Larb Gai: Thai Chicken Salad

Larb Gai

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 18 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
497 Calories
19g Fat
40g Carbs
44g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 497
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 25%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 4391mg 191%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 44g
Vitamin C 161mg 803%
Calcium 252mg 19%
Iron 6mg 31%
Potassium 1219mg 26%
*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.)

Larb gai is Thailand's version of a Western-style grilled chicken salad, except the chicken is not grilled—it's stir-fried. This dish is classic, traditional Thai. While this recipe is made with chicken, in Thailand, pork and even beef are also used.

Larb gai is best served while the chicken is still hot from the pan and the greens are cold, though you can also serve it with rice. A key ingredient is fresh mint, which marries beautifully with the chicken. This dish so good, it's a little addictive.


For the Salad Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 to 1 fresh red chile, minced, or 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chile

For the Salad:

  • 4 to 5 loosely packed cups arugula, or other garden greens of choice

  • 10 to 15 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

  • 3 green onions, sliced

  • 1 handful fresh basil

  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced

  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced or diced

  • 4 tablespoons raw sticky rice, Japanese sweet rice, or 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped peanuts or cashews

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil, or another neutral vegetable oil, for stir frying

  • 1 shallot, or 1/4 cup chopped onion

  • 1/2 pound chicken breast, finely chopped, or ground chicken, pork, or turkey

  • 4 makrut lime leaves, very thinly sliced, optional

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • Water, as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for larb gai thai salad
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Combine all salad dressing ingredients together in a cup or bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.

    Combine salad dressing ingredients
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Combine all the cold salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (arugula/salad greens, mint, green onions, basil, red pepper, and cucumber).

    Combine salad
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. If using rice, see instructions below. Set aside.

    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, chicken, and lime leaf (if using).

    Place oil in wok
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. As you stir-fry, add the fish sauce. Also, add a little water if the pan becomes dry. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked—about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Add fish sauce
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Transfer the hot chicken to the salad bowl with prepared salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and toss well.

    Transfer chicken to bowl
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska 
  8. Finally, add the chopped nuts or ground toasted rice.

    Add chopped nuts
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  9. Taste test the salad, adding more fish sauce if you prefer it saltier or more flavorful. Add more dried crushed chile if you prefer it spicier. If too bitter, add a little more sugar.

    Add dressing
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  10. Garnish with more mint or basil leaves or with some edible flowers.

    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  11. Serve immediately while the chicken is still warm. 

To Make the Rice:

Ground toasted rice is traditionally added to this salad. This dish is also delicious without it or with ground or chopped nuts added instead. However, if you'd like to make this salad the authentic way, here's how:

  1. Place uncooked rice in a dry wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. As rice heats up, shake the pan back and forth or stir with a spoon. After 6 to 8 minutes, the rice will turn a light golden brown and begin to pop (like popcorn).

  2. When it begins to pop, transfer to a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. Grind down to a coarse powder. (A coffee grinder works well for this. Simply wipe out with a clean, dry cloth, then pour in your rice and grind. For pestle and mortar, use a firm, circular grinding motion.)

  3. Use in your recipe and enjoy.