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Easy Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Green Papaya Salad or som tam is a refreshing Thai salad made with long strands of crisp green papaya in a spicy-tangy-salty-sweet lime juice and fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce) dressing.

Green Papaya Salad.

Quick & Easy Papaya Salad

Green papaya salad is a dish you’ll find at just about any Thai restaurant in the US, and you’ll see it in street stalls and restaurants in Thailand as well. It’s also called som tam or som tum.

Thai cuisine expertly combines spicy, sweet, sour, and salty flavors and this salad is no exception.

shredded green papaya, carrots, red and red cabbage in a bowl topped with red chiles and peanuts.

What ingredients do you need?

  • Green papaya
  • Thai chiles (also called bird’s eye chiles) or red serrano chiles
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Lime juice
  • Fish sauce (I love Red Boat brand!), or use vegan fish sauce
  • Garlic
  • Carrot
  • Cabbage
this is a halved green papaya

What is green papaya? Is it different from regular papaya?

Green papaya is unripe papaya. It is not a different fruit from the typical yellow papaya that you usually eat plain or in fruit salads.

When still green and unripe, the texture of the flesh is crisper and the flavor milder and less sweet.

You can buy green papaya in Asian markets. In my market, the unripe green papayas are labeled “Thai cooking papaya.”

Is green papaya good for you?

Yes! Papayas are loaded with nutrients and enzymes that aid digestion and soothe the digestive system. Green papayas are even higher in these enzymes than ripe papayas.

This is how you julienne an unripe papaya using a julienne peeler.

How do you julienne it?

I’ve seen Thai women hold a papaya in one hand and a cleaver in the other, using the cleaver to slash the fruit into long, thin strips. I am pretty sure I’d lose a hand, or at least a few fingers if I tried that.

I peel the fruit first and then use a julienne peeler like this one to julienne green papaya into strips.

A bowl of shredded green papaya.

Is it possible to make this vegetarian?

Yes, you can make this salad vegetarian by substituting vegan fish sauce, low-sodium soy sauce, or coconut aminos for the fish sauce.

Can this salad recipe be made ahead?

You can definitely prepare this salad ahead of time. The green papaya and vegetables in this recipe are firm enough that they won’t get soggy in the dressing. Green papaya salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

A bowl of green papaya salad with a black background.

Wondering what to serve with this recipe?

This salad goes well with just about any Thai entrée. I love it with Thai Chicken Satay, Thai Fried Rice, Thai Chicken Curry, Thai Curry Puffs, and Thai Black Rice Pudding for dessert.

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Robin Donovan
This easy Thai Green Papaya Salad is refreshing and crisp. The dressing combines spicy, sweet, salty, and sour flavors for perfect balance. Serve this salad alongside any Thai entrée, or make it a meal in itself.
4.63 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Salad Recipes
Cuisine Thai
Calories 51 kcal


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Thai bird’s eye chilies
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 green papaya peeled and juilienned
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Mint leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Sliced red chiles for garnish (optional)


  • In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, chile(s), 2 tablespoons of the peanuts, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar and process until smooth.
  • Place the papaya, carrot, and cabbage in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to mix.
  • Serve immediately, topped with the remaining 3 tablespoons of peanuts and cilantro, mint, and sliced chiles, if using.


Serving: 1Calories: 51kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 2gSodium: 724mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7g
Keyword green papaya salad
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Green papaya salad
By on June 28th, 2019


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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