Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad
Published Apr 04, 2016•Updated Jul 13, 2023
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Shrimp and rice noodles is an easy dinner that’s loaded with fresh veggies, vibrant herbs, and a sweet, tangy dressing inspired by Vietnamese nuoc cham. This flavor packed noodle salad is perfect for summer.
When the temperatures outside start to heat up, that means it’s time to cool things down in the kitchen. Shrimp and rice noodle salad is an easy dinner for days you don’t want to fire up the grill or turn on the stove.
What makes this salad so special is the sweet Thai chili sauce in the dressing. Blending the sweet, tangy, and ever-so mildly spicy chili sauce with a pop of citrus lime juice and fish sauce is just an amazing mix of flavors. Don’t let this parade of flavors fool you, because making Vietnamese shrimp noodles couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is boil the noodles, chop a few veggies and herbs, and whisk the dressing ingredients. This recipe comes together so quickly that you will be making this recipe all summer long.
What is sweet Thai chili sauce?
Sweet Thai chili sauce is made with chili peppers, garlic, rice vinegar, a sweetener like sugar or honey, and sometimes fish sauce. This popular condiment is used to dip spring rolls, egg rolls, and is often added to stir fries.
How to Make It
- Make the dressing. Whisk together the sweet chili sauce, water, lime juice, and fish sauce.
- Make the noodles. Drain well to remove any excess water.
- Cook the shrimp. Boil the shrimp for 2-3 minutes.
- Assemble. Combine the noodles, shrimp, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Add the dressing and stir.
- Plate, garnish, and serve. Place the lettuce on the serving platter. Add the noodle salad on top, and serve.
- Sweet Thai Chili Sauce – Use store-bought or this easy recipe. Sweet Thai chili sauce is spicy, sweet, tangy, and a little savory.
- Water – For just the right salad dressing consistency.
- Lime Juice – Lime juice is zippy and acidic, and it goes great with the spicy-sweet Thai chili sauce in the dressing.
- Fish Sauce – Fish sauce has a unique umami savoriness to it, and can be found in the Asian section of your local grocer. You can also substitute soy sauce or Tamari.
- Rice Vermicelli Noodles – Ultra thin rice vermicelli noodles are quick cooking, and easy to make. Mung bean noodles, also called cellophane noodles, can also be used.
- Shrimp – Fresh or frozen shrimp will work. Baby shrimp (or the smallest shrimp you can find) are great in this recipe because they are bite-sized.
- Shredded Carrots – You can shred the carrots by hand, or use a simple recipe hack and purchase a bag of pre-shredded carrots.
- Cucumbers – Shrimp and rice noodles are the perfect dish to make when your garden is producing more cucumbers than you know what to do with. Any variety of cucumber works here.
- Cilantro and Mint – Fresh herbs are the secret weapon in these Vietnamese shrimp noodles. When you chop the cilantro and mint together, you release layers of extra flavor.
- Roasted Peanuts – Salted or unsalted roasted peanuts provide a pleasant crunch with the soft noodles. Crush the peanuts, or leave them halved.
- Butterhead Lettuce – Serving the cold shrimp noodles over lettuce is optional, but it makes a great presentation, and adds extra crunch.
- Lime – Serve these on the side for an extra burst of tang.
Shrimp and rice noodles is a chilled salad that can be made one day in advance. Simply assemble the noodles, veggies, and dressing, and place in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator. Hold off on adding the herbs and peanuts until you’re ready to serve for optimal freshness.
How to store
If you have any leftover salad, store the noodles and veggies together in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge. Store the fresh herbs separately, so they don’t wilt in the dressing.
- When it comes to the dressing for shrimp and rice noodle salad, there are tons of ways to customize the flavor. Add extra lime juice for more tartness, increase the fish sauce for a savory-salty flavor, or use a pinch of sugar if you like a sweeter dressing. A touch of sesame oil adds more nuttiness, and rice wine vinegar adds tang.
- Buy shrimp that has already been deveined and peeled to save time in the kitchen.
- Use a different protein – Use chicken instead of shrimp for a meatier salad. This noodle recipe is also a great way to use up any leftover chicken you might have.
- Veggies, veggies, and more veggies – You can always add more veggies to cold salads like this shrimp and rice noodle salad. Bean sprouts, thinly sliced cabbage (any variety), red bell pepper, blanched snow peas, and bok choy are all healthy additions.
- Add more garnish – Top with scallions or sesame seeds for a little extra texture and flavor.
Absolutely! To make this dish vegetarian, use tofu in place of shrimp. If you’re going for a vegan version of shrimp and rice noodles, swap tamari or soy sauce for the fish sauce, and use brown sugar in place of the honey.
On their own, rice noodles have a mild, neutral taste. Toss rice noodles in a dressing like this fish, lime, and sweet chili dressing, and they are magically transformed into an intoxicating blend of sweet, spicy, zippy flavors that will literally make your mouth water.
Some of our Favorite Asian Dishes
- Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups
- Instant Pot Korean Beef and Brown Rice
- Beef and Broccoli Ramen Stir-Fry
- Sesame Noodle Salad
- Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
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Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad
- Mixing Bowls
- 1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (store-bought or using this easy recipe)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce (substitute soy sauce or tamari)
- 6 ounces rice vermicelli noodles (see note)
- 12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined (use the smallest shrimp you can find)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 1/2 cups cucumbers, chopped
- 1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 small head butterhead lettuce (optional; it's nice to serve the salad over the lettuce leaves, but not neccesary)
- 1 lime, sliced into wedges
- Make the dressing by whisking together the sweet chili sauce, water, lime juice, and fish sauce. Taste and adjust if you'd like. (Add lime juice for more tartness, fish sauce for more salt, or a pinch of sugar if you want it more sweet.)
- Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain well.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp to boiling water and boil until cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Drain well.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the noodles, shrimp, shredded carrot, cucumbers, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Add the dressing and stir everything together until well combined.
- Spread the lettuce leaves out on a serving platter. Top with the noodle salad and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over top.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.