Creamy Sesame Noodle Salad (30 Minutes!)

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Fork picking up a bite of an Asian-inspired sesame noodle salad from a bowl

When the weather is hot, we find ourselves craving cooling, satisfying meals that come together fast. Enter this 30-minute Creamy Sesame Noodle Salad! It’s fresh, saucy, filling, SO flavorful, and delicious served warm or cold.

We love it for picnics in the park, as a side dish for BBQs, or as part of a summer meal. Make it a meal by pairing with tempeh or grilled tofu or chicken skewers. Let us show you how it’s done!

Cilantro, tahini, soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, maple syrup, noodles, cucumber, sesame oil, lime, peanuts, green onion, and garlic

Recipe Inspiration

This sesame noodle salad is inspired by a Taiwanese dish called Ma Jiang Mian (Chinese Sesame Noodles). Our search for the dish’s origin story came up empty, but common ingredients seem to include wheat-based noodles, soy sauce, sesame paste, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.

The following is our gluten-free optional, naturally sweetened, inspired version using easy-to-access ingredients and a zippy flavor twist. You can find a more traditional version of the dish from The Woks of Life.

How to Make This Sesame Noodle Salad

It starts with cooking your favorite noodles, then whisking together a creamy, super savory dressing featuring tamari (or soy sauce) and tahini. The flavor is balanced with rice vinegar and lime juice for brightness, maple syrup for sweetness, toasted sesame oil for richness and sesame vibes, and garlic and ginger for more dimension.

It’s one of those dressings that’s so good you want to lick it from the spoon!

Whisking homemade sesame dressing in a bowl

Next, we prep the veggies, which make this salad feel super fresh.

Limes next to a cutting board with cucumbers, green onion, and cilantro

Mix them up with the sesame dressing, your favorite noodles, and chopped peanuts or cashews for crunch. And that’s it — it’s dinnertime, friends!

Bowl of sesame dressing, noodles, and julienned cucumbers

We hope you LOVE this sesame noodle salad! It’s:

Creamy
Saucy
Fresh
Quick & easy
& SUPER flavorful!

We love bringing this salad to BBQs or picnics, or preparing it as part of a summer meal. It’s delicious served with tempeh, grilled tofu or chicken skewers, or alongside other Asian-inspired recipes.

More Satisfying Salads for Summer

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Cucumbers, lime, peanuts, and cilantro over a bowl of saucy noodles

Creamy Sesame Noodle Salad (30 Minutes!)

Creamy and satisfying sesame noodle salad that’s perfect for picnics or BBQs! A great side dish to serve with tempeh, tofu, or chicken skewers. Just 30 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Limes, cilantro, and peanuts on a bowl of our sesame noodle salad recipe
4.95 from 17 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 (~1-cup servings)
Course Side
Cuisine Asian-Inspired, Chinese-Inspired
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2 Days

Ingredients

NOODLE SALAD

  • 8 oz. brown rice udon noodles (we like Lotus Foods // or sub other noodles such as buckwheat soba or spaghetti // ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 1 large cucumber, peeling optional (we like peeling in stripes)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion (2 stalks yield ~1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts or cashews (lightly salted or unsalted)

SESAME DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari* (ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 3 Tbsp well-stirred tahini (we prefer the hulled, drippy kind! See our tahini review)
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves garlic yield ~2 tsp)

Instructions

  • Cook noodles according to package instructions then rinse in cold water to cool them quickly and stop them from sticking together. Set aside to drain.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together all the sesame dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then remove the seedy middle with a spoon. Cut into 2-3-inch (5-8 cm) matchsticks approximately the same width as cooked noodles.
  • Add the drained noodles and 3/4 of the sliced cucumbers to the dressing bowl and stir well to combine. Optionally, transfer to a serving platter.
  • Top with the remaining cucumber, green onions, cilantro, and chopped peanuts. Garnish with extra lime wedges (optional). Enjoy right away or chill for 30 minutes before serving. It’s delicious served with tempeh or grilled tofu or chicken skewers.
  • Best when fresh. Leftover salad will keep stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Not freezer friendly.

Video

Notes

*If soy-free, use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce/tamari and start with less maple syrup as coconut aminos are naturally sweet.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Lotus Foods Brown Rice Udon Noodles.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 cup Calories: 332 Carbohydrates: 40.6 g Protein: 10.5 g Fat: 15.5 g Saturated Fat: 2.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.8 g Monounsaturated Fat: 6.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 679 mg Potassium: 374 mg Fiber: 4.5 g Sugar: 5.3 g Vitamin A: 310 IU Vitamin C: 3 mg Calcium: 41 mg Iron: 2.4 mg

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Reader Interactions

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My Rating:




  1. Darcie says

    This was the perfect quick meal for a very humid summer day. I made the sauce as written (simple and delicious!) and embellished the noodles with shredded romaine leaves, sliced red peppers, blanched and chopped green beans from the garden along with the suggested cucumber and green onions. I omitted the nuts and swapped the cilantro for parsley. Oh, and I added air-fried tofu cubes. Thanks for the inspiration! This is a recipe I’ll return to this summer for sure!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Darcie!

  2. Anne says

    Made this for a quick dinner tonight and really loved it. This came out nice and light, the sauce and noodles were not heavy at all. I had everything on hand, and the cucumber was from the garden. Unfortunately the grocery store had no cilantro, so I used Italian parsley. It was still delicious, but I think cilantro would complement the flavors well. The only other substitution I made was to use powdered garlic in the dressing because I do not like the taste of raw garlic. Came out great, and I will make this in the future, adding different vegetables, tofu, herbs, as variations.

  3. Leann says

    Delightful! The sauce is very similar to my favorite peanut sauce – creamy with a nice ginger zing -I got from my local co-op. I made this with cashew butter instead of tahini and topped with lentils and Sriracha cashews in addition to the cucumber, onions, and cilantro.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yum, we’re so glad you enjoyed it, Leann. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  4. CR says

    This is a winner as I’ve made this twice this week-once as shown and once substituting peanut butter. The vote is in and the tahini version won!

    Served over a handful of chopped red cabbage with dry toasted tofu cubes and peanuts-Yumm!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yum! Thanks so much for the lovely review. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  5. Lisanne says

    Delicious noodle salad! Next time I will add some edamame for more protein and carrot or red cabbage for color. Highly recommend it to everyone. Thanks for sharing minimalistbaker team!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Lisanne. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  6. Sarah says

    Very yummy and refreshing! I felt like it had a teeny bit too much sauce so it was slightly too runny and not all sticking to the noodles, but that could very easily be my tahini brand or some other mis-measurement. A great lunch recipe that I’ll be making often.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Interesting! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Sarah. We’re so glad you enjoyed the results!

  7. John says

    This recipe sounds delicious and easy! I’m looking forward to making it. I want to replace the maple syrup with palm sugar. Any suggestion as to how much sugar for a perfect balance?

    Thanks!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi John, we don’t have much experience with palm sugar, but we think using the same amount would probably work well. Let us know how it goes!

  8. Sarah says

    I made this today for lunch and it was delicious! I subbed out the udon noodles for gluten-free rice spaghetti noodles (the store I bought from didn’t have them). It tasted amazing — it’s the perfect amount of sweet, and I also found it very filling even by itself. I took a few bites and that was all I really needed for like the next four hours.

    I’m also not a chef by any means, but the instructions were so easy to follow that I didn’t have any trouble. I definitely plan on making this again! :D

  9. Karen says

    Loved it. It was a big hit different from my usual staple foods and I added marinated baked tofu bites. Perfect for the warm summer days.

  10. Shannon McMurtry says

    Quick dinner I threw together for my family and everyone went back for seconds even my 3 children 4 years old-10 years old.
    Super simple ingredients but so well balanced together. My oldest isn’t a fan of peanut sauces but loved this one with tahini instead. We added edamame for extra protein and some small bowls of toppings for the kids (shredded carrot, purple cabbage, diced snow peas) I will be making this one again. I doubled the recipe for my family of 5 and we had leftovers for the next night.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yum! Thank you for sharing Shannon! We are so glad you and your family enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  11. Trina says

    I made this for tonight’s meal. It’s very tasty. I did use mint, basil and cilantro. Added spare red bell peppers also.
    Thank you
    Trina

  12. Katie says

    The sauce for these came out a little bitter for me, but I honestly just think my tahini brand is terrible. Otherwise very satisfying !

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Katie! We’re so glad you enjoyed it overall! We have reviewed different brands of tahini here if you would like to try a new brand!

  13. Amalia says

    This was outstanding! And creamy, indeed. I didn’t have cilantro, so I used parsley. Also out of peanuts, so I used fried onion chips for the crunch factor. I’ve had it with grilled tofu, but I can’t wait to try tempeh too. And Loved how quickly it came together! I can see myself eating this all summer.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications Amalia!

  14. Delisha says

    This was delicious! The sauce was so good, and the cucumbers added crunch (different from the roasted peanuts) and freshness, as well as the cilantro and green onion. Next time I’ll try with Chinese chives. Thank you for your great recipes!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Anna, we wouldn’t recommend regular vinegar. We haven’t tried this and can’t guarantee the results, but in substitution of the rice vinegar you can try using more lime juice to taste!

  15. Nicole says

    This was lovely! I usually make a peanut sesame soba noodle salad but wanted to try the tahini-based sauce for a change and it didn’t disappoint. I do find the peanut sesame combo a bit punchier, but I still really enjoyed this one. I added pan-toasted cashews and pan-fried cubed tofu as well as some carrot ribbons.

  16. Hamamelis says

    I have cooked a lot of Minimalist Baker recipes, and love them all. But this one beats them all…so very good! If I could give 10 stars I would. My husband loved it even more. We used a cucumber out of our garden, which made it extra nice.
    I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

  17. Renee M says

    I didn’t have rice noodles so I used this with a veggie spaghetti noodle. It was a great! It was a perfect meal on a hot, muggy day and it used ingredients I had in my garden. Definitely a keeper!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Strange! Thanks for letting us know, Pam. We’ll look into the issue and see if we can figure out what could have caused that.

  18. Elizabeth says

    This was a phenomenal recipe! I subbed honey for maple syrup and used mint instead of the cilantro/green onion. It tastes so fresh, it was super easy (took about 15 mins start to finish), and almost all of it was made with pantry staples.