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These spicy sesame garlic noodles are packed with flavor, quicker than takeout, and better for you, too. They’re perfect as-is, or add veggies and tofu, shrimp, chicken, or beef if you like.

spicy sesame garlic noodles in a bowl with chopsticks
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Why we love this recipe

For quick dinners involving a pound of pasta, I sort of idiotically gravitate toward Italian flavors about 95% percent of the time. No offense to Italian flavors — they’re wonderful, obviously. BUT. How about shaking it up a little once in a while, right?

These spicy sesame garlic noodles are:

  • Easy to make with Chinese egg noodles, ramen noodles, or spaghetti (plus a genius tip)
  • Flexible — serve as-is or add veggies and protein to your heart’s content
  • Dirt cheap and made from ingredients that are easy to keep on hand
  • Truly quicker than takeout

I first published this recipe here in 2016. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and tweaked the recipe just slightly, but in essence it remains the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • For the noodles, you’ve got options. Chinese egg noodles (any thickness you like) have a great spring to them and a bit of chew. That’s also true of ramen noodles (you can use fancy ones or even instant ramen — just omit the seasoning packet). And as discussed below, you can bestow these characteristics on regular spaghetti with an easy trick, too. The choice is yours.
  • Seasoned rice vinegar has a little bit of sugar and salt added to it. You can swap in unseasoned rice vinegar and add two teaspoons of sugar, honey, or another sweetener to the dressing if that’s what you’ve got.
  • I always use, and recommend, a good natural crunchy peanut butter without added oils or sweeteners. It tastes so much better and has a cleaner nutritional profile. That said, this dish is meant to be flexible, so use whatever kind you have.
  • Hot chili toasted sesame oil (sometimes just called hot sesame oil) is a rockstar ingredient. It packs tons of sesame flavor and the perfect level of nuanced spiciness. You can swap in regular toasted sesame oil to reduce the spice.
  • Sriracha adds another layer of flavor and plenty of spiciness. The amount I’ve suggested in the recipe gives the dish a mild heat — you can easily customize it to your tastes.

My favorite sources for meat & pantry staples

For years, I’ve been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.

I love Thrive Market for a wide variety of products. Often described as one part Whole Foods, one part Costco, they’re a membership-based online market for healthier products at discounted prices. Plus, they’re mission-driven, engaged in the community, and not currently owned by a giant corporation. You can learn more in my Thrive Market review and unboxing.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a fabulous batch of spicy sesame garlic noodles. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Right in the serving bowl, mix up the dressing. Start by letting the shallot, garlic, and ginger chill out for five minutes in the vinegar. This helps mellow their bite.
  2. Then whisk in the rest of the ingredients for the sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package directions. If using spaghetti, you can add two tablespoons of baking soda to the water when it boils, and cook for two minutes more than indicated for al dente. This turns the pasta yellower and gives it more chew and spring — but is totally optional. In a small, dry pan, toast the sesame seeds over low heat.
  4. Add the cooked noodles to the bowl and mix well to coat with sauce. Stir in the sesame seeds and scallions. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Can you substitute spaghetti for ramen noodles?

You guys! You can use the same technique that creates the chewy exterior on bagels and pretzels to transform spaghetti into a springier noodle that mimics ramen or Chinese egg noodles.

Simply add two tablespoons of baking soda to your gallon or so of salted water right after it boils, before you add the pasta. Add two minutes to the cooking time indicated on the package for al dente.

Apparently this method has long been used by Japanese expats living all over the world. Thanks to Yuto. I came across his blog Sudachi Recipes in my research, and that’s where I learned this tip.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Spicy sesame garlic noodles will be at their sauciest right after cooking. After that, the noodles will absorb more of the sauce. That said, you can absolutely make them in advance at serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. They’re great either way.

Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

More favorite takeout-inspired noodle recipes

Into fast and fresh takes on takeout? You might also like:

spicy sesame garlic noodles in a bowl with chopsticks

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spicy sesame garlic noodles in a bowl with chopsticks
4.87 from 15 votes

Spicy Sesame Garlic Noodles

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
These spicy sesame garlic noodles are packed with flavor, quicker than takeout, and better for you, too. They're perfect as-is, or topped with cooked tofu, shrimp, chicken, or beef. You could also include some broccoli, sliced red bell peppers, and/or snow peas, or any other vegetables you like.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients 

  • 1 pound (454 grams) spaghetti, Chinese egg noodles, or ramen noodles
  • 2 tablespoons (36 grams) baking soda, optional (see note 1)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup (66 grams) crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot chili toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) sriracha
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) sesame seeds
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package instructions. (See note 1.)
  • Meanwhile, place the minced shallot, garlic and ginger into a large mixing bowl (big enough to accommodate a pound of noodles) and stir in the rice vinegar. Let sit for five minutes. Then whisk in peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha until perfectly smooth. Whisk in the water.
  • In a small pan, toast the sesame seeds over low heat, stirring a few times, until fragrant and lightly browned.
  • As soon as you drain the noodles, add them to the bowl with the sauce and toss to coat well. Stir in scallions and sesame seeds.
  • Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Notes

  1. If cooking with spaghetti, you can use the same technique that creates the chewy exterior on bagels and pretzels to transform spaghetti into a springier noodle that mimics ramen or Chinese egg noodles. Simply add two tablespoons of baking soda to your gallon or so of salted water right after it boils, before you add the pasta. Add two minutes to the cooking time indicated on the package for al dente. This step is completely optional — spaghetti works just fine in this recipe as-is, but it's fun to have options.
  2. Seasoned rice vinegar has a little bit of sugar and salt added to it. You can swap in unseasoned rice vinegar and add two teaspoons of sugar, honey, or another sweetener to the dressing if that's what you've got.
  3. Hot chili toasted sesame oil (sometimes just called hot sesame oil) is a rockstar ingredient. It packs tons of sesame flavor and the perfect level of nuanced spiciness. You can swap in regular toasted sesame oil to reduce the spice.
  4. Sriracha adds another layer of flavor and plenty of spiciness. The amount I've suggested in the recipe gives the dish a mild heat — you can easily customize it to your tastes.
  5. Spicy sesame garlic noodles will be at their sauciest right after cooking. After that, the noodles will absorb more of the sauce. That said, you can absolutely make them in advance at serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. They're great either way. 
  6. Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

Nutrition

Calories: 413kcal, Carbohydrates: 61.8g, Protein: 13.5g, Fat: 12.5g, Fiber: 3.6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Pasta + Noodles
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.87 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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