This authentic Thai beef larb recipe is bursting with flavor and texture! Larb (or laab) is a well-seasoned Lao and Thai-style meat salad accented with a crispy toasted rice powder (khao kua). Served room temperature with sticky rice and raw veggies, it’s great for spring and summer!

In this post, you’ll learn simple techniques to make this citrusy, salty, herby, and spicy dish a standout. For an alternate version, try Thai larb (larb moo) made with pork!

Image shows Thai beef larb cooked to perfectly seasoned with loads of herbs and lime juice. Served on a big red color plate with sticky rice.

What is laab

Larb (or laab) is a vibrant Lao or Isan-style meat salad cherished throughout Laos and Northern Thailand. This meat salad from Laos is now one of the most popular Thai street foods in the Isaan region of Northern Thailand, an area where the majority of the population shares Lao ethnicity.

Larb can be made with minced pork (Larb Moo or Laab Moo), chicken (Larb Gai), duck, lamb, or beef (Larb Neua/Nua). For our vegetarian or vegan friends, mushrooms offer a fantastic meat substitute, keeping the dish inclusive for all diets.

Traditionally, larb can be either raw or cooked, with raw laab being called “larb diip”. This Lao beef salad recipe uses cooked beef.

The flavor profile of Thai Larb? Imagine a symphony of citrusy, salty, herby, and just the right touch of spicy notes dancing together. Since it’s a meat-based salad, Larb is traditionally served at room temperature with sticky rice and a generous helping of fresh herbs, mint, and raw vegetables, creating a meal that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.


The ingredients for larb are quite simple and can be found in most grocery stores. As always, we provide substitutions for things you might not have. Using fresh herbs in larb is critical for a fresh and authentic flavor, so don’t skip those! Here’s what you need for this easy recipe for larb Thai salad.

Thai Toasted Rice Powder

  • Thai sticky rice: Thai glutinous white rice, uncooked. This traditional ingredient gives this dish its distinct texture. You can omit it if you’re short on time, or see substitutions for more options.

For the Larb Neua

Photo shows ingredients needed to make authentic beef larb.
  • Ground beef: I use 85% lean, 15% fat. The fat content makes the dish more juicy and flavorful. If you are mincing yourself, see our West Lake beef soup recipe for tips.
  • Lime juice: Use fresh for best result. You could use lemon in a pinch as well.
  • Ground white pepper: You can also use black pepper, but white pepper gives an authentic Asian flavor.
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Avocado oil: Or substitute another neutral-flavored oil with high smoke point, like peanut oil. We use just a small amount of oil to keep this dish light.

For the Larb Seasoning

  • Chopped shallots: About 1-2 large shallots for flavor and texture. You can try chopped red onions in a pinch.
  • Fish sauce: A must-have ingredient for added umami and authentic Thai flavor. See the substitution section below for more options.
  • Thai bird’s Eye chili powder: Thai chili is notoriously spicy and flavorful. Use for an authentic flavor. You can also use fresh chopped chilis or try dry chili flakes for a more mild taste.
  • Chopped cilantro, fresh mint leaves, and green onions: Using fresh herb in larb seasoning will elevate the flavors and make this dish taste truly authentic and fresh. They are essential!

To serve:

  • Sticky rice: Thai or Laotian beef salad is typically served with sticky rice and an assortment of raw vegetables.
  • Baby greens of choice (optional)

Substitutions and variations

  • Grain-free: Pan roast cashew nuts and hemp seeds until lightly fragrant and pulse into a coarse grind powder in lieu of toasted rice powder. See our pork Thai larb recipe for details.
  • Different proteins: This ground beef larb recipe can easily be made with ground pork (Larb moo), ground chicken (Larb gai), or try mushrooms, tofu, and walnut for a plant-based option.
  • Fish sauce substitute: You can buy vegan fish sauce or substitutewith Yondu vegetable umami seasoning for that umami flavor.
  • Touch of sweet: Sprinkle in a small touch of palm sugar or coconut sugar to balance the salty, funky, and sour flavor.
  • Bouillon powder: It’s common to use a touch of MSG to flavor the Loas meat salad. For an alternative use shiitake mushroom seasoning or homemade chicken bouillon.
  • Extra leafy greens: Select greens with a slightly firmer texture (won’t wilt quickly), such as watercress.

Tip: To make an extra authentic laab, add chopped culantro (also known as Mexican coriander or Burmese coriander) to the salad.

How to make larb beef

This easy meat salad recipe comes together quickly! If you’re short on time, you can skip the toasted rice powder (or see alternatives). We are cooking the meat for this recipe, and rather than making a Thai larb sauce or larb dressing, seasoning ingredients are mixed in and adjusted to taste throughout.

Person demos toasting sticky rice to make rice powder and season the raw ground beef.
  1. Toasted rice powder: Dry roast the rice grains in a hot pan until golden. Let them cool completely before grinding into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  2. Prepare herbs and season the beef: Prepare the herbs and set each ingredient aside separately. In a large bowl, season the ground beef with lime juice, pepper, and salt.
Person demos how to make authentic laotian beef larb salad with seasoning spices.
  1. Cook the beef: Add the ground meat to a hot pan with oil and cook over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. The meat should be cooked but moist. Turn off the heat.
  2. Season: Mix the shallots in with the warm beef to bring out the aroma. Mix in fish sauce, lime juice, and chili powder, and lastly add cilantro, mint leaves, and scallions. Toss and taste to adjust the dish to your personal preference (more lime, fish sauce, or chili powder).
  3. Serve: Transfer to a large serving plate and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the toasted sticky rice. Serve at room temperature with sticky rice and baby greens on the side.

How to store leftovers

Beef laab tastes best fresh, but you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Gently reheat to room temperature or enjoy it cold—it’s delicious either way!

How to serve beef laab

This fresh and flavorful cold Thai meat salad can be enjoyed so many ways! Here are some fun and yummy options for enjoying this dish.

Expert tips

  • Choose the Right Meat: For the juiciest beef larb salad, select beef with a good balance of lean meat and fat (85% lean and 15% fat is ideal). If using chicken or turkey, mix breast and thigh meat for the best flavor and moisture.
  • Toast Rice Properly: Toast the rice until golden brown for crunch, nutty, and smoky flavors, enhancing the larb’s taste and soaking up moisture. For a grain-free option, try coarsely ground, lightly roasted cashew nuts.
  • Balance the Flavors: Start with the recommended amounts of lime juice, fish sauce, and chili powder, then adjust according to your taste.
  • Keep the Meat Moist: When cooking the meat, aim for a fine crumble without drying it out. A bit of moisture should remain to keep the larb juicy. Don’t overcook the moisture away.
  • Use Fresh Herbs and Citrus: Fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, and scallions are non-negotiable for that burst of freshness. Use fresh lime juice and not rice vinegar.
  • Adjust the Heat: Thai bird’s eye chili powder can be quite spicy. Feel free to adjust the amount or substitute with dry chili flakes for a milder heat.
  • Serve it Right: Allow the larb to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving to let the flavors meld. Traditionally, larb is served with sticky rice – dip the sticky rice into the meat salad to soak up all the delicious flavors and then eat.


What meat is larb?

Larb is traditionally made with minced pork, duck, or beef. Vegetarians can use mushrooms for a meat-free version, maintaining the dish’s vibrant flavors and textures.

What does larb taste like?

Larb tastes citrusy, salty, herby, and slightly spicy, with a unique blend of fresh herbs, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili, complemented by the crunch of toasted rice powder.

What if I can’t find Thai glutinous white rice?

If Thai glutinous white rice is unavailable, substitute with any short-grain white rice for toasting, or for a grain-free option, use lightly roasted and ground cashew nuts.

More Thai Food recipes you might like

If you enjoy this traditional Thai meat salad, be sure to give some of our other Thai-inspired recipes a try!

An overhead close shot shows laos beef salad served on a red plate with sticky rice on the side.
A recipe image shows beef laab served with sticky rice and herbs in a red color plate.
5 from 1 vote

Beef larb recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
This authentic Thai beef larb is made with ground beef, fresh herbs, and citrus. Beef laab is easy to make, healthy, and perfect for summer.
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Thai toasted rice powder:

Larb Neua:

  • 1 lb. ground beef, 85% lean; 15% fat
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • tsp ground white pepper, or black pepper
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1.5 tbsp avocado oil


  • 2.5 oz. chopped shallots, about 1-2 large shallots
  • 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
  • Half one whole lime juice, plus more for serving
  • 1-2 tsp Thai bird’s eye chili powder, or dry chili flakes
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 20 sprig mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 bulb green onions, chopped

To serve:

  • Sticky rice, cooked
  • Baby greens of choice, optional


  • Toasted rice powder: In a medium size cast iron or stainless steel pan, add the rice grains and dry roast them over medium heat until the grains turn into golden brown color, about 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally for even toasting. Let the toasted grains cool to room temperature. Transfer the cooled grains into a spice or coffee grinder and pulse a few times until coarsely ground.
  • Prepare herbs: Prepare shallots, cilantro, mint leaves, and scallions. Set each ingredient aside separately over a large plate and ready to use. In a large bowl, season the ground beef with lime juice, pepper, and salt.
  • Cook: Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking it into fine bits as it cooks. As the meat releases moisture, avoid evaporating all of it to keep the meat moist, ensuring a bit of liquid remains in the pan. Once cooked and with some moisture still in the pan, turn off the heat
  • Season: While the skillet is still hot, add shallots, stir and use the remaining warmth to bring out the fragrant. Season the meat with fish sauce, lime juice, and chili powder, and lastly add cilantro, mint leaves, and scallions. Toss and taste to adjust the dish to your personal preference (more lime, fish sauce, or chili powder).
  • Serve: Transfer the laab to a large serving plate. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to allow the flavor to develop then sprinkle in the toasted sticky rice, 1-2 tbsp a time until your desired level. Serve with sticky rice and baby greens on the side. Serve at room temperature.


  • If using ground chicken or turkey, mix 50% breast meat with 50% thigh meat. This prevents the dish from becoming too dry.
  • When it comes to beef, opt for a mix that’s not overly lean—85% lean to 15% fat is ideal. This ratio ensures the larb is rich and moist. For a truly authentic touch, try mincing your own meat from a ribeye or New York strip steak, just like in traditional Thai recipes.
  • If you can’t have fish sauce (anchovy + sea salt), , try vegan fish sauce or Yondu vegetable umami sauce. Coconut aminos are another alternative, though they’ll slightly change the flavor profile. Soy sauce is not recommended due to its stronger taste


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 359kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 911mg, Potassium: 463mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 589IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Main, Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: beef laab, Beef larb, beef larb salad
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