Spicy 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 10 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 15 minutes
5 from 170 votes

If you’ve ever struggled with getting food on the table on busy weeknights, these chili garlic noodles 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.

Table of Contents:
1. Ingredient Notes
2. Step by step instructions
3. Tips and Substitutes
4. Frequently asked questions
5. Video: How to make Chili Garlic Noodles
6. Full recipe

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

Ingredient notes

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. 

ingredients for vegan noodles with ingredients labeled

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

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  • 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 using my Fried Tofu or Baked Tofu recipes, though of course the recipe will take longer.

Step-by-step instructions

Gather your ingredients!

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).

PS: if you are allergic to gluten, skip the Chinese black vinegar because it is fermented with small amounts of grain.
 

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. If you have a good-quality aged balsamic vinegar, you can add a small amount of that (1/2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar to 2 tbsp rice vinegar).

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

Try these East Asian Recipes Next!

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 170 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 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
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 (75g) 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. If you have a good-quality aged balsamic vinegar, you can even add a small amount of that (1/2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar to 2 tbsp rice vinegar). 
PS: If allergic to gluten, use the Chinese black vinegar substitute provided, as Chinese black vinegar is fermented with small amounts of grain. 

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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283 comments on Spicy Chili Garlic Noodles

  1. Hazel

    Do you think this recipe would work with gochugaru or Aleppo pepper flakes instead, or is their flavor profile too different from the Sichuan? Normal red pepper flakes never seem to have much flavor to me aside from just “spicy.”

  2. Claire

    5 stars
    Super tasty and quick to make! I would add some tofu and extra veg next time, if I had more than 15 minutes 🙂

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Claire, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  3. Jessica

    Hi, is the nutritional information based on 2 or 3 serves?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jessica, for 3 servings!

  4. Shelby

    5 stars
    Okay I’ve made this several times now, and tonight I tried something a little different. After I got together the chili oil and sauce, I stuck an immersion blender in it and blended it until it was all creamy and homogenous, then stirred in an extra 2 tablespoons of black vinegar (this is probly too much for most people but I like my stuff extra vinegary) and a little extra maple syrup. I was wanting the same flavor as usual but wanted a creamy sauce. This was perfect for what I was wanting tonight!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Shelby! :) We’re glad the chili garlic noodles fit the bill!

  5. Leah

    5 stars
    Some good comfort food. We used frozen hand-cut noodles.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sounds amazing, Leah! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :)

  6. Francine Read

    Once edamame is defrosted, how long can it remain in the refrigerator?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Francine, we aren’t 100% sure but from what we read online it looks like it should be good for up to 3-4 days once defrosted.

  7. Francine Read

    So delicious. The sauce is so flavorful. I added fried tofu. I have shared with a few folks and it gets rave reviews. Thank you.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Francine, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  8. Wendy Dherin

    Can you please update this page to flag the fact that Chinese black vinegar is not gluten free? Many celiac and gluten-intolerant folks already know they have to choose different noodles but since Chinese black vinegar is not well known in many places, we might not know it’s fermented with wheat and can be just as problematic as regular soy sauce. I learned this the hard way from one of the Rainbow Plant life recipes. Still a huge fan though, don’t worry!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Wendy, thanks for bringing this to our attention. We’ve updated the recipe card and FAQ.

  9. Alexandra

    I do not eat flour, so I made some zucchini noodles & sauteed them first & then made this recipe and it was delicious! SO many veggies! The sauce adhered to the zoodles very well.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Alexandra!

  10. MP

    5 stars
    Unreal, I use cashews but overall flavour all the same. Quick, easy and tasty recipe great to help me start getting back to cooking evening meals rather than just eat toast all the time!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      MP, Thank you for your thoughtful review! We’re so happy to hear that you enjoyed the noodles.

  11. Jules

    5 stars
    This is one of my go-to recipes! Super quick and delicious. Always a big hit with non-vegan friends and family. Great recipe for potlucks! Purple cabbage is a great addition to this!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  12. Allyson

    5 stars
    That was fun! I have been wanting to eat udon noodles like this and it was fun making it. I didn’t have enough sesame seeds, otherwise I made it per recipe. Oh, but I had a pack of Omni brand pork strips (vegan) and a random pack of Gardein teriyaki sauce that I had in the freezer and that was tasty with these noodles. Sweet and spicy notes! My lips are on fire, but that peanut chili oil was so exciting and I can’t wait to use the leftover sauce with my broccoli that I need to cook up!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Allyson. Thanks for your kind words!

  13. Matt

    5 stars
    Really tasty noodle dish. I added sliced purple cabbage to amp up the veg and added some minced ginger to the sauce. So good. Our entire household loved it so I’ll keep it in the rotation.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your positive feedback is the best reward for our hard work. Thank you, Matt!

  14. clementine

    5 stars
    I am using this recipe for many month now. Everyone loves it! I fry the udon noodles in the pan after cooking them to give them a nicer texture.
    I also save some time by putting the peanuts, garlic and chilli into the pot with the oil and not the other way around. This way I can vary the degree of roasting. Also saves some time later cleaning a bowl. Great recipe! Thank you!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the chili garlic noodles turned out well for you, Clementine. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  15. Veda Williams

    5 stars
    This was outrageously good. I couldn’t find edemame where I live (out in the sticks), so I air dried tofu with gochujang instead. It was delicious. The only thing I’d say is that it did take me a bit longer than 15 minutes, mostly due to the mess I made. But it was absolutely worth it. I’m taking it for lunch tomorrow. Five stars!!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Veda. Thank you for leaving a review!

  16. RC

    I finally picked up some black vinegar and am OBSESSED with this recipe! I used knife cut noodles instead and it was so yummy <3
    The extra sauce was used in a toasted tofu sandwich which was delicious.
    Thank you! :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you enjoyed the recipe, RC. Thanks for your kind words!

  17. Swati

    I really want to try out this recipe but I am having a hard time finding the right kind of udon noodles. Would you be able to share a link to some udon noodles that you’d recommend? Kind of a newbie here! :)

  18. Feetie

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! Thank you so much Nisha, you are wonderful. I will continue to be inspired by your super recipes.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad to hear you love the recipes! :) Thanks for being a loyal member of the RPL community :)

    2. Swati

      5 stars
      Update: I used some pre cooked noodles that I found at TJ’s. Added veggies like broccoli, button mushrooms, marinated baked tofu and voila! My partner devoured it! The sauce is so delicious 🤤😍

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Lovely to hear that, Swati!

  19. RH

    5 stars
    This was so good and easy! I added thinly sliced carrots and snap peas because I had them in the fridge and wanted to up the veggie content, so prep was still a little longer but totally worth it!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      RH, Thank you for your thoughtful review! We’re so happy to hear that you enjoyed the chili garlic noodles.

  20. Meera

    5 stars
    Incredible flavors and a beautiful tasty dish! Made a double batch for friends for dinner tonight (with a bunch of simple side dishes) and everyone loved it!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Meera! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

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