This vegan cold Asian noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce tastes amazing and is easy to make in under 30 minutes with simple ingredients.

A bowl of noodles topped with green onions, peanuts and cilantro with a set of chopsticks sitting on the bowl.

Why Make this Recipe

  • quick – if you’re a kitchen whiz, you’ll need about 20 minutes to whip up this recipe, for the rest of us, expect to have it on the table in under 30 minutes making it great for busy weeknights
  • customizable – work with what you have on hand or switch things up by trying other veggies like jalapeno or cucumber
  • serve hot or cold – works well served cold but can also be heated up, if you prefer

Ingredient Notes

Labelled ingredients for an Asian noodle salad.
  • veggies – the veggies are customizable but I used cilantro, carrot, scallions, bell pepper and cabbage
  • pasta – I suggest regular or whole-wheat spaghetti but soba noodles also work well
  • sauce – you’ll need lime, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup and peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1. Cook the pasta.

Bring a pot of large water to a boil stovetop with a generous pinch of salt. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Once it’s done, drain and quickly run it under cold water then add it back into the pot.

Expert Tip: Since we’ll be serving this cold, you want to cook it just a touch past the recommended time rather than al dente. It should be fully cooked but not so overcooked its mushy.

Cooked spaghetti noodles in a pot.

Step 2. Prepare the veggies.

  • grate the carrot
  • finely slice or grate the cabbage – if using red or green cabbage, grate or use a mandolin, napa cabbage can be finely chopped
  • roughly chop the cilantro and scallions
  • thinly slice the bell pepper
Chopped scallions, cabbage, carrot and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.

Step 3. Make the sauce.

The sauce needs to be blended. I like to use an immersion blender or single-serve blender up for this but any blending device works.

Pop everything into your blender, starting with 2 tbsp of water, process until smooth and creamy then add a little more water and blend again if needed.

Creamy peanut sauce in a glass jar with a spoon.

Finally, mix everything up and serve right away with toppings like sesame seeds, lime, sriracha and chopped peanuts or cashews.

A peanut noodle salad with chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

FAQs and Tips

  • If you’re missing any of the veggies, no problem. Use what you have on hand and don’t worry about exact amounts. Other suitable veggies include any color of bell pepper, jalapeno and cucumber.
  • To add protein to this recipe, add baked tofu, tempeh or edamame.
  • To make the recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free noodles such as buckwheat noodles and make sure you use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
  • To make the recipe low-carb, use zucchini noodles.
  • To make it spicier, add sriracha to the sauce or use it as a topping.

How should I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Leftovers will dry out a little but they’ll still taste good!

Do I have to use peanut butter?

Nope. Feel free to substitute the peanut butter with almond butter, or for a nut-free option, sunflower seed butter.

Chopsticks in a bowl of noodles mixed with vegetables.

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A peanut noodle salad with chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Asian
  • Diet: Vegan

The best thing about this Asian noodle salad is it can be ready in under 30 minutes, yet it feels like something that took much longer. Preparing the vegetables and sauce while the noodles cook saves time, making it a perfect meal for busy weeknights.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Asian Noodle Salad

  • 10 ounces (283 g) regular or whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (130 g, approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 large carrots, grated (150 g, approx. 1 heaping cup)
  • 1 cup lightly packed green onions, finely chopped (40 g)
  • 1 cup, lightly packed cilantro, finely chopped (40 g)
  • 2 cups finely chopped or grated cabbage (300 g, use red, green or napa cabbage or a mixture)

For the Peanut Sauce

  • 1 tbsp minced ginger (10 g, omit if you don’t like ginger)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tbsp, 15 g)
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1.5 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2.5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or up to 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (optional, for spicy peanut sauce)
  • 24 tbsp water to adjust consistency

Topping Suggestions

  • peanuts or cashews
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • fresh chopped cilantro or Thai basil
  • sriracha

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil stovetop. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, chop all the vegetables and add to a large mixing or salad bowl.
  3. To make the dressing, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Start with 2 tbsp of water and increase up to 5 tbsp to adjust the consistency. It should be fairly thick and creamy but still pourable.
  4. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and rinse under cold water then add back to the pot with 3 tbsp of water and mix to coat.
  5. Add the pasta to the bowl with the chopped veggies.
  6. Top with the sauce and mix well.
  7. Serve right away topped with optional peanuts or cashews, sriracha and a squeeze of lime juice.
  8. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

This can easily be adjusted to make 2-4 servings. Simple make as much pasta as you want, use a bit less veggies, top with desired amount of sauce then store any extra in the fridge for dipping tofu in, using on another salad or stirfry or in a wrap.

I suggest cooking pasta to well rather than al dente to prevent the noodles from drying out after cooking. They should be fully cooked but not so overdone that they’re mushy. I let them cook about 30 seconds longer than the suggested time on the box.

Keywords: asian noodle salad, peanut noodle salad, easy asian noodle salad

UPDATE NOTE: This recipe was originally published on September 5, 2013. It was updated on April 7, 2020 with new photos and text.