Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

$5.30 recipe / $1.33 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.83 from 109 votes
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This Cold Peanut Noodle Salad is the perfect meal prep for summer! No need to reheat, it’s light but filling, and the flavors are oh so fresh. It’s topped off with a homemade tangy, sweet, and creamy Peanut Lime Dressing to make everything finger-licking good. So have a salad for lunch this week, and enjoy it.

Three glass meal prep containers full of cold peanut noodle salad, dressing containers on the side.

The meal prep containers and dressing containers shown above can be found in my Amazon Shop.

Where’s the Protein?

I didn’t include a “dedicated protein” ingredient in this salad, but that doesn’t mean the meal is void of protein. The vegetables, nuts, and pasta all contain protein, even if in smaller amounts (see 5 Easy Sources of Plant Based Protein). The whole wheat spaghetti alone provides 7 grams of protein per serving. But, if you want to go heavier on the protein you can add something like shelled edamame, Honey Sriracha Tofu, or rotisserie or grilled chicken.

How to Store Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

I suggest keeping the dressing separate from the salad and adding it just before serving, not because the vegetables will get soft, but because the pasta will likely absorb the dressing and it might get dry. I always suggest keeping your meal preps no longer than 4-5 days because textures and flavors tend to go down hill quickly after that. The ingredients in this recipe are all very sturdy and refrigerate extremely well. If anything, you might have a little color bleed from the purple cabbage onto the pasta, but that will not affect the flavor.

How to Use Leftover Cabbage

Cabbage is tricky. No matter how small of a head you get, you always have some left over. So, if you don’t want your leftover red cabbage to go to waste, I suggest trying these recipes: Vinaigrette Slaw with Feta, Sweet Crunch Winter Salad (this will also use your leftover carrots and green onion), or Braised Red Cabbage.

Peanut Lime Dressing being poured onto a bowl of Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

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Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

4.83 from 109 votes
This Cold Peanut Noodle Salad with homemade peanut lime dressing is the perfect meal prep for summer! No reheating necessary.
Peanut Lime Dressing being poured onto a bowl of Cold Peanut Noodle Salad
Servings 4 about 2 cups salad each
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 30 minutes


Peanut Lime Dressing

  • 3 Tbsp natural-style peanut butter ($0.21)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.04)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.05)
  • 1 medium lime, juiced (2 Tbsp juice) ($0.69)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce ($0.08)
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil* ($0.82)


  • 8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti ($0.55)
  • 4 cups finely shredded red cabbage ($1.12)
  • 2 carrots ($0.22)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (about 1/2 cup chopped) ($0.75)
  • 4 green onions (about 1/2 cup sliced) ($0.45)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped ($0.24)


  • To make the peanut lime dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl or blender. Whisk or blend until smooth. Set the dressing aside.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil for the whole wheat spaghetti. Break the spaghetti in half to make it easier to stir into the salad ingredients later. Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti, and continue to boil until the pasta is tender. Drain in a colander and rinse it briefly with cold water to cool it off. Let the pasta drain well.
  • Meanwhile, shred the cabbage as finely as possible using either a knife or the shredding attachment of a food processor. Shred the carrots using a large-holed cheese grater. Roughly chop the cilantro and peanuts. Slice the green onion.
  • Combine the cooled and well drained pasta in a large bowl with the cabbage, carrots, cilantro, green onion, and peanuts. Toss the salad until the ingredients are evenly combined.
  • Serve the salad and peanut lime dressing immediately, or divide the undressed salad between four containers (about 2 cups each) and divide the dressing between four smaller containers (about 2 Tbsp or slightly more each). Refrigerate up to 4-5 days.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


*Any light flavored oil. I used avocado, which drove the price up a good bit. Less expensive options include: canola, vegetable, safflower, or grape seed oil.


Serving: 2CupsCalories: 637.13kcalCarbohydrates: 65.73gProtein: 19.65gFat: 34.55gSodium: 405.95mgFiber: 14g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A meal prep container of Cold Peanut Noodle Salad being eaten with a fork, the empty dressing container on the side.

How to Make Cold Peanut Noodle Salad – Step by Step Photos

Soy sauce, lime juice, and oil added to the bowl.

To make the peanut lime dressing, combine 3 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, one minced clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 2 tsp soy sauce, and 1/4 cup neutral oil (any mild-flavored oil) in a bowl or blender.

Peanut lime dressing being whisked in the bowl.

Whisk or blend the ingredients until smooth. Set the dressing aside.

An open box of whole wheat spaghetti with the noodles coming out of the end.

Next, bring a pot of water to a boil for the noodles. You’ll need 8 oz. of whole wheat spaghetti for this recipe. I always break my spaghetti in half when I know it’s going to be stirred into other solid ingredients. It helps them combine more evenly instead of creating one big clump of pasta in the middle. Boil the pasta until tender, then drain in a colander, and give it a brief rinse with cold water to cool it off. Let the spaghetti drain well.

Shredded red cabbage on a cutting board

Finely shred about 4 cups of red cabbage. Making sure the cabbage is shredded VERY finely is key here. Thick pieces of cabbage are not good in this recipe. 4 cups is roughly equivalent to 3/4 to 1 pound of cabbage whole. So if you have a 2 lb. cabbage, use about half of it.

shredded carrot

Shred two carrots using a large-holed cheese grater. Or, if you used the shredder attachment on a food processor to shred the cabbage, you can switch to the grating attachment to do the carrots.

Chopped cilantro and sliced green onion

Roughly chop about 1/2 bunch cilantro and slice about 4 green onions. You’ll want about 1/2 cup of each, but it’s extremely flexible. Also roughly chop 1/2 cup peanuts.

Ingredients for the cold peanut noodle salad in a bowl.

Combine the cooled spaghetti, cabbage, carrot, cilantro, green onion, and peanuts in a large bowl.

Salad ingredients tossed together in the bowl.

Toss the salad ingredients together until evenly combined.

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad divided between meal prep containers, dressing being poured.

Either serve the cold peanut noodle salad with the peanut lime dressing immediately, or divide it between four containers. I suggest leaving the dressing separate and adding it just before serving. These meal prep and dressing containers can be found in my Amazon store.

front view of a bowl with cold peanut noodle salad being eaten with a black fork.

That dressing, crunchy cabbage, and cold noodles is just magic together! SO FRESH.

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  1. One of my favorite recipes! I usually use sesame oil, double or triple the ginger, and add a pinch of red pepper to the dressing. Also buying coleslaw mix cuts down on the prep time :) When I make it for meal prep I usually leave out the peanuts and sprinkle the cilantro on each serving individually.

  2. One of my favorite salads! Great for those who have a hard time getting into salads, I think this is a gateway to salads haha. I used avocado oil and it tasted fine. I also like to add rotisserie chicken for more protein!

  3. Love it ! easy and tasty, also great for summer when u want something easy and fresh for lunch/ dinner

  4. I never have a “neutral oil” so I always use toasted sesame oil and it’s super delicious! I have made this several times for my family and they love this.

  5. I love this salad so much. I double the sauce, use thin whole wheat spaghetti, and add chicken to meal prep for the week. Thank you!

  6. Looking at this recipe again for the 4th time making it because it’s so yummy and easy for packed lunch! Going to add some tofu for extra protein this time :)

    1. I’ve made this salad a number of times since it was published, and I’m neither paid nor a bot. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s great for a summer picnic or when it’s too hot to cook much. Perhaps you have the privilege of endless time and air conditioning, but some of us need something simple, practical, and homemade.

    1. Can you be more specific as to what happened? I’ve made this recipe several times, and it’s a great, simple Asian-inspired summer salad. It’s certainly not high end Thai, but for those of us who need a quick lunch, it’s quite nice!

  7. I usually don’t like vegetarian meals because they don’t feel filling. This however was really filling. The lime peanut butter dressing is so good. It almost tastes like orange chicken sauce. Next time I’ll make sure however to mix the noodles and veggies evenly in my meal prep before eating. It’s also an added benefit that it has some protein without meat. Really good 😊 Also

  8. Made this with tofu and really loved it! The dressing is fantastic, the colors were all beautiful together, and it was so filling. Can’t wait to make again (and eat my leftovers from this time).

  9. I am so going to try this recipe. Is there a better option for the Brown Sugar? I am watching my sugar intake. Thank you in advance.

    1. We don’t use any artificial or sugar-free sweeteners so I’m not sure what would work best! You could try honey or maple syrup if you like.

  10. I meal prep every week for myself and husband’s meals and have tried countless recipes to mix it up. This recipe was ON POINT and will now be going into the rotation! I have attempted peanut noodle dishes before but had issues with the noddles absorbing the sauce too quickly and everything ending up soupy within a day. Why didn’t I think to portion it on the side?? Genius. Only thing I added was some cooked, diced chicken breast for more protein. DELISH! Thank you!

  11. I really loved this recipe!! I was so easy to make, it took me just over 30 minutes. It’s tasty and filling, and healthy and beautiful as well. 10/10 would recommend.