Cold Asian Noodle Salad
This vegan cold Asian noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce tastes amazing and is easy to make in under 30 minutes with simple ingredients.
You will love the flavour of this delicious cold noodle salad! It’s vibrant, nutritious and delicious and always quick to disappear. Fresh, crunchy veggies are paired with noodles and a zesty, creamy and addictive peanut sauce for the perfect combo.
Enjoy this dish any time for a light main or flavourful side dish. It’s perfect during the warmer months when you don’t feel like cooking and makes a great option for meal prep too.
- Dietary Features: Vegan, can be gluten-free, can be nut-free.
- Quick: You’ll need about 30 minutes to get this on the table so it’s a great option for weeknights.
- Customizable: Easy to customize with whatever veggies you have on hand.
- Serve Hot or Cold: It’s delicious served cold but can also be heated up.
- Works well as a main dish or side salad.
- Feeds a Crowd: Travels well and can be served at room temperature or cold, making it a great option for picnics, BBQs or any gathering.
- Great option for a meatless meal the whole family will enjoy.
This list is not complete. Please see the recipe card at the end of the post for the complete ingredient list with measurements and detailed instructions.
- Vegetables: The recipe calls for carrot, scallion, bell pepper and cabbage but if you’re missing one, that’s ok!
- Cilantro: If you’re not a fan, you can leave this out or try another herb like Thai basil.
- Noodles: You can use regular or whole-wheat spaghetti or linguini noodles, soba noodles or brown rice or buckwheat noodles for a gluten-free option.
- Ginger & Garlic: These are used in the sauce. If you don’t have fresh ginger and garlic on hand, you can use garlic powder and ground ginger in a pinch.
- Maple Syrup: Can be substituted with agave syrup or coconut sugar.
- Peanut Butter: Can be substituted with almond butter or for a nut-free dressing, you can use sunflower seed butter.
- Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce or for a gluten-free, be sure to use tamari or coconut aminos.
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 it’s mushy. Consider adding 1-2 tsp sesame oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
Step 2. Prepare the veggies.
While the pasta is cooking, you can start chopping up the vegetables and herbs:
- 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
Add all the chopped veggies to a large mixing or serving bowl.
Quick Tip: Want to save time? Use a few handfuls of coleslaw mix, broccoli slaw or pre-chopped veggies instead of the cabbage and carrot.
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 to adjust the consistency, if needed.
Finally, mix everything up and serve right away with toppings like sesame seeds, lime, sriracha and chopped peanuts or cashews.
Notes & 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, broccoli, 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 up to 1 tbsp sriracha or chili garlic paste to the sauce.
No. You can use almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower seed butter.
This recipe is not suitable for freezing but will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Fridge: Store in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
- It will dry out a bit after storing as the noodles absorb some of the moisture but it will still taste great. If you like, you can toss it with 2-3 tbsp vegetable broth to add some moisture back in.
More Recipes to Try
If you’re loving this noodle salad recipe, you might like these too:
- Thai Chopped Salad: A popular salad with brown rice, peanut sauce and tofu.
- Coconut Cauliflower Rice Bowl: A delicious vegan bowl featuring coconut cauliflower rice.
- Thai Basil Fried Rice: Flavourful and easy to make fried rice that’s packed with fresh basil.
- Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu: Reader-favourite vegan panang curry with vegetables and tofu.
- Cold Soba Noodle Salad: Another delicious cold noodle salad with addictive sesame sauce.
- Ramen Noodle Salad: The best crunchy ramen salad.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
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.
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)
- 2–4 tbsp water to adjust consistency
- peanuts or cashews
- a squeeze of lime juice
- fresh chopped cilantro or Thai basil
- Bring a pot of water to a boil stovetop. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, chop all the vegetables and add to a large mixing or salad bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the pasta to the bowl with the chopped veggies.
- Top with the sauce and mix well.
- Serve right away topped with optional peanuts or cashews, sriracha and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
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.