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This super fresh green papaya salad is packed with raw crunchy veggies, roasted peanuts, fried shallots, and a citrusy lime dressing! It’s easy to prepare, refreshing, and plant-based!

Vietnamese green papaya salad with carrots, mint, and peanuts.

📘 What is Papaya Salad

Originating from South-East Asia, papaya salad is a dish prepared from unripe papaya. It usually features other vegetables like carrots, cucumber, and fresh herbs and comes with a dressing made with lime, fish sauce, and sugar. The result is a fresh, slightly crunchy salad with a sweet, salty, and sour dressing!

Many different versions of this salad vary from country to country. Here, we will be making a Vietnamese-inspired papaya salad.

Vietnamese vs. Thai Papaya Salad

Both versions of this salad are quite similar. However, as opposed to the Vietnamese version, Thai papaya salad (Som Tam) features long beans, tomatoes, and a dressing prepared from tamarind.

Ingredients like green papaya, cucumber, fish sauce, peanuts, and lime.

🥜 Ingredient Notes

This salad takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. Plus, no baking or cooking is required! Here is what you will need:

  • Green papaya – Make sure you are using unripe green papaya. It is essential to this recipe. Check out the note below to learn how to pick a good papaya.
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber – Preferably Persian cucumber. If using another variety of cucumbers, I recommend peeling them as their skin can be bitter.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic for a pungent flavor.
  • Chili – For spiciness. I recommend starting with 1/4 of a Thai chili (also called Bird’s eye chili) if you are not used to spicy dishes.
  • Fish sauce – You can use store-bought vegan fish sauce or homemade vegan fish sauce. If you don’t have fish sauce, you can use soy sauce. The flavor will be different, but it’s still a good substitute.
  • Lime – To add freshness.
  • Sugar – To balance the saltiness and sourness. I went with light brown sugar, but you can use palm sugar, coconut sugar, or regular granulated sugar.
  • Fresh herbs – Vietnamese papaya salad often features Thai basil, mint, and/or Vietnamese coriander (also called laksa leaf).
  • Peanuts – Roasted peanuts bring some crunch and a nutty flavor. Feel free to use roasted cashews if you don’t have peanuts on hand.
  • Fried shallots – Optional; fried shallots add an extra layer of texture. You can also use fried onions.

How to pick a good green papaya?

Try to look for green papaya with smooth skin and a firm texture. It should also feel quite heavy. Most green papayas weigh at least 2 pounds. Note: Since some ripe papayas can also have a green appearance, I recommend asking the shop to make sure it is actually unripe.

🥣 How to Make Papaya Salad

This recipe is easy and is done in just 3 steps: prepare and chop the vegetables, make the dressing, and toss everything together.

Grating green papaya using a grater.

Pepare the green papaya

  1. Peel and soak the papaya. After peeling the papaya and removing the seeds, let it soak in a large bowl of water for about 15 minutes. This will help remove the white latex substance.
  2. Grate it into thin strips. Use a vegetable grater or a food processor fitted with the grating disk to grate the papaya into long and thin strips.
  3. Soak the julienned papaya in ice-cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze with your hands to remove excess water.


Next comes the dressing that is citrusy, sweet, and a bit spicy, thanks to the addition of chili. To prepare the dressing:

  1. Prepare the ingredients. Finely mince the garlic and chili, and squeeze one lime. Alternatively, you can crush the garlic and the chili in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add everything to a bowl. Minced garlic, chili, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.
  3. Stir to combine. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Finally, toss the vegetables with the dressing, top with crushed peanuts, fried shallots, and serve!

Stirring vegan fish sauce, sugar, and garlic in a bowl.

📔 Tips

  • Tweak it to your liking: Feel free to add extra veggies, fried tofu, bell pepper strips, or even sautéed oyster mushrooms for a more colorful and filling salad!
  • If using frozen green papaya: thaw on the counter for about 1 hour before rinsing it and squeezing with your hands to remove as much water as possible.


Is it safe to eat green papaya salad during pregnancy?

It is not recommended to eat papaya salad during pregnancy. The latex contained in green papaya can be harmful and may cause contractions. I recommend asking your doctor for more advice regarding this subject.

Where can I buy green papaya?

You will be able to find green papaya in Asian markets or supermarkets.

What does green papaya taste like?

Green, unripe papaya has a very neutral flavor. It doesn’t taste much on its own and has basically no sweetness. It is, however, a great vehicle for flavor.

Can I use ripe papaya instead of green papaya?

Unfortunately, it won’t work. While it will still taste good, the salad will be much sweeter and not as crispy.

Can I make this salad in advance?

This salad will stay fresh for up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. You can keep the salad undressed for up to 2 days in the refrigerator and toss it with the dressing just before serving.

Can I freeze this papaya salad?

This salad tastes best fresh; I do not recommend freezing it.

If you are looking for a vibrant and crunchy salad with a great balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, you will love this green papaya salad! Plus, it’s oil and mayo-free!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Vietnamese green papaya salad with carrots, mint, and peanuts.
Easy Vietnamese Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad (Vietnamese-Inspired!)

5 from 4 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Fresh Vietnamese-style salad packed with vegetables, roasted peanuts, and served with a lime dressing. Delicious, healthy, and light!
Prep Time : 30 minutes
Total Time : 30 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 247 kcal


  • 1 medium green unripe papaya
  • 1 medium carrot julienned
  • 1 small Persian cucumber thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil or Vietnamese coriander
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts slightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup fried shallots


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp vegan fish sauce
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 Thai chili finely minced


  • Prepare the papaya: Peel the papaya and slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard them. Soak the papaya in cold water for about 15 minutes to remove the latex.
  • Using a vegetable grater or food processor fitted with the grating disk, grate the papaya into thin and long strips. Transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze with your hands to remove excess moisture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Prepare the other vegetables: Julienne the carrot (grate it into long strips) and thinly slice the cucumber. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
  • Prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, lime juice, vegan fish sauce, garlic, and chili.
  • Assemble: Add the fresh herbs, roasted peanuts, fried shallots, and dressing to the bowl and toss to coat. Serve immediately!


  • Tweak it to your liking: Feel free to add extra veggies, fried tofu, bell pepper strips, or even sautéed oyster mushrooms for a more colorful and filling salad!
  • If using frozen green papaya: thaw on the counter for about 1 hour before rinsing it and squeezing with your hands to remove as much water as possible.


Serving: 1 serving (with dressing and toppings) | Calories: 247 kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.2 g | Protein: 4.5 g | Fat: 14.9 g | Fiber: 3.5 g | Sugar: 13.4 g
Course : Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine : Asian, Vietnamese
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

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  1. Actually, this salad doesn’t use green papaya, I went for the ripe one for a subtle sweetness. It’s not a traditional Vietnamese recipe but still tastes great 🙂

  2. This is inspired Vietnamese papaya salad. A papaya salad is made of shredded green papaya(Vietnamese, Laotian or Thai papaya salad)

    1. That is correct Kim! 🙂
      I also love green papaya salad, but this recipe is quite different as it makes use of a ripe one (easier to find here).

  3. 5 stars
    A really delicious recipe, thanks Thomas! It’s fresh, sweet, crunchy and wonderfully light. Well balanced with the lime juice. I used sambal oelek in the dressing as that’s what I had on hand, and included some cold, fried tofu leftover from the previous days’ Vietnamese noodle salad. Yum!

    1. It depends, sometimes I buy them at the store (in a container), or I make them. To make fried onions, heat about 1/2 cup of oil in a deep saucepan. Once hot, add thinly minced onions and fry for a couple of minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with a kitchen paper towel to remove excess oil.

  4. 5 stars
    I waited too long to make this and then the green papaya started to ripen. I happened to have a green mango so just used that instead and it was really good. My husband was craving a salad his grandma makes like this that she put cooked cold shrimp on top of. After one bite, I knew he’d love it because it tasted just like that minus the shrimp.

    On another note, I wanted to use raw honey instead of sugar and was a bit worried the flavour would be too strong but it wasn’t. It was perfectly balanced.

    1. Yay! Glad you and your husband liked this salad 😉 Personally, I also prefer green mango salad as it has more flavor compared to green papaya.
      Thanks for your feedback Tetyana!