Rice Noodle Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
Cool, refreshing Asian noodle salad is just what you need on a steamy summer day; serve with shrimp, scallops or crispy chicken.

Updated: Jun. 29, 2024

I live in the country, but I’m spending the summer in a city. One of my first moves was to research restaurants that offer cool, refreshing rice and noodle bowls and mark the best of them on my “places-to-eat” map. When the temps are high, veggie-packed bowl recipes are pitch-perfect food. And when they’re mixed with greens like an Asian noodle salad, that’s even better.

My favorite thing about bowls is that they’re so easy to replicate at home when you don’t feel like going out. You can serve this salad any time you want a quick and healthy meal, when the sun is blazing or when you want to use up fresh veggies from the fridge. It’s fun as a party food or when served at a potluck. This cold Asian noodle salad doesn’t include any protein, but we offer options for add-ons below.

Asian Noodle Salad Ingredients

  • Rice noodles: The recipe calls for thin rice noodles, which are flat, but you can also use rice vermicelli (which are round) or wider rice noodles if you prefer them. In all cases, plan to cook the noodles according to the package directions.
  • Veggies: Spinach and carrot bring nutrients and color to the cold Asian noodle salad. Baby spinach is a great choice for this recipe, as it will be eaten raw. You can peel the carrots, or not, depending on your preference. Here’s how to store carrots so the rest of your batch stays fresh.
  • Pineapple: Use canned pineapple tidbits, cut up a fresh pineapple or leave out the pineapple if it’s not your thing!
  • Cilantro: Cilantro is an herb that’s important in many Asian cuisines. It has a verdant, refreshing flavor, although about 20% of people have a genetic variant that makes cilantro taste like soap! If you’re making this dish for a party, you might want to mince the cilantro and leave it on the side.
  • Green onion: Green onions and scallions are both perfectly suited to this dish. They bring zingy flavor and bright color to the mix. Red onion or shallot are easy substitutes.
  • Peanuts: In this recipe, peanuts are used in the dressing and as a garnish. For a smoother texture, use peanut butter in the dressing instead of adding whole peanuts to the blender.
  • Lime juice: Using fresh lime juice is key for this recipe, as it has a brighter flavor than store bought juice. Here’s some help with juicing limes.
  • Soy sauce: This recipe uses soy sauce as its only salty component, so taste the dressing and add more if you feel the recipe would benefit. You can also swap in tamari if you want the salad to be gluten-free.
  • Brown sugar: A hint of brown sugar (refined sugar laced with molasses) beautifully balances the flavors of the dressing, but it can be left out if you’re cutting back on sugar.
  • Oils: Using neutral canola oil paired with nutty sesame oil keeps the sesame flavor from becoming overpowering. You could use a different neutral oil in place of canola, such as grapeseed or avocado.
  • Ginger: Dried ginger is called for, but if you have access to fresh gingerroot and can grate it on a microplane grater, it adds a delicious punch to the dressing. Here are a bunch of fun recipes for using up fresh ginger.
  • Red pepper flakes: The red pepper flakes add heat, and you can add extra if you like it spicy. I like to use gochugaru flakes, but any that you prefer will work well.

Directions

Step 1: Cook noodles and prepare salad

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, combine the spinach, carrot, pineapple, cilantro and green onion in a large salad bowl.

Step 2: Make the dressing and drain noodles

In a blender, combine the peanuts, water, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, canola oil, sesame oil, ground ginger and red pepper flakes. Cover and process until blended.

The noodles should be done cooking around this time. Once they’re done, drain the noodles, and rinse well in cold water. Drain again.

Step 3: Mix up the salad

Add the drained noodles to the bowl with the vegetables. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. If desired, garnish with peanuts and additional lime juice.

Recipe Variations

  • Switch up the noodles: Rice noodles make a delicious salad, but so do many other kinds of noodles. Buckwheat soba have a lovely taste and texture when they’re cold, and are a go-to summer noodle for me. Packaged or fresh ramen noodles can also be used. Don’t have Asian noodles? Try using whole wheat noodles!
  • Tweak the dressing ingredients: Fish sauce lovers, like me, will want to add the funky liquid to the dressing, or swap it in for the soy. For a creamier sauce, try using peanut butter instead of peanuts, or go with tahini if you want to amp up the sesame flavor.
  • Swap herbs and veggies: I don’t know about you, but I need chunks or strips of cucumber in this recipe. You can also include red, yellow or orange bell pepper, red onion and red or green cabbage. Thai or purple basil and mint add a lot of flavor and are also pretty garnishes.
  • Make it meaty (or fishy): Roasted chicken, grilled steak, plump shrimp or seared scallops add protein and flavor to this salad, making it a meal. If you have time, marinating the meat or seafood beforehand is a nice boost.

How to Store Asian Noodle Salad

Store cold noodle salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. However, it’s ideal to eat this salad in a day or two, as rice noodles change in texture during longer storage.

Can you make rice noodle salad ahead of time?

You can make the noodles and dressing for this salad a day or two in advance. You’ll get the best results from cooking and cooling the rice noodles, lightly coating them in oil and storing them separately from the dressing. If you have time, chop and add the vegetables and herbs on the day you’ll eat the salad.

Asian Noodle Salad Tips

How do you cook rice noodles?

Some rice noodles are merely soaked in hot water, and some are cooked on the stove in boiling water. For best results, follow the instructions on the package of rice noodles that you’re using.

What can you serve with Asian noodle salad?

Since the flavors in this salad lean toward Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, I like to serve it other dishes from those countries, or the ones nearby. Try it with Thai fried chicken, coconut curry shrimp, beef strips or gingered honey salmon.

Rice Noodle Salad

Prep Time 25 min
Yield 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8.8 ounces) thin rice noodles
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, cut into strips
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • SESAME PEANUT DRESSING:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Optional: Salted peanuts and additional lime juice

Directions

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, carrot, pineapple, cilantro and green onion.
  2. In a blender, combine the next 9 ingredients; cover and process until blended. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water; drain well. Add to spinach mixture. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. If desired, sprinkle with salted peanuts and additional lime juice.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 149 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 238mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 1g fiber), 2g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1 fat.

This rice noodle salad is easy, sweet, spicy, nutty and light. Many friends request this for get-togethers, and our family enjoys it at least once a month for dinner. —Krista Frank, Rhododendron, Oregon
Recipe Creator