Vegan Chickpea Based Laotian Larb Salad Recipe

When I had a bunch of lemongrass that I wanted to use up after thinning it out from my garden, my mind went immediately to Thai and Laotian food. Larb is a chopped meat salad from that region, generally made with pork, however there are many other ways to make larb. I made non vegan larb and it was wonderful, but I had my friend Jacob, who is vegan, coming to me for the same meal where I planned on serving the meat based larb, and I wanted to have a vegan alternative for it. 

I knew that larb was flexible, being able to be made from a variety of different protein sources, from chicken to beef to pork to turkey, but also could be made vegan. I searched and found recipes for larb made with tofu, mushrooms, seitan, and tempe, but I didn't want to make it with that. My vegan guest loves chickpeas, so I decided to experiment to see how it would come out with chickpeas.

Suffice it so say the experiment was a roaring success. I was so excited when I tasted it and saw how wonderful it was, because I knew it would be a great addition to the meal. My guest not only loved the dish but requested the recipe so that he could make it himself at home. This dish is not just for vegans to enjoy- it is a great low cost dish, gluten free, allergy friendly, and good for a variety of different diets. 

This recipe is based on a bunch of different larb recipes I've seen from around. They all have different ingredients but with the same general idea. Salty, spicy, sweet, sour, umami, and aromatic. Some recipes have mint, some lemongrass. They generally have shallots and fish sauce and lime juice, but to keep down the cost, make it vegan, and use what I had on hand, I used onion and garlic in place of the shallots, gluten free soy sauce in place of the fish sauce, and lemon juice in place of the lime juice. The end result is a dish whose flavor is very full-bodied and almost meaty, in a good way, my guest said. Feel free to add some mint to your dish, I just ran out by the time I made this dish.

This dish is generally served on a bed of lettuce or on rice. I made mine on rice since my lettuce turned out really bitter.

Vegan Chickpea Based Laotian Larb Recipes


1 tablespoon short grain/sticky rice
2 tablespoons mildly flavored oil, divided (I used sunflower but any will do)
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon grass
1 tablespoon sugar or alternative sweetener of choice, to taste
2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch hot pepper flakes, or to taste
2 scallions
1 small bunch cilantro


1. To make this recipe you first need to have ground toasted sticky rice, which gives this dish its signature slight crunch. To do that, you need to cook your rice in a dry pan or wok, on a medium/low heat mixing constantly, until it has a slight toasted smell, almost like popcorn, and has a light golden color. You then grind this in a blender, spice grinder, or in a mortar and pestle. Put aside.

2. Dice your onion and garlic very fine. 

3. Saute in 1 tablespoon oil until lightly golden. Set aside.

4. Pulse your chickpeas in a food processor until you have some small and some larger crumbles.

5. Add soy sauce, sweetener, lemongrass, lemon juice, and hot pepper flakes to your chickpeas. Cook for a few minutes in an oiled pan, mixing frequently.

6. Add onion and garlic mixture, ground toasted rice, chopped cilantro, and chopped scallions to the pan and cook for a few more minutes.

7. Serve at room temperature on a bed of rice or lettuce.


Have you ever had larb before? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Hi Penny,
    I love lemongrass but it's really difficult to get around here - unless I go to an Asian market which is far- Your recipe looks delicious. Thanks

    1. This is telling me that it is easy to root lemongrass from the grocery store- it is something that can grow most places and can even grow indoors...

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