15-Minute Vegan Chili Garlic Noodles

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Perfect for busy weeknights, these vegan chili garlic noodles can be made in just 15 minutes and are loaded with flavor: savory, nutty, garlicky, and spicy!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
5 from 78 votes

If you’ve ever struggled with getting food on the table on busy weeknights, these vegan noodles with chili garlic sauce are guaranteed to become a staple in your household. 

In this post, you’ll learn my formula for how to make Asian-inspired vegan noodles in less time than it takes to order takeout.

And these bad boys aren’t just fast; they’re flavorful, too. Spicy, garlicky, tangy and with a mix of chewy, saucy, and crunchy textures, be warned: this recipe is addictive. 

The best part? The chili garlic oil/sauce makes a double batch, which means the next time make these noodles, it takes even less time and effort.

vegan noodles with chili garlic sauce and bell peppers in navy blue bowl on brown backdrop, with bowl of scallions

What you’ll need to make this recipe

These vegan noodles fuse Chinese cooking techniques and ingredients with Japanese udon noodles in the most inauthentic-but-crazy-delicious way. Better yet, a medley of veggies, herbs, nuts and plant-based protein keeps everything pretty wholesome, too. 

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Noodles: my first choice for this recipe is fresh (or frozen) udon noodles. They have the perfect bouncy, chewy texture and cook in just two minutes. 
  • For the sauce: you’ll need soy sauce or tamari, maple syrup or agave, and Chinese black vinegar. Chinese black vinegar is a less commonly known ingredient, so I’ve shared more detail about what it adds below as well as potential substitutions if you can’t get it.
  • For the garlic chili oil: we’re using a neutral flavored oil like grapeseed or avocado oil, Sichuan chile flakes or standard crushed red pepper flakes, white sesame seeds, garlic, and peanuts.
  • For the veggies: my preference is to use red or orange bell pepper (never green – gross!), cilantro, and scallions.
  • For protein: I rely on pre-shelled edamame, which can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores. It’s super high in protein and of course works well with the East Asian flavors in this recipe.

Common Substitutions

One of the reasons I love this recipe is that it’s so customizable. Here are a few common substitutions you can try:

  • Can’t find fresh or frozen udon noodles? I adore fresh udon noodles because they’re chubby, chewy, and slurpy. If you can’t find them, use shelf-stable udon noodles or ramen noodles. The dish will still be very tasty, it will just have a different texture. Just don’t use a thin noodle variety like rice vermicelli.  
  • No Chinese black vinegar? You can use rice vinegar in a pinch, but the dish won’t have the same complexity or depth of flavor. I really recommend Chinese black vinegar for this recipe; you can find more in the Tips section below.
  • Allergic to peanuts? Cashews also work very well here.
  • Other veggies you can add. You can use finely shredded red cabbage or Napa cabbage, shredded carrots, or chopped snap peas/snow peas. If you have extra time, you can add steamed broccoli or sautéed bok choy. 
  • Swap out the protein. If you don’t like edamame but still want to keep things quick, use store-bought pre-cooked tofu. You can also cook tofu yourself, though of course the recipe will no longer be 15-minute friendly.

How to make Vegan Chili Garlic Noodles

Gather your ingredients!

ingredients for vegan noodles with ingredients labeled

Prep the vegetables and herbs: slice the bell peppers and scallions, and chop the cilantro.

red and orange bell pepper slices on cutting board with sliced scallions and cilantro

Mince the garlic, chop the peanuts, and add them to a bowl along with the chile flakes and sesame seeds.

glass bowl with chopped peanuts, minced garlic, chile flakes, and sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a small saucepan for several minutes until it reaches 350ºF/175ºC. Pour the hot oil over the garlic-peanut mixture. It should sizzle.

woman pouring hot oil from small saucepan into jar of peanuts, garlic, and sesame seeds

After a minute, stir the soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, and maple syrup/agave into the chili-garlic oil.

garlic chili oil in a bowl with spoon

Pour the garlic chili oil/sauce over your cooked udon noodles and toss to coat.

Add the sliced bell pepper and scallions, chopped cilantro, and edamame. Toss to coat well.

Tips and Substitutes

Multitask for maximum efficiency

If you want to maximize time and make this in 15 minutes, you have to multitask.

While the water for the noodles is boiling, chop your garlic and peanuts for the chili oil. And when the oil is heating up on the stove, grab your vegetables and herbs. While the chili oil sauce is resting and the noodles are cooking, slice your vegetables and herbs. You get the point!

Also, fresh or frozen udon noodles cook very quickly—about 2 minutes. If you’re using a different noodle, it might add to the cook time by a few minutes.

Don’t sleep on Chinese Black Vinegar

Chinese black vinegar is one of the most unique and delicious pantry ingredients and really makes this dish shine. Unlike a standard Western vinegar, it’s fermented and has a complex flavor profile: umami-rich, earthy, sour, and a little sweet.

The most common variety sold in the states is Chinkiang black vinegar (affiliate link) from Southern China, which is made from fermented sticky rice (you might also find it sold as Zhenjiang). Bonus: it’s very affordable (at an Asian grocery store like HMart, it costs about $4), and will stay good in your pantry for a very, very long time.

If you want to read more about Chinese black vinegar, check out these posts from The Woks of Life and Bon Appetit.

Adjust the spice level to your taste

Since these are garlic chili noodles, they need some heat. That said, I don’t think this recipe is very spicy.

If you want the noodles to be very spicy, add more chile flakes. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, use half the amount.

I love using Sichuan chile flakes for this recipe, as it’s a Chinese inspired recipe and the flavor is wonderful (toasty and nutty), but this recipe also works great with standard red pepper flakes.

Make sure the oil is adequately heated

This is not a traditional chili oil where the aromatics are cooked in oil on the stove. Instead, it’s a quick and streamlined version where you pour hot oil over the aromatics and allow the hot oil to cook them that way. So, it’s important the oil is hot enough.

I use a thermometer like this to ensure the oil is at 350ºF. If you don’t have one, allow your oil to heat for 3 to 5 minutes (the smaller the saucepan, the less time it needs). Then, add a piece of minced garlic to the oil. If it sizzles immediately, the oil should be hot enough.

vegan noodles with chili garlic sauce and bell peppers in navy blue bowl on brown backdrop, with bowl of scallions and bowl of sesame seeds

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find fresh or frozen udon noodles? How do you cook them?

You can find fresh or frozen udon noodles at East Asian grocery stores in the refrigerated or freezer section. They typically come in packets or bundles as shown below.

Add them to a pot of boiling water like this and use a chopstick to loosen them from their bundle. They typically only take 2 minutes to cook. Then drain and rinse under cool water (you can use them hot in other dishes, but this is a cold/room temperature noodle salad).

two blocks of udon noodles

What about Chinese black vinegar and Sichuan chile flakes?

You can find Chinese black vinegar and Sichuan chile flakes at East Asian grocery stores, or order black vinegar and Sichuan chile flakes online (affiliate links).

I can’t get black vinegar. What can I use instead?

You can use rice vinegar with good results, but the dish won’t have the same complexity or depth of flavor.

What other ways can I use Chinese black vinegar?

Use it in other noodle dishes or in stir-fries (start slowly, as it’s quite strong in flavor), and usually add it towards the end. It’s also commonly used with equal parts soy sauce as a dipping sauce for dumplings. I also love it in a Chinese smashed cucumber salad, like this one from Lisa of Healthy Nibbles.

When cooking Chinese dishes, you can also use a small amount of black vinegar enhance the flavors in a dish or to balance a dish that’s too spicy, too sweet or too bitter.

When I poured the hot oil over my garlic-peanut mixture, it didn’t sizzle. What do I do?

That means the oil wasn’t hot enough. Don’t worry, you can fix this. Just transfer the entire mixture—oil and aromatics—to a small frying pan over medium-ish heat. Cook the aromatics in the oil until the garlic just starts to turn golden, then take off the heat.

vegan noodles with chili garlic sauce and bell peppers in navy blue bowl on brown backdrop, with bowl of sesame seeds

More Asian-Inspired Recipes

Watch! How to Make Vegan Noodles

The 15-Minute Noodles I can't live without
The 15-Minute Noodles I can't live without

That’s all I’ve got for these quick and easy vegan chili garlic noodles! If you love this recipe, be sure to rate and review it below :) And if you snap a pic, tag me with your remakes on Instagram!

15-Minute Vegan Chili Garlic Noodles

5 from 78 votes
Perfect for busy weeknights, these vegan chili garlic noodles can be made in just 15 minutes and are loaded with flavor: savory, nutty, garlicky, and spicy!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: East Asian
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 2 to 3 people

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces (285g) fresh or frozen udon noodles*
  • 1 small or medium red/yellow/orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup (12g) fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced on a bias
  • 6 ounces (170g) frozen edamame, defrosted
  • teaspoon sea salt

Garlic Chili Oil

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) neutral-flavored oil (such as grapeseed oil, avocado oil, canola oil)
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan chile flakes or red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or crushed with a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup (70g) dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (unsalted or salted, either is fine)

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Chinese black vinegar**
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar

Instructions

  • Cook the udon noodles. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt generously (2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt) and add the bundles of udon noodles. Cook for 1 minute, then use a chopstick or tongs to loosen and separate the noodles. Cook for another 1 minute, for a total of 2 minutes until chewy but tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Shake the colander well to drain (you can leave the noodles to continue draining if you have other ingredients to prep). Transfer noodles to a large bowl.
  • While the water is boiling, mince the garlic, chop the peanuts and cilantro, slice the bell peppers, and scallions. In a bowl, toss the edamame with the sea salt.
  • Make the Garlic Chili Oil. Add the chile flakes, sesame seeds, garlic, and peanuts to a small-medium bowl. Heat the oil in your smallest saucepan over medium heat until hot and shimmering, 3 to 5 minutes (depending on your saucepan size and material), or until it registers 350ºF/175ºC. Pour the hot oil over the garlic-peanut mixture (it should sizzle). Stir and let sit for 1 minute. Stir the soy sauce, vinegar, and maple syrup or agave into the garlic-chili oil.
    NOTE: If you don’t have a thermometer, add a piece of garlic and if it sizzles immediately, it should be ready
  • Pour only HALF of the chili oil-soy sauce mixture over the noodles; reserve the rest for another recipe (it stays good in the fridge for at least 5 days). Add the bell peppers, edamame, cilantro and scallions, and toss really well (the dressing pools at the bottom). Serve at room temperature, or chill in the fridge if desired.

Notes

*You can find fresh or frozen udon noodles at East Asian grocery stores in the refrigerated or freezer section. They typically come in packets or bundles. If you don’t have access to them, use shelf-stable udon noodles or ramen noodles. 
**You can find Chinese black vinegar at East Asian grocery stores, or order black vinegar online (affiliate link). You can sub rice vinegar with good results but it won’t have the same complex depth of flavor. 

Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 738mg | Potassium: 802mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 4312IU | Vitamin C: 56mg | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 3mg

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114 comments on 15-Minute Vegan Chili Garlic Noodles

  1. molly

    5 stars
    this was so nice! love when a recipe that says it will take 15 minutes actually does. couldn’t get ahold of black vinegar or sichuan flakes and thought we had cilantro at home but didn’t, and it still tasted lovely, think it will be even better refrigerated for leftovers! can’t wait to make again with proper ingredients

  2. Rod

    5 stars
    This is excellent! Have made this recipe several times now and won’t change a thing. The entire family loves it.

  3. Jamie

    5 stars
    These noodles are so good! Thank you, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Jamie!

  4. Neha

    5 stars
    Going to make this recipe soon quick question regarding the edamame beans . Do you just defrost them or do you need to cook them beforehand ? Looking forward to making this dish ! Neha

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Neha, we can’t wait for you to try the recipe! The beans need only be defrosted, as they are cooked before being frozen! Hope you enjoy the noodles :)

  5. Harold Hart

    5 stars
    Nisha – This is a very delicious, spicy, savory, and one of the best Udon noodle meals I’ve had without having to travel to East Asia to enjoy. To be honest I’ll have to make this again, but this time with the black vinegar. I subbed with rice vinegar, so making it again with the black vinegar the dish should be even better. I’ve made about 4 or 5 meals from your recipes and I’ve never been disappointed. As a clinical nutritionist student these are the meals I can imagine showing future clients to help support their efforts to achieve health improvement through nutrient dense vegan foods. Love, love, love it!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Harold! We can’t wait for you to try the recipe with black vinegar. And we are happy to provide all the yummy nutrient dense recipes. We’d would be honored if you shared the blog with your future clients! ❤️

  6. Brittney

    5 stars
    This recipe is FAB! I couldn’t find black vinegar (yet) but I substituted it with 1tbsp shaoxing rice wine vinegar and 1tbsp of Japanese rice vinegar and it was super delish. Thank you so much for your amazing recipes and inspiration! You’ve upped my food game for sure!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Brittney! :)

  7. Jalesa

    I’m low sodium, so I can’t use soy sauce or any alternative. Is there something else I could sub for the soy sauce?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jalesa, you can try using coconut aminos instead!

  8. Amy

    5 stars
    So delicious! I used a different kind of noodle, but I actually think udon would be best, so excited to look for udon next time.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Amy!

  9. Laurence

    5 stars
    I really liked this. I made the recipe as written, and it was fine for my (literal) baby-mouth children. Sichuan pepper flakes are delicious, but I don’t think they have much heat. Next time I make this I’m going to try using smoked tofu; I think that will be a great texture in there.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Laurence, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  10. Morgan Ho

    4 stars
    This was a solid recipe! While I would love all the time in the world to make food, as a busy working mom it just doesn’t happen! This is a perfect recipe for me and my family any day – mostly because everyday is busy for us! My 16 month old liked the noodles!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great to hear you love the recipe Morgan, thanks for sharing :)

  11. Tina

    5 stars
    Such a simple but crazy delicious recipe! The Chinese black vinegar was a revelation. I now want to put it in everything.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Tina!

  12. Barb Belcher

    5 stars
    Delicious and easy!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Barb!

  13. Kathryn

    5 stars
    So quick and easy but so much flavor!! Better than takeout.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Kathryn, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  14. Shane

    5 stars
    Oh MY! This is amazingly delicious and so fast to put together! A perfect meal for hot Summer days. My husband stated that every recipe we have tried by Nisha is delicious, “She’s never steered us wrong.” DO use all the garlic, get the black vinegar and you might find that if eaten right away, you will want more noodles to soak in the dressing for the next day. Unless you can tell me how, this is not a dish for company because you need to slurp up those udon noodles but oh SO good that you won’t want to share anyway!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Shane, So glad to hear you two loved this recipe!

  15. Kat

    5 stars
    I really enjoyed this recipe but I don’t think I could ever make this in 15 min. unless I had everything prepped ahead of time. (I’ll try that the next time.) I like the flavor of the garlic-chili oil and can’t wait to try it on other things.

    Thanks for introducing me to Chinese black vinegar!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Kat, sorry to hear it took you a bit longer than anticipated. Hopefully the more you make this recipe the more quickly it’ll go! You are very welcome for introducing you to Chinese black vinegar!

  16. Aeron

    5 stars
    Made this for my girls and they loved it! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Aeron. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  17. Morgan

    5 stars
    Another knockout recipe! The sauce per the recipe was a bit too oily for me, so next time I make it I’ll do half the oil and twice the vinegar/other sauces. I also added extra Korean chili flake and sambal oelek – we like spice in my house! I also added marinated tempeh for extra protein and vegetables as I like a 2:1 veg:noodle dish. I’ll definitely be making this again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Morgan!

  18. Megan Burmester

    5 stars
    So freaking delicious! I think you’re adorable and I’m so glad I found you. Decided to go vegan as I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve loved watching your videos and can’t wait for your new cookbook! Be blessed, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Megan! We wish you all the best in your recovery and are happy to provide you with delicious plant-based recipes :)

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