Thai Minced Chicken Salad (Laab / Larb Gai)


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Whether you see it called larb, laab, larb, or laap, Thai Minced Chicken Salad is a light salad that is found in Northeastern Thailand and Laos. It’s loaded with fresh herbs, spices, and lime juice and served with sticky rice.

laab gai on a white tray

No matter which of the many spellings for these dish you use (see below for why there are so many), all are slightly strange to Western ears. When I was first introduced to “larb” at a Thai restaurant in Washington, D.C., I was decidedly thrown off by the name. However, after living in Thailand for a few years, saying “larb” became second nature because we ordered it and made it at home all. the. time.

overhead image of fresh herbs on a grey countertop

Larb remains one of Frank’s favorite Thai dishes and every time we make a big batch we agree that we should make it more often. It’s been back on regular rotation since we started making our own Toasted Rice Powder which took our homemade larb to a totally new level.

Thai Minced Chicken Salad is:

  • Savory (from fish sauce and shallots)
  • Tart (from lots of lime juice)
  • Spicy (from dried red chili flakes)
  • Fresh (from a good dose of fresh herbs)

It’s great served on its own, in lettuce wraps, or in the traditional way with lots of sticky rice. Here’s how it’s done!

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overhead image of fresh herbs in a salad spinner


  • Ground Chicken – This is the “gai” part of larb gai. I use store-bought ground chicken here. The more traditional method is to take fresh chicken (I like a combination of chicken breast and chicken thighs) and chop it into small, rough pieces with a cleaver. 
  • Soy Sauce – For a bit of added flavor, cook the chicken in a small amount of soy sauce. “Thin” Thai Soy Sauce works best, but any soy sauce you have on hand is fine. See the Guide to Essential Thai Ingredients for more on Thai soy sauces.
  • Fresh ingredients – Fresh ingredients are the key to great larb! Shallots, mint, cilantro, and green onions all come together to create the addictive fresh flavor of larb. 
  • Fish sauce, lime juice, dried red pepper flakes – These ingredients create the flavor of larb, but they are best added to taste. Make the recipe below as described, but adjust any of these as you go. Fish sauce gives larb the most authentic, rich flavor, but soy sauce will work as a substitute. 
  • Toasted rice powder – This nutty, fragrant ingredient adds texture and flavor to larb. (Here’s how to make Toasted Rice Powder.)
  • Lemongrass – Finely chopped lemongrass adds an herby, slightly citrusy flavor. Since lemongrass can be a bit tough, be sure to chop it into very small pieces before adding it.
  • Makrut lime leaves – As with lemongrass, makrut lime leaves give this dish a totally unique, totally Thai flavor. And also as with lemongrass, they can be tough if left in large pieces. Remove the stems and slice them very finely before adding them. If you can’t track these down, it’s fine to skip them.

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overhead image of sliced shallots in a measuring cup
a bottle of fish sauce on a countertop

How to Make Larb Ahead

Larb is a great dish to make ahead. Prepare the dish as instructed, but leave out the mint, cilantro, green onions, and toasted rice powder. Add these four ingredients right before serving. And be sure to taste the larb again before serving it. The flavors can become muted in the fridge, so you might want to stir in some more lime juice or add a bit more spice.

overhead image of cooking minced chicken and lemongrass in a wok

Larb / Laab / Larb / Laap – Which is Correct?

There is no one agreed-upon way to transliterate Thai, so there is no correct spelling for this dish in English. The way that the dish is actually pronounced in Thai includes an aspirated “h” in the middle and both a gentle “b” and “p at the end, so it sounds more like “lahbp”. However, any of these spellings refer to the same dish – Thai Minced Meat Salad with Fresh Herbs.

overhead image of laab gai in a wok

Variations on Larb

  • Change protein – This version of larb uses ground chicken (“gai”) but it’s often made with pork (“moo”). 
  • Make it vegetarian – Use minced mushrooms or tofu instead of ground meat for a vegetarian version. (Be sure to use soy sauce instead of fish sauce if you don’t eat fish.)
an overhead image of a tray of laab gai

More Thai Favorites

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Thai Minced Chicken Salad on a white tray
3.95 from 36 votes

Thai Minced Chicken Salad (Larb Gai)

This herby, fragrant, beloved Thai salad (larb, laab, larb, laap) is great served on its own, or with other Thai dishes. You can serve it in lettuce wraps, in the traditional way with sticky rice, or over Jasmine rice with a fried egg on top.
This is a dish that is best made to taste. Start with the measurements below but adjust as you go. Add more fish sauce, more lime juice, more herbs, or more red pepper flakes to suit your tastes.
Want to adjust the servings in this recipe to make more or less? Just click on the number next to “servings” and you can easily scale the recipe.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 2


  • Wok or Large Skillet


  • 1 pound Ground Chicken
  • 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce (preferably “Thin” Thai Soy Sauce, but any type of soy sauce will work)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced Shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass, finely chopped (just use the bottom 2 inches, outer leaves removed and discarded)
  • 2 Makrut lime leaves, stems discarded, very thinly sliced (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped Fresh Herbs (use a combination of fresh mint, cilantro, and green onions)
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Rice Powder


  • Heat a wok (or large skillet) over medium heat.
  • Add chicken and soy sauce to the heated wok (there is no need to add any oil for cooking the chicken). Saute chicken, breaking it apart as it cooks, until cooked all the way through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off under the chicken. Drain any excess liquid out of the pan.
  • While the chicken is still warm, stir in the shallots.
  • Set chicken aside and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes.
  • After chicken has cooled, stir in fish sauce, lime juice, dried red pepper flakes, lemongrass, lime leaves, fresh herbs, and toasted rice powder.


When chopping fresh herbs, use just the leaves of the fresh mint. Use the green and white parts of green onions. Use the leaves and stems of the cilantro. It’s best to use a combination of all three of these herbs, but you can skip one if needed, making sure that you still have a total of 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs.
Toasted Rice Powder is easy to make yourself. See this post on How to Make Toasted Rice Powder.
If making the larb ahead, add all ingredients except fresh herbs and toasted rice powder. Stir these ingredients in just before serving.


Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 1092mg | Potassium: 1072mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2112IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 4mg

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

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00
Calories: 295
Keyword: Entree Salad, fresh herb salad, homemade Thai, minced meat salad, salad recipe, Thai recipe, thai salad
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. 5 stars
    This was super easy to make (once I found all the ingredients).
    I had to visit a local Asian food grocer to find the kefir lime and toasted rice.
    I made this both vegan and traditional simultaneously in two pans without any hassle. The tofu variation for my husband almost tasted better! I did add olive oil and extra soy sauce to the pay with extra firm tofu.
    I ended up adding more lime juice, kefir lime, and fish sauce than called for. I would’ve even added more lemongrass had I cut up more originally.
    We used Boston bib lettuce for mini lettuce wraps. Cabbage can also be amazing to calm down the heat if you choose to make this extremely spicy.

    1. I have been wanting to write a version with tofu, so this is incredibly helpful! Thanks so much for sharing your notes. And yes – we do sometimes fine that when we adjust to taste, we end up increasing one, two, or more of the ingredients at the end. It’s definitely one of those recipes that everyone makes a little differently to fit their taste preferences which I love about it! Great ideas on the lettuce wraps / cabbage too!

  2. Larb is not thai food larb was national Lao food for celebration lao always make larb like wedding or any celebration larb to translate to English it mean lucky

    1. Hi Chanday – yes! We mentioned that in the post. Larb is very common all over Thailand, but especially in the Northeastern region near Laos. Larb does originate in Laos and we ate LOTS of it when we were in Luang Prabang!

  3. I want to try this soon! Have all the fresh herbs in my Florida garden, but was wondering if I can replace the Kaffir lime leaves with either Key lime or Persian lime leaves?