Light and flavorful with a Thai-inspired dressing, this easy beef salad recipe is made with ground meat that's grilled - or can be pan fried or oven roasted - and seasonal vegetables. It's simple enough to make for any weeknight and nice enough to serve to guests for a casual cookout. Here's one more to add to your Quick Healthy Recipes list.
I came up with this delicious take on the more traditional Thai beef salad (that uses a cut of beef) one day when I had ground beef to use, it was hot, and I wanted something cool, quick, and flavorful. This checked all the boxes and didn't require any long marinating yet still results in beef soaked with Thai flavors.
I find the flavors of Thai food - often lime, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, and a bit of honey and spice - to really be the opposite of sauces and dressings Americans often use like ranch, French, or honey mustard (though obviously, I love those at times, too!) or even the thicker sauces of Chinese stir fries.
Instead of heavy dressings or sauces, Thai dressings just lightly coat the vegetables, letting them shine while also imparting just the right amount of spice, tang, and sweetness.
And you get all of this in this quick, healthy, one dish dinner salad that you can make as shown when it's warm, but also use different cooking methods if you'd like this without grilling. It's pretty versatile!
Let's get to it, then.
This is one of those recipes that does contain a number of ingredients - but they are either in your pantry or easy to find, so don't let that put you off!
NOTE: Sometimes those "3-Ingredient" recipes everyone shares are simply using packaged mixes that all contain a LOT more ingredients - and more ingredients doesn't necessarily make for a complicated meal. #soapbox
This recipe is a case in point. You will need:
- 1 lime
- peanut (or olive) oil
- rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- sesame oil
- fish sauce
- Sriracha sauce (or red pepper flakes)
- ground beef
- garlic powder
- bell pepper
- sesame seeds (optional for garnish)
While not everyone has fish sauce or rice vinegar, they are easy to find in most grocery stores and if you're like me and enjoy Thai flavors, they are something to add to your pantry for sure.
The remaining ingredients are usually things we have or buy regularly - it's just a matter of getting them out of the fridge and cupboards.
This is a simple three-step recipe:
- Whisk together the dressing.
- Mix and shape the beef patties. Grill or cook using another method.
- While the meat is cooking, add all the vegetables to individual plates (or mix in a large bowl - it's up to you), add the cooked patties, drizzle with dressing and you're done.
This is easily done in less than 30 minutes and you'll be sitting down to a one-dish meal that definitely hits the spot!
- With Noodles: Sometimes I'll add some pan fried noodles, too. Simply start the noodles to boil before making the dressing, stir fry them in peanut and sesame oil while the meat cooks, and add them to the plates to the side of the vegetables. The dressing gets drizzled over everything and it's SO good.
- Thai "Taco" Salad: I've included alternative cooking methods for the beef in the printable recipe below, but I think the most fun variation is probably the Thai "taco salad" idea - mix up the beef with the ingredients but crumble it and cook it like taco meat. Then mix it all together with the vegetables. I think this would be a great way to serve the salad to a crowd or take on a picnic, don't you?
Be sure to let me know if you try this and what method you used!
More Easy Main Dish Salads
- Spicy Chicken Noodle Salad
- Steak Salad with Creamy Garlic-Pepper Dressing
- Quick and Easy Chef's Salad
- Sesame Cabbage Salad with Grilled Chicken (30 Minute Main Dish)
Easy Thai Grilled Beef Salad Recipe
- 1 large lime, zested & juiced (about 1/4 cup juice—save zest for meat)
- 1/3 cup peanut oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce or red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dry ground ginger
- 1 garlic clove minced
For Beef Patties:
- 1 pound ground beef*
- 2 teaspoon fish sauce
- zest from lime, about 1 tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce or red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 small head of lettuce, chopped or 10-ounce bag of washed salad greens
- 1-2 cups shredded cabbage, about 1/4 of a head
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ribbons with the vegetable peeler
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 sweet or red onion, thinly sliced
- sesame seeds for garnish
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.
- Let sit to meld flavors while making the rest of the salad.
- Mix ground meat with fish sauce, lime zest, sriracha, salt and garlic powder, stirring well to incorporate evenly. Shape into 8 small patties about 1/2-inch thick.
- Grill patties until done, 5-6 minutes each side (**see note below for other cooking methods).
- While patties are cooking, divide the lettuce and shredded cabbage between 4 dinner plates.
- Top with the carrots, bell pepper and onion slices.
- When the patties are cooked, arrange two of them on each plate, nestling them into the greens.
- Drizzle with dressing and garnish with sesame seeds.
- Broil the patties on a broiler pan 3-4 inches from the element, about 5 minutes each side until cooked through.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven until done, about 15 minutes.
- Pan fry in a skillet like you would hamburgers, 3-4 minutes a side.