Spicy Thai Beef Salad (Yum Neua)

Thai Beef Salad, also known as “Yam Nua”, is a vibrant and flavorful salad that features thinly sliced, grilled or seared beef as its star ingredient. It’s served with a medley of fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs, and finished off with a delicious sweet and spicy dressing.

Spicy Thai Beef Salad (Yum Neua)

Okay guy’s we’re back with another one of my absolute favorite Thai dishes. I know that might sound repetitive at this point, but I just love Thai food so much.

Today we’re making Thai Beef Salad. Juicy tender steak, paired with cucumber, tomato, mint, cilantro and shallots. Served with the most delicious spicy fish sauce dressing. A perfect balance of tanginess and spice and it’s sure to please.

What is Thai Beef Salad?

Thai Beef Salad, also known as “Yum Neua”, is a vibrant and flavorful salad that features thinly sliced, grilled or seared beef as its star ingredient. This dish combines rich and tender beef and served with a variety of fresh vegetables, topped with a deliciously spicy dressing.

Now of course when making this beef salad, you can make your own adjustments. Each Thai restaurant I’ve gone to makes this salad differently. My favorite way to enjoy this is as a salad with the addition of lettuce. To me it gives a little more substance and one more ingredient to savor this delicious salad.

Nonetheless, you can add and subtract ingredients as you desire. The one thing you cannot skimp on is the beef and the dressing. Those literally bring this salad to life.

Thai beef salad

This Thai Beef Salad is an excellent option for those following low-carb or gluten-free diets. Quick to prepare and it’s an ideal option for a refreshing lunch or a light dinner.

I’ve tried a number of variations of this salad and every restaurant adds its own touch, possibly due to regional influences. Yet, what stays constant is the tender beef and the flavorful dressing that ties everything together.

While the ingredients may vary, the essence of the salad remains the same. It’s doggone good!

What you’ll need to make Thai Beef Salad

  • Beef- any cut of beef is suitable for this salad. I’ve made it with flank, sirloin, top loin. My favorite is between flank and top loin.
  • Lettuce- or spinach. Optional but to me, the more ingredients the better.
  • Cherry Tomatoes- halved or quartered.
  • Shallots- or thinly sliced red onions
  • Cucumber- optional, but I love love love adding cucumber to this salad.
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Toasted rice powder- traditionally toasted rice powder is added to Yum Nua. It adds a nice crunch and texture. You can opt out, if desired.

For the dressing

  • Fish sauce- an essential ingredient to create this delectable dressing.
  • Sugar- traditionally palm sugar is used. Sold at most Asian grocery stores. If you have trouble finding you can also use brown sugar or granulated sugar.
  • Thai chilies – add according to your preference, as they are spicy. If you can’t find Thai chillies, bird’s eye chilies are a suitable alternative.
  • Garlic- finely minced.
  • Lime juice- helps cut the saltiness of the fish sauce. And adds the perfect amount of citrus.

The dressing is such a star. It really shines bright in this salad. It’s so good that I drizzle the extra juice on my fried rice or chicken. It packs so much flavor and elevates anything it’s on. When making, I highly recommend using fresh ingredients for this salad. Fresh lime juice, chillies, garlic etc.

How to make Thai Beef Salad

To begin, allow the beef to reach room temperature for even cooking. Then, season with salt and pepper.

While the beef rests, start preparing your veggies – this step tends to be the most time-consuming part of the recipe..

In a mortar and pestle, mash down Thai chilies and garlic to create a paste. Then add in 1 1/2 tbsp of fish sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 capful of vinegar, and squeeze in the juice of 1 lime.

Mix until everything is well combined and the sugar dissolves. Note- you might need to add a little warm water to help the sugar break down.

Can I prep this beforehand?

Of course. I’d recommend chopping up your veggies before assembling to cut down on the prep time. This salad also works great for meal prep; just hold off on adding the beef and dressing until you’re ready to enjoy it. This keeps the veggies and lettuce fresh and crisp, preventing sogginess.

Tips to make the best Thai Beef Salad

  • Use fresh ingredients. To get the best results, I highly recommend using fresh ingredients. It’s the essence of this Thai Beef Salad.
  • Allow the beef to come to room temperature before grilling or searing. This will ensure an even cook. Not doing so will result in an uneven cook.
  • Be sure to REST the steak after cooking before slicing it.
  • Slice the beef against the grain. Slice the beef against the grain for the most tender pieces. Remember that the steak’s tenderness depends on its cooking time, so cook it to your preferred level of doneness.
  • Rest the steak for 10 minutes before slicing.

What to serve Thai Beef Salad with?

You can eat this salad as a side, lunch or a light dinner. Or you can serve it as a side with my Thai Basil fried rice (as pictured), Chili Garlic Oil Wings, or my Beef Pad Kee Mao.

You can also swap out the beef in the salad and use chicken or shrimp, if preferred.

More Recipes to enjoy

Thai Basil Fried Rice
Parchment Baked Fish
Airfried Mango Habenero Wings
Chili Garlic Oil Wings

If you try this Thai Beef Salad, please be sure to leave a comment, and or tag me on Instagram @cookwithci. I would love to see your recreations and hear your thoughts.

Thai Beef Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine Thai


  • Mortar and Pestle


  • Sirloin Steak flank or top loin will also work
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt + pepper

For the salad

  • lettuce or spinach
  • 1/2 cucumber chopped
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 1/3 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1/2 shallot thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onions diced
  • toasted rice powder optional

For the dressing

  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 lime juice
  • 1 cap distilled vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Thai chilies use to your discretion


  • Season beef with salt pepper and a little fish sauce. Heat up cast iron or large skillet then add in a neutral oil. Sear the beef for 3 minutes without touching it. Then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Once you get the desired doneness, reduce the heat then add in unsalted butter and garlic clove. Baste the steak for 1 minute. Remove from the pan and allow the steak to rest before slicing.
  • In a mortar and pestle mash down garlic cloves and Thai chilies to create a paste. Next, pour in fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice and sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add warm water if needed. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine lettuce, cucumber, shallots, tomatoes, mint, cilantro and green onions. Add in the sliced beef. And top with the dressing. Toss everything together and enjoy!


Make sure beef is at room temperature to get an even cook. 
Heat up cast iron until to just before it smokes. Then add a neutral oil. Sear the beef for 3 minutes without touching it then flip. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Reduce the heat, then add in unsalted butter and a garlic clove and base the steak for an additional 1-2 minutes. 
Allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. When slicing the beef, make sure to cut against the grain.
Keyword Beef Recipe, Beef Salad, Salad Recipes

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Welcome to CookWithCi, where I share my love for cooking. Here you’ll find a variety of delicious and fun recipes. From comfort to simple. There is a recipe for everyone. I hope you are inspired to get creative in the kitchen. xoxo!

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