This Thai-inspired beef larb is the perfect healthy weeknight meal. The ground beef is loaded with fresh herbs and savory flavors and is delicious piled into cabbage or lettuce cups with rice.
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What is Beef Larb?
Larb is a popular meat salad served in Laos and Thailand. Like any dish, it varies widely by region but is always made with some sort of minced or ground protein. Larb can be made with ground beef, chicken, pork, duck, turkey and even fish.
It’s widely flavored with lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, mint, and scallions. The meat, herbs, and sauce are generally stir fried together then served with cabbage, lettuce or an assortment of vegetables and sticky rice.
This recipe is my take on the classic dish Laab Neua (beef larb). To make this recipe weeknight-friendly I made a few ingredient changes while being mindful not to deviate too far from the traditional dish.
There are a few ingredients in this dish that simply can’t be compromised, and fish sauce is one of those. It’s a must, and if you want to make other delicious recipes like Coconut Salmon Curry or my Pho-Inspired Soup, you’ll need fish sauce. It can easily be found in most grocery stores next to the Asian sauces.
For a more authentic Larb, try sprinkling some toasted rice powder over top (we’ve got a recipe for it in our Thai Steak Salad).
How to Make Beef Larb
- Toast the peanuts and onion flakes in a skillet. These two ingredients are not traditional, but are a flavorful substitute to the commonly used toasted rice powder.
- In the now-empty skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink, but not browned. Larb is made by gently cooking the beef, not “frying” or “browning” it.
- While the beef cooks, rinse the sliced shallot under cold water. I found raw, uncooked shallot was too potent in the dish if not rinsed. If you’re curious and adventurous, you could quick-pickle the shallot in some lime juice instead of rinsing it.
- Add the shallot, scallions (aka green onions or spring onions) lime juice, fish sauce, serrano, lemongrass, and honey to the beef mixture and stir to combine.
- Stir in half of the herbs and transfer to a serving dish. Top with additional herbs, toasted peanuts, and flaky sea salt.
FAQs & Test Kitchen Tips
Larb is often served lettuce-wrap style with large cabbage or lettuce leaves on the side along with white rice, fresh vegetables, and toasted peanuts for topping.
Larb is most often served warm—and that’s how I recommend serving it. When served warm, the flavors and fat of the dish meld beautifully together. Once chilled, the natural fat from the ground beef firms up and becomes less desirable.
I find this beef larb recipe keeps well for up to 2 days. Any longer and the herbs lose their flavor and oomph. To reheat, add the meat mixture to a medium skillet and gently reheat over medium.
Herby Beef Larb Recipe with Lemongrass
- ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes optional
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- Kosher salt
- 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 limes juiced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 –2 serranos thinly sliced*
- ½ stalk lemongrass tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
- ½ cup torn mint leaves
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- Flaky sea salt optional
- 1 head green cabbage leaves separated
- Cooked jasmine rice
- In a large skillet over medium heat, toast peanuts until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion flakes, if using, and toast until brown, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out skillet.
- Heat now-empty skillet over medium, add beef and cook, breaking meat apart with back of wooden spoon or spatula, until meat is no longer pink, but not browned, about 5 minutes; season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
- Meanwhile, add shallots to a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water; drain well.
- Remove skillet from heat and stir in shallots, scallions, ¼ cup lime juice, fish sauce, serrano(s), lemongrass, and honey. Season with salt to taste and let cool 5 minutes.
- Stir in half of the cilantro and half of the mint. Transfer to a serving dish and top with remaining herbs, flaky salt and a handful of reserved toasted peanut and onion flakes. Serve with green cabbage leaves, cooked long-grain rice and remaining toasted peanut mixture.
This sponsored post is in partnership with the Iowa Beef Council. As always the thoughts, opinions, recipe, photos and content are all my own.
The mint and cilantro were a WONDERFUL combo with this beef recipe…