2020 update! This cold Vietnamese rice noodle salad is light and refreshing—perfect for sultry summer evenings. It’s brimming with cucumbers, yellow squash, peanuts, chiles and a slew of basil and mint (all my favorite things!), although you can adapt it to whatever vegetables you have on hand. Serve the salad on its own, or turn it into a main course with grilled shrimp or chicken.

Side angle shot of the Vietnamese rice noodle salad on a platter topped with grilled shrimp.

Vietnamese rice noodle salad

It is currently hot. Stand-still-and-sweat hot. I hate hot. Whereas my husband James, who grew up in Atlanta, thinks the perfect day is ninety-five degrees with ninety percent humidity, this kind of weather turns me into a puddle. That’s where this Vietnamese rice noodle salad is a SAVIOR. It’s cooling and refreshing, yet ultra satisfying. In other words, it’s the perfect summertime meal.

Rice noodle salad with shrimp

We transform the salad into a healthy dinner by topping it with garlicky grilled shrimp kebabs (or you could go for shredded chicken!). The warm, smoky shrimp are the perfect counterpoint to the vibrant and bright salad. It’s a meal we literally crave

Grilled shrimp skewers on a platter.

Here’s a tip when grilling shrimp: use two skewers instead of one to prevent the shrimp from twirling around on the skewer. If you’re using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them for at least 1 hour before grilling. 

Which rice noodles should you use?

For this Asian rice noodle salad, go for Pad Thai style rice noodles, which hold up well in the dressing. 

The ingredients for the rice noodle salad arranged on a marble countertop.

Asian rice noodle salad

Speaking of dressing, the noodles are tossed with an Asian lime dressing made with lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey and sesame oil. A splash of fish sauce lends an irresistible umami flavor. 

Close up of a spoonful of the lime vinaigrette for the noodle salad.

The dressing calls for 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, according to taste, since different brands have varying levels of intensity. I use Red Boat brand, which has a clean flavor that’s not overly strong. 

Easy noodle salad 

You can make the dressing several days in advance, making quick work of this easy noodle salad. The cooked rice noodles are tossed with the dressing along with cucumbers, yellow squash and herbs. However, you can swap in any veggies you have on hand, such as thinly sliced red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, snow peas, zucchini and/or shredded carrots!

Process shot showing the ingredients for the Vietnamese rice noodle salad arranged in a large bowl before tossing.

Fresh basil and mint lend important freshness to this Vietnamese rice noodle salad, but you could swap in cilantro or go for all basil or all mint. You can also use chives in place of the scallions!

How to make Vietnamese rice noodle salad

  1. Cook rice noodles in boiling water according to the package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. 
  2. While the noodles cook, make the dressing (or make it ahead – it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days!).
  3. Put the noodles in a large bowl and add the vegetables, herbs, chiles and peanuts (or cashews!). Add the dressing and toss to coat. 
  4. Serve the salad on its own, or top it with grilled shrimp or chicken!
Process shot showing the rice noodle salad in a large bowl after tossing.

Rice noodle salad tips:

  • Pad Thai style rice noodles (which are shaped like fettuccini) hold up best in this salad, but you could go for rice vermicelli instead. 
  • Feel free to swap out the veggies for what you have on hand! Thinly sliced red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, snow peas, zucchini and shredded carrots are all delicious swap-ins. 
  • Fresh basil and mint lend important freshness to this salad, but you could go for all basil or all mint if you don’t have both (or swap in cilantro!). You can also use chives in place of the scallions.
  • The dressing calls for 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, according to taste, since different brands have varying levels of intensity—I recommend Red Boat brand.
  • Feel free to spice up the salad to your tastes by adding a second chile, or by drizzling it with chile sauce or sriracha.  
  • Transform the salad into a main course by topping it with grilled shrimp or shredded chicken (I include the recipe for my garlicky grilled shrimp kebabs in the recipe header below). When grilling shrimp, use two skewers instead of one to prevent the shrimp from twirling around on the skewer. If you’re using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them for at least 1 hour before grilling. 
Cold rice noodle salad on a serving platter with a serving spoon.

FAQ

What are rice noodles?

Rice noodles are made from rice flour and water (sometimes with tapioca or corn starch to help with the chewy texture). They’re naturally gluten free and come in several different shapes. For this recipe, I recommend a pad thai style (which has a fettuccini shape). 

Are rice noodles and vermicelli the same?

Rice vermicelli are very type of thin rice noodle. They’re sometimes called stick noodles. 

Can you make rice noodle salad in advance?

The rice noodle salad is best eaten soon after it’s made, when the vegetables and herbs are at their most crispy and vibrant. However, you can make the dressing several days in advance, and leftovers are delicious the next day!

Rice noodle salad with shrimp on a platter, with serving spoons alongside.

Other flavor-packed pasta salads to try:

Healthy meals you might like:

Easy gluten free desserts to try:

Get the recipe!

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

This cold rice noodle salad, brimming with crunchy cucumbers, yellow squash, peanuts, chiles and a slew of basil and mint, is light and refreshing—perfect for sultry summer evenings. Serve the salad on its own, or turn it into a main course by adding grilled shrimp or chicken. To make the garlicky grilled shrimp skewers shown above, marinate 1 pound of peeled jumbo shrimp in 4 grated garlic cloves plus enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Thread the shrimp onto soaked wooden skewers (pro tip: double up the skewers so that the shrimp don’t flip around!), and grill on high until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Sprinkle the shrimp with fresh lime juice before serving.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make cold rice noodle salad, Rice noodle salad, rice noodle salad recipe, vietnamese rice noodle salad recipe
Servings: 4 -6 people

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 12 ounces rice noodles (Pad Thai style)
  • ½ medium English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced, OR 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup lightly packed basil or cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 red chiles (such as jalapeños or serranos) to taste, thinly sliced
  • 2 large scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup roasted salted peanuts or cashews, coarsely chopped, plus more for serving
  • Grilled shrimp or chicken (optional)
  • Sriracha or chile sauce, for serving (optional)

Instructions

Make the dressing

  • In a bowl or jar, combine the lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger. If you have the time, let it sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors infuse. Add the honey, sesame oil, vegetable oil and 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk or shake to combine. Do Ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Make the salad

  • Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and rinse them in cold water.
  • Place the noodles in a large bowl and add the cucumber, squash, mint, basil, chiles (to taste, depending on how spicy you like it), scallions and peanuts. Pour the dressing over top, and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt if needed. Garnish with additional peanuts and scallions. If you’d like, top the salad with grilled shrimp or chicken. Serve with sriracha or chile sauce for drizzling, if desired.

Notes

Do Ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Bring it to room temperature before using. This salad is best made soon after it’s made, when the vegetables and herbs are at their most vibrant. However, leftovers are delicious the next day!
Tips:
  • Pad Thai style rice noodles (which are shaped like fettuccini) hold up best in this salad, but you could go for rice vermicelli instead. 
  • Feel free to swap out the veggies for what you have on hand! Thinly sliced red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, snow peas, zucchini and shredded carrots are all delicious swap-ins. 
  • Fresh basil and mint lend important freshness to this salad, but you could go for all basil or all mint if you don’t have both (or swap in cilantro!). You can also use chives in place of the scallions.
  • The dressing calls for 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, according to taste, since different brands have varying levels of intensity—I recommend Red Boat brand.
  • Feel free to spice up the salad to your tastes by adding a second chile, or by drizzling it with chile sauce or sriracha.  
  • Transform the salad into a main course by topping it with grilled shrimp or shredded chicken. If you’re using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them for at least 1 hour before grilling. 

Stay Connected!

I’d love to hear what you’re cooking, and I’m happy to answer any questions! Be sure to tag any photos so that I can share! @FromScratchFast

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I use and love (at no cost to you). Thank you for supporting From Scratch Fast!