This Crunchy Asian Salad is a dynamically addicting combination of crisp, vibrant veggies with crunchy toasted peanuts and ramen all doused in creamy, irresistible Sriracha Peanut Dressing!
This Asian Salad Recipe is s so crazy good I was eating it for breakfast the next day AKA it’s destined to become one of your favorite Asian salads of all time. And bonus, it is a FABULOUS make ahead salad without anything to prep last minute and stores beautifully!
Asian Salad Recipe
I first posted a very modified version of this Crunchy Asian Salad with Sriracha Peanut Dressing back in July 2014, my first year of blogging:
“Thank you all so much for your best wishes for a speedy recovery from my pneumonia. I was able to come home from the hospital on home IVs, and I’m not sure who was more excited about it, me or Kiwi? (cue video of Kiwi welcoming me home)
As excited as Kiwi was that I was home, that’s almost as excited as I get to share new recipes with you! (I only say almost because I would be lying if I said I jumped up and down repeatedly for 10 minutes straight like Kiwi 🙂 )”
I’m just as grateful today as I was then for your encouragement and support and I’m just as excited to share this beautified Crunchy Asian Salad with Sriracha Peanut Dressing with you especially because this was the first salad I created that I fell in love with.
I used to not be much of a salad person – too much “chopping” for my taste and not enough satisfying flavor. But with one taste of this Crunchy Asian Salad with Sriracha Peanut Dressing in 2014 – I was converted.
I discovered the secret to a successful, dynamite salad is not only a killer, flavor loaded dressing but plenty of crunch – and this Asian Chinese Salad is packed with it: cabbage, Romaine lettuce, snow peas, green onions, carrots, cilantro and bell peppers all topped with roasted peanuts and toasted Ramen – a texture lover’s dream.
Asian Salad ingredients
- Cabbage: I used red cabbage, but you can use red or green for this recipe. Remove the thick and fibrous outer leaves to reveal the softer leaves beneath. You can save the tougher out leaves for sautéing or for cabbage soup. Take care to thinly slice the cabbage and cut it into smaller lengths if you wish for more manageable bites 😉.
- Romaine lettuce: I usually purchase Romaine hearts which tend to be fresher, sweeter and crunchier than whole heads without the wilted outside layers.
- Bell pepper: Use red, orange or yellow for their sweetness, rather than green which is earthier.
- Carrots: I prefer to slice carrots into matchsticks myself because they tend to be thicker than store-bought and hold up better in the salad.
- Snow peas: These add fantastic crunch! Trim the ends of the snow peas, then julienne them. Some of the peas will fall out, but that’s okay, just add them to the salad separately.
- Green onions: You will need about ½ bunch green onions to make ¼ cup chopped. The green onions are less pungent than yellow or red onions with a sweet, onion-y fresh flavor.
- Cilantro: This adds a tangy, zesty, citrus flavor. If you’re one of the 4-14 percent who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, just skip it. If you love it, add more to taste.
- Ramen: Just one (3 ounce) packages of dry ramen – the everyday kind with the seasoning packet – adds sublime crunch. For this recipe, you will discard the seasoning packet (or use it for something else).
- Peanuts: Use roasted, salted peanuts for maximum flavor.
- Almonds: I prefer sliced almonds but you can also use slivered if you prefer. They can be found in the bulk bins at sprouts or in small packages by the salad toppings or other nuts.
Possible Recipe Variations
You can swap out any of the ingredients or add anything to this Asian Salad to make it your own! Some variations include:
- Add protein: See section below for how to make this recipe a complete meal with rotisserie chicken, shrimp, pork, etc.
- Add vegetables: Add any vegetables to this recipe such as cucumbers, edamame, celery, mushrooms, bean sprouts, etc.
- Swap nuts: Use slivered almonds, cashews macadamia nuts, etc.
- Add coconut: Toast the coconut for about 8 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Add fruit: Sweet, juicy pineapple, mangos or Mandarin oranges add sweet bursts of delight and pair beautifully with the creamy dressing.
- Add dried cranberries: Also known as Craisins, are plump, sweet, juicy gems in the salad. You could also use dried cranberries or raisins.
- Add water chestnut: They’re delightfully crunchy and easy to find at any grocery store.
- Add sesame seeds: These add a mild, sweet, and nutty flavor and a satisfying crunch. Use toasted sesame seed for a stronger almond-like flavor.
- Sunflower seeds: Use roasted and salted sunflower seeds for the best flavor.
HOW TO ADD PROTEIN TO ASIAN SALAD
This Asian Salad is delicious with chicken, salmon, shrimp, pork or steak to transform it into the main event:
- Rotisserie chicken: Go as simple as shredded rotisserie chicken tossed separately in a little of the dressing – you will be amazed at how much flavor it soaks up.
- Chicken: Add your favorite Asian chicken such as honey sriracha chicken, teriyaki chicken, Korean chicken, honey garlic chicken, sesame chicken, Mongolian chicken or yakitori.
- Salmon: Buttery cooked salmon would be a fabulous addition. Try adding honey glazed salmon, Asian salmon, Asian BBQ salmon or teriyaki salmon.
- Shrimp: Add pre-cooked shrimp or raw shrimp seasoned with garlic, onion and ginger and a splash of soy sauce. Teriyaki shrimp, honey garlic shrimp, or sweet chili shrimp would also be tasty.
- Beef and pork: Add your favorite tender steak such as beef bulgogi, grilled Asian steak or Mongolian beef. Slow cooker Asian Caramel Pork would also be tasty.
Asian Salad Dressing
This Crunchy Asian Salad becomes even dreamier with a drizzling – or bathing if you prefer – of the dazzling hero of this salad – the mega creamy, Sriracha Peanut Dressing. This dressing has a base of olive oil, and peanut butter thinned with water and layered with rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, honey, lime and sriracha. Its nutty, savory, salty, tangy with a punch (of customizable) heat. I use the full one tablespoon sriracha for my dressing but if you don’t love heat or aren’t sure how much to use, simply start with 1 teaspoon and add more to taste.
- Peanut butter: Use your favorite peanut butter because that is what the dressing will taste like!
- Oil: I suggest either canola oil or light olive oil for this recipe because you don’t want the oil flavor pronounced. Light olive oil is a refined oil that has a neutral taste and a higher smoke point. It can be used for baking, sautéing, grilling, and frying.
- Rice vinegar: This is a type of vinegar made from fermented rice. It is typically far less acidic and milder than pure distilled white vinegar and commonly used in dressings and Asian recipes. Look for it next to the other vinegars. Make sure to use unseasoned/natural rice vinegar – the seasoned is potent!
- Soy sauce: This grounds the dressing with its salty umami. I recommend using reduced sodium soy sauce or reducing the salt in the recipe.
- Honey: This balances the vinegar to create that sweet and tangy dressing. Use more or less honey to taste – some like it sweeter, some like it less sweet.
- Sriracha: This is a chili sauce made of red chili peppers and garlic. It is less vinegary than most hot sauces and about the consistency of ketchup.
- Lime Juice: This brightens the entire dressing! Fresh is always best, but bottled will also work.
- Spices: The dressing is rounded out with garlic powder, ginger powder, dried basil, salt and pepper.
HOW TO make ASIAN SALAD
Asian Salad is easy to make but will reward you with an explosion of flavor! Here’s a quick overview (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Make dressing. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl. Make sure to taste and adjust by adding additional lime, honey, sriracha, etc. so it’s prefect for YOU!
- Step 2: Toast ramen and peanuts. Add broken Ramen noodles to half of a large baking sheet in a single layer and the peanuts to the other half. Bake at for approximately 4-8 minutes, or until golden in some places.
- Step 3: Assemble salad. Add salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Top with peanuts and Ramen noodles.
- Step 4: Add dressing. Drizzle individual servings with dressing and additional lime juice if desired.
EXPERT RECIPE TIPS
- Customize the salad. This Asian Salad is all about making it YOUR favorite salad! Do this by adding more or less of any of the ingredients to your liking, or omitting some ingredients completely, as long as you have plenty of CRUNCH!
- Chill dressing. You’ll want to refrigerate your dressing for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, so the flavors deepen and meld. Cold dressing is also much more appetizing than lukewarm dressing. If you are short on time, pop the dressing in the freezer for 30 minutes than refrigerate beyond that.
- Make the dressing more or less sweet. Some prefer the dressing sweeter, some like it less sweet. Do you best to adjust it before you add it to the salad, but it’s also easy to adjust after it’s added to the salad. You can drizzle on a little rice vinegar for tangier or sprinkle on a little sugar for sweeter, and mix it directly into the salad.
- Hold the dressing. The ramen and Romaine will start to soften as soon as you add the dressing, so only add it once you’re ready to eat.
- Serve immediately. To that end, serve the Asian Salad immediately after dressing so it’s at peak freshness, or add dressing to individual servings.
- Scale to your needs. This recipe makes enough for a family meal, but you can easily half the recipe if you prefer.
HOW TO MEal PREP ASIAN SALAD
This ingredients for this Asian Salad recipe can all be prepped ahead of time then combined when ready to serve, for a stress-free lunch or dinner win. Here’s how:
- Toast ramen and peanuts: Toast, let cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.
- Chop ingredients: Chop the salad ingredients, then store in separate airtight containers until ready to assemble.
- Dressing: Whisk and refrigerate in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
HOW TO STORE ASIAN SALAD
If you plan on storing leftover Asian Salad, do not toss the salad with ramen or the dressing otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy salad within a couple hours. Instead, store the salad, ramen and dressing in separate airtight containers. The salad without the dressing will last about 3 days in the refrigerator although the lettuce can soften a bit.
To store the dressing, transfer it to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. The dressing will thicken upon standing, so you may need to think it out with some water.
Crunchy Asian Salad – a texture lover, flavor lover’s dream that might just have you jumping up and down in flavorful bliss…maybe just not for 10 straight minutes.
LOOKING FOR MORE Side SALAD RECIPES?
- Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad
- Pina Colada Fruit Salad
- Perfect Fruit Salad with Honey Citrus Dressing
- Asian Pineapple Salad with Peanut Coconut Dressing
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Asian Salad with Sriracha Peanut Dressing
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- 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
- 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, then halved
- 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 heaping cup snow peas, ends trimmed and julienned
- 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 1 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1 package dry Ramen noodles, roughly broken
- chopped Rotisserie chicken
- chopped pineapple
- chopped mango
Sriracha Peanut Dressing
- 1/2 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup light olive oil or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ tsp EACH garlic powder, ginger powder, dried basil
- 1/4 tsp EACH salt, pepper
- 1 tablespoon sriracha, more or less to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (to toast peanuts and Ramen noodles).
- Meanwhile, whisk together all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl or use your blender. Thin with equal amounts water/oil as needed. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or sriracha as desired. Chill in the refrigerator. (Best if chilled at least 30 minutes.)
- Add broken Ramen noodles to half of a large baking sheet in a single layer and the peanuts to the other half. Bake at 425 degrees F for approximately 4-8 minutes, or until golden in some places, stir and bake an additional 1-2 minutes or until Ramen is mostly golden (it won’t be even, so don’t worry about it) .
- Add salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Top with peanuts and Ramen noodles.
- Drizzle individual servings with dressing and additional lime juice if desired.
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