Discover the Perfect Balance of Sweet, Spicy, and Tangy in Our Thai Beef Salad

Thai beef salad, also known as yam neua, is an extremely popular Thai recipe. As of matter of fact, when most people speak of this dish, they say “there are as many yam neua recipes out there as there are Thai cooks”. Well here is one more!! I have incorporated all of the “classic” ingredients in a Thai beef salad – only with less fat and much less oil. Some people choose to add fish sauce to their dressing, but I think that ittastes equally delicious without it.

Thai Beef Salad
Vibrant herbs and zesty dressing create a flavor explosion in every bite of this Thai Beef Salad
Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

Thai beef salad, also known as yam neua, is an extremely popular Thai recipe. As of matter of fact, when most people speak of this dish, they say “there are as many yam neua recipes out there as there are Thai cooks”. Well here is one more!! I have incorporated all of the “classic” ingredients in a Thai beef salad - only with less fat and much less oil. Some people choose to add fish sauce to their dressing, but I think that it tastes equally delicious without it.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling time 4 hours
Course Salad
Cuisine Thailand
Servings 4
Calories 334 kcal


  • 1 small dish or resealable plastic bag
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 grill pan
  • 1 large bowl
  • 4 plates


  • 1 pound lean london broil or flank steak
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • teaspoons minced ginger
  • teaspoons red curry paste or chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 head lettuce, torn (boston and romaine work well - or substitute baby spinach and arugula)
  • 3 shallots (or 2 small red onions), thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • 2 small cucumbers, sliced into half moons
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges


  • Put the meat in a small dish or resealable plastic bag; in a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, soy sauce, canola oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red curry paste. Pour half of this marinade mixture over the meat.
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and cover tightly (or seal, if using a bag). Place the meat in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (or overnight, if you want to do the prep the evening before) and turn it occasionally if you can. Reserve the rest of the marinade mixture in the fridge as well (you will use it as the dressing for the salad).
  • When ready to cook the meat, spray a grill pan with cooking spray and place it over medium-high heat. Grill the steak until medium-rare (about 5 minutes per side) or longer if you want it more well done. Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest until it comes to room temperature, then slice it thinly (against the grain).
  • Combine the lettuce, shallot, cilantro, basil, cucumber, tomato, and beef in a large bowl; add the reserved dressing and toss well to coat.
    Divide salad among 4 plates.



Beef Selection: For the best results, choose a tender cut of beef such as sirloin, flank steak, or tenderloin. You can also opt for pre-sliced beef meant for stir-frying to save time. Ensure the beef is thinly sliced against the grain for maximum tenderness.
Keyword beef

Cooking Tips

Thai Beef Salad
Discover the perfect harmony of flavors in our Thai Beef Salad—sweet, tangy, and oh-so-satisfying

To ensure your Thai Beef Salad turns out perfectly every time, here are some essential tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Beef Preparation: For tender and juicy beef, marinate the thinly sliced beef in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This step infuses the meat with flavor and helps to tenderize it.
  • Proper Dressing Distribution: When tossing the salad with the dressing, make sure to coat all the ingredients evenly. A technique to achieve this is to pour the dressing over the beef, vegetables, and herbs in a large mixing bowl, then use tongs to gently toss and combine everything. This ensures each bite is bursting with flavor.
  • Balancing Flavors: Thai cuisine is known for its harmonious balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. Taste and adjust the dressing accordingly, adding more lime juice for acidity, fish sauce for saltiness, or honey for sweetness. Achieving the perfect balance is key to capturing the authentic Thai taste.
  • Freshness is Key: Opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients to enhance the flavors of your Thai Beef Salad. Crisp vegetables, vibrant herbs, and ripe tomatoes contribute to the overall texture and visual appeal of the dish. Additionally, consider using organic and locally sourced produce whenever possible for the best taste.
  • Chilling Time: Allow the salad to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. This chilling time allows the flavors to meld together and intensify, resulting in a more cohesive and delicious salad.

Serving Suggestions

Thai Beef Salad
Indulge in the aromatic wonders of Thai cuisine with our flavorful and refreshing Beef Salad

When it comes to serving Thai Beef Salad, the possibilities are endless. This versatile dish pairs well with a variety of sides, garnishes, and beverages, allowing you to customize your dining experience. Here are some recommendations and creative ways to elevate your serving presentation:

  • Complementing Flavors: Serve your Thai Beef Salad with a side of steamed jasmine rice to balance the bold flavors. The fluffy rice absorbs the tangy dressing and adds a comforting element to the dish. Additionally, consider adding a side of crunchy Asian slaw or pickled vegetables for extra freshness and texture.
  • Vibrant Garnishes: Sprinkle your salad with an array of fresh herbs, such as cilantro, mint, or Thai basil, to enhance the aromatic profile and add a pop of color. Crushed peanuts or toasted sesame seeds make excellent toppings, providing a delightful crunch and nutty undertones.
  • Creative Presentations: Think beyond the traditional bowl presentation and explore different ways to serve your Thai Beef Salad. Try wrapping the salad in crisp lettuce leaves or rice paper wrappers to create flavorful wraps or spring rolls. Alternatively, stuff the salad into hollowed-out bell peppers or serve it in individual portions inside cucumber cups for an elegant touch.
  • Heat and Sweet Balance: If you prefer a bit of heat, serve your Thai Beef Salad with a side of Thai chili sauce or Sriracha for those who want an extra kick. For a touch of sweetness, offer wedges of fresh lime on the side, allowing your guests to squeeze the citrus juice over their salad to enhance the flavors.
  • Beverage Pairings: Complete your Thai dining experience by pairing your salad with refreshing beverages. Classic options like Thai iced tea or Thai iced coffee perfectly complement the spicy and tangy notes of the salad. If you prefer non-alcoholic options, consider serving chilled lemongrass-infused water or a tropical fruit smoothie for a burst of tropical flavors.

FAQs about Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad
Thai Beef Salad and a refreshing Thai iced tea—a match made in culinary heaven

Can I make Thai Beef Salad ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can prepare the beef, vegetables, and dressing ahead of time and store them separately in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, simply toss everything together for a quick and refreshing meal. However, it’s best to add fresh herbs and garnishes just before serving to maintain their vibrant flavors.

How long can I store leftovers?
Leftover Thai Beef Salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, keep in mind that the texture of the vegetables may soften over time. To freshen it up, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of fresh herbs before enjoying the leftovers.

Can I use a different protein instead of beef?
Certainly! While traditionally made with beef, you can substitute it with other proteins such as grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, or even a combination of your favorites. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure proper doneness.

Is Thai Beef Salad spicy?
The level of spiciness in Thai Beef Salad can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences. By controlling the amount of chili peppers or omitting them altogether, you can enjoy a milder version of the salad. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect balance of heat for your palate.

Can I make a vegetarian version of Thai Beef Salad?
Absolutely! For a vegetarian or vegan version, you can omit the beef and replace it with tofu orother plant-based protein options like tempeh or seitan. Ensure that the tofu or other protein is well-seasoned and cooked to your desired texture before adding it to the salad. The rest of the recipe remains the same, focusing on the vibrant vegetables, aromatic herbs, and tangy dressing that make Thai Beef Salad so delightful.

Embark on a culinary adventure with our Thai Beef Salad recipe. From essential cooking tips to creative serving suggestions, this post has it all. Join our community of food lovers by sharing this recipe and subscribing to our blog for exciting updates and more delectable dishes.

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