Papaya Salad Recipe (Sweet And Sour Flavors)

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The Papaya Salad Recipe , a vibrant dish, boasts fresh, tangy flavors. You must shred green papaya, mixing it with cherry tomatoes and green beans. Research shows adding roasted peanuts enhances texture. A dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar creates a perfect balance. Try adding chili for a spicy kick. Topped with fresh coriander, this homemade salad is perfect for a refreshing meal. All you need are these simple ingredients for a delightful experience.

Finding the perfect Salad Recipe that satisfies your taste buds can often be a challenge. 

On my travels through Middle Eastern and European countries, I’ve always been on the lookout for unique and flavorful dishes. 

During a friend’s gathering, I was introduced to a delightful Papaya Salad

This dish caught my attention with its fresh, tangy, and slightly spicy flavors, something my kids often request now.

Papaya Salad Recipe

If you’re searching for a salad that’s both nutritious and exciting, the Papaya Salad Recipe is your answer. 

The first time I tried recreating it after a memorable restaurant visit, the balance of flavors wasn’t quite right. 

However, with a few simple tweaks, I found the secret to making this salad burst with flavor. 

Whether you’re hosting a dinner or craving something light and refreshing, this Papaya Salad is all you need to impress. 

It’s not just a dish; it’s a journey of flavors that brings the essence of my travels right to your table.

What Is Papaya Salad? 

Papaya Salad, originating from Southeast Asia, is a mouth-watering blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. 

At its core, it’s a fresh green papaya-based salad, finely shredded and mixed with a variety of ingredients like tomatoes, green beans, and roasted peanuts. 

The dressing, a key component, typically combines lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar, offering perfect flavor harmony. 

Often, you’ll find chili added for a spicy kick. Universally loved, Papaya Salad is perfect for those who appreciate a refreshing, healthy, and flavorful dish. 

It’s a staple in many Asian cuisines, celebrated for its unique taste and texture.

What Is The Origin Of Papaya Salad Recipe?

Papaya Salad, known as “Som Tam” in Thai, has its roots in Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand and Laos. This dish is a testament to the rich culinary traditions of the region, blending local ingredients and flavors.

Historically, it was a simple meal for farmers, combining unripe papaya with other readily available ingredients. Over time, it evolved, reflecting the diverse culinary influences of Southeast Asia.

Each region added its twist, incorporating ingredients like tamarind, crab, or fermented fish sauce.

Today, Papaya Salad is a beloved dish worldwide, symbolizing the harmony of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavors characteristic of Southeast Asian cuisine.

Papaya Salad Recipe

Ingredients List 

Roasted peanuts, unsalted1 cup
Snake beans20 pieces, cut in 5cm/2″
Grape tomato3 cups, cut in half
Green papaya500g / 4 cups, shredded, tightly packed
Thai basil leaves1/2 cup
Garlic2 tbsp, roughly chopped
Bird eye chillies6, roughly chopped with seeds
Dried shrimp6 tbsp
Palm sugar1 cup, grated, loosely packed
Lime juice1/2 cup
Fish sauce1/2 cup

What Are The Variations Suitable For The Papaya Salad Recipe?

Papaya Salad offers diverse variations, suitable for different tastes and dietary needs. One popular option is the addition of grilled shrimp or chicken, perfect for those seeking a protein-rich meal.

Thai Style

Create a traditional Thai papaya salad with shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, and a spicy lime dressing.

Mango Papaya Fusion

Combine ripe mango chunks with papaya, cucumber, and mint. Drizzle with a honey-lime dressing for a tropical twist.

Avocado Cilantro Delight

Add diced avocado, cilantro, and red onion to papaya. Dress with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette for a creamy and fresh taste.

Sesame Ginger Bliss

Introduce sesame seeds, julienned carrots, and a ginger-soy dressing for an Asian-inspired papaya salad.

Minty Watermelon Fusion

Combine papaya with watermelon cubes and mint leaves. Drizzle with a lime-mint dressing for a refreshing blend.

Coconut Lime Paradise

Enhance papaya with coconut flakes, lime zest, and a coconut-lime dressing for a tropical delight.

Pomegranate Pizzazz

Mix arils of pomegranate with papaya, cucumber, and a balsamic reduction for a burst of color and flavor.

What Are The Tips For The Papaya Salad Recipe? 

  • Use a sharp knife or a julienne peeler for finely shredding the green papaya, which is crucial for the right texture.
  • To balance flavors, adjust the lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar ratio. This is a universal rule in achieving the perfect harmony of sweet, sour, and salty.
  • Crush the peanuts lightly; they should add crunch without overpowering the salad.
  • If you’re sensitive to spice, try adding chillies gradually. It’s all you need to control the heat level.
  • Toss the salad gently. Overmixing can make the papaya mushy.
  • Serve immediately after dressing to maintain freshness and crunch.
  • For an authentic touch, use a mortar and pestle to mix the dressing ingredients, as research shows this method releases more flavors.

Are There Any Unusual Or Exotic Ingredients That Work Well With Papaya Salad Recipe?

  • Kaffir Lime Leaves: Thinly sliced, these leaves add a unique citrusy aroma.
  • Galangal: Similar to ginger, galangal introduces a sharp, spicy flavor.
  • Pomelo: Adding chunks of this citrus fruit gives a sweet, tangy burst.
  • Pickled Crab or Fermented Fish: Common in traditional Thai versions, these ingredients offer a distinct umami flavor.
  • Tamarind Paste: It contributes a sweet and sour note, perfect for the dressing.
  • Star Fruit (Carambola): Thin slices of star fruit can add a decorative, tangy element.
  • Rambutan or Lychee: For a sweet contrast, these fruits can be an interesting addition.
Papaya Salad Recipe

Recipe Directions 

  • Crush Peanuts: Place peanuts in a mortar and pestle. Pound lightly to break them into larger pieces, not into powder. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Garlic and Chilli Paste: Place garlic and chilli in the mortar. Pound into a paste. Add shrimp and pound to crush them – no need to grind them to a paste.
  • Dressing: Stir in palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce until the sugar dissolves. Pour the dressing into a large bowl.
  • Bruise Snake Beans: Add snake beans to the mortar (in batches if needed). Pound to bruise, split, and soften (they are raw, so they need to be bashed to soften). Add to the dressing.
  • Crush Tomato: Grab handfuls of tomato, crush with your hands, then add into the bowl.
  • Add Papaya: Add papaya and 3/4 of the peanuts. Toss well with two wooden spoons or tongs.
  • Serve Immediately: Once everything is coated in the dressing, immediately pile up onto plates. Spoon over some dressing (there will be a bit of dressing still left in the bowl, that’s normal). Garnish with Thai basil leaves, sprinkle with remaining peanuts. Serve immediately.

Healthy eating has never been this tasty! Try papaya salad Recipe for a delicious twist.

What Herbs And Spices Works Well In Papaya Salad Recipe?

  • Mint: Offers a fresh, cooling contrast to the spicy elements.
  • Cilantro (Coriander): Adds a citrusy, slightly peppery taste.
  • Thai Basil: Known for its anise-like flavor, it adds complexity.
  • Lemongrass: Infuses a lemony and floral aroma.
  • Ginger: Introduces a warm, spicy kick.
  • Green Chilies: For heat and a sharp, fresh flavor.
  • Lime Zest: Adds an intense, tangy citrus note.
  • Garlic: A staple in many salads for its pungent flavor.
  • Fish Sauce: Provides a salty, umami depth.
  • Palm Sugar: Balances the flavors with its mild sweetness.
Papaya Salad Recipe

Nutritional Values 

Papaya Salad is not only delicious but also packed with nutritional benefits. It’s low in calories yet high in fiber, aiding digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness.

Rich in vitamins A and C, it boosts immunity and skin health. The inclusion of green papaya provides essential enzymes like papain, aiding in protein digestion.

Peanuts add a healthy dose of protein and heart-healthy fats. Overall, it’s a nutrient-dense choice, perfect for a healthy diet.

What Are The Total Calories In The Salad?

Calculating the total calories in Papaya Salad depends on the specific quantities and ingredients used.

Typically, a serving contains a mix of low-calorie elements like green papaya and tomatoes, and higher-calorie items like peanuts and dressing components.

On average, a serving of Papaya Salad might range from 150 to 250 calories, making it a relatively light yet satisfying dish.

This calorie count can vary, especially with additions like shrimp or variations in dressing ingredients.

Health Benefits Of The Papaya Salad Recipe

Digestive Health

Green papaya contains papain, an enzyme aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption.

Immune Support

High in vitamin C, it strengthens the immune system.

Weight Management

Low in calories and high in fiber, it promotes satiety, aiding in weight control.

Heart Health

Peanuts provide healthy fats that can improve heart health.

Skin Care

Vitamins A and C in papaya contribute to healthy skin.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Ingredients like garlic and chilies offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

Bone Health

The salad is a good source of vitamin K, essential for bone health.


Offers antioxidants that combat oxidative stress.


High water content in the vegetables helps in hydration.

Metabolism Boost

Spices and herbs can slightly increase metabolic rate.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table

What Dressings Are Best Served With Papaya Salad Recipe?

  • Classic Thai Dressing: A blend of lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, and crushed garlic and chilies. It’s the traditional choice, offering a perfect balance of flavors.
  • Tamarind Dressing: Tamarind paste mixed with lime juice, palm sugar, and soy sauce provides a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, ideal for a twist on the classic.
  • Lime and Honey Dressing: For those preferring a less spicy option, lime juice combined with honey and a splash of soy sauce creates a milder yet flavorful dressing.
  • Soy and Sesame Dressing: A mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, and a hint of brown sugar offers a nutty, savory alternative.
  • Coconut Lime Dressing: Coconut milk blended with lime juice and a touch of fish sauce gives a creamy and exotic taste.

Yummy, healthy, and oh-so-tasty – papaya salad recipe is a culinary masterpiece you must try

Are There Any Unique Toppings That Can Elevate The Crunch Factor Of Papaya Salad? 

  • Fried Shallots: Adds a sweet, crispy texture.
  • Crushed Roasted Cashews: Offers a rich, nutty crunch.
  • Toasted Coconut Flakes: Provides a tropical, crispy element.
  • Sesame Seeds: Small but impactful for an extra crunch.
  • Crispy Fried Garlic: Introduces a savory, crunchy bite.
  • Rice Cracker Pieces: Gives a unique, light crispiness.
  • Water Chestnuts: Delivers a fresh, aquatic crunch.
  • Crispy Noodles: Asian-style crispy noodles can add a delightful texture.
  • Puffed Rice: A light, airy topping for a subtle crunch.
Papaya Salad Recipe

What Is The Difference Between Homemade And Store-Bought Papaya Salad Recipe? 

  • Freshness: Homemade salad uses freshly shredded papaya, ensuring a crisp texture, while store-bought may lack this freshness.
  • Flavor Customization: You can adjust the spice, sweetness, and tanginess to your preference at home, unlike the standardized taste of store-bought versions.
  • Ingredient Quality: Homemade salads allow for the selection of high-quality, organic ingredients, whereas store-bought salads might contain preservatives and lower-quality produce.
  • Healthiness: Homemade salads are free from artificial additives and excessive sodium, common in store-bought varieties.
  • Variety: You can experiment with different ingredients and variations at home, while store-bought options are limited to what’s available.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Making salad at home is generally more cost-effective than purchasing pre-made salads.
  • Cultural Authenticity: Homemade salads can be crafted to adhere to traditional recipes, offering a more authentic experience than commercial versions.

How Can You Store Or Preserve The Papaya Salad Recipe Leftovers?

  • Airtight Container: Store the salad in an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent odor absorption from the fridge.
  • Separate Dressing: If possible, keep the dressing separate from the veggies to avoid sogginess.
  • Refrigerate Promptly: Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of preparation to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Consume Quickly: Enjoy leftovers within a day or two; Papaya Salad is best when fresh.
  • Avoid Freezing: Freezing is not recommended as it can drastically alter the texture of the salad.
  • No Raw Fish/Shrimp: If the salad contains raw seafood, consume it the same day for safety.
  • Check for Freshness: Before consuming leftovers, check for any signs of spoilage.
Papaya Salad Recipe

Special Tools/Equipment List 

  • Mortar and Pestle: Essential for crushing and blending the spices and dressing ingredients, imparting a traditional flavor.
  • Julienne Peeler or Mandoline Slicer: For finely shredding the green papaya and other vegetables.
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: Crucial for chopping ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, and chili.
  • Cutting Board: A sturdy surface for all the slicing and dicing.
  • Mixing Bowls: Needed for mixing the salad and dressing separately.
  • Tongs or Salad Servers: Useful for tossing and serving the salad.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurately measuring ingredients, especially for the dressing.
  • Citrus Juicer: To extract fresh lime juice for the dressing.
  • Grater: For grating palm sugar or other ingredients.
  • Serving Plates or Bowls: To present the salad attractively.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Make Papaya Salad Without A Mortar And Pestle?

Yes, you can make Papaya Salad without a mortar and pestle by using alternative methods. For crushing peanuts, use a rolling pin or a heavy object.

For the garlic and chili paste, a small food processor or a blender can work, though it might not give the same texture as hand-pounding.

The key is to achieve a coarse, not overly smooth, texture for authentic flavor.

Is Green Papaya The Same As Ripe Papaya?

No, green papaya is different from ripe papaya. Green papaya is unripe and has a firm texture and mild, almost neutral taste, making it ideal for salads.

Ripe papaya, on the other hand, is soft with a sweet flavor and is typically eaten raw or used in sweet dishes. They are not interchangeable in recipes.

How Can I Make Papaya Salad Vegan?

To make Papaya Salad vegan, replace fish sauce with soy sauce or a vegan fish sauce alternative.

Omit the dried shrimp and use a plant-based sweetener instead of palm sugar if strict vegan. These substitutions will maintain the balance of flavors while adhering to vegan dietary requirements.

Can I Store Leftover Papaya Salad?

Leftover Papaya Salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day.

However, it’s best eaten fresh due to the salad’s tendency to become soggy over time. If storing, try to keep the dressing separate and add it just before serving.

What Are Good Protein Additions To Papaya Salad?

Grilled shrimp, chicken, or tofu are excellent protein additions to Papaya Salad. They complement the flavors and add substance, making the salad a more filling meal. If using tofu, opt for a firmer variety for better texture.

These proteins can be marinated and cooked separately before being added to the salad.

Papaya Salad Recipe (Sweet And Sour Flavors)

Papaya Salad Recipe (Sweet And Sour Flavors)

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Salads


Prep time





Papaya Salad Recipe, a refreshing and vibrant dish, combines the crisp texture of green papaya with a harmonious blend of sour, sweet, spicy, and salty flavors. This salad is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine, known for its health benefits and tantalizing taste. It’s a perfect dish for those seeking a light yet flavorful meal.


  • 1 Cup 1 Roasted Peanuts, Unsalted

  • 3 Cups 3 Snake Beans

  • Grape Tomato (Cut In Half)

  • 4 Cups 4 Green Papaya

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Thai Basil Leaves

  • 2 Tbsp 2 Garlic ( Roughly Chopped)

  • 6 6 Bird Eye Chillies (Roughly Chopped With Seeds)

  • 6 Tbsp 6 Dried Shrimp

  • 1 Cup 1 Palm Sugar (Grated, Loosely Packed)

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Lime Juice

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Fish Sauce

Step-By-Step Directions 

  • Crush Peanuts
    Place peanuts in a mortar and pestle.
    Pound lightly to break them into large pieces, not into powder.
    Transfer to a separate bowl.
  • Garlic And Chilli Paste
    Put garlic and chilli in the mortar.
    Pound them into a paste.
    Add shrimp and pound to crush them – a coarse texture is fine.
  • Prepare Dressing
    Stir palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce in the mortar until the sugar dissolves completely.
    Pour the dressing into a large mixing bowl.
  • Bruise Snake Beans
    Add snake beans to the mortar (do it in batches if necessary).
    Pound to bruise, split, and soften them (they are raw and need to be tenderized).
    Add the bruised beans to the dressing.
  • Crush Tomatoes
    Take handfuls of tomatoes and crush them gently with your hands.
    Add the crushed tomatoes into the mixing bowl with the dressing.
  • Add Papaya And Peanuts
    Add shredded papaya and 3/4 of the crushed peanuts to the bowl.
    Toss everything well using two wooden spoons or tongs, ensuring all ingredients are well coated with the dressing.
  • Serve Immediately
    Once the salad is well mixed and coated in dressing, immediately serve it onto plates.
    Spoon over any remaining dressing from the bowl.
    Garnish with Thai basil leaves and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.

Recipe Video


  • For the best flavor, use a ripe but firm green papaya.
  • Adjust chili levels to suit your spice tolerance.
  • The salad is best served fresh; however, if storing, keep the dressing separate to maintain crispness.
  • Experiment with different herbs like mint or cilantro for varied flavors.
  • This dish can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by substituting fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari.
  • Enjoy this salad as a standalone meal or as a side dish with grilled meats or seafood for a more substantial meal.

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