Join the AK Dinner Party

Famous Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad {vegan & gluten-free}

Delicious vegan and easily gluten free Thai quinoa salad with a perfect crunch. Perfect for meal prep lunches, picnics or parties. This salad is a crowd-pleaser!

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you. Please read my policy page.

two bowls of thai quinoa salad with cilantro and limes on top and a bowl of limes on the side

SUPER EXCITING NEWS! We are hosting an #AKSaladChallenge beginning 4/23. More details will be announced this Sunday on the blog, so be sure to check back in!

This Thai quinoa salad recipe was originally posted in 2013, the year I met my now-husband. I don’t want to change this post too much because frankly, I want to keep the written memories here about our first date. It’s so sweet.

What I did change about this recipe was the photography and made some tweaks to the existing recipe so that it was friendly for those of you who are vegan and/or gluten free. Whoo hoo!

For those of you who don’t know, this recipe is one of the most popular recipes on Ambitious Kitchen!

bowl of thai quinoa salad with peanut dressing over the top and green onions and cilantro with limes in the background

So without further ado, here’s the story about how we first met:

I just got back from vacation in Arizona. I had so many fun nights I can’t even begin to tell you. The food, the margs, riding around in a red convertible, soaking up the sunshine, swimming at night, baseball games, Mexican food, Froyo, plus a trip to Sprinkles cupcakes!

I want to be on vacation for the rest of my life.

bowl of thai quinoa salad on a linen with cashews

Funny enough, I also went on a date during my trip! (The most random things happen to me, I swear.) I met him through a friend and we hit it off. On our date we went to the zoo, ate really good Italian food, and laughed hysterically. I don’t think he reads my blog, so in my opinion it’s perfectly okay to talk about how sweet he was.

FYI: I told him about the life-changing cookies and I think he was sold.

Seriously you guys, I have to stop telling people about the flavor profile of brown butter and those freaking cookies; it’s just too nerdy. Especially on dates.

two bowls of thai quinoa salad

But but but! What I really need to do is to come to grips with reality and accept that there are no more margs or FroYo in my near future. All I need in my life now is a gorgeous healthy salad.

You in?

I made this salad a few weeks back and can’t wait to try it again! I love that it can easily be vegan and gluten-free, and is incredibly crunch-tastic (not a word, but should be). There’s loads of goodness here: carrots, cabbage, quinoa, cilantro, cashews, red pepper, onion and more. There is definitely an Asian flavor profile to this vegetarian meal and the creamy peanut butter dressing with a hint of ginger is absolutely TO DIE FOR.

I named it Thai Salad, but is it actually that? I’m not sure. In the end, the ingredients all meld together perfectly and somehow the salad just works fantastically — plus it’s filling too! If you want to make this a complete meal or you’re craving more, I suggest adding edamame or chickpeas.

Oh and like pretty much everything else on this blog, I love it from the bottom of my heart. Duh.

a bowl of thai quinoa salad garnished with green onions and cilantro and a lime wedge

So yes, my husband and I met while I was on vacation. A week later, he asked me to send him the life-changing cookies, and now nearly 5 years later, we’re married. Cute story, huh?

If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment below and rate the recipe! You can also snap and picture and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. And of course be sure to follow Ambitious Kitchen on Instagram. xo!

More healthy salad recipes you’ll love:

Fiesta Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Kale, Edamame & Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

One Pot Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Chopped Thai Chickpea Salad with Curry Peanut Dressing

Roasted Veggie, Chickpea & Pesto Quinoa Salad

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad {vegan, gluten-free}

4.97 from 99 votes
thai quinoa salad in a bowl
Course Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Healthy, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Keyword thai quinoa salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serves 6
Delicious vegan and easily gluten-free salad with Thai flavors and a perfect crunch. It's even better the next day!


  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage, depending on how much crunch you like
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup cashew halves or peanuts (honey-roasted is good)
  • Optional: 1 cup edamame or chickpeas
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang
  • For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave or pure maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or more sesame oil
  • Water to thin, if necessary


  1. To cook quinoa: In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. You should have a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  2. To make dressing: Add peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and both sesame and olive oil and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner dressing, simply stir in a teaspoon or two of water or olive oil.
  3. Add as much or as little dressing as you’d like to the quinoa. I always start out with a little bit of dressing and usually add more to suit my taste preferences. Alternatively you can save the dressing for later and add when you are ready to eat; however the flavors of the dressing usually soak into the salad so I love adding it to the quinoa first.
  4. Next fold in red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro into the quinoa. Garnish with cashews and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges, if desired.
Servings: 6 servings
Serving size: 1 serving
Calories: 260kcal
Fat: 13.5g
Carbohydrates: 27.7g
Fiber: 4.3g
Sugar: 7g
Protein: 8.6g

Download My FREE 7-Day Meal Plan

Download My FREE 7-Day Meal Plan

Join the AK email list and get my brand new, FREE Simple & Nourishing 7-day Meal Plan delivered to your inbox.

    Leave a comment & rating

    Your email address will not be published.


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    Show Comments

    You might also like