Customizable Peanut Salad

by | Apr 6, 2022

Customize this kale peanut salad with any protein of your choice like chicken, tofu, or edamame. Drizzled in the easiest Thai peanut salad dressing!

Peanut salad dressing over kale

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What is peanut salad?

The star of the show for this recipe is our Thai Peanut Sauce. If you’ve never made this sauce before, it’s a must-have! The combination of creamy peanut butter mixed with umami packed condiments is a game changer. 

Peanut salad is essentially nourishing ingredients like kale, carrots, and protein mixed together and served with this peanut sauce on top. 

Is peanut sauce healthy?

Store bought peanut sauces are often filled with a long list of ingredients as well as additives and preservatives. To enjoy a cleaner sauce, I recommend making it at home. Then, you can control the ingredients.

Homemade peanut sauce is a great source of plant based protein and healthy fats. Keep in mind, peanut sauce can be a bit higher in calories. It may be helpful to keep your portions to around 2 tablespoons. 

How do you make this peanut salad?

Don’t be intimidated by the longer list of ingredients for this recipe. It really does come together in no time. Plus, it’s so easy to meal prep.

  1. First, cook your protein. You’ll want to either saute or microwave the protein you use. See the individual instructions on the recipe card! 
  2. Next, combine your vegetables. The bulk of the salad is made up of massaged kale and colorful chopped veggies. Toss these all together with tongs in a large bowl. 
  3. Then, whip up the peanut sauce. You can add more water if you like a thinner sauce. 
  4. Lastly, combine everything together. Toss the salad with desired amount of dressing and top with your cooked protein. 

Can you make peanut salad ahead of time?

If you’re on a time crunch, you can definitely make this recipe ahead of time. This makes it ideal for meal prep.

I would recommend keeping the cooked protein and peanut sauce separate from the kale veggie mixture. This will prevent it from getting soggy.

Peanut salad with chicken

Customize it your way

Like all of my other recipes, this peanut salad is completely customizable. You get to choose what nuts and protein you want to use.

  • Nuts – Feel free to use sliced almonds, peanuts, cashews, or any other nuts of your choice. For this recipe, I recommend toasting them for extra flavor. If you are running short on time, skip the toasting step. 
  • Protein – Chicken, tofu, and edamame all work well for this recipe. If you are vegan, feel free to choose one of the plant based options. I’ve included separate cooking instructions for each option. 

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In my coaching + cooking program, I help busy people with beginner cooking knowledge become confident in the kitchen. Click here to learn more about this virtual program with a dietitian.

Tongs in bowl of colorful salad
Peanut Salad CC 2

Peanut Salad with Protein of Choice

Mackenzie Burgess, RDN
Customize this peanut salad with any protein of your choice like chicken, tofu, or edamame. Drizzled in the easiest Thai peanut salad dressing!
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings

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Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup nuts of your choice (sliced almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Protein of your choice (16 ounces cubed chicken breast, 14 ounces cubed tofu, or 12 frozen shelled edamame)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced and halved
  • 1 small yellow pepper, sliced and halved
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:



  • Heat a large pan over medium heat, then add over nuts and toast until aromatic and slightly browed, about 5 minutes.* Transfer to a small bowl.
  • If using chicken or tofu as protein: To the same pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add over chicken or tofu and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until outside is browned and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Transfer to a plate to cover with foil to let rest.
  • If using edamame as protein: Steamed edamame according to package instructions. Set aside for later.
  • Meanwhile, to a large salad bowl, add kale and massage with your hands for 2-3 minutes until it’s slightly broken down and turns a darker color green.
  • To the same bowl, add over red pepper, yellow pepper, carrots, and red cabbage. Toss to incorporate everything together.
  • Lastly, combine all peanut sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl or 16-ounce mason jar and whisk with a fork until combined. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add a couple more tablespoons of water.
  • Toss the kale salad with a few spoonfuls of peanut sauce and save the rest for serving.
  • Top salad with cooked protein of choice, toasted nuts, and more peanut sauce to your liking!


*I recommend toasting the nuts for extra flavor but if you are running short on time, you can skip the toasting.
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Customizable peanut salad

Hi, I'm Mackenzie...

nice to meet you!

I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and recipe developer. I create simple recipes with customizable ingredients “of your choice.” I also help busy people gain kitchen confidence through my hands-on program.

Need more hands-on help?

In my coaching + cooking program, I help busy people with beginner cooking knowledge become confident in the kitchen. Click here to learn more about this virtual program with a dietitian!

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4.75 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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