A small jar of Thai-inspired peanut dressing next to a bowl and jar of chicken salad.

Allison Day’s Thai-inspired chicken salad is a crave-worthy bowl, full of greens, chicken, cucumber, and any other veggies you like. This peanut dressing is a perfect counterpoint. It packs an umami smack from peanut butter, lime juice, and fish sauce and, even better, you can slather it on all kinds of other things—noodles, grilled vegetables, or chicken skewers.–Jenny Latreille

A small jar of Thai-inspired peanut dressing next to a bowl and jar of chicken salad.

Thai-Inspired Peanut Dressing

4.67 / 3 votes
A Thai-inspired peanut dressing is perfect for drizzling over all kinds of things, not just veggies. A creamy combo of peanut butter, soy and fish sauces, and lime juice; make it ahead so your weeknight Thai salad is ready in a snap. 
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories99 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 1 to 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter, or nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce, use tamari if making gluten-free
  • 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil, such as grapeseed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, peanut butter, tamari or soy sauce, oil, maple syrup, water, fish sauce (if using), and red pepper flakes until completely emulsified.
  • Cover and chill until ready to use. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Shake well before using.


*What is fish sauce used for?

Fish sauce is a salty and savory ingredient that’s used to add umami to all kinds of things, like pad Thai, but it’s also used to marinate meats, dress vegetables, or punch up the flavor in soups or stews. It’s often used as a base for salad dressings and homemade condiments. Made from fish (or krill) that’s been heavily salted and fermented for up to 2 years, fish sauce has a pretty powerful aroma straight out of the bottle but it adds a salty umami kick unlike anything else.
Modern Lunch Cookbook

Adapted From

Modern Lunch

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Serving: 2.5 tablespoonsCalories: 99 kcalCarbohydrates: 6 gProtein: 3 gFat: 8 gSaturated Fat: 4 gSodium: 660 mgPotassium: 98 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 4 gVitamin A: 41 IUVitamin C: 2 mgCalcium: 13 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Allison Day. Photo © 2019 Allison Day. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This Thai-inspired peanut dressing was such a nice surprise and change of pace from the typical oil- and vinegar-based dressings that I usually whip up for salads. It was terrific! Even when made with my old standby pantry staple peanut butter, Jif. I can only imagine how much better it would have been if I had used natural peanut butter.

I had it with the Thai-inspired chicken salad and it will be showing up on our table often.

I had some sunflower seed butter on hand, so that is what I used in this peanut dressing. The dressing was definitely the star of the show here; it added a lovely flavor to the healthy Thai-inspired chicken salad.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    This is a nice little recipe to have in your arsenal of things you can make from the pantry. The peanut butter gives it a bit more heft than most salad dressings, so it is perfect for a main dish salad. I served it over a salad of chopped baby romain, cucumbers, spring onion, Thai basil and mint. I topped the salad with grilled chicken breasts drizzled with a bit of the dressing and some chopped peanuts. An easy and delicious dinner. When I make this again, I think I’d like to try it on a rice noodle salad.