, or chili flakes.
Serving ideas. Placed the salad over a bed of salad greens, sliced cucumbers, chopped green beans, and lime wedges. I highly recommend pairing this Thai salad with sticky rice!
Helpful kitchen notes and tips
- Marinating the meat ahead of time will ensure that you’ll get the best-tasting beef. I recommend marinating it for at least 3 hours. If short on time, 30 minutes is the minimum time for marinating.
- If you only have 30 minutes to marinade the meat, massage the meat for a few minutes by mixing the two sauces for marinating in a bowl. Place the large chunk of meat in a gallon-size ziplock bag, pour the sauce over the meat in the bag, then seal it tight with minimal air. Use your hands to massage the sauce into the meat for 4-5 minutes.
- Use a meat tenderizer for this marinating method by placing a light cloth over the bag, then lightly pound the meat to help tenderize it. Be careful not the tear the bag! of meat can. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
- If cooking for one person, separate the cooked meat, vegetables, and sour dressing into small containers to prevent the salad from going soggy. Once you are ready to eat it for a meal, combine a small portion of each into a salad bowl and enjoy fresh Thai beef salad!
Optional ingredients to add as garnishes.
Chopped spring onions, toasted rice powder, lime wedges, chili flakes, fresh mint leaves, or cilantro.
Suggested side dishes to eat with the salad.
Sticky rice, jasmine rice, and fresh vegetables to serve on the side with the salad. Sliced cucumbers, long green beans, napa cabbage, and romaine lettuce are excellent options to pair with this authentic Thai beef salad!
- Make it spicy. Before serving the salad, add more chili flakes, freshly chopped Thai chilis, Serranos, or Jalapenos for added heat to your Spicy beef salad.
- Make the dressing spicy. Make a spicy dressing by adding the same spicy peppers as mentioned above.
- For vegetarians. Use crispy tofu or tempeh. For added vegetables, add fresh crispy vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, celery,
Thai beef salads are best eaten in one meal as the vegetables will get soggy, and the meat tends to lose flavor quite a bit from the liquid of the salad. If there are leftovers, store them in an airtight container for the next day for one more meal.
What makes this cold beef salad iconic within the Thai food repertoire is the freshness of the lightly muddled vegetables in a large bowl with zesty fresh lime juice and an umami fish sauce that leaves you wanting more and more. It’s eating summer in a bowl with every bite of this deliciousness.
The thicker steaks are best as they are more tender and have the juice liquid that adds to the flavors in the salad. These are the suggested steak for this Thai steak salad. Hanger steak, flank steak, sirloin steak, ribeye, t-bone steaks, New York strips, porterhouse, and skirt steak.
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- Thai basil fried rice
- Fresh spring rolls
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- Yum Woon Sen with shrimp
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