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This is an Asian Noodle Salad where all the hype is not about the noodles but the spicy creamy peanut dressing I make with it. It’s a simple salad that you can make ahead of time. Actually, I recommend that you make it ahead of time! Basically it’s noodles drenched in said dressing and tossed with crunchy colorful vegetables. This is the type of salad you can really have as a full meal for lunch or dinner. Best part is that it’s gluten-free since it’s made with rice noodles, and it’s totally vegan!
Healthy Noodle Salad Recipe
This gluten-free vegan Asian Noodle Salad with the Asian-inspired dressing is such a delicious meal that’s full of color, flavor and nutrition. I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t enjoy eating the salad when I make it. And I love that it’s versatile so you can use any noodles you’d like, any vegetables you’d like and even throw on some protein of your choice to make it an even more filling meal.
- Noodles: I like to use rice noodles for this salad, but you can also use egg noodles if you prefer.
- Vegetables: Carrots and red peppers. These add a great crunch texture and a nice burst of flavor. Cut them julienne (long thin strips) so that they mix in well with the noodles.
- To serve: I finish of the salad with fresh cilantro for flavor, peanuts for crunch and a lime wedge for a burst of zingy flavor.
For the Peanut dressing
- Tamari sauce: Use tamari sauce to make this noodle salad gluten-free, or use soy sauce.
- Rice vinegar: Rice vinegar has a mild acidity and is often used in Asian cuisine. You can sub it for apple cider vinegar.
- Peanut butter: Use smooth rather than crunchy and it’s best not to use natural as teh oil can separate.
- Oil: You can use olive oil or sesame oil in this dressing. This helps to balance out the acidity of the vinegar.
- Sriracha: This spicy chili sauce adds a nice bit of spice. You can adjust the amount to suit your tastes.
- Sugar: Sugar is optional, but I find it helps to balance out the other flavors. Cane sugar is a great option as it is less processed, but granulated sugar will work well too.
- Ginger and garlic: Musts in any Asian dressing!
How to Make Asian Noodle Salad
There are three steps to the salad: 1) prepare the vegetables, 2) prepare the noodles 3) prepare the dressing. Each step will take you about 5 minutes. So it all comes together pretty effortlessly and quickly. For the vegetables, I use red peppers and carrots. Sometimes I’ll even add red cabbage, sugar snap peas or broccoli. I recommend cutting them julienne style if you can or spiralizing whatever vegetables you can because it creates a great presentation that way!
For the noodles, you can really use any noodles you’d like, including soba noodles, buckwheat noodles or even spaghetti and linguine. I usually go to the Asian section of the grocery store and look for stir fry noodles. Most of them are rice based and the only ingredients are rice flour and water. That’s the kind I picked for this Asian noodle salad. That’s because it’s gluten-free so it makes the meal feel lighter. Also, its texture absorbs the dressing really well without make it mushy.
The cool thing about these rice noodles is you can place them in a pot of large bowl, soak them in boiling water and just let them sit without any heat for a few minutes until the texture gets soft. The boiling water alone cooks them. I recommend stirring frequently though to make sure the noodles don’t get stuck together.
After a few minutes, they will look like this and they’re ready to be tossed:
How to Make Asian Salad Dressing
To make the dressing, it’s common ingredients you’d find in Asian stir-fries, but the vinegar plays an important role in giving it a tangy taste to make the dressing. I also use peanut butter to make it thicker and give it a creamy nutty taste. The other ingredients are soy sauce, sriracha, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and sugar (optional). You can whisk everything together. But I prefer using a tiny blender to crush the garlic and ginger and get all their flavors incorporated.
You may want to double up on that dressing because you can use it as a marinade for chicken, fish or beef later in the week, or make more Asian Noodle Salad!
When all three parts of the recipe are prepped, it’s time to toss everything together.
You may find that the amount of sauce it too much for the noodles. Or you might be like me and find it just perfect because each noodle will literally be drenched in the creamy peanut dressing. And that, to me, is a beautiful thing!
I love how each ingredient in the dressing plays an important role in rounding out the flavor and giving it an irresistible taste. I mean really, if nothing else, just make the dressing, you guys!
Then, just give it a good toss and taste it. You can make it more salty by adding more soy sauce, more nutty by scooping in more peanut butter, or more spicy by bumping up that sriracha.
Tips for Making Asian Noodle Salad
- Don’t rinse the rice noodles, or any other noodles you use, with cold water after they cook. That’s because the warm pasta will better absorb the dressing much better than cold rinsed pasta will. Actually this is a great tip for any pasta salad you make!
- Allow the salad time to settle for best flavor. The cool thing about the noodles we’re using is that they don’t get soggy but continue to absorb the flavor of the dressing and taste better after settling. That makes this salad perfect for lunches, picnics or potlucks. No need to take dressing with you!
- Add moisture back into the salad after 3-4 days by saving some of the dressing for later. Or you can whisk together rice vinegar and soy sauce to add moisture back into the salad if it gets dry.
Frequently asked questions
You can make the dressing a day in advance or up to 30 days in advance actually, and have it ready to go in the fridge. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge. And because I used rice noodles, they actually hold their structure well for a few days even after tossed in the dressing.
The salad itself isn’t spicy, the heat in this dish comes from the dressing. If you would prefer a mild dish, you can omit or decrease the amount of sriracha used. To make it spicier add more sriracha or some chopped red chilis.
There’s a good helping of fresh veggies in this salad and one serving is around 330 calories so it’s great for a lunch or dinner. This is a vegan dish so it is low in saturated fat and it’s also gluten-free.
This delicious Asian noodle salad is so bright and vibrant, and let me tell you, this peanut sauce is simply heavenly! Full of texture and flavor, I just know you are going to love this!
more salad recipes
- Asian Chicken Salad
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Shrimp Avocado Salad
- Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Vegetarian Cobb Salad Jars
- Asian Lettuce Wraps
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Asian Noodle Salad recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
I created this blog post first on May 11, 2017. I am updating it today to include improved new step-by-step images and a video tutorial!
Asian Noodle Salad
- 7 ounces rice noodles
- 1 cup carrots julienned or spiralized
- ½ cup red peppers julienned
- Fresh cilantro for serving
- Roasted peanuts for serving
- Lime wedges for serving
- Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Most brands of rice noodles only require the rice noodles be placed in boiling water for 5 minutes and stirred a couple times. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.
- While the rice noodles cook, pour the Tamari sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, olive oil, Sriracha sauce, cane sugar, ginger and garlic into a small blender or food processor to make the dressing.
- Transfer the cooked noodles to a large bowl. Then add the spiralized carrots, red peppers and cilantro to the cooked noodles.
- Pour the dressing over the rice noodles and vegetables, and toss to combine.
- Serve with roasted peanuts, chopped green onions, fresh cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.