Green Papaya Salad

Green papaya ribbons tossed with a bright Asian-inspired herb, lime, and lemongrass dressing make a unique and healthy vegetarian meal.

I’ve been dreaming of making a green papaya salad for a while now… I just don’t see them (the unripe not-sweet green kind) around too often.

A few weekends ago Jack and I ventured out to the MT Supermarket, a ridiculously huge asian market that we’d somehow never been to. If you live here in Austin, have you been there? The only way I can describe it is that it’s maybe the Asian grocery equivalent to IKEA. Super overwhelming… fun but probably only because it was our first time… and make sure you are highly caffeinated before you go.

Among other treasures, I came home with a green papaya.

Using a julienne peeler, (I know another gadget – sorry!), I sliced thin uniform strips of papaya and tossed them with some chopped veggies and a light dressing made up of scallions, herbs, lemongrass, a big splash of coconut milk, and a few squeezes of lime.

If you’re serving this as a side dish, feel free to stop there. Since this was our dinner on this  particular night, I made it a more complete and filling meal by tossing some shrimp on top… some baked or grilled tofu would also be delicious.

*I used a julienne peeler to make these nice even papaya strips. (I also tried using the zucchini noodle maker). The julienne peeler took me a few frustrating minutes to get the hang of… after that it was pretty easy. It would have been more painstaking to slice them with a knife and they wouldn’t be as noodle-like. Having nice thin, even strips is kind of key here.

Green Papaya Salad

Serves: 2 as a main
For the dressing:
  • 1 scallion, green and white parts
  • Splash sesame oil (1-2 teaspoons)
  • A few inches of lemongrass, coarsely chopped (the food processor will do the rest)*
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup basil or mint
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Splash soy sauce
  • ¼ cup coconut milk, light or full fat
  • Splash agave syrup or a pinch of sugar
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • Zest & juice of 1 lime (1-2 tablespoons of lime juice)
For the salad:
  • 1 green papaya, julienned (about 3 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • Extra scattered herbs that you might have left over from the dressing
  • Chopped, roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • Protein of your choice (optional)
  1. Make the dressing: Pulse the scallion, sesame oil, lemongrass, cilantro, basil, garlic, soy sauce, coconut milk, agave, sriracha, and lime juice and zest in a food processor until combined but not pureed, so you can see course flecks of herbs. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  2. Assemble the salad with the papaya, bell pepper, and scallion and toss with as much or as little dressing as you like. Top with a protein, if using, and garnish with the chopped herbs and peanuts.
*If you don’t have lemongrass, just taste and add extra lime zest if you wish.



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  1. Gary Saeteun

    Asian cuisine styles can be broken down into several tiny regional styles that have rooted the peoples and cultures of those regions. The major types can be roughly defined as East Asian with its origins in Imperial China and now encompassing modern Japan and the Korean peninsula; Southeast Asian which encompasses Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines; South Asian states that are made up of India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as several other countries in this region of the continent…

    Our favorite blog

  2. Frederike from

    Papayas remind me of a trip to Indonesia. I ate them all the time, just like pineapples. I’m not sure where I can find them in my town, but your recipes makes it worth the search. There’s an Asian food store so perhaps I will be lucky there!

  3. Laura from

    I love, LOVE green papaya salad. Your coconut milk dressing sounds perfect with al the lime and lemongrass. We have a totally overwhelmingly large and chaotic Asian supermarket in Toronto too. They have everything there, it’s such an adventure to go.

  4. I tried papaya salad for the first time in Thaïland and I was really delicious… and very spicy ! I had one recently in Switerland, completely different and not so good… I really like the idea of the shrimps in it, it’s very colourful and looks great ! Thanks for the recipe !

  5. Jess from

    Maybe it’s because I live in Thailand, but I consider a julienne peeler to be a kitchen neccesity. 😉 Beautiful recipe, and I’m so glad to know it’s possible to get your hands on green papaya back in the US!

  6. Heather from

    That dressing sounds to die for! Love how you used coconut as the base 🙂

  7. Roz from

    I adore any Thai recipe that I can get my hands on and Thai salads are just the best! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    Roz for ‘la bella vita’

  8. This looks incredible!! I haven’t had green papaya before, I don’t think. I actually plan to go to the Asian market this weekend so I can make some Pad Thai soon, I’ll have to look for it. Sounds like you are on the same Asian-inspired food kick that I am on 🙂

  9. Milynn from

    Oh this looks so delicious! My parents grow a papaya tree in our backyard and we make this for dinner all the time! I’d love to try your recipe, the coconut milk and agave syrup sounds like a great twist to our normal Lao style papaya salad.

  10. Kathryn from

    What a lovely fresh sounding salad, I will be on the look out for green papayas!

  11. Alex from

    Wow – this looks awesome. We’ll have to try. Also, am ordering a julienne peeler right now!

  12. I am a sucker for all things Thai, especially the green papaya salad. What a lovely thing.

    (& that grocery store! I’m making it one of my first stops when I move down to TX–do you know if there are any in San Antonio?)

  13. This has been my favorite dish this summer, but I never really knew how to make it. This was mostly because I had trouble finding green papayas, but not I at least have the recipe!

  14. Looks fresh and lovely, and the dressing sounds so herbaceous and fragrant. I like the Asian-inspired touches.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.