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Larb vs Nam Sod – What’s the difference?

Are you wondering what the difference is between larb and nam sod? In this post, we compare the ingredients, the preparation, and other comparisons between these two authentic Southeast Asian dishes.

If you have ever tasted larb or nam sod, you are the lucky few who have tried either of these flavorful zesty dish with sticky rice or lettuce leaves, you’ll know how much the lime in both dishes adds a tangy punch.

Both of these dishes are said to have originated from Northern Laos, and have also been adopted and modified slightly in Thailand. While both dishes are characterized by being minced meat salads, they do have some differences between both dishes that make each stand out on their own.

larb vs nam sod comparison

Main Differences Between Larb and Nam Sod

Larb is made using the main ingredients of beef, chicken, or pork that is mixed in with toasted rice powder, lime, and fresh herbs whereas nam sod excludes the toasted rice powder adds a mixture of minced garlic, ginger, carrots, and topped with roasted peanuts on a bed of lettuce.

Similarities Between Larb and Nam Sod

Both larb and nam sod are minced meat salads that have meat as the foundation of the dish. They both make heavy use of fresh herbs like culantro, mint, and spearmint along with a big dose of lime juice. Both dishes are served with sticky rice and a heaping of fresh vegetables and herbs. 

What is Larb?

authentic larb gai recipe

Larb is a minced meat salad that is a warm, earthy blend of fragrant herbs along with the textures of toasted rice powder. It’s generally made with chicken, pork, or beef. However, there are a multitude of variations of larb, which includes using sour pork sausage called larb som moo and a beef steak version called larb nam tok. 

Larb is a very popular dish export from Laos which was then modified to include additional ingredients once the dish made it’s way into Thailand. 

Larb is normally served with fresh sticky rice and crunchy vegetables like Thai eggplant, cucumbers and culantro herbs. 

If you want to learn more about larb in general, check out: What is larb?

What is Nam Sod?


Nam Sod is a minced meat salad that generally is made of pork and includes ginger, carrots, garlic, and fresh herbs like basil, mint, and cilantro which is then topped with roasted peanuts and served on a bed of salad. It’s a popular salad that is known as Thai Pork Salad that is then consumed along with sticky rice and other fresh, leafy herbs and vegetables.

Comparison of Larb vs Nam Sod from a Native Lao

I think that Larb has a lot of delicious flavors due to the use of toasted rice powder, which is basically roasted sticky rice that has been then ground. It just provides a lot of texture that is much needed and balances the use of lime and meat. Nam Sod is a more upscale version of larb because it doesn’t use the burnt rice and adds in additional flavors of ginger, garlic, and carrots. Often, cooks will add in various vegetables for Nam Sod like red onions to kick the flavors up a notch. In addition, Nam Sod has 

I prefer larb because it’s simple and delicious because of the textures that are used.

Recipes for Larb

If you are looking for some recipes for Larb, below are some of the recipes I’ve shared on this blog:

Frequently Asked Questions About Larb vs Nam Sod

What are other variations of larb?

Larb can be made using ground pork, ground beef, and medium cooked steak with juices. Some larb recipes include using chicken skin and others omit the chicken skin all together. 

What else can larb and nam sod be served with?

Larb and nam sod is often served with sticky rice, cucumbers, Thai egg plant, and also accompanies jaew dipping sauces jeow bong and jeow het.

Summary About Larb vs Nam Sod

I hope this helps you understand the very slight differences between both of these flavorful minced meat salad. Nam sod obviously has the most ingredients between both dishes, but larb makes the use of an ingredient that provides another layer of texture and flavor. Both dishes are absolutely delightful. However, if I had to choose one over the other, larb will always win in my book.

Other Southeast Asian Food Comparisons You Might Like

If you loved learning about the difference between these two dishes from Laos, you also might like these comparisons of other Southeast Asian dishes and cuisines.


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