Are you looking for the perfect Thai side dish to complement your next Thai-inspired meal? If so, you have come to the right place. Preparing a Thai meal may be overwhelming for some because of the sheer number of variations you will find of the same dish.
Don’t worry, for we are here to help you!
Whether you are making Thai green curry, noodle soup, Pad Thai, or other Thai food, adding one or two side dishes is an easy way to elevate your dining experience. For a lot of us, eating is a great way to spend time with friends and family, and good food is always the key to a good time.
Today, we will break down some of this Southeast Asian country’s favorite side dishes. From fried rice to all sorts of refreshing salads and fried goodness, there are plenty for you to choose from.
25 Best Thai Side Dishes
Without further ado, here’s the ultimate list of 25 Thai side dishes that will go well with almost any Thai-inspired meal.
1. Coconut Rice
Plain rice is boring, and Thai meals will taste better if you complement them with a side dish of fragrant and fluffy coconut rice! It’s flavorful enough to be delicious on its own, but versatile enough that it won’t overpower the main dish.
It’s best to use Jasmine rice for the best result, and all you need to do is cook them in some coconut milk and a bit of seasoning. An easy twist on a global classic, this side dish is perfect for more spicy and piquant meals.
2. Pineapple Fried Rice
If you want to step it up and make something more variative than just simple coconut rice, try pineapple fried rice! It’s also still easy to prepare and can be a good base for different, more complex main dishes.
Made from some caramelized pineapple chunks, cashews, cilantro, garlic, and other rich Thai spices, this easy-to-make side dish is packed with flavor. You can also enjoy it with sriracha or tamari for even more tang. Plus, fried rice is a great way to use cold, leftover rice.
3. Sticky Rice (Khao Niao)
Wonderfully chewy and soft, Thai sticky rice adds a fun twist to rice as a side dish. It’s delicate because the grains do not clump together, and the texture is definitely one of the reasons why many people adore this dish!
By soaking glutinous rice before steaming them, you’ll get a unique chewy consistency. Sticky rice, or Khao Niao, goes perfectly well with a range of main courses (or even desserts, like in mango sticky rice). It’s also great to minimize the spice and heat of many dishes.
4. Tom Yum Fried Rice
Another variation of the classic fried rice is tom yum fried rice. With this, you can enjoy the fun flavors of the famous tom yum soup, but in rice form! This means that you can serve it as a side dish for your favorite Thai-inspired meals, including other soup dishes, vegetables, or even grilled fish.
The best thing about making fried rice, as we’ve mentioned above, is that you can use leftover rice. In fact, cold, refrigerate rice often makes better fried rice than freshly cooked one!
5. Tom Yum Soup
Of course, we can’t miss the original iteration of the previous side dish: the tom yum soup itself. The name comes from Thai words, with ‘tom’ meaning boiling and ‘yam’ referring to mixed. This is appropriate because the soup only requires boiling a bunch of different ingredients to get that signature sweet, spicy, and sour flavor.
While tom yum soup can be a main course, it’s also a great side dish that you can pair up with other types of dishes! It’s refreshing taste means it can be a nice palate cleanser.
6. Thai Peanut Noodles
Here’s an easy but surprisingly delectable side dish to try out. You need only two things to cook your own Thai peanut noodles: peanut sauce and noodles. Cook the noodles following the instructions on the package, then mix well with the peanut sauce until combined. Easy, right?
This side dish has very simple flavor that pairs well with other Thai dishes. That includes more complex and spice-heavy meals, and more importantly, the noodles will help balance out the heat level.
7. Fried Peanuts
Fried peanuts are an excellent snack that’s quite healthy and flavorsome. The savory taste and crunchiness are what make it so great and a favorite among many. The Thai version of fried peanuts often include various aromatics such as dried chili, garlic, lime leaves, and some lemongrass.
You can also store these in an airtight container for a few weeks. A convenient and quick snack for when you’re on the go!
8. Peanut Sauce
It’s no secret that Thai dishes often feature one special, unmissable ingredient: peanuts. And that means peanut sauce is a staple in many Thai-inspired recipes. Not only is it good to use in other meals and cooking, but lots of people also actually enjoy using peanut sauce as a topping or dipping sauce for many things.
This means that peanut sauce can be a great side dish to prepare! Moreover, you can always make a batch of peanut sauce and keep it in the fridge, so that it’s easily available any time you need it.
9. Thai Green Papaya Salad
Thai green papaya salad is a popular side dish in many restaurants and family dinner tables. It’s super light and refreshing, and packs a punch even with such simple ingredients. This dish is sweet, spicy, sour, and savory all at once!
Most green papaya salads use unripe papaya, carrots, a tangy sauce, and peanuts for a bit more crunch and texture. The most common way to enjoy this as a side dish is with curry dishes which are heavier in flavor, which will balance them out well.
10. Thai Mango Salad
Here’s another fresh and summery salad made with fruits! Mango is a huge part of Thai cuisine, and one of the best ways to serve this delicious fruit is in a classic Thai salad. You can even top it with some peanut sauce for the dressing, as it will offer even more flavor.
Refreshing, spicy, crunchy, and nutritious. What more do you want in a side dish. It’s also great to pair with curries, meat dishes, or even seafood. This light, green salad is sure to give you a boost after your meal!
11. Thai Tomato Salad
For a salad side dish that’s even lighter, why not try out this delicious Thai tomato salad? You need only the fewest and easiest ingredients like fresh tomatoes, Thai chilies, lime juice, cilantro, and fish sauce. It is the perfect dipping sauce for fried dishes, or you can enjoy it on some fried rice or noodles.
Not only is it zesty and tangy, but this tomato salad is also super healthy! There’s no more perfect way to round up a wholesome Thai meal than with this side dish…
12. Cucumber Salad
Cucumber salad may be a popular dish in many countries, but a Thai cucumber salad is like no other! It’s sweet, savory, and tangy all at the same time, offering you a full flavor bomb in a refreshing and light bite.
Top with some pickled red onions and peanuts for extra crunch. This quick and easy to make salad is the perfect complement to almost any other Thai dish you can think of. The fresh flavor palate also means it can effectively cut back the heat level of a spicy meal.
13. Cashew Salad
You may notice by now that most Thai-inspired recipes, whether a main course or side dish, would feature different, seemingly opposing flavors at once. This harmony between sweetness and spiciness, savory taste and sourness, is what makes the dishes so special.
Another great salad side dish to try is cashew salad, which is just as simple but bursting with flavors. You can use cucumber, red bell peppers, spring onions, roasted cashews, and fresh coriander. Then, top with some vinegar, lime juice, and fish sauce for the dressing!
14. Corn Fritters
These vegan corn fritters, otherwise known as Tod Mun Khao Pod by locals, are great for those of you who want something crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. It’s super delicious and flavorsome, and most importantly, vegan friendly!
Using flax seeds instead of eggs, this side dish also incorporates curry paste, lime leaves, and blended corn for a truly unique texture and taste. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to prepare but will elevate your meal to the next level.
15. Sweet Chili Sauce
Everything that is good about Thai flavors comes down to this. Sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy in one simple dressing! You can serve this sweet chili sauce with practically anything else on the Thai food menu. From pad thai and sandwiches to soups and even other side dishes on this list, it’s a perfectly versatile dish component.
It will take you ten minutes or less to prepare, combining the most basic and quintessential Thai ingredients you can find.
16. Spring Rolls
Rolls are an important part of many global cuisines, including Thai. Start with some rice paper that you can get from almost any Asian supermarket, and fill it with veggies and maybe some protein. It’s very versatile and adaptable, so you can easily vary the recipe depending on what’s in your fridge.
Moreover, this Thai side dish is crunchy and hearty, making it great to pair with a lot of other main dishes. Fry them until golden brown, and serve with some peanut sauce or sweet chili sauce.
17. Green Bean Stir Fry
Another excellent Thai side dish to try is green bean stir fry. Stir frying is one of the most favorite and convenient ways to cook fresh vegetables. It will make your dish more fragrant while ensuring that the nutrients are intact and the color vibrant.
Green beans are particularly popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. They have a crunchy texture that works well as a side dish.
18. Morning Glory Stir Fry
Morning glory or water spinach is a very popular vegetable in Southeast Asia. It’s affordable, easy to get, and even easier to cook! This simple stir fry is one of the most common ways to enjoy this fresh and nutritious ingredient.
In 15 minutes or even less, you’ve got yourself a morning glory stir fry that’s full of flavor and freshness. Here, you can try using garlic and adding some Thai chilies to add more fragrance and heat.
19. Siu Mai
Siu Mai may have originated from Chinese cuisine, but it has also become a big part of everyday Thai cooking. This shrimp and pork dumpling is a juicy flavor bomb in just one bite. It’s a dim sum classic that pairs really well with some sweet chili sauce and can be excellent as a side dish or appetizer.
Although packing a delightful flavor and complex taste, these dumplings are actually quite easy to make! Of course, if you would rather buy frozen and precooked ones, you should be able to find them in most Asian or Thai supermarkets.
20. Roasted Green Peas
Like most Asian cuisines, Thai meals are often accompanied by some sort of green side dish. These roasted green peas are perfect to top different kinds of salads, soups, rice dishes, and meat. Most supermarkets will sell frozen garden peas, and you just have to roast them in some Thai spices.
It takes very little prep work, and you can simply let the oven do its magic. Prepare these peas in batches and store them in an airtight container. Even better, they’re also very delicious to snack on!
21. Sweet Potato Mash
For a side dish that lies on the sweeter side, we cannot recommend this sweet potato mash more! It’s healthy, low in carb, and has a mushy texture, which makes it especially great to complement crispy and crunchy fried meals. This is also perfect to serve with proteins like chicken, pork, or fish.
To top your sweet potato mash, sprinkle some red chilies and basil or cilantro. The creaminess and sweetness will immediately take your Thai inspired meal to the next level, with very little effort.
22. Sweet Chili Brussel Sprouts
Sweet Chili Brussel Sprouts are especially lovely as a side for protein-based meals. Roasting brussels sprouts in some sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, and other quintessential Thai spices will give you a mix of delicious flavors.
Not to mention that frying them until crispy on the outside gives a nice, contrasting texture to the soft insides of the sprouts. It’s aromatic, tasty, umami, and a truly wonderful twist on the classic roast veggie!
23. Roasted Carrots with Peanut Sauce
Another option for a healthy vegetable side is this roasted carrot dish. Carrots are healthy and extremely good for you; it’s packed with all kinds of vitamins and nutrients. Best of all, this side dish is quick to make and offers a different and unique way of enjoying carrots.
For the topping, drizzle a generous amount of peanut sauce. Then, sprinkle some peanuts and fresh cilantro to add even more textures. You can even squeeze a little bit of lemon juice for a little more kick!
24. Thai Pasta Salad
A lot of nations around the world have their own version of pasta salad, and Thailand is not an exception. Made with fresh herbs and veggies, it’s also quite healthy and can store well in the fridge for a few days. A fantastic choice for meal prep!
Many people love this Thai side dish because it blends a traditionally western ingredient with more classic local flavors and spices. You can also enjoy it with some sweet chili sauce on the side or drizzled on top.
25. Thai Slaw
Last but not least, Thai slaw is a foolproof side dish that goes well with a lot, if not most, Thai main courses. From red cabbage and bell peppers to carrots, green onions, and cilantro, it’s a colorful and visually pleasing dish that will impress just about anyone…
Using crisp and fresh vegetables coated in a creamy peanut sauce dressing, this is also an excellent side dish that embodies the summery vibe of Thai cuisine! Why not try it out for your next Thai-themed meal?
What side dishes go with Thai curry?
Thai curry is a staple in Thai cuisine. Made using curry paste, creamy coconut milk, vegetables, protein like meat or seafood, and lots of fresh herbs, it is super hearty and filling. There are many side dishes that go well with Thai curry.
The most basic and common choice would be coconut rice, which you can also complement with some fried spring rolls. For a lighter and more refreshing note, try one of the salads we have recommended above. Thai slaw is a classic choice, but some tangy manga salad will work wonderfully too.
What food goes well with Thai food?
Thai food is often spicy, which means some of the best side dishes should be light and refreshing, so you can easily balance the overall taste palate. From green papaya salad to cashew salad and tomato salad, all of these choices are perfect for reducing the heat level of your main course.
Other than that, rice dishes are also great to pair with Thai food, especially meat and protein-based dishes. Coconut rice is as basic as it gets, although you can jazz it up with some pineapple or tom yum fried rice, depending what’s on the table!
What are main dishes for Thai food?
If a Thai side dish is packed with scrumptious flavors, you can only imagine what a main dish is like! The range and variety are truly extensive, thanks to the country’s rich spices and many fruits and vegetables. Perhaps the most popular Thai main dishes include green curry, tom yum sup, chicken satay, and seafood coconut curry.
Thai cuisine is also well-known for its eclectic noodle-based dishes. From the classic Pad Thai, a tasty stir-fry filled with meats, veggies, and noodles, to the heartier and meatier noodle soup like Guay Tiew.
What can accompany Thai green curry?
Thai green curry is a simple and most essential type of curry dish in Thailand. The iconic green color derives from the use of green chilies, although the taste itself is usually sweet and savory instead of spicy.
It can be served with coconut rice (the most classic example), fried rice, spring rolls, or even, in some cases, roti. To add some heat level, it’s great to enjoy with some sweet chili sauce too! And of course, for a more balanced meal with veggies, you can serve Thai green curry with a stir-fry side dish.
What rice is best with Thai curry?
The best rice to enjoy with Thai curry is probably coconut rice. It’s very simple to make—not much harder than plain, steamed rice, and offers a subtle yet fragrant coconut note that complements the richness of Thai curry really beautifully.
While it has its own distinctive taste and flavor, coconut rice is still plain enough that it’s the perfect blank canvas for the more flavorful Thai curry! Although if you prefer to pack more punch, pineapple fried rice is a great side dish to try…
That wraps up some of the best Thai side dishes you can find. Most of these are versatile dishes that you can easily pair up with any main course. However, it’s always worth keeping in mind the main flavors of your main dish and choose side dishes that can balance it well.
Thai food is all about spices and herbs and mixing different textures and flavors together. So, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and experiment with these options. Our list of side dishes can be an excellent go-to guide for you, but don’t let this limit your creativity when in the kitchen.
Happy cooking and enjoy!