20 Most Popular Foods From Laos

The foods in Laos explode with tantalizing flavours, lively colours, and a fiery kick from fresh, aromatic herbs and chillies. 

This is an exciting cuisine that you need to try!

20 Most Popular Foods From Laos

The foods in Laos explode with tantalizing flavours, lively colours, and a fiery kick from fresh, aromatic herbs and chillies. 

This is an exciting cuisine that you need to try!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

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Laotian cuisine

Foods from Laos offer a sensory journey like no other.

Influenced by neighbouring countries and indigenous culinary traditions, Laotian foods embody a harmonious balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavours.

From the energetic markets of Vientiane to the bustling streets of Luang Prabang, a culinary journey through Laos is something to get excited about.

Staple Foods From Laos

In Laos, five staple foods play a significant role in the daily diet:

  1. Sticky Rice (Khao Niew): Often referred to as the “rice basket of Southeast Asia,” Laos is known for its sticky rice consumption. It’s a staple in almost every meal and is typically eaten with hands by rolling small portions into balls and dipping them into accompanying dishes.
  2. Fish: Given Laos’ abundant rivers and waterways, fish is a vital protein source in the Laotian diet.
  3. Vegetables and Herbs: Fresh vegetables and herbs are essential components of many foods from Laos, providing vibrant colours, flavours, and nutrients to dishes. Commonly used vegetables include cabbage, morning glory (water spinach), and bamboo shoots, while aromatic herbs like lemongrass, coriander, and fresh mint add depth and fragrance to food in Laos.
  4. Chillies: Laotian cuisine is known for its spicy kick, thanks to the liberal use of chillies. Chillies add heat and flavour, whether fresh, dried or in paste form.
  5. Dip and Sauce: Various dipping sauces and condiments are integral to Lao cuisine, enhancing the flavours of dishes and providing a balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy tastes. 

These staple foods are nutritious and universal, forming the basis of countless tasty dishes in Laotian cuisine.

20 Most Popular Foods from Laos

1) Larb/Laap (Minced Meat Salad)

larb_laap Laos

Larb, also spelled as laab or laap, is a national dish of Laos. 

Typically, larb is made with minced meat, such as chicken, beef, or pork, although fish and other proteins can also be used.

The meat is seasoned with fresh herbs, such as mint, coriander, green onions, lime juice, fish sauce, toasted rice powder, and fresh chillies.

Larb is commonly served with sticky rice, used to soak up those fresh, zingy flavours.

This is one of my favourite foods from Laos, and a similar dish can be found in northern Thailand.

2) Ping Gai (Grilled Chicken)

ping gai grilled chicken food in Laos

Ping gai is a popular grilled chicken dish in Laos. 

Before hitting the grill, the chicken is marinated in a tasty combination of fresh garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, and soy sauce. 

It’s a beloved street food and local favourite, served with sticky rice and dipping sauces. Foods in Laos don’t get much better than this when you’re on the go!

3) Paa Tod (Crispy Fish)

Paa Tod crispy fish food in Laos

Paa tod, or “fried fish,” is a traditional dish in Laos cuisine. 

Fish fillets are coated in a seasoned batter or flour mixture and deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. The seasoning may include garlic, ginger, chillies, and fish sauce.

Paa tod is often served as a main dish alongside steamed rice and vegetables or as part of a shared meal with other foods from Laos.

4) Khao Niaw (Sticky Rice)

Khao Niaw sticky rice Laos

Khao Niaw, or sticky rice, is a staple food in Laos. 

Sticky rice has a sticky texture and holds together, making it easier to eat with hands.

In Laos, Khao Niaw is typically steamed in bamboo baskets and served in small woven bamboo containers called “tubes”. 

It’s eaten alongside various dishes such as grilled meats, spicy salads, and dipping sauces.

Sticky rice is also a staple food in Myanmar. Check out these 20 popular foods in Myanmar; they may inspire you to plan a visit!

5) Jaew (Dipping Sauces)

Jaew - dipping sauces food in Laos

Jaew, also called “jeow” or “jaow,” refers to various spicy dipping sauces or pastes in Laos cuisine.

Depending on the specific recipe, chillies, garlic, shallots, and other ingredients are staples to prepare jaew.

Jaew is often used as a condiment to add heat and extra flavour to dishes such as grilled meats, vegetables, salads, and sticky rice.

There are many variations of jaew, each with its unique combination of ingredients and level of spiciness. 

These sauces are so delicious and punchy that I sometimes sit with a basket of sticky rice, a few sauces, and a plate of freshly cut vegetables, and it’s perfect!

6) Lam (Meat stew)

Lam, also spelled “laam,” is a classic dish.

It’s a type of stew or hot pot that generally features a rich broth, meat (usually pork or chicken), a variety of vegetables, and fresh herbs.

The ingredients for lam can vary depending on regional preferences and seasonal availability, but common additions include bamboo shoots, green beans, eggplant, lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. 

Lam is usually served family-style, with diners helping themselves to the stew from a communal pot. 

Like other foods in Laos, Lam is served with steamed rice and other accompaniments, such as fresh herbs and spicy dipping sauces.

7) Som Moo Ton (Sour Pork)

Som Moo Ton - Foods from Laos

Som Moo Ton, or “sour pork,” is one of the most exciting foods from Laos.

It marries thin pork slices with a marinate of garlic, shallots, chillies, fish sauce, and sometimes lime or tamarind juice. 

The pork is then left to ferment for some time, allowing the flavours to develop and the meat to become tangy and tender.

After the marinating process, the pork is typically grilled or fried until cooked, and it’s the perfect balance of sour, salty, and spicy flavours that work! 

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8) Laab Ped (Duck Blood Salad)

Laap Ped Duck Blood Salad in Laos

Duck blood salad is a dish in Laos cuisine known as “Laab Ped” or “Laap Ped.” It incorporates duck blood as one of its key ingredients.

In Laab Ped, diced or minced duck meat and sometimes offal (such as liver or heart) are typically mixed with herbs, spices, and other ingredients such as shallots, garlic, mint, coriander, lime juice, fish sauce, and toasted rice powder.

Duck blood is added to the mixture, giving it a rich and distinctive flavour.

The salad is often served with fresh vegetables, lettuce leaves, and sticky rice.

9) Tam Mak Hoong (Green Papaya Salad)

Tam Mak Hoong Laos

Tam Mak Hoong, also known as “papaya salad,” is a popular dish on our list of foods from Laos. Some would say this is a national dish of Laos.

It’s a refreshing and spicy salad made predominantly from shredded unripe papaya (green papaya) and a mix of other fresh ingredients.

The key components of Tam Mak Hoong include shredded green papaya, tomatoes, green beans, garlic, fresh chillies, lime juice, fish sauce, and sometimes peanuts or dried shrimp for added texture and flavour. 

The salad is typically bashed or mixed in a mortar and pestle, which helps to impart all the flavours to the fresh vegetables.

The resulting dish is a punchy combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavours; it’s highly addictive! 

It’s a beloved dish in Laos and Southeast Asia and one of the most popular dishes to try in Thailand, too!

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10) Lao Pho ( Noodle Soup)

Lao Pho noodle soup popular foods from Laos

Lao Pho typically refers to a type of soup or broth.

It’s typically a clear broth, often made with meat (chicken, pork, or beef), vegetables, herbs, and sometimes noodles or rice. 

The broth is typically seasoned with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and fish sauce, imparting a decadent and aromatic flavour.

Lao Pho is a comforting and nourishing dish throughout Laos, especially during cooler weather or as a light meal. 

It can be served as a standalone dish or as part of a larger meal with rice and other accompaniments. This food in Laos has similarities to Pho, the famous noodle soup in Vietnamese cuisine.

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11) Khao Jii Paté (Paté Baguette)

pate baguette Laos

Khao Jii Paté is a baguette sandwich filled with paté, herbs, spices, and sliced or pickled vegetables to add texture. 

It is especially popular in Luang Prabang, reflecting French colonial cuisine’s influence. 

It certainly has similarities to the iconic banh mi, the famous sandwich in Vietnam.

12) Khao Piak Sen (Rice Noodles)

Khao Piak Sen Laos

Khao Piak Sen is one of the more traditional foods in Laos, consisting of wide rice noodles served in a delectable broth. 

The name “Khao Piak Sen” translates to “wet rice” or “rice soup,” reflecting the dish’s main ingredients and preparation method.

To make Khao Piak Sen, wide rice noodles cook until tender and then served in a broth typically made from simmering meat (such as chicken, pork, or beef) along with aromatics like garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. 

The broth is seasoned with fish sauce, soy sauce, and sometimes lime juice or chillies to enhance the flavour. 

I like adding sliced green onions, coriander, fried garlic, and crispy pork rinds to my Khao Piak Sen; it’s a warming dish that will undoubtedly make you smile.

13) Naem Khao Tod (Crispy Rice Salad)

Naem Khao Tod Laos

Naem Khao Tod is a popular Lao dish featuring crispy rice mixed with fermented pork sausage, herbs, and spices.

Formed into balls or patties, it’s deep-fried until crispy.

Enjoy this delicious food from Laos with fresh herbs, lettuce leaves, and a sweet and zesty dipping sauce.

14) Khao poun (Rice vermicelli)

Khao Poon Laos wikipedia
Credit: Wikipedia

Khao Poun, also spelled as “Khao Poon,” is a cherished dish in Laos cuisine, distinguished by its rich broth. 

The dish typically features rice vermicelli noodles immersed in a fragrant and spicy broth made from coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, and various aromatic herbs and spices. 

Khao Poun often includes tender slices of meat such as chicken, pork, fish and vegetables such as bok choy, bamboo shoots, or bean sprouts.

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15) Sai Ua (Lao Sausages)

Sai Ua Laos

Sai Ua is a sausage made primarily from ground pork mixed with various herbs and seasonings. 

Sai Ua consists of fragrant ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, garlic, shallots, and chillies. 

These ingredients are finely minced and mixed with the ground pork, then stuffed into casings, such as intestines or bamboo, and grilled or fried until cooked and slightly charred outside. 

16) Khao Soi (Noodle Soup)

Khao Soi Laos
Khao Soi – Popular Foods from Laos

Khao Soi in Laos is a dish distinct from the similarly named Thai Khao Soi. 

In Laos, Khao Soi is a noodle soup featuring wide rice noodles in a delicious broth. 

The broth is typically made with lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and various aromatic herbs and spices.

In addition to the broth and noodles, Khao Soi in Laos often includes ingredients like sliced meat (such as chicken, pork, or beef), tofu, or mushrooms, adding protein and texture to the dish.

It’s then garnished with fresh herbs, such as coriander and green onions, and sometimes topped with crispy fried noodles or shallots for added crunch.

One of the main differences between this dish in Laos and Thailand is that coconut milk is a key ingredient in the Thai version.

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17) Soop Pak (Laotian Salad)

Soop Pak salad Laos

Though Soop Pak recipes vary, they all share a common thread: sour herbs, vegetables, and a generous portion of sesame seeds. 

Some versions feature string beans or spinach, while others incorporate local ingredients like cashew tree leaves. 

This popular dish is found at Lao food stalls, family restaurants, and bustling street food markets.

18) Khao Niao Sangkhaya (Pandan Custard Cake)

Khao Niao Sangkhaya food in Laos

This delightful dessert in Laos combines the fragrant flavours of pandan with the creamy richness of custard.

It’s typically served atop a base of sticky rice. It’s a beloved treat enjoyed in Laos and throughout Southeast Asia.

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19) Mok Pa (Fish in a banana leaf)

Mok Pa Laos

“Mok pa” is fish steamed or cooked in banana leaves.

The dish typically features freshwater fish, such as tilapia or catfish, mixed with aromatic herbs and spices, including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, shallots, and galangal.

Mok pa is often served as a main course alongside sticky rice and fresh vegetables. This is one of my favourite foods from Laos, and I can’t wait to return here to enjoy this delicious dish.

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20) Sien Savanh (Beef Jerky)

Sien Savanh or beef jerky Laos

Sien Savanh is one of the popular snack foods from Laos that translates to “Laotian beef jerky” in English. 

To make Sien Savanh, thin beef strips are marinated in a mixture of seasonings such as soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, sugar, and sometimes spices like coriander or black pepper. The marinated beef is typically dried or smoked to preserve and intensify its flavour.

The result is tasty and chewy beef jerky that can be enjoyed as a snack or paired with sticky rice, fresh vegetables, or dipping sauces.

We’ve reached the end of our list of the most popular foods in Laos. Did we include your favourite dish? What foods from Laos would you add to our list?

Do you plan to travel more in Southeast Asia? This is an excellent region for independent travel.

If you prefer to travel with like-minded travellers, we recommend joining one of these small-group tours with GAdventures.

After travelling in Laos, we recommend visiting Thailand, one of our favourite countries worldwide.

Our list of 26 helpful tips for travel in Thailand will help you on arrival. Some of our favourite places include Kata Beach, on the island of Phuket (here are ten awesome things to do in Kata Beach).

Our other favourite place in Thailand is Chiang Mai. Find out more about where to stay in Chiang Mai; our accommodation guide includes what neighbourhoods will suit individual needs. 

And our Complete Food Guide to Chiang Mai is unmissable! 

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Vietnam is another exciting (and delicious) country to explore! Here are 20 Best Hanoi Restaurants, hand-picked by us, that are worth stopping by to enjoy excellent food.

If you’re keen on an epic adventure, don’t miss the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam – here is everything you need to know.

Travel Tips for Asia

We have many travel guides and tips for Asia— a fascinating continent!

Delicious cuisine can be enjoyed across Asia, and our food map of Asia will inspire your food journey.

These top 5 best street foods in Asia are unmissable! We explain Central Asian food, including seven popular foods in this region.

Our Southeast Asia packing list will be helpful if you’re travelling here.

Furthermore, if you plan to travel long-term (or at least until the money runs out), these 21 cheapest countries to visit will help you make your hard-earned dollars stretch a bit further.

Not surprisingly, our top 10 best countries for food lovers include a few Asian countries.

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If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Asia.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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