This Easy Chicken Larb Salad is the most FLAVORFUL meal. Ground turkey or chicken is tossed with zesty lime juice, fish sauce, and spicy chili sauce, served over a bed of mixed greens, red bell peppers, and red onion, and topped off with crispy toasted rice. Hearty, healthy, and so delicious.
Chicken Larb Salad
If you haven’t had chicken larb yet, you’re in for a treat! This easy, healthy Thai dish is currently my favorite dinner to whip up, even on a busy weeknight. It has a lot of the same elements as our Ants in a Tree Recipe, but uses lean ground turkey or chicken, and has a less fermented, tangy taste in the end. Also, there are virtually no carbs in site, so it leaves you a little bit lighter on your feet.
The forward flavors you’re going to taste in our chicken larb salad are lime, spicy chili sauce, garlic, and just a hint of savory fish sauce and citrusy lemongrass. It’s packed with flavor and really hones in on the sentiment that salty, sweet, savory, and tangy really yields the best tasting results.
Also in the mix? Plenty of crispy veggies, refreshing lettuce, and a hint of texture with crispy grains of toasted rice, which to me, are arguably the best element of chicken larb.
Ingredients in Chicken Larb Salad
Don’t let the long-ish list of ingredients deter you from making our chicken larb salad, everything is cooked in one pan, in under 30 minutes, and you won’t regret it.
Rice. One of the key ingredient in a classic chicken larb salad is crispy, toasted rice. Typically it’s toasted, then ground up in a mortar and pestle, but to keep this an easy-to-prep meal, I skipped that part, and honestly, I think I like it better. While the rice doesn’t “cook” per se, it does soften up enough during the toasted process and then again when it’s tossed with the hot meat and sauce, so it provides the most wonderful texture throughout the chicken larb salad.
I used quick-cooking brown jasmine rice, but anything you have on hand will work just fine.
Lemongrass. Another key ingredient in this chicken larb salad. Lemongrass adds a, as implied, citrusy very subtle lemon essence, but also has a sort of tangy woodsy aftertaste as well. It’s really lovely. Luckily these days, you can find it in with the fresh herbs in the refrigerated section. If you can’t find it, a little bit of lemon zest will do the trick also.
Onion and garlic. No need to explain these two, a staple in basically all cooking.
Turkey or chicken. Either ground turkey or ground chicken works here. You can also use ground turkey breast or ground chicken breast. I think all of them taste great. The only factor to keep in mind is ground turkey breast and ground chicken breast can tend to be a little bit on the drier side so it’s important you don’t overcook. Regular lean turkey and chicken is a little bit more forgiving so you don’t have to worry as much.
Fish sauce. I don’t typically love the taste of fish sauce, especially when used in gratuitous amounts, but in our chicken larb salad, the minimal amount of fish sauce we do use, only adds a salty, sort of briny bite that compliments the other flavors really wonderfully.
Lime juice. Chicken larb salad isn’t complete with a hit of acid from lime juice. This is the most prominent flavor in the end result, so don’t skip it.
Chili sauce. I use sambal oelek here, which is a tangy, spicy condiment made from chiles, garlic, onion and other spices. I think it’s a little bit more complex in flavor than srriracha, but if that’s all you have on hand, you can use that as well.
Honey. This isn’t a typical ingredient in chicken larb salad, but I like the way it balances out the lime juice and fish sauce.
Chicken stock. Even though there’s quite a bit of added moisture from the previous sauce ingredients, you need little bit of chicken stock to really lock that moisture in.
Herbs. Adding a little bit of freshness to the chicken larb salad aside from the lettuce, really brings this dish to life. I like to use a combination of mint, cilantro, and scallion.
The rest of the ingredients
Mixed greens. You can use whatever your favorite greens are. I happen to love butter lettuce here, because it’s hearty but slightly delicate at the same time and sort of mimics the feeling of a lettuce wrap in salad form.
Red bell peppers. I find red bell peppers are slightly sweeter than their green counter part, plus they just look really pretty with all the other ingredients. Feel free to use whatever your favorite veggies are.
Red onion. You need a little bit of bite from raw red onion. Slice it paper thin to add texture, and just a subtle sweet onion flavor.
Let’s make Chicken Larb Salad!
Toast the rice. I would argue this is one of the most important steps in our chicken larb salad. Toasting the rice (as explained before) cooks it slightly so that it adds nuttiness and texture to the chicken instead of a rock-hard granule of rice. (Not good obviously.)
Add the rice to a dry pan set over a medium heat. Toast the rice until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove immediately.
Sauté the aromatics. Add the coconut oil to the same pan. Continue to keep over a medium heat and once the coconut oil melts, add the onion, garlic, and lemongrass. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Cook the aromatics until they are slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes.
Cook the meat. Add the ground turkey or chicken. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat and toss with the onion, garlic, and lemongrass. Continue to cook until its starts to brown and is almost cooked through. Add in the fish sauce, chili sauce, honey, lime juice, and chicken stock. Continue to cook for a few minutes and then toss in herbs and toasted rice.
Assemble. Toss the lettuce, bell peppers, red onion, and a quick lime dressing together. Top with chicken larb filling. Sprinkle with green onions and toasted rice.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! Chicken Larb Salad can absolutely be made in advance. Store everything separately – the chicken larb, the dressing, and the salad ingredients. When you’re ready to eat, re-heat the chicken larb (or leave it cold!). Toss the lettuce with the dressing and then top with larb.
Do I have to serve chicken larb hot?
No! In fact, this is really delicious at room temperature or leftover, cold.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Use ground chicken or ground turkey. You can even use lean ground beef or ground pork.
- Any type of rice will do, but I do like the texture of jasmine rice a little bit better.
- Swap out any of your favorite Asian-inspired veggies for the red bell peppers, or just double up on the veggies.
- Use your favorite chili sauce, just make sure it has some heat to it.
- If you like dishes really spice, add a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes as well.
- 2 tbsp jasmine rice (or any rice)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/3 cup diced onion
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 1/2 tbsp minced lemongrass
- 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
- 2 tsp honey, divided
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp chili sauce
- 3 tbsp + 1 tsp lime juice, divided
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Large skillet
- Heat a large skillet to a medium heat. Add rice. Toast rice until brown and nutty, it shoud take about 2-3 minutes. Remove rice from pan, set aside.
- Return the skillet to a medium heat and add coconut oil. Once the oil melts, add onion, garlic and lemongrass. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Saute everything until slightly softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add ground chicken or turkey and salt. Use a wooden spatula to break up the meat into very small pieces. Once the chicken is browned and almost all the way cooked through, add 1 tsp honey, chili sauce, fish sauce, 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lime juice, and chicken broth. Toss to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce has coated the chicken.
- Add the cilantro, mint, scallions and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the toasted rice. Toss to combine and cook another minute. Turn the heat off.
- Meanwhile, as the chicken cooks, prep the salad. Whisk lime juice, olive oil, and remaining honey together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the greens, cucumber, red peppers, and red onion to a large serving bowl. Toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the slightly cooled chicken larb on top of the greens. Garnish with extra toasted rice and scallions.