Kale and Cabbage Pad Thai Salad



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This kale and cabbage pad thai salad has all the flavors of pad thai but in salad form! It’s loaded with fresh veggies and tossed in the most delicious peanut dressing. Vegan + gluten-free.

Whenever I’m shopping at Whole Foods I’m always tempted to grab something from the salad bar or prepared foods section for my next meal. Through this habit I’ve discovered quite a few salads from the Whole Foods bar that I absolutely LOVE.

The sweet and spicy kale pad thai is one of those salads! It has all the flavor of pad thai and an awesome crunch, but no noodles!

A white bowl with the kale and cabbage pad thai salad and a few lime wedges on top.

After purchasing this salad from the prepared foods section too many times to count, I decided I should probably try making my own version at home, which I’ve done with a couple other Whole Foods salads including the garlicky kale salad and the crackling cauliflower.

So, this kale and cabbage pad thai salad is my version of the Whole Foods kale pad Thai salad! And if I do say so myself, it might even be better than the Whole Foods version. It’s jam-packed with tons of fresh veggies, has plant-based protein from the chickpeas and is tossed in the most delicious peanut dressing. It’s seriously SO good!

A white bowl with the kale and cabbage pad thai salad, two serving spoons, and a few lime wedges on top.

A Healthier Pad Thai

Normal pad Thai is certainly tasty, but it’s pretty carb heavy. In this recipe we’re replacing the rice noodles with kale and cabbage for a veggie-loaded, fiber packed dish that you can feel good about loading on your plate. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally a volume eater so vegetable packed dishes like this are great. They allow me to eat a lot of food so I feel full and satisfied, but not stuffed or heavy.

All of the veggies included in the salad are tasty on their own, but what really makes this salad is the dressing. It has all the flavors you’d expect from a Thai peanut dressing, but I used liquid aminos in place of soy sauce and skipped the fish sauce, which is a usual suspect in Thai sauces. So this dressing is soy-free, gluten-free and vegan!

Ingredients measured out to make Kale & Cabbage Pad Thai Salad: kale, green cabbage, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, liquid aminos or tamari, chickpeas, peanut butter, carrots, garlic, sriracha, water, maple syrup, ginger, toasted sesame oil and lime juice.

Ingredients Needed

  • green cabbage – fresh and crispy, cabbage forms the base of this salad, bringing a wealth of nutritional benefits including vitamin C and K.
  • kale – I used a bunch of curly kale. This variety has a robust texture that holds up well in salads, and its curly edges are perfect for catching every drop of the delicious dressing. If you can’t find curly kale, lacinato or dinosaur kale would work too.
  • shredded carrots – the sweetness of carrots provides a lovely contrast to the tangy dressing. You could shred them yourself, or to save time, pick up a bag of pre-shredded carrots from your grocery store.
  • red onion – adds a slight zing to this salad.
  • red bell pepper – provides some more crunch and color.
  • fresh cilantro leaves – a must have for this salad (in my opinion) as it really brightens the flavors.
  • chickpeas – using a can of chickpeas is a great way to add a dose of protein and fiber. Be sure to rinse and drain them before adding to the salad.
  • pad thai dressing – the star of the show, IMO! This pad thai peanut dressing is creamy, delicious and packed with tons of flavor. Plus, it’s so easy to whip up. Just combine peanut butter, lime juice, tamari (or liquid aminos), water, maple syrup, sesame oil, sriracha, fresh ginger and garlic together in a small bowl or mason jar!
Collage of four photos showing the steps to make Kale & Cabbage Pad Thai Salad: making a peanut dressing, adding veggies to a bowl, pouring on the dressing and then tossing.

How to Make

Make dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar. Stir or shake until combined and smooth. It might be hard to stir the peanut butter at first, which is why shaking might be your best bet.

Assemble salad: Make sure all your veggies are chopped into bite-size pieces and toss in a large bowl to combine. Add chickpeas and top with dressing. Mix until all ingredients are well coated, serve and enjoy!

Recipe Tip!

If you don’t want to sitr or shake your dressing to combine, you can also add all of the dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy!

A white bowl with a colorful kale and cabbage pad thai salad and a lime wedge.

Substitutions & Notes

  • Vegetables: You can modify the veggies according to your taste or based on what you have on hand. Consider using a mix of green and red cabbage for a colorful twist. Other vegetables like broccoli, snap peas or even thinly sliced Brussels sprouts would work well too.
  • Protein: This salad recipe uses chickpeas as a plant-based protein, but feel free to substitute it with other proteins if you prefer. Tofu, edamame or even grilled chicken would be great additions if you want to amp up the protein content.
  • Peanut butter: If you’re not a fan of peanut butter or have an allergy, you could replace it with almond butter or sunflower seed butter.
  • Heat: The spiciness in this salad comes from the sriracha in the dressing. If you’re not into spicy foods, feel free to skip it. Though, if you love heat, add more sriracha or even some red chili flakes.
  • Tamari/Liquid Aminos: These can be swapped with coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce if needed. Keep in mind, the flavor of the dressing might change slightly depending on what you use.
A white bowl with the kale and cabbage pad thai salad, two serving spoons, and a few lime wedges on top.

Tips for Success

  • Properly prepare your greens: The key to a great salad is the texture of your greens. In this case, we’re using kale and cabbage. Make sure you thinly slice them to ensure they absorb the dressing well and are easy to eat.
  • Massage your kale: Kale can be a bit tough raw. To soften it, spend a few minutes massaging your chopped kale with a little bit of olive oil. This will make it softer, less bitter, and generally more pleasant to eat raw.
  • Don’t skimp on the dressing: The pad thai dressing brings this salad to life. It’s worth taking the time to mix it up well so all the flavors meld together. If it’s too thick, just add a little more water until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Taste and adjust: Once you’ve combined your salad with the dressing, give it a taste. You might find you want a little more lime juice, sriracha or salt. Adjust the flavors to your liking.
  • Let it sit: This is a salad that actually improves with a little time. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
A white bowl with the kale and cabbage pad thai salad, two serving spoons, and a few lime wedges on top.

How to Store

This kale and cabbage pad thai salad keeps well and tastes even better the next day once the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

It will keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge. Just keep in mind, that if you’ve already added the dressing, the salad may soften over time. If you want it to stay crunchy, store the dressing separately and add just before serving.

More Salads to Try

Be sure to check out my full collection of salad recipes on EBF!

4.39 from 59 votes

Kale & Cabbage Pad Thai Salad

This kale and cabbage pad thai salad has all the flavors of pad thai but in salad form! It's loaded with fresh veggies and tossed in the most delicious peanut dressing. Vegan + gluten-free.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4


  • ½ small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Light Pad Thai Dressing

  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • juice of 2 limes, about 4 Tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, coconut aminos or low-sodium tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha, or more depending on your taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced


  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a glass jar. Stir or shake until combined and smooth. It might be hard to stir the peanut butter at first, which is why shaking might be your best bet.
    A woman's hand holding a jar with a pad thai salad dressing.
  • Make sure all your veggies are chopped into bite-size pieces and toss in a large bowl to combine.
    Woman's hands using two utensils to mix the kale and cabbage salad in a large glass bowl.
  • Add chickpeas and top with dressing. Mix until all ingredients are well coated, serve and enjoy!
    A large glass bowl full of fresh salad. Ingredients include kale, cabbage, red bell pepper, red onion, carrots, cilantro, and chickpeas.



Serving: 1/4 of recipe | Calories: 329kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 928mg | Potassium: 1039mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 18g

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

Additional Info

Course: Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: kale and cabbage pad thai salad
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks yummy! What is the red veggie I see in the pictures, but not in the ingredients? I assume red bell pepper? Or tomato? Or maybe I’m mistaken? Thanks for the healthy recipes! 🙂

  2. This looks so amazing!! Definitely going to try it as I’ve decided I want to focus on a more vegetarian way of eating 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you Thank you! I have been looking for more kale salad recipes for my lately cravings of kale!

  4. wait, I’m obsessed with this recipe. all the flavors of pad thai but in a healthy salad?! genius. I think anything would be amazing with that dressing though… yum! can’t wait to try this one 🙂

  5. I have a serious obsession with Pad Thai! I make it at least once every week. This would be a great option for times when I want something a little lighter!

  6. as i sit here eating the very whole foods salad you’ve recreated, i can’t tell you how excited i am to try this recipe. the WF version is dangerously delicious, and i plan on making my own version next week!

  7. This looks fantastic. I may have been late to the kale party, but I am definitely a fan now. I will be trying this recipe tonight.

  8. i had a bag of trader joe’s new cruciferous slaw sitting in my fridge and this was the perfect way to dress it up. the dressing is super yum! great idea :).

  9. I made this last night for my hubby and I (with a back up plan for the hubs in case he didn’t like). He went for 2nds of this salad and didn’t even want the left over Chinese Food…GREAT salad! thanks for sharing!!

    1. Fabulous salad. I think John should calm his usage of extreme adjectives. Go buy your “authentic” Thai somewhere else and learn some manners. Say something polite or stay silent.

  10. 5 stars
    This is the most delicious salad ever devised! I added the fish sauce back in though. I love the crunchy vegetables and the fact that the dressing is the protein…

  11. Recently visited my friend who lives next to the Oso slide in Wash state. While it was hard not to look out her window to the devastation across the river, she served us this lovely salad for lunch. at that point, all we could talk about was how good the salad was. Took our mind off of the slide for a while. thrilled she sent me your link so I could make it too.

  12. I bought it from Whole Foods today and it was delicious. Now that I have the recipe, I’ll be making it at home and eating a larger serving 🙂

  13. This really is delicious. Thank you Brittany! I made it for the 2nd time last night, though the red onion was very strong. Next time I think I’ll soak the onion pieces in ice water for ~15 mins. to mellow them out.

    1. So glad you liked it, Tricia. Sometimes red onion can be a little intense. I haven’t tried soaking it in red onion before but I’ve seen others do it. Hopefully it will help!

  14. I made this today and adapted it to what I had on hand in my kitchen. I subbed soy sauce for Tamari/Liquid Aminos, subbed green onion for red onion, didn’t have any chick peas but the added protein would have been appreciated, and subbed honey for maple syrup. It was delicious, husband and toddler both loved it.

  15. Thank you for this recipe. I made a full recipe yesterday. My husband who doesn’t fuss kale loved it. He had some for supper last night and brought some for his lunch today. My teenage son ate half of the recipe to himself. I finished what was left for supper tonight. I had some kale and cabbage left, therefore, I made another batch tonight (for tomorrow) minus the chickpeas as I didn’t have any…. maybe I’ll stop by the store tomorrow. Instead of sriracha sauce, I put Frank’s hot sauce. Thank you.

  16. Hi Brittany ! I am big fan of your personality and your recipes. This recipe looks so healthy and delicious. Surely I will this recpie for dinner tonight. Thanks for sharing and making cooking so easy for us.

  17. Hello! Brittany, I love your post because it is looking very nice. This recipe is commonly used in our home. I am very happy to see this recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  18. I adore crunchy salads packed with lots of different textures! And savory peanut dressings…delicious! 🙂

  19. 5 stars
    Although the salad took me longer to prep then the recipe stated it was worth every minute! I have made this using the dressing, but preferred just using store-bought peanut sauce to drizzle. I’ve also added shrimp cooked Thai style. It makes a huge portion! Love it!

  20. 5 stars
    I made this last night and absolutely loved it! This might be my new go-to detox salad. The dressing is especially yummy! Thank you for a delicious vegan recipe!

  21. I’ve made this delicious salad twice this week. We love it, thank you! ELIminated the oil because we don’t eat it…..still great.

  22. 5 stars
    Yummmmmy! I amped up the garlic, ginger, and sriracha in the dressing a bit because we like a little heat. I substituted scallion for red onion, and added cucumber and avocado on top. I would give it 6 stars if I could!

  23. 5 stars
    Super good! I made a few substitutions based on what I had on-hand…but it turned out so yummy because of the dressing…and I’m not a big cabbage or kale fan. 🙂

    1. Yay! That makes me so happy to hear, Tiffany. Thanks for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It means the world to me. <3

    1. Yay!! So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Rashi. I really appreciate you coming back to leave a comment + star rating. It means the world to me!

  24. 5 stars
    Just made the Cabbage & Kale Pad Thai Salad for the first time. I’m not usually a fan of Kale, but I sliced it very thin and I’m in love with this salad! It’s crunchy, bright and fresh! The dressing is wonderful…I added some peanuts because I had them around for some extra crunch. My new favorite salad!

  25. I just made this salad for lunch today and it is so satisfyingly delicious! Yummy! Thank you for the recipe

  26. 5 stars
    Another delicious and nutritious meal from EBF. Perfect for summer since cooking on the stove is not required! Flavorful, refreshing, and that dressing, oh me oh my!

    1. Yay!! So pumped that you loved this salad, Samantha! I really appreciate you making my recipe and coming back to leave a comment + star rating. 🙂

  27. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was so yummy! I hade to stop myself from drinking the dressing as if it were a soup lol

    1. Haha isn’t it SO good?! I’m glad you enjoyed this salad, Macie. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  28. 5 stars
    Delicious and refreshing! The veggies took a bit of time to clean and prep but it made a bunch so definitely worth it. The dressing was so good. I roasted the chickpeas for 30 mins at 425 to make them crispy. Will make this again!

    Thank you!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this salad, Sophie. 🙂 Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

  29. 5 stars
    Brittany! This is freaking AMAZING. I had left over ground chicken so I put that in the salad but I’ll be using chickpeas next time! The dressing is perfect and satisfies my Thai cravings!

    1. Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Nita! I’m so pumped you loved this salad. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. 🙂

  30. 5 stars
    Just made this yesterday and not only is it pretty with all those colors, it tastes amazing. This will be my go to dish to bring to a BBQ or potluck!

    1. Ahh yay! That makes me so happy to hear, Lynn. I’m glad you’re a fan of this salad. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I appreciate it. 🙂

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve had this recipe saved for a long time and finally made it tonight. It’s so good! We grilled for dinner, so I added grilled shrimp on top, but it would be even better with tofu. This recipe is so much better than the Whole Foods salad bar version!

      1. Woo! I am so happy that you enjoyed this recipe, Lisa. Adding grilled shrimp sounds delicious! Thank you for coming back to leave your review + star rating, I so appreciate it!

  31. 4 stars
    This salad is amazing! It’s beautiful, healthy and delicious. The only thing I will do differently next time is to use 1/2 the red onion and taste test before adding more. It overpowered the other flavors in this (my first of many!) batch. I will absolutely be making it again, soon!

    1. So glad you loved this recipe, Karen! Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I appreciate it. 🙂

  32. This salad is so delicious!! It tastes fresh and healthy but also super flavorful. Made it for the first time last week and will be making it again today! 🙂

  33. 5 stars
    This salad is perfect!! Crunchy light, delicious and best of all – EASY(and budget friendly)! Thank you Brittany!

  34. 4 stars
    Very yummy and surprisingly filling! The only thing I would change would be to season the chickpeas on their own because they’re bland in comparison to the rest of the salad that soaks up the dressing (which is super tasty, by the way).

  35. 5 stars
    As soon as I saw this recipe I could not wait to make it. My husband & I both absolutely loved it!! Super fresh and healthy! I will definitely be making this again, would make an amazing dish for a summer bbq! I added some fresh mint, broccoli and cucumber because I had some in my fridge & it worked really well. Thanks for the great recipe!!

  36. I love this salad! Very easy to make, so flavorful and fresh, and very filling! This will be a new go to recipe! Thank you 😊

  37. 5 stars
    Made this last night for dinner and leftovers are already in everyone’s lunches for today. Great recipe, budget-friendly, and easy to add different proteins.

    1. Woo! I’m so glad this recipe was a success for you, Janet! Thanks for sharing your review, I appreciate it!

  38. 5 stars
    Made this salad last night I really enjoyed it having left overs today for lunch. Loving the vegan raw food receipts you give. Thanks so much.

    1. Yay! I’m glad you’re enjoying this recipe, Leeanne. Thanks so much for leaving a review and star rating, I really appreciate it.

  39. 5 stars
    The flavor in this was absolutely delicious. Definitely took me longer than 15 minutes to prep but next time I might cut corners by purchasing pre shredded / cut items. Will definitely keep in rotation!

    1. Hey Courtney – So glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + review. I so appreciate it!

  40. 5 stars
    This was such a great combination of flavors! I used a handful of pre-cut coleslaw and a handful of pre-cut kale to speed things up. Made for a delicious fresh lunch! Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Woo! I’m so glad you loved this salad, Melissa! Thanks for coming back to leave a star rating + review. I so appreciate it!

  41. 5 stars
    Delicious. I used sliced fennel instead of red pepper ( doesn’t agree with some family members tummies) and Tehina instead of peanut butter. I didn’t add water to the recipe as the tehina is runnier than peanut butter. So tasty, thank you. Definitely a keeper.

    1. Ah this sounds great, I am so glad it is a hit for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your review & star rating, I really appreciate it!