This keto Vietnamese salad is crunchy, sweet and tangy, a tad spicy and downright delicious! And when you add chicken, it's high in protein.
This low-carb and keto Vietnamese salad is a new favorite salad at our house! It's a slaw salad that's full of flavor, thanks to the Nuoc Cham dressing, which is salty, sweet, tangy and a little spicy. In addition to the slaw, the salad includes crunchy, crushed peanuts and fresh herbs (we like to add cilantro, but it's optional). For a more hearty, high-protein salad, you can add rotisserie chicken, which is quite yummy!
We recently fell in love with this salad after eating it at local, Asian-inspired restaurant. Since the restaurant dressing included sugar, we had to make a sugar-free and keto version of it at home. And after many attempts of trying to recreate it, we finally came up with a version we love.
The Nuoc Cham dressing is full of vibrant flavors since it's made with lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, sweetener and chilis. We typically use serrano or fresno chilis, but you could use another chili of choice.
To make this salad as easy as possible, we simply use store-bought coleslaw mix and rotisserie chicken (optional). We HIGHLY recommend adding crushed peanuts (or almonds) and fresh herbs if you can (we love cilantro, but you could also use fresh basil or mint) since they really help make the salad. You won't regret it!
What is Nuoc Cham?
Nuoc cham is a popular Vietnamese sauce that's typically made with fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, sugar and chilies. It's a salty, sweet and tangy sauce that's frequently used in Vietnamese cooking and can be paired with almost anything including meats, noodles, spring rolls, salads and more.
Just a few notes on key ingredients:
- Store-bought coleslaw mix: To keep things easy, we simply buy a coleslaw mix at the store. We get an organic, pre-washed mix that's only 2 grams of net carbs per serving (85 grams). If you're not using a store-bought coleslaw mix, you can freshly shred Napa or another type of cabbage.
- Nuoc Cham ingredients: The dressing includes rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, erythritol and chilis. For the chilis, you can use serrano, fresno, or another type of chili. Thai chilis are another option, but be aware they're quite spicy (if you don't mind, go for it!). For less heat, remove the seeds. For more heat, keep the seeds in.
- Peanuts: Crunchy, crushed peanuts are a highlight of this salad! If you don't have peanuts, you could also use crushed almonds.
- Cilantro (optional): Fresh cilantro is another highlight of this salad since it really adds to the flavor. If you don't like cilantro, you could replace with fresh basil and/or mint.
- Store-bought rotisserie chicken (optional): We love adding chicken to make a more hearty salad that you can serve as a main dish. To keep things easy, we simply shred store-bought rotisserie chicken into tiny chunks. We recommend buying a rotisserie chicken that is organic, free-range, and free of hormone. Also, check the ingredients to be sure that no sugar is added and only simple seasonings are used.
How to Make
STEP 1: In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of hot water with erythritol sweetener. Stir until sweetener has dissolved. Add fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, minced garlic and minced chili. Stir until well combined. Note: keep seeds in chilis for more heat; for less heat, remove chili seeds.
STEP 2: Crush peanuts by placing in a sealable plastic bag and smashing with a rolling pin or other object. Optional: Chop cilantro or other fresh herbs. Chop or shred chicken into small chunks for a total of two cups.
STEP 3: In a large bowl, toss slaw mix with dressing and chicken (if adding). Top with crushed peanuts and cilantro or other fresh herbs (optional). Serve immediately.
There are a number of ingredients you can add to this salad to enhance the flavor and texture. All of these options are low-carb and keto-friendly.
- Thinly sliced bell pepper (red or green, although red looks nicer in the salad!)
- Chopped red or green onion
- Chopped mint, basil, or other fresh herbs (fresh herbs help make the salad!)
- Freshly shredded cabbage to replace slaw mix
Vietnamese salad, which is sometimes served in delis and restaurants may not be low-carb or keto-friendly since the dressing, Nuoc Cham, can be sweetened with sugar. However, if the salad is eaten without the dressing, then it's likely low in carbs. That said, if you make a keto-friendly version like this at home, then it's going to be low in carbs.
Since store-bought coleslaw mix includes a minimal amount of slivered carrots, the carbs in this salad mix is usually quite low at only 2 grams of net carbs per every one and a half cups (or 85 grams).
Yes, in moderation, of course. Two tablespoons of rice vinegar is less than a carb and two tablespoons of fish sauce is about 1 carb.
Keto Vietnamese Salad (with our without Chicken)
- 3 tablespoons Swerve Granular
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 garlic cloved, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili, minced (serrano, fresno, or other chili; keep seeds in for more heat; for less heat, remove seeds)
- 12 ounces store-bought Coleslaw Lettuce Mix (12 oz is about 6 cups)
- ¼ cup peanuts, roasted and salted
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (other other fresh herb) (optional)
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken, chop into small chunks (optional)
- Make dressing: In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of hot water with erythritol sweetener. Stir until sweetener has dissolved. Add fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, minced garlic and minced chili. Stir until well combined. Note: keep seeds in chilis for more heat; for less heat, remove chili seeds.
- Prepare ingredients: Crush peanuts by placing in a sealable plastic bag and smashing with a rolling pin or other object. Optional: Chop cilantro or other fresh herbs. Chop or shred chicken into small chunks for a total of two cups.
- Finish salad: In a large bowl, toss slaw mix with dressing and chicken (if adding). Top with crushed peanuts and cilantro or other fresh herbs (optional). Serve immediately.