Thai Steak Salad Recipe and Tips for Grilling Steak

This Thai steak salad recipe is full of dynamic color, flavor, and textures, and is perfect for adding freshness to your summertime gatherings.

  • By Jess Dang
  • May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day! Before we dive into civilian celebration of this three-day weekend, I want to take a moment to recognize the fallen troops who can’t be with their families today. Thank you for making the freedom we enjoy in our lives possible. Whether you’re feasting in your own backyard or headed to an Arrested Development viewing party, I hope you take a moment in your day to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday when you fire up the grill.

This Thai Steak Salad recipe might not make it on your Memorial Day menu today, but bookmark it for all your summer grilling. Ditch your traditional heavy, creamy coleslaws and go for this lighter and summery combination of colors, textures, and flavors. Cabbage, carrots, and romaine lettuce are dressed with a Thai vinaigrette and then tossed with ribbons of fragrant basil and salty crushed peanuts. All these ingredients can be prepped ahead so whether served for a weeknight dinner or a weekend backyard BBQ, it’ll be a stress-free experience.

This salad stands on its own and can dress up any meal but to make it a full meal, grilled steak is my protein of choice. In my humble opinion, steak prepared on a hot grill is meat at its best. My 3 quick grilling tips:

  1. Season and tenderize – even basic salt and pepper makes a difference.
  2. Take meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before grilling because putting cold meat on a hot grill will cause uneven cooking.
  3. Salt again right before placing the steak on the grill.

Meal Planning Smarts

  • Budget Cooking: To make this meal even more budget-friendly, simply swap the steak for chicken or go completely meatless and grill tofu instead. If using tofu, you’ll need to press out any moisture for flawless grilling. Watch this video on How to Prep Tofu to learn more.

Prepping Smarts

  • As mentioned above in my 3 quick grilling tips, seasoning and tenderizing is essential to grilling meats. Watch this video below on how to infuse proteins with more flavor and make them more tender:

How to Season & Tenderize Proteins with a Fork

Maximize flavor and tenderize proteins with this little trick.

  • Get your veggies chopped ahead of time, and it’ll be ready to assemble as you’re cooking. Learn how to slice cabbage, grate carrots with a food processor, and chop herbs with these short technique videos:

How to Slice Cabbage

See how easy it is to break down a head of cabbage for slaws and soups.


How to Grate Carrots

Learn how to use a food processor to quickly grate carrots.


How to Chiffonade Basil and Mint

Watch this video to learn how to chiffonade basil or mint - chopping into tiny ribbons for a garnish.


How to Chop Cilantro or Parsley

Learn how to chop parsley using the 'pivot-and-fan' chopping technique with this short video.

Equipment Smarts

  • A grill is great for getting a good grill flavor, but if you don’t have one, you can still invest in a good grill pan that goes from stovetop to the oven. A grill pan is also a great kitchen tool to have when you’re craving something summery in the colder months.
  • If you are grilling outdoors, tongs and a grill brush cleaner are useful to have on hand.
  • Prep bowls make it easy for you to chop veggies and make the dressing ahead of time.
  • A whisk combines dressing ingredients easily and quickly, so that’s also a great tool to use.

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Thai Steak Salad

This salad is full of texture and color with cabbage, carrots, and romaine lettuce. Basil and cilantro add fragrant herbal notes. Tossed with a Thai-flavored dressing, you'll hardly remember that this is healthy!

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 40 min

Serves: 4


  • Flank or skirt steak – 1¼ lbs
  • Red cabbage – ½ head, sliced
  • Carrots – 8 oz, grated
  • Romaine hearts – 2, chopped
  • Basil – 2 to 3 sprigs, sliced thinly
  • Cilantro – ¼ bunch, chopped
  • Fish sauce – 3 Tbsp
  • Lime juice – 2 Tbsp
  • Brown sugar – 1 Tbsp
  • Cooking oil – ¼ cup
  • Peanuts (opt) – ¼ cup, crushed



  1. Steak – Season and tenderize with salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
  2. Cabbage / Carrots / Romaine hearts / Basil / Cilantro – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  3. Make dressing – Whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and ¼ cup cooking oil. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)


  1. If cooking on a grill: Heat up grill to 500 degrees. Clean grates with a brush and then pour some cooking oil onto a paper towel. Using tongs, rub oiled paper towel onto grates.
  2. If cooking on stovetop: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a grill pan over high heat and brush with cooking oil.
  3. If cooking on a grill: Give steak another sprinkle of salt and pepper and then place onto grill. Grill on both sides for about 4 minutes for medium-rare. I like to rotate the steak midway through so that it gets more grill marks. For more well done steak, cover your grill and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes. Remove steak from grill and let it rest before carving.
  4. If cooking on stovetop: Give steak another sprinkle of salt and pepper and then place onto pan. Grill on both sides for about 2 minutes. Transfer to oven and roast for another 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, 6 to 8 minutes for medium, and 9 to 10 minutes for well done. Remove steak from oven and let it rest before carving.
  5. While steak is cooking, assemble salad by tossing together cabbage, carrots, romaine, basil, cilantro, and dressing. Add chopped peanuts, if using.
  6.  Once steak is done resting, slice against the grain (perpendicular to the lines in the steak) and top on salad. Enjoy!

A little note:

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