Three-Step Thai Hot & Sour Salad Dressing

thai hot and sour salad dressing

Yum — I guess most of us know what this word means in English, but do you know what it means in Thai?

Salad or to mix.

That’s what it means in Thai. Isn’t that cool?!

In Thai cuisine, we have so many salad dishes, but there is one kind of dressing that we use for pretty much most of them. What’s even more intriguing is that this basic dressing really does go well with all the Thai salads it’s used with. Made with garlic, chilis, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar, it’s bursting with the flavors of Southeast Asia. Whether it’s yum nua (Thai beef salad), yum woon sen (Thai glass noodle salad), or yum makeua yao (Thai grilled eggplant salad), this dressing never disappoints..

As you can imagine, the taste of the Thai hot and sour salad dressing is hot and sour as the name suggests. Like most Thai dishes, when making this, you just have to keep tasting as you go. My recipe in this post is pretty well balanced in terms of taste. If you’re making or trying this Thai salad dressing for the first time, you’ll be safe with it. 🙂 Once you have tasted the recipe, you can just see if you’d like to add more of any of the ingredients. We like it hot and sour and that’s how it’s made traditionally but you can, of course, have it however hot, sour, salty or sweet you want it to be.

thai hot and sour salad dressing

Although this basic Thai salad dressing contains some sugar, I would say it’s still a healthy dressing. After all there’s no fat in it (not that fat is bad but you’ll probably already get it from something else!) and the content of sugar isn’t too high. Like I said you can modify the recipe to suit your preferences. This recipe I’m giving you doesn’t use a lot of sugar, but even then you can use a smaller amount than suggested. If you don’t consume refined sugar, you can definitely use other types of sugar such as palm or coconut sugar. I actually like the dressing more with palm sugar but it’s a little harder to dissolve, and I don’t always have it in my kitchen.

While this Thai hot and sour salad dressing is made with fish sauce traditionally, you can use salt or soy sauce instead if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Just keep in mind that if you’re using salt, don’t use the fish sauce measurement and go easy on the amount when you begin. Also, it’s very likely that you will need more lime juice in order to for you to have enough liquid for your salad, and more sugar to round out the flavor.

As we use this flavorful salad dressing with a lot of our salads, it just means that when you make it, you can make enough to last you a few days or so and have it with a different kind of salad each time. Note that 2-3 days in the fridge is the longest you will want to keep this dressing because it contains fresh lime juice.

I hope you will try and enjoy this super easy and healthy Thai salad dressing at home. If you do, let me know how it went! xx


Three-Step Thai Hot & Sour Salad Dressing Recipe

thai hot and sour salad dressing

A versatile hot & sour Thai salad dressing

  • Author: Cooking with Nart
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minute
  • Yield: About ½ cup 1x
  • Cuisine: Thai


  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Thai chilies, to taste (I use about 35!)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar


  1. In a mortar, pound the garlic and chilies with a pestle until fine.
  2. Add fish sauce, lime juice, and granulated sugar to the garlic and chili mixture.
  3. Dissolve the sugar by stirring with a spoon. The dressing is ready when the sugar is fully dissolved.

Keywords: Thai salad dressing, Thai hot and sour salad dressing, spicy salad dressing, healthy salad dressing, no fat salad dressing

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