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 56 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 in a pinch, 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 56 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
Keyword: noodles
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

*Check out the FAQ and Tips sections for where to buy fresh/frozen udon noodles and how to substitute if necessary. 
** Check out the FAQ section for where to buy Chinese black vinegar and how to substitute if necessary. 

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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77 comments on 15-Minute Vegan Chili Garlic Noodles

  1. Jen

    5 stars
    Made it tonight. Will make it again. Added ginger. Did not have black vinegar, but it was ok with a miso and rice vinegar mixture.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Jen, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  2. Lenita

    5 stars
    I prepared this wonderful dish last night and it tasted amazing! I loved the different textures and fresh flavor. This will definitely be another dish in regular rotation. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  3. Rene Degonia

    5 stars
    Just made this and it is delicious! Didn’t have udon noods (and didn’t feel like trekking to the international market ) so I used some soba noods instead. Every time I make one of your dishes I am amazed that I actually made it! Perfect summer dish🥰

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Yum! Thanks for sharing, Rene!

  4. Sina

    5 stars
    My whole familiy is obsessed with this dish. And even my dad, who is often underwhelmed by plant-based foods, was amazed by the taste, texture and the overall eating experience (Yes, this dish is a real adventure for your taste buds).
    Since I had a ripe pomegranate at home, I added it. I can only recommend trying this as well. It gives the dish an extra kick and freshness.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wow, pomegranate sounds like such an interesting addition! We’re happy you loved the recipe :)

  5. Meredith

    5 stars
    It’s so hard to make actually good vegan dishes from scratch in 15 minutes but this was excellent. Well done, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Meredith!

  6. Jen

    Because I am gluten intolerant I can’t use black vinegar, so I am thinking of subbing with rice vinegar and a bit of tamarind paste for the sour and adjusting for sweetness. Wish I could use the real thing! Thanks for the great easy recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wish you the best of luck, Jen! We hope you love the noodles :)

  7. John Ronsley

    This dish needs to be warmed after it’s made before serving. I’ll combine the ingredients in a casserole pot and warm in the oven, then serve.

  8. Delnora

    5 stars
    Really fun and easy recipe. Loved that it was a bit different, too! Everyone in my house loved it, the kids, too. Thanks, Nisha. Looking forward to buying that cookbook you’ve been busy working on!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Delnora! Can’t wait for you to read the cookbook :)

  9. Meg

    5 stars
    We are wild about these noodles! The sauce is fabulous and the whole dish was very easy (especially with pre-cooked noodles that we had in the freezer). I didn’t make the *exact* recipe, but I hope we achieved the spirit of it with what we had on hand: subbed rice vinegar for the black vinegar and a generous spoonful of chili garlic paste for the chili flakes. We have enough sauce leftover for another round of these noodles or else for a stir fry. Yum yum! If I ever see black vinegar at the store I’ll bring it home for next time. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  10. Mariana

    5 stars
    I have been trying one or two recipes from your site and, each time, I feel I am at a restaurant! This was absolutely delicious and so easy to make! Thank you! :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Mariana!

  11. Carol G.

    5 stars
    I made your dish for dinner tonight and it was amazing‼️‼️ I am going to share it with my daughter and grandson because I want them to experience the joy I felt when I ate it‼️ I used cashews instead of peanuts. Excellent
    recipe!

    4/27/2022

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aw, so glad you love the recipe so much to share it with your loved ones! Cashews sound like a lovely substitution :)

  12. Laura

    5 stars
    Guau It is delicious, gorgeous, it was my third recipes that I did. I so happy with your web and love your work.
    Riquisimoooo!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Laura!

  13. Teresa S

    What if I’m an oil free eater? Just boiling broth and that’s as good as it’ll get? Thanks

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Teresa, sounds like this recipe might not be the best fit for your dietary restrictions. We are sorry!

  14. Jen

    5 stars
    So quick and delicious! I kept sneaking one more bite before putting my lunch leftovers away. I didn’t have edamame so I added some blanched chinese broccoli (gai lan) and sugar snap peas. I’m already itching to get more udon to use the other half of the sauce!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Jen!

  15. Lisa

    5 stars
    Yummy! Did not quite make it in 15 minutes, but well worth it.

  16. Allie

    Is there a gluten free black vinegar that you would recommend?
    Thanks!

    1. BoyJah

      I am also searching for a gluten free version of this vinegar (no luck so far). I REALLY want to make that chili oil!

    2. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Allie, unfortunately no. If you’d like you can mix 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar and 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar of modena IBP is the substitution we’d recommend. Make sure you’re using a a good quality aged balsamic vinegar though (it should be labeled “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP,” a standard imitation balsamic vinegar that goes for $5 will just make it sour.

  17. Johanna

    5 stars
    This was really really good and super quick to make. I did use all of the sauce because I liked it so much.
    Will definitely make again! Thanks, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  18. Allison

    5 stars
    I’m a simple woman. I see a Nisha recipe, I make a Nisha recipe. I used cashews and added baby Chinese broccoli, and it’s delicious. Snuck a sauce-coated noodle during the process and immediately decided to give 5 stars. I’m not one to review things, but this sauce is so good. Chinese black vinegar for the win.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Allison! :) Thanks for always giving the RPL recipes a shot!

  19. Esther

    5 stars
    This omnivore says Yummy!!! Pretty quick to assemble. Very easy to prepare. Slippy slurpy noodles, sweet, salt, sour, heat sauce. Lots of sauce left over for another night. I did not have edamame but I had sugar snap peas and they suited the dish very well. Thanks Nisha.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Esther!

  20. Jason Rizos

    5 stars
    Utterly amazing! Everybody, stop what you are doing and make this! Adding additional veggies like mushrooms or asparagus at like a total of a 1/2 cup also works well!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Jason!

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