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Gado Gado Salad

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Gado Gado is the premier salad of Indonesia. There is no better way to expand your culinary taste buds than exploring cuisines from around the world and this Indonesian salad is a feast for the senses. A combination of fresh and cooked vegetables served with a delicious Peanut Sauce Dressing.

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The original recipe came from one of my favourite food magazines back in the day; Bon Appetit, Food&Wine or Gourmet…I don’t know which one. The recipe made its’ way into my collection of ethnic specialties but it isn’t an everyday salad. You can simplify it by using less ingredients but making the complete salad is definitely worth the effort. And if you are lucky there will be enough leftovers to make a nice lunch.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients in my Gado Gado. Many of the ingredients may already be in your fridge. Cooking the eggs and potatoes a day or two in advance also decreases the number of steps when you actually prepare this salad.

Kecap Manis for Gado Gado

This is a North American adaptation and that usually means the ingredients are readily available. So let me clarify readily available. Of course the vegetable are all naturally gluten free and available. The only ingredient with gluten would be kecap manis in the dressing.

Kecap manis is a sweet Indonesian soy sauce commonly made with wheat. Although someone on Instagram shared a picture of a gluten free version of kecap manis made from sorghum, I have not been able to find a gluten free bottle at a store or on Amazon.

Many years ago I learned to make kecap manis because it was a specialty ingredient that wasn’t readily available. You can read that post and see the recipe here. For me it is an Asian pantry staple you just need to make. It isn’t difficult; it is just a necessary step.

Once you have kecap manis in your pantry you can also make chicken satay and Sweet Chili Root Beer Baby Back Ribs.

Skewers of Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce -photo credit Jim Little

Gado Gado Your Way 

Gado Gado literally means mix mix. As with any salad the ingredients are just a guide so mix it up any way you like. Vary the ingredients, cooked or raw, cut the vegetables in the size you prefer and use any amounts.

This salad can be served layered salad or tossed, right at your table in Indonesia. For entertaining I love this presentation of a composed salad. The colourful ingredients can be beautifully presented on a large tray showcasing each of the individual components. This makes it ideal for the centerpiece of an Indonesian feast but consider taking it to a Pot Luck as well. It is still a salad!

A Travel Tale – Bali

From time to time I write a guest post for my friend Sue over at Travel Tales of Life. This is one I wrote about our trip to Bali.

Indonesian Chicken Satay Recipe – Bali


8 oz red potatoes
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 carrots, julienned
4 oz green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup jicama sticks
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup firm tofu cut in cubes
12 cherry tomatoes
2 hard cooked eggs, sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp GF kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
GARNISH - Indonesian shrimp chips


Put potatoes in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Cool and peel the skins off. Slice to desired thickness.
In another saucepan steam or boil vegetables one at a time using the same water. As they are cooked remove them with the steamer handle or a slotted spoon. Rinse each vegetable under cold water to stop the cooking process then place on a towel to dry. Add more water as needed.
Cauliflower – 8-10 minutes
Carrots – 6-8 minutes
Green beans – 5-7 minutes
Cabbage – 3-5 minutes
Once vegetables are cooked and cooled arrange all salad ingredients on a platter or layer in a large glass bowl. Refrigerate if not serving within one hour. Allow vegetables to come to room temperature before serving.
Sprinkle with chopped green onion and shrimp chips. Serve Peanut Sauce Dressing on the side.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.


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