Protein-packed edamame is the star of the show in this Garlicky Sesame Edamame Salad!
Edamame is tossed with sizzled garlic and toasted nuts and seeds before being finished with a savory, tangy tahini-soy sauce dressing and fresh herbs. The recipe is adapted from one of my favorites in my cookbook, Spicy Sesame Edamame, so there’s no shortage of magic in every bite.
This nutty, limey and crunchy edamame salad is the kind of lunch you look forward to all morning long. It’s good for you, too, but you’d never know it. The big and bold flavors pack a punch while the protein and fiber leave you feeling full and satisfied for hours!
Why this recipe works
Secretly healthy and wholesome
This edamame salad is hearty, wholesome, and nutrient-dense. As a leading source of plant-based protein (over 18 grams per 1 cup), fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, edamame (soybeans) makes this a satisfying and filling dish.
Meanwhile, shredded red cabbage adds bulk as well as more than your daily recommended amount of vitamin C.
But at the heart of this wholesome and satisfying salad are mouthwatering layers of flavor.
A blend of sizzled garlic and chile peppers, toasted peanuts, coconut, and sesame seeds tossed in a tangy, savory tahini-soy sauce dressing makes it the kind of lunch or dinner you will feel genuinely excited about. Best of all, it never weighs you down or leaves you feeling tired.
Customize it to your taste
There are a handful of ways to customize this salad to your taste buds. Use different types of seeds or nuts, adjust the level of heat, or add or omit other ingredients to make it your own.
For example, if you don’t mind missing out on the added fiber and nutrients from shredded red cabbage, you can omit it, or replace it with shredded carrots, diced bell peppers, or another fresh, crunchy vegetable.
Easy and quick recipe
The restaurant-quality flavors make this dish feel like it isn’t weeknight-friendly, but it’s the opposite! Throw it together in about 30 minutes for dinner or make it part of your Sunday meal prep for healthy lunches throughout the week.
Save even more time by strategically prepping the veggies and dressing, too.
While the edamame cooks, chop and sauté your other ingredients. Stir the dressing together in a flash or do it days in advance! Then, at the end, toss everything together and dig in.
Edamame are simply young or immature green soybeans. You can find them sold in their pods (unshelled) or the beans alone (shelled).
And unlike other beans, like kidney beans and chickpeas, edamame doesn’t have a strong “bean” flavor. Instead, they’re subtly sweet and tender-firm. They’re easy to prepare, too, requiring just a quick cook in boiling water.
Use pre-shelled edamame for this salad to save time. It’s sold either frozen or refrigerated (Trader Joe’s sells it refrigerated). If all you can find is whole/unshelled edamame, you’ll need to pop the soybeans out of the shell first, though that’s a pretty easy process.
Where to buy: You can find frozen and fresh edamame sold in major grocery stores, as well as East Asian grocery stores. I like buying it from Whole Foods, where they sell non-GMO-certified frozen shelled edamame.
Nuts and seeds
A trio of peanuts, shredded coconut, and sesame seeds are briefly toasted before being combined with garlic, chiles, and scallions. This adds a great nutty flavor that compliments the tahini in the dressing and adds a delightful crunch to every bite.
Tips for buying: Look for shredded coconut that’s unsweetened like this (the tiny shreds, not the thick flakes) (affiliate link).
Substitute: Don’t feel like you have to use peanuts or sesame seeds. Use the nuts and seeds you like or already have on hand. If you have a peanut allergy, try cashews instead. Not a fan of coconut? Omit it.
A trio of aromatics
Toasting garlic, scallions, and chile peppers in oil with the nuts and seeds brings out their hidden flavors (it’s a cooking technique called “blooming”). This also gives the edamame salad savory, subtly sweet, and spicy flavor notes.
Substitute: Use 1 medium or large thinly sliced shallot as a substitute for the scallions. You can also use ¼ to ½ cup of finely diced red onion too.
Tahini-soy sauce dressing
I can’t get enough of tahini-based sauces and salad dressings. Tahini has a rich and savory flavor with just the right amount of nuttiness. I use it on all kinds of dishes, from Crispy Smashed Potatoes to this easy Tahini Pasta.
Here, the combination of tahini, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, lime juice, and agave nectar yields an ultra-tasty dressing. Every bite has just the right amount of savory, salty, tart, slightly sweet, nutty, and rich flavors.
Substitute: Stick with tamari or gluten-free soy sauce if you’re gluten-free. If you don’t have agave, use maple syrup (it’ll have a slightly more prominent flavor).
Fresh cilantro and mint brighten up this savory salad! They add a burst of freshness at the end, balancing the rich and creamy dressing.
Substitute: If you don’t have mint, just use cilantro. And if you hate cilantro, use all mint or Thai basil in its place.
Follow the package instructions to cook the edamame.
- For a cold edamame salad: After cooking and draining, rinse the edamame under cold running water and pat dry.
- For a warm edamame salad: Drain the cooked edamame, then transfer it to a serving bowl while it’s still warm.
To make the dressing, whisk the tahini, agave nectar, lime zest and juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil together in a bowl.
Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Toast the sesame seeds, coconut, and peanuts in the dry pan until they’re fragrant.
Add the oil to the pan, followed by the chile pepper, scallions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook the aromatics until the sesame seeds and coconut are turning golden brown.
Take the mixture off the heat and pour it over the edamame and cabbage in the serving bowl.
Add the dressing, then toss to combine. Finish by stirring in the cilantro and mint, then season to taste with more salt if needed. Enjoy!
Tips for making this recipe
Don’t overcook the edamame
Cooking edamame is technically optional because frozen edamame comes precooked in the package. But if you do cook the edamame, err on the side of undercooking. I always pick the lowest cook time range on the package to ensure I don’t overcook the edamame.
That’s because overcooked edamame = soggy edamame salad.
Once it’s cooked, drain the edamame very well. Pat the beans dry with dish towels if needed to avoid a soggy, water-logged salad.
Serving the edamame salad cold? All you need to do is run the cooked and drained edamame under cold water, then pat dry.
Helpful cabbage tips
Shredded red cabbage bulks up this salad, making it feel like a more substantial lunch or even dinner. The added antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins are a bonus, too.
The more finely grated the cabbage, the easier this salad is to eat. There are several ways to grate cabbage but I like to shred it on the large holes of a box grater. This way, the shreds practically melt into the salad. Otherwise, you can also use a mandoline, a food processor slicing disc, or a sharp knife to slice the cabbage.
Want to save the leftovers for later? Keep in mind that the cabbage will wilt quite a bit as it sits. Omit the cabbage if you want to maximize freshness for more than 2 days, or stir the cabbage in only when serving.
Customize it to your taste
Play around with the flavors and ingredients in the salad to find your preferred variation. There are a handful of ways I recommend customizing it:
- Sub the grated cabbage with grated carrots. Buy pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store to speed up the recipe. You can also use diced red/orange/yellow bell peppers, diced cucumbers, or another tender-crisp vegetable instead.
- Experiment with the nuts and seeds. I think peanuts work perfectly with this flavor profile, but you can also use almonds or cashews. No sesame seeds at home? Omit them or replace them with sunflower seeds.
- Not a fan of spicy food? Omit the chile pepper. You can also use a pinch of red chile flakes as a substitute if you don’t mind a little bit of spice.
- If you happen to have Thai basil on hand, use that instead of the cilantro for an even tastier salad.
- Love ginger? Sauté a small knob of freshly minced ginger along with the garlic.
Make it a main meal
The salad is pretty filling on its own, but here are a few ideas to turn to to make it even more satiating:
- Massage finely shredded lacinato kale with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil until soft, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Fold it into the salad and drizzle extra tahini on top.
- Fold in some diced avocado for a creamy element and serve over cooked quinoa or farro.
- Increase the amount of peanuts or sesame seeds and serve over rice.
- Toss udon noodles, rice noodles, or even whole wheat spaghetti with toasted sesame oil, then toss this salad into the noodles.
- A hunk of crusty bread on the side always makes it more filling!
Multitask to save time
With multitasking, this dish shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to make. While you wait for the water for the edamame to boil, prep the nuts, seeds, and aromatics and grate the cabbage or other vegetables.
While the edamame boils, whisk together the dressing and chop the herbs. You can even whisk the dressing together and store it in the fridge 2 to 3 days ahead of assembling the salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but only if you omit the grated cabbage. Once assembled, the salad can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you make it with the cabbage, it will wilt after day 1 or 2.
To maintain its freshness and crisp tenderness, store each of the components in separate containers in the fridge, then assemble when ready to serve:
– Toss the edamame with the toasted aromatics and seeds/nuts, but not with the dressing, cabbage, or herbs.
– Store the dressing in a separate airtight jar in the fridge.
– Grate the cabbage and store it separately in a container in the fridge.
On the day of serving, bring the dressing to room temperature, re-whisk it, and toss it with the edamame and cabbage. Chop up the fresh herbs, add them to the salad, and toss.
You can, but you will need to pop the soybeans out of the shell first. The shells are very tough and not pleasant to eat.
Yes, as long as you use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce.
Absolutely. Simply replace the peanuts with sunflower seeds or omit them entirely.
On its own, the salad is perfect for lunch because it’s so filling. But to make it even more satiating, serve it over cooked rice or whole grains, or toss it with noodles. You can even serve it with my Simple Baked Tofu or Marinated Tofu on top for more protein.
When you want to serve it as a side dish, I recommend pairing it with my Gochujang Noodles, Tofu Stir Fry, or Lettuce Wraps.
If you love this Edamame Salad recipe, please be sure to leave a rating and review below! It’s always much appreciated :) And tag me on Instagram – I love hearing your feedback.
- 12 ounces (340g) frozen shelled edamame (see Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon white or black sesame seeds
- ¼ cup (25g) unsweetened shredded coconut (skinny shreds like this) (optional, can omit if desired)
- ⅓ cup (45g) dry-roasted peanuts (or cashews), roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored cooking oil of choice
- Kosher salt
- 1 serrano pepper or Fresno pepper, diced
- 4 scallions, top 1 inch trimmed and sliced thinly (save dark greens for garnish)
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups (160g) red cabbage, finely grated (optional, see Note 2)
- 1 ½ tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 medium lime, zested + juiced
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (see Note 3)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup (8g) cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
- 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves, torn (optional)
- Cook the edamame per package instructions. (I typically boil the edamame for 3-4 minutes.) Drain the edamame. If you prefer a cold salad, rinse the edamame under cold water until cool. Shake the colander well to remove excess water. Transfer the edamame to a serving bowl.
- While the water comes to a boil and the edamame cooks, prep anything else you can: dice the chili pepper; thinly slice the scallions or very thinly slice the shallot; finely chop the garlic; chop the cilantro; make the dressing.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the tahini, agave nectar, lime zest and 1 tablespoon juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk until smooth, adding a bit more lime juice if desired. The dressing will be fairly thin, that’s fine.
- Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat (don’t add the oil just yet). Once hot, add the sesame seeds, coconut, and peanuts. Toast briefly, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.a. Now add the oil to the pan, followed by the chile pepper, scallions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sesame seeds and coconut are turning golden brown.b. Take the mixture off of the heat to prevent overcooking and pour over the edamame. Add the cabbage, if using. Re-whisk the dressing and pour over the edamame, and toss to combine so that all the edamame is well coated.
- Stir in the cilantro and mint, if using. Season to taste with a pinch of salt or squeeze of lime juice as needed.
- Be sure to buy shelled edamame. If you can only find whole edamame in a pod, you will need to shell it yourself and buy about 24 oz whole edamame to end up with 12 oz shelled. If your edamame bag comes with 16 ounces, feel free to use that. The sauce is quite flavorful and saucy, so it should be enough to coat more edamame. If it feels a bit dry, add a splash more of soy sauce and lime juice and toss to coat. You can also buy refrigerated pre-cooked edamame at some stores, like Trader Joes.
- The cabbage is here to add some veggie action, but you can omit it. I prefer to use the large holes of a box grater to get a really fine grated cabbage, as it almost melts into the salad and doesn’t feel cruciferous. You can also use a mandoline, a food processor slicing disc, or a sharp knife to slice the cabbage. Or, you can replace it with grated carrots (you can buy pre-grated carrots if you want).
- Use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce to keep this salad gluten-free.