This cold peanut noodle salad is a meal I CRAVE, especially once the weather starts to warm. Spaghetti noodles are bathed in a creamy Thai peanut sauce and are tossed with mint, spinach, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers and peanuts. It’s crunchy, creamy, vibrant and healthy. In other words, this is the ULTIMATE SALAD. I’ll show you, step-by-step, how easily it comes together! [Don’t miss the VIDEO below.]

Close up of the cold Thai peanut noodle salad on a plate with a fork.

Easy Thai peanut noodles

This Thai noodle salad comes together easily and can be made in advance. We love it as a one-bowl dinner, but it’s also a beautiful side dish to grilled chicken or fish (think Thai shrimp or chicken kebabs). Since the salad transports well, it’s also the perfect dish to bring to picnics, potlucks and barbecues. (And let’s not forget about leftovers, which make for the best lunch ever.) 

Healthy peanut noodle salad recipe

This peanut noodle salad recipe has been a staple in my kitchen since Ella was a baby, but it has morphed over time. When I originally developed the recipe a decade ago it was a rather heavy dish, with loads of noodles and a super rich sauce. However, over time I’ve brightened it up, cutting back on the noodles, amping up the vegetables, and lightening the sauce. Guess what? It’s way more delicious now then it was back then! 

Bowl of cold peanut noodle salad with spinach, cucumbers and peppers.

Gluten free & vegan noodle salad

These peanut noodles are naturally vegan, meaning this is a dish that will please everybody at the table. The peanut butter in the dressing and the peanuts in the salad provide enough protein to satisfy us, but you can certainly add shrimp or shredded rotisserie chicken to the salad if you prefer. 

The salad is also gluten free if you use gluten free spaghetti and tamari.

Close up of a fork wrapped around a bite of cold peanut noodle salad.

How to make Thai peanut sauce:

  1. Process a garlic clove in a mini food processor (or small blender) until finely chopped.
  2. Add creamy peanut butter, tamari or soy sauce, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, mirin, maple syrup or honey, lime juice and sriracha.
  3. Process the sauce until smooth.
  4. Refrigerate the dressing until you’re ready to use, or toss it with the cooked pasta right away.

How do you make Thai peanut noodle salad?

Toss cooked spaghetti noodles with the peanut dressing. The mixture will look a bit soupy at this point, but the sauce will thicken as it chills. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

Process shot showing spaghetti noodles tossed with the creamy peanut sauce.

Pile baby spinach, sliced cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, scallions, mint and peanuts over the peanut noodles. At this point you can cover the bowl and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.

Process shot showing the Thai peanut noodles topped with vegetables before tossing.

When you’re ready to serve, toss the salad until well combined. Serve with sriracha (or your favorite chile sauce) for drizzling! 

Close up of the Thai peanut noodles after having been tossed with the vegetables.

Can you make the peanut noodle salad ahead?

Yes! These cold peanut noodles can be made a day ahead, making them perfect for meal prep. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce, then pile the rest of the ingredients on top. Right before eating, toss everything together to coat. This will ensure that the veggies stay crisp and bright. However, as I noted earlier, the leftover tossed salad is still fabulous the next day. (I call dibs!)

Overhead shot of a plate of cold peanut noodles, with chopped peanuts alongside.

What about if you have a peanut allergy in the family?

You can swap out the peanut butter for another nut butter, such as cashew butter or almond butter. Swap the chopped peanuts for toasted cashews.

Peanut noodle salad tips:

  • You can use gluten-free spaghetti, regular spaghetti, whole wheat spaghetti or soba noodles for this salad.
  • You’ll need a mini food processor for the peanut sauce (a small blender will work as well). 
  • I prefer to use reduced sodium tamari (or soy sauce), which is less salty and a bit more balanced than regular.
  • If you don’t have mint, you can use cilantro instead. Also, feel free to swap out the  bell pepper for sugar snap or snow peas!
  • For a picnic (or road trip!), divide the salad into individual serving containers and pack them in a cooler.

FAQ


What noodles should I use in peanut noodle salad?

Any spaghetti noodles work great! I use gluten free spaghetti, but you could go for regular or whole wheat spaghetti. You could also use soba noodles, which are made out of buckwheat flour and have a toasted, nutty flavor.

What peanut butter is best for Thai peanut noodles?

Creamy peanut butter works best in the peanut sauce. I prefer a natural peanut butter, made with just peanuts and salt, but any brand will work. 

What do you eat with peanut noodle salad?

This peanut noodle salad is hearty enough to eat as a healthy main course all on its own. However, it’s also a fabulous side dish alongside grilled chicken, fish or shrimp. 

Plate of Thai peanut noodle salad with a fork.

Other pasta salads to try:

Easy, flavor-packed meals you might like:

Don’t forget dessert!

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad with Cucumbers, Spinach & Mint (Gluten Free, Vegan)

This is the ULTIMATE cold peanut noodle salad, made with a creamy Thai peanut sauce and a slew of veggies. It’s easy, vegan & gluten free! Spaghetti noodles are bathed in a peanut dressing and are tossed with spinach, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, peanuts and mint. It’s crunchy, creamy, vibrant and addictive. Enjoy the noodle salad on its own as a healthy main course, or pack it up for potlucks, barbecues and picnics. Make the peanut dressing while the spaghetti noodles cook.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cold pleanut noodle salad, Thai peanut noodle salad, vegan peanut noodles
Servings: 4 -6 people

Ingredients

Noodles

  • 8 ounces spaghetti (regular or gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil or neutral vegetable oil

Peanut dressing

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower, grapeseed or canola)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably natural
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon sriracha, or more to taste

For serving

  • 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber (about 1/3 cucumber)
  • 1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
  • Sriracha (optional)

Instructions

Cook the noodles

  • Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Be sure to give them a good stir now and then, especially at the beginning, so that they don’t clump up. Drain the noodles, then rinse them in cold water. Transfer the noodles to large bowl, and toss them with the sesame oil.

Make the peanut dressing

  • In the meantime, put the garlic clove in a mini food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the oil, peanut butter, tamari or soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, maple syrup or honey, lime juice and sriracha (feel free to add more if you like it spicy!). Process until smooth. Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss to combine. It will look a bit soupy at this point, but the sauce will thicken as the noodles chill. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Assemble the salad

  • Layer the cucumber, bell pepper, spinach, scallions, mint and peanuts over the noodles. At this point, the salad can be covered again and refrigerated for an additional 4 hours, or it can be tossed together with tongs and served right away. Serve the salad with sriracha, for drizzling.

Notes

Do Ahead: The noodles and dressing (without the vegetables) can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. The salad with the vegetables can be assembled but not tossed up to 4 hours before serving.
Tips:
  • You can use gluten-free spaghetti, regular spaghetti, whole wheat spaghetti or soba noodles for this salad.
  • You’ll need a mini food processor for the peanut sauce (a small blender will work as well). 
  • I prefer to use reduced sodium tamari (or soy sauce), which is less salty and a bit more balanced than regular.
  • If you don’t have mint, you can use cilantro instead. Also, feel free to swap out the  bell pepper for sugar snap or snow peas!
  • For a picnic (or road trip!), divide the salad into individual serving containers and pack them in a cooler.

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