Vietnamese Green Mango Salad – Recipe

Green mango salad

Green mango (or papaya) salad is addictive. It hits all those sweet, tangy and fresh notes that wake up your palate at the beginning of a meal, or refresh it after a bite of spicy curry. My wife and I have been known to narrow down our selection of Vietnamese restaurants purely based on the quality of their mango salad, and to use the leftover dressing to flavor our bun when the house sauce isn't vegetarian.

This salad works best with slightly underripe mangos. You want them to be firm, but not rock hard. The easiest way to cut them is with a mandoline, and it makes for neater presentation. You can do it with a knife too, it just takes a little more time.

I've experimented with different ways to make the dressing without fish sauce. Often a little soy sauce works as an umami-rich substitute, but in this case I like a bit of Chinese sesame oil instead. Not traditional but I think it works very well. I like the dressing to be rather sweet. You should adjust it to balance the particular mangos you are working with.

Vietnamese Green Mango Salad
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 4

  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons palm sugar or half white sugar, half light brown
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 underripe mangos cut into medium batons (see photo)
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into very thin rings and soaked briefly in cold water
  • 1 small green chili (Thai bird, or if not handy, jalapeno or serrano can be fine too) (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 handful cilantro or mint leaves (or a mixture)
  1. If using palm sugar, crush first in mortar and pestle. It may help to microwave a bit and/or moisten. Combine the lime juice, sugar, ginger, salt, and sesame oil. Shake well to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the balance of flavors. It should be fairly sweet.
  2. Just before serving, combine the dressing with the mango, red onion, green chili, most of the sesame seeds and most of the herbs.
  3. Garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and herbs.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, November 19th, 2009 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Salads, Vegan or Modifiable.

19 Responses to “Vietnamese Green Mango Salad – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    November 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    I love love love green mango. Tried slicing them into huge potato fry like wedges and sprinkling salt and cayenne on it? It is popular street food in India.

    And now, you have my mouth watering 😐

  2. Reply
    November 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

    Micheal, how is it you bring us such wonderful things all the time? I think the sesame oil is inspired.

  3. Reply
    November 21, 2009 at 7:33 am #

    You just made my mouth water 🙂

  4. Reply
    November 21, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    This salad is really extraordinary. I’ll save this recipe for trying soon. It catched my attention on foodgawker. greetings and a nice weekend.

  5. Reply
    November 21, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    very interesting take on a salad will have to try this soon

  6. Reply
    November 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    I knew of green papaya salad which uses a different type of papaya, not the one that then becomes orange and sweet. For this mango salad do you use a special type of mango or any mango is Ok, as long as still unripe?

  7. Reply
    November 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    that looks sooo good. i love mango. are you going to do some thanksgiving receipes? i need some inspiration.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    November 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

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    Thanks Camille! Re Thanksgiving, I have a stuffing recipe over at Serious Eats (and see my note in the comments as welll): link to And this stuffed delicata makes a kill veg Thanksgiving entree: link to

  9. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    November 26, 2009 at 9:17 am #

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    Yes, I have heard that there are other varieties which stay hard and can be used in these salads. But slightly underripe specimens of the typical varieties you find work really well too. A friend also told me that well stocked Vietnamese groceries will often have freshly shredded mango, made daily, that you can buy so all you have to do is mix up the salad.

  10. Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Yuk! Without the Nam Pla this is nothing!

  11. Reply
    April 6, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    I really like these foods . I am Japanese and I eat with Chinese friends, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Cambodians and Koreans too. I make my own special kim chee. My neighbor is good for fish sauce. My Mom’s specialty is rice dishes, shrimp, scallops, and sushi. My sister is great in Thai cooking and India dishes. I wish I could eat with you sometime! Tonight we are having some Green Tea Cookies and Red Bean Ice Cream. I wish you could have some too! Best of luck to you!!

  12. Reply
    June 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    You’ve probably been there already, but in case you’ve missed it, the green mango salad at Wrap O Roll (on Jackson immediately east of where it crosses under I-5) is my current Seattle favorite.

  13. Reply
    July 13, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    I love mango!

    The lime juice and fresh ginger also work wonders.

    Great recipe.

  14. Reply
    that guy
    August 2, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    tasty recipe.

    i didnt have any brown sugar, so i used three tablespoons of white sugar and added a tablespoon of molasses.

    mmm, mmm good.

  15. Reply
    February 24, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    craving this and making this

  16. Reply
    March 16, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago, and have enjoyed every post! I’ve got a question about this recipe: why do you soak the onions in cold water? Does it make them crisper? Take out a bit of the sharpness?


  17. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    March 16, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Yep & yep! 

  18. Reply
    September 12, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Great recipe! 🙂 Everybody likes it when I bring this dish and this year many of my friends are going to make it for the holiday feasts 🙂

    Keep on bring us great dishes!


  19. Reply
    March 7, 2019 at 5:05 pm #

    This was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! I ate the whole bowl! It ended up being my lunch. Am thinking of going to get more mangos tmrw. I will make this again. And again. Talk about flavor bomb 🙂

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