Cold Soba Noodle Salad
This cold soba noodle salad recipe with sesame dressing is very easy to make and can be served hot or cold for a light and delicious main dish or side.
This noodle salad is amazing for a light but satisfying meal that can be enjoyed hot or cold. It’s made with soba noodles, which are nutritious, easy to cook and have a delicious soft texture that’s perfect for absorbing the lightly sweet and nutty sesame garlic sauce.
This recipe can be kept simple, made with just 8 ingredients, or work as a versatile base for additions like tofu, stir fried or fresh veggies.
Bonus: You can have these noodles on this table in less than 15 minutes!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Quick and easy! This recipe takes under 15 minutes to make with 8 simple ingredients.
- This recipe is vegetarian, vegan, nut-free and can be made gluten-free.
- Packed with flavour thanks to bold ingredients like sesame, garlic and miso.
- Can be enjoyed as warm noodles or as a simple cold sesame noodle salad. Both are delicious!
- Soba noodles store well so are great for meal prep (and even better the next day!).
- Great option for sharing at picnics, BBQs and summer gatherings.
- Delicious homemade version of the popular cold sesame noodle salad you’d find in a deli.
- You can add tofu, stir fried veggies, fresh veggies, edamame or another protein for a more substantial meal.
What are soba noodles?
Soba noodles are a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat, though they sometimes have whole wheat added to them. They have a nutty, earth flavour and soft texture when cooked.
They cook very quickly in just a few minutes and may be served chilled, hot or in soups.
Ingredients & Substitutions
A complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the printable recipe card below. This section covers ingredient and substitution considerations.
- Soba Noodles: Soba noodles (soba buckwheat noodles/buckwheat noodles) vary from brand to brand, so you may have to experiment a little until you find the one you like. I love the Hakubaku brand soba noodles but there are plenty of other good ones.
- Sesame Oil: This is what makes these “sesame soba noodles” so don’t substitute it for a different oil. Toasted sesame oil is best for flavouring the sauce but if you can’t find it, you can use regular sesame oil.
- Tamari or Soy Sauce: For gluten-free, use tamari, other wise regular or low-sodium soy sauce works. You could also use coconut aminos for a soy-free recipe.
- Maple Syrup: Lightly sweetens and balances the sauce. Agave syrup would also work here.
- Miso Paste: Use white or yellow miso paste. Dark miso paste is also ok if that’s all you have, it will just have a slightly stronger flavour.
- Rice Vinegar: You can use seasoned or unseasoned rice vinegar.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best here.
- Green Onions: Also called scallions or spring onion. You’ll need about one standard-sized bunch you’d get at the store.
- Toppings: Optional toppings include sesame seeds and thinly sliced nori.
How to Make Soba Noodle Salad
Step 1: Mix up the sesame sauce.
Start bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stovetop. While you’re waiting, mix up the sesame garlic sauce in any bowl or container until smooth and fully combined.
It may take a minute or two to fully incorporate the oil into the other ingredients, so just keep whisking until it does! Before you mix it with the noodles, give it another quick stir.
Quick Tip: Make sure you measure the sauce ingredients accurately for the perfect balance of flavours.
Step 2: Cook the soba noodles.
Once the pot of water is fully boiling, add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes or according to the package instructions.
Once they’re cooked, drain and rinse well under cold water to remove excess starch and prevent clumping.
Soba Noodle Cooking Tips
- Cook soba noodles in unsalted water (unlike regular pasta).
- Use a large pot. Soba noodles need room to cook so don’t crowd the pot. Give them a stir once you add them to the water.
- Soba noodles cook very quickly in just 3-5 minutes, so watch closely and be careful not to overcook them.
- Rinse in cold water. Rinse the cooked noodles well under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch, which prevents them from sticking. Toss them around to ensure all the noodles get rinsed off.
Step 3: Stir fry the green onions.
When the noodles and sauce are ready, heat 2 tsp oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the green onions and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
Quick Tip: If you’re adding other veggies such as carrot, cabbage, bell pepper or bok choy, add those now as well.
Step 4: Mix everything.
- For cold sesame noodle salad: Add the noodles, sauce and stir fried green onions to a mixing bowl and toss to coat. You can also just mix in the pan then chill in the fridge if you won’t be serving right away.
- For hot noodles: Add the noodles and sauce to the green onions in the pan, toss to coat and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through.
The noodles are delicious served right away but are actually even better after sitting so the flavours really have time to meld together!
Serve your noodles hot or cold, topped with toasted sesame seeds, nori and the remaining green onions.
Quick Tip: For the most flavourful, nutty sesame seeds for garnish, purchase toasted sesame seeds or toast your own for 2-3 minutes in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat until lightly browned.
There are so many different ways you can go with this dish. From a light and simple cold salad to a stir fry with tofu, there are so many options for customizing!
- Cold Salad with Veggies: For a cold salad with more fresh veggies, try grated carrot, shredded cabbage and thinly sliced bell pepper. Simply mix everything up in a large bowl or serve with the fresh veggies on top.
- Soba Noodle Stir Fry: To add stir fried vegetables to this recipe, follow the stir fry portion of this teriyaki chickpea recipe, then add the noodles and sauce once the veggies are ready.
- For Spicy Soba Noodles: Add 1 tsp red chili flakes, chili garlic pasta, chili pasta or sriracha to the sauce.
- For Creamy Sesame Noodles: Add 1-2 tbsp tahini or peanut butter to the sauce.
- Adding Protein: Mix in edamame or another protein of choice or serve with this baked tofu or pan-fried tofu on top.
- Alternative Sauces: You could also mix the cooked soba noodles with this spicy miso sauce, peanut sauce or teriyaki sauce.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat so many varieties are gluten-free, though some also contain wheat flour, so make sure you look for gluten-free soba noodles.
As for the soba noodle recipe, the only thing to change to make it gluten-free is to use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
Yes. You can use coconut aminos instead of tamari or soy sauce.
No. Of course it won’t be a soba noodle salad but other noodles that work well in this recipe are rice noodles, Chinese lo mein noodles or any wheat noodle like spaghetti or linguini.
Making Ahead & Storing
- This recipe can be made in advance and stores well in the fridge for 4 days in a sealed container.
- The sauce can be made a day or two ahead to save time.
- They can be reheated in the microwave or skillet or enjoyed cold.
Did you try this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.
Soba Noodle Salad
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
These incredible soba noodles with sesame sauce can be served hot from the pan or as a light and refreshing cold soba noodle salad.
- 8 ounces soba noodles (226 g)
- 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (44 mL)
- 3 tbsp sesame oil (45 g)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (20 g)
- 1 tbsp light miso paste (23 g)
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (15 mL)
- 3 clove garlic, grated
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, diagonally
- toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- toasted nori, thinly sliced, for garnish, optional
- Make the Sesame Sauce: Start boiling a large pot of water for the noodles then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup, miso, vinegar and garlic until smooth and combined. Set aside.
- Cook the Soba Noodles: Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions or once the water is fully boiling, cook noodles for about 3-4 mins, until just tender. When the noodles are done, using a strainer, rinse well under cool running water, tossing them to remove excess starch.
- Cook Green Onions: In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add most of the green onions, reserving some for topping. Cook for 1 min, stirring often, until tender.
- For Cold Soba Noodle Salad: Add the sauce and noodles to the pan with the green onions or add the green onions, sauce and noodles to a large mixing bowl and toss to coat the noodles in the sauce.
- For Hot Sesame Noodles: Add the sauce and noodles to the pan with the green onions, toss and cook for 1-2 minutes to heat through.
- Serve: Divide noodles between bowls. Top with toasted sesame seeds, remaining green onions, and nori, if using. Can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled.
Optional Toppings: Stir fried veggies, baked tofu. If serving with stir-fried veggies and/or tofu, make sure those are prepared and cooked before you start the noodles, as it all happens very fast!
For the most flavourful, nutty sesame seeds for garnish, buy toasted sesame seeds or toast your own for 2-3 minutes in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat until lightly browned.
- Serving Size: 1/3 of recipe
- Calories: 429
- Fat: 14 g
- Carbohydrates: 67 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 13 g
Keywords: soba noodle salad, sesame soba noodles
This was so easy & tasty! I added 2 tbsp natural peanut butter to the sauce. Tossed shelled edamame in with the noodles, and topped with some leftover marinated tempeh. Can’t wait to eat it for lunch tomorrow!
We are addicted to this haha. Sometimes I make it in the pan like the recipe or I’ll just add the sauce to the noodles in the pot and mix it all up. The sauce is so good! Thanks for the recipe.