Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce

Jim Robinson

By Jim Robinson

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5 from 1 vote

This cold Asian noodle salad features a deliciously complex peanut sauce that melds savory, salty, spicy, and sweet. Combined with rice noodles, baby bok choy, and cucumber, this salad makes for the perfect gluten-free lunch or easy dinner.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce is the grownup version of Asian peanut butter noodles you loved as a kid.

Echoes of childhood play in this peanut sauce thanks to the simple flavors of peanut butter, brown sugar, and tamari. Ginger, Worcestershire, garlic, and chili flakes add some much-needed mature complexity for a whole new experience your adult tastebuds will love.

This delightful sauce covers a bed of cool rice noodles, bok choy, scallions, and julienned cucumbers for a healthy noodle salad with plenty of flavor. Top it all off with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha. 

Perfect for lunch, dinner, or simply to satisfy those nostalgic cravings. Make it a full meal by serving it with Ginger Sriracha Barbeque Pork and Persimmon and Asian Pear Kimchi.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Comes together quickly. You’ll need to prepare the sauce ahead of time so it can chilled, but all the other ingredients can be easily prepared while the noodles cook.
  • Fresh and healthy. With superfood ingredients like ginger, garlic, bok choy, and cilantro, this dish is packed with antioxidants and nutrients.
  • Perfect for meal prepping. This salad is meant to be served cold, which means it’s even easier to make ahead of time. Double or triple the recipe, divide it into meals, and store it in the fridge for a week of no-hassle lunches.
  • Versatile. This is one of my favorite lunches. But it also works wonderfully as an easy side dish or starter for a full-course dinner.

How to Make It

This Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce recipe has a long list of ingredients, but they come together impressively fast. Let’s take a quick look at what it takes to make this sweet, spicy, savory salad.

Ingredients for Cold Asian Noodle Salad arranged on a marble countertop.

Key Ingredients

  • Peanut Butter. I’ve found that the type of peanut butter you use in this recipe can really influence the final flavor. A smooth texture is paramount and, in my experience, one that contains only roasted peanuts and salt makes for the best outcome.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. This secret ingredient is key to adding that amazing complexity to the sauce. It contains sweet, savory, tangy, and salty notes that perfectly highlight the diverse flavors of the rest of the sauce ingredients.
  • Rice Noodles. Spaghetti-like rice noodles work best for this salad. They have enough body to hold the dish together without upstaging the veggies. If you can’t find good rice noodles, udon or soba noodles will work as long as gluten isn’t an issue. 
  • Baby Bok Choy. The baby version of this popular Asian veggie is more tender than the adult option and has a milder flavor that works well with this sauce.
  • Ginger. Don’t skimp on ginger—fresh is well worth the extra time for prep. It adds a wonderful spicy tanginess to the sauce that you don’t want to leave out.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Add all the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth then place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour.

Peanut sauce mixed in a ramekin.

2. Boil the noodles.

Rice noodles boiling in a pot.

3. Add the bok choy to the pot with the boiling noodles for the last minute. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Rice noodles being mixed with blanched Bok Choy in a strainer.

4. Mix the chilled noodles with the vegetables. Top with the sauce and garnishes. Enjoy!

A spoon pouring peanut sauce over Cold Asian Noodle Salad in a bowl.

Recipe Tips, Substitutions, and Variations

  • Don’t overcook your noodles. Al dente noodles are key for achieving that pleasing texture for noodle salad.
  • Taste and adjust the sauce as needed. As you blend your sauce ingredients, don’t be afraid to taste test. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste.
  • Substitute veggies as needed. Feel free to add more veggies or substitute these for what you have on hand. Refreshing, crunchy options, such as cabbage and bell peppers, work best.
  • Soy sauce works too. If gluten isn’t a concern, you can use soy sauce in place of tamari. Low-sodium soy sauce is a good option if you want a less salty sauce.
  • Use agave in place of brown sugar. Feel free to replace the sugar in the sauce with your preferred sweetener. Agave and maple syrup both work well.
  • Play with your toppings. The toppings I’ve included are fairly simple but feel free to mix it up. I’ve had good results garnishing with roasted peanuts, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and sliced almonds.
  • Add protein. This salad can be easily elevated by mixing in roasted chicken.
Cold Asian Noodle Salad.

Make Ahead and Storage Recommendations

This Cold Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce is super simple to make ahead of time.

The easiest way to do this is to keep your sauce separate. Cook the noodles and prepare the veggies, then mix and proportion out into containers. Keep the sauce in a jar in the fridge next to the containers and dress them right before serving. 

For leftovers, simply place them in an airtight container and put them in the fridge. I recommend keeping a little extra sauce separate as the noodles will absorb some, so the leftovers may be a little dry.

Eat make-ahead meals and leftover salad within five days.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad.

Try These Other Simple Asian Lunch Options

I often use Asian recipes for my lunches. They bring so much flavor but are usually simple to make and easy to make ahead of time. Here are a few more of my favorite Asian salad and soup recipes that make wonderful lunch options.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

This cold Asian noodle salad features a deliciously complex peanut sauce that melds savory, salty, spicy, and sweet. Combined with rice noodles, baby bok choy, and cucumber, this salad makes for the perfect gluten-free lunch or easy dinner.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Chill Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 4
Calories: 586kcal


For the Peanut Sauce

  • 1 tbsp ginger fresh, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chile flakes crushed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter smooth
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or choose a vegan option
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil 2 tbsp for the sauce +1 additional tbsp for the noodles
  • 1/3 cup water

For the Noodles

  • 1/2 lb rice noodles spaghetti-style-I like Tinkyada brand, or you can use udon noodles if you don't need the dish to be gluten-free
  • 2 bunches baby bok choy ends trimmed off and chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions or early spring onions, use the green parts in the salad, and garnish with the minced whites, if you like
  • 1 cucumber large, peeled, seeded and julienned
  • cilantro minced for garnish-optional
  • Sriracha for serving if you like it spicy-optional
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted-optional


  • In a food processor or blender, pulse together the ginger, garlic, and brown sugar. Add the chili flakes, peanut butter, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, and 1/3 cup water and process again until smooth. Transfer to a smaller bowl and refrigerate sauce for at least an hour.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Toss bok choy into the boiling water with the noodles for the last minute of so of cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill the noodles, then toss with the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.
  • Mix noodles and blanched bok choy with the chilled sauce (which you can thin with a little boiling water if it's thickened up after refrigeration), the scallions, and the julienned cucumber. Garnish with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds before serving, and douse with some Sriracha, if desired.


If gluten is not an issue, feel free to use soy sauce in place of tamari and udon noodles in place of rice noodles.


Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 1174mg | Potassium: 459mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 217IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 2mg

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