Asian Noodle Salad is one of those recipes that’s so satisfying that I could eat it over and over again and never get sick of it. It’s something about the flavor combinations of the dressing, the crispness of the fresh vegetables and filling feeling from the rice noodles that hits just right.
Although I could eat this salad simply by sneaking bites every time I go into the fridge, it’s best served as a side dish. Pair it with any bbq style meal as an alternative to traditional pasta salad and everyone will be gobbling it up.
Let me warn you now that this recipe is so good that you might not need a whole meal to go with it. Top off your cold Asian Noodle Salad with some hot grilled chicken, steak or shrimp and you’ve got yourself a fantastic one dish dinner.
However you decide to eat it, this pasta salad will not disappoint. It’s refreshing and bursting with flavor. Not to mention, the pasta and veggie combo is SO satisfying.
About the Ingredients
Noodles – Thin rice noodles are my go-to for this salad. A Taste of Thai has really good rice noodles and quick 3 minute cooking time.
Vegetables – a carrot, cucumber and red bell pepper, all julienned. Julienned is cut into thin short strips like matchsticks. It can be a little tedious to do this but it’s worth it. Alternatively, lots of markets now sell veggies that are already julienned and prepackaged.
Dressing – soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, minced garlic, ginger powder
Garnish – scallions or chives and sesame seeds.
How to Make Asian Noodle Salad
Cook the Noodles
Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. This could either mean boiling them for 3-4 minutes or soaking them for 20 minutes. At dinner time this is a no brainer for me… the quicker the better. I boil.
Mix up the Sesame Soy Dressing
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Be sure they’re combined well because the oil has a tendency to separate itself. You may find it easiest to put the ingredients in a shaker container or mason jar and just shake ’em up.
Toss and Marinate
Combine the cooked noodles, vegetables and dressing in a serving bowl. Make sure to coat everything in the dressing then cover the dish and marinate the salad in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Garnish and Serve
Just before serving your Asian Noodle Salad, toast some sesame seeds. This might sound fancy but it’s very simple. Place the seeds in the smallest frying pan you have (I actually use a little egg pan like this one) and place it over medium heat. Here’s the key – don’t take your eyes off the pan! The seeds will toast very quickly. In under 60 seconds you will have perfectly toasted sesame seeds.
Top the salad with your toasted seeds and some chopped scallions or chives and serve cold.
Variations for Asian Noodle Salad
The two main-stays for this cold Asian Noodle Salad are the noodles and the dressing. After that, you can adjust this recipe with any sort of mix-ins or toppings that you like. Here are some different ideas to keep this salad feeling fresh:
- Change up the veggies – The julienned vegetables are all about texture in this salad. Try subbing in anything with a little crunch like a broccoli or cabbage slaw. Keep in mind that the noodles and dressing are a pretty drab color when mixed up so try to pick veggies that add a pop of bright color.
- Make it a meal – Top the salad with a lean grilled protein to make it a one dish dinner or lunch.
- Add extra crunch – The dressing for this Asian Noodle Salad recipe calls for toasted sesame oil which adds a slightly nutty flavor but you can also add some actual nuts to boost it up. Try chopped peanuts or cashews for a little extra crunch.
FAQ’s and Recipe Tips
You can definitely use regular pasta if that’s what you have. The rice noodles are a little lighter and tend to soak up the dressing better than regular pasta.
The key is salty / sweet / nutty – soy sauce, honey (or you can use granular or brown sugar) and sesame or peanut oil.
The Recipe for Asian Noodle Salad
The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing. If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought and if you made any substitutions. I’m always in search of the perfect veggie combination. Enjoy!
Asian Noodle Salad
For the salad
- 8 oz thin rice noodles
- 1/4 english cucumber
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 red bell pepper
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp ground ginger
For the garnish
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp chopped chives or scallions
- Cook 8 oz thin rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While noodles cook, julienne 1/4 english cucumber, 1 carrot, and 1/2 red bell pepper. Small matchstick shape is perfect.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients (1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp minced garlic, and 1 tsp ground ginger).
- Combine the noodles, vegetables and dressing in a serving bowl. Toss well to coat. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Just before serving, toast 1 tbsp sesame seeds. Place the seeds in a small fry pan over medium heat and cook until they just begin to darken. Remove from heat a sprinkle on salad. Garnish with 1 tbsp chopped chives and serve.