Asian noodle salad with spicy peanut dressing is a colorful and healthful lunch that works great for meal prep. This cold noodle salad is also perfect for a picnic!
Can I just tell you guys how much I love this Asian noodle salad recipe? It’s one of my very favorite weekday lunches ever, and it also travels really beautifully to the beach or on a picnic (I’ve done both!).
And since this cold noodle salad recipe was originally published in 2013, so many of you have shared my love for it! It’s one of the most popular recipes on this blog.
I think we all love it because it’s a little something different than the typical green salad. As much as I love fresh greens with miso salad dressing, I need to change it up every once in awhile.
Even though there aren’t salad greens, this Asian pasta salad is absolutely PACKED with vegetables. It’s an easy way to eat a ton of veggies without it feeling like a chore. All of the colors make it a feast for the eyes, too.
This Asian noodle salad can be served in a bowl or in jars:
Toss this cold noodle salad together and serve it up right away in a big, beautiful serving bowl, or pack it into a tupperware container for your picnic tomorrow.
Or, you can build the noodle salad in layers, in mason jars, to “meal prep” for your lunches throughout the week.
Just like with a mason jar taco salad, the dressing goes in the bottom of this Asian pasta salad.
Then, the noodles go in. That means the noodles basically marinate in the dressing as the jars sit in your fridge, making them super flavorful when you finally un-cap that jar and dump it into a bowl.
The veggies sit on top of the noodles, staying crisp since they’re not covered in dressing.
To keep the rice noodle garnish crispy, simply put the rice noodles in a small ziploc bag, and either squeeze that bag into the jar above the veggies, or pack it separately.
Since this post was originally published I’ve received LOTS of questions about it, and I’m happy to answer them. I’m providing an “Asian Noodle Salad Recipe FAQ” below:
How long does this cold noodle salad last?
This Asian noodle salad recipe stays fresh up to five days in the fridge. I highly recommend sprinkling the rice noodles on JUST before you eat.
What kind of noodles do I use for this Asian pasta salad?
My absolute favorite kind of noodles to use for this Asian noodle salad recipe is Ka-me brand Soba Stir-Fry Noodles. I love their flavor and texture. They have a bit of a chew to them and don’t get too mushy, even after being tossed with dressing for a few days.
The noodles I use for this Asian noodle salad recipe are pictured in the photo above, which I hope will make it easier for you to find them in the Asian section of your grocery store.
The Ka-me noodles are packaged and sold fully cooked, and need just a few minutes in the microwave to loosen them up before tossing with the rest of the salad ingredients.
If your store doesn’t carry these noodles, you can use dried soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti for this cold noodle salad. I recommend 8 ounces of dried noodles, prepared according to package instructions.
Why use peanut butter for this Asian noodle sauce? Can I substitute something else?
I frequently use peanut butter as an emulsifier in salad dressings. The flavor works especially well in Asian-style salads. The peanut butter allows the oil and vinegar in this Asian noodle sauce to come together into one harmonious substance.
Tahini (sesame seed paste) is another good option in place of the peanut butter for these Asian noodles. Extra tahini can be used to make a tahini dressing for a green salad.
What is sambal oelek? Can I use sriracha instead?
Sambal oelek is an Asian chile paste made with raw red chiles, vinegar and salt. You may have seen it before as the spice in my spicy coconut risotto.
It’s found in the Asian food aisle of most grocery stores, right near the sriracha. If you can’t find sambal oelek, you can use the same amount of sriracha to make the dressing in this Asian noodle salad recipe.
Can I make the dressing for these Asian noodles more mild?
If you’d like a dressing without any spiciness at all, you can simply leave the sambal oelek out of this Asian noodle sauce. However, if you do this, the dressing might be a touch on the too sweet side from the peanut butter.
So if you are leaving out the sambal oelek, I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger to the cold noodle salad dressing to balance out the peanut butter flavor a little bit in this Asian pasta salad.
Can I add protein to these Asian noodles?
Sure! I recommend adding roasted or grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp, or cubed tofu if you’d like to add more protein to this salad.
I can’t find edamame at my supermarket. What else can I use?
Snow peas or sugar snap peas are a great substitute for edamame in these Asian noodles. If you like eating these types of peas raw, you’re welcome to add them raw to this Asian pasta salad.
Or, you could quickly cook (blanch) them to make them a bit more tender. To do that, I recommend following this how to blanch and freeze sugar snap peas tutorial, steps 1 – 4 (you just won’t be freezing them!).
Cut snow peas or sugar snap pea pods in half crosswise before adding to the salad, for easier eating.
Where do I find crunchy rice noodles?
You’ll also (hopefully) find these in the Asian aisle of your supermarket. I used La Choy brand crunchy rice noodles for this Asian noodle salad recipe.
You can also look for chow mein noodles, which are a little thicker, but just as crunchy and delicious.
Alternatively, you can top this cold noodle salad with chopped up peanuts for crunch, and skip the crunchy noodles altogether.
Is Asian noodle salad vegan?
As long as you ensure that whatever brand of soba noodles and crunchy rice noodles you buy are vegan, this cold Asian noodle salad recipe is vegan!
At the time of this writing, to my knowledge, the Ka-Me noodles and La Choy crunchy noodles I’ve recommended above for these Asian noodles are vegan.
- 1 package (14.2 ounces) soba stir-fry noodles (see Home Chef Tip)
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons sambal oelek or sriracha
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup crunchy rice noodles
- Prepare noodles and edamame according to package instructions. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
- In large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, sambal oelek, soy sauce and vinegar. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil until all oil is incorporated. Stir in sesame seeds.
- Add onions, bell pepper, carrots, noodles and edamame to bowl with dressing; toss until well combined.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days. Just before serving, sprinkle salad with crunchy rice noodles.
Home Chef Tip: I use Ka-me brand soba stir-fry noodles, which are sold fully cooked, and need just a few minutes in the microwave to loosen up before tossing with the rest of the salad ingredients.
If your store doesn't carry these noodles, you can use dried soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti. I recommend 8 ounces of dried noodles, prepared according to package instructions.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 476Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 843mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 10g