Easy Vegan Papaya Salad

Thai vegan papaya salad

Rick Poon / Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
131 Calories
4g Fat
24g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 131
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 824mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 89mg 446%
Calcium 56mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 474mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Thai papaya salad, also called som tum or som tam, is a fun and spicy side dish that is well known in Thailand; you'll often find it sold in restaurants and by street vendors. Papaya salad in Thai cuisine is not by definition vegetarian or vegan, as it's usually made with fish sauce and shrimp. However, this vegan papaya salad recipe has plenty of flavor and uses soy sauce instead of fish sauce. You won't miss the shrimp because this salad has many other fantastically textured ingredients, including green beans and cherry tomatoes, along with roasted peanuts for some crunch. 

Westerners usually think of papaya as a soft, ripe, and orangey-colored tropical fruit, but this dish is made with unripened green papaya, which is firm, green on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. As you might imagine, the taste is less sweet than a ripe papaya, but that means it holds up better in your salad. Peel the papaya and discard the seeds.


  • 2 cups grated firm green papaya

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped green beans

  • 1/4 cup grated carrots

  • 1/4 cup cabbage, sliced into thin strips

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 8 to 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 or 2 small Thai green chiles, or red chiles, minced

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or lime juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon raw sugar, or 1 teaspoon agave nectar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts

  • 2 cups shredded lettuce, optional, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine papaya, green beans, carrots, cabbage, soy sauce, tomatoes, garlic, chile peppers, lemon, sugar, and salt and then toss well. Mash together with a mortar and pestle, if possible. Chill for at least 2 hours.

  3. Add peanuts and serve cold on a bed of shredded lettuce, if desired.


  • You may need to stop by an Asian grocer in order to find green papaya, but it's worth the extra effort. Don't try making this recipe with ripe papaya; it won't work.
  • This salad is almost always served with sticky rice, which helps to balance the salad's heat.


  • Feel free to substitute milder peppers—even thinly sliced bell peppers if you want—if you don't like the heat of spicy Thai chiles.

How to Store Vegan Papaya Salad

You can store Thai papaya salad in an airtight container for a couple of days. If you don't serve it over lettuce initially, the salad leftovers will keep better in terms of texture; otherwise, the lettuce might get a little soggy.