Noodles are an essential part of Japanese cuisine, from easy weeknight stir-fries, to soothing noodle soups, cold noodle salads, and late-night comfort food fixes. We've rounded up 20 Japanese noodle recipes you can make at home anytime you're craving a change from spaghetti noodles. Most of these recipes come together quickly, using basic Asian ingredients (such as soy sauce and rice vinegar) you may already stock in your pantry, and include nutritious ingredients. You'll find lots of tasty vegan and vegetarian options, too.
Types of Japanese Noodles
Here is a beginner's guide to the different kinds of noodles consumed in Japan. For a deeper dive, check out our comprehensive guide to pan-Asian noodles.
Udon: Udon is a favorite type of Japanese noodle. They are fat and chewy, offering a distinct bounce as they dangle from your chopsticks. Typically made from wheat flour, you can also find slightly translucent udon made from potato starch in Asian markets. Udon are usually sold fresh, but dried and even frozen ones are available, along with packaged soups and meals featuring the thick noodles. Udon is most often paired with broth in comforting Japanese soups. They are also served cold in the summertime with a dipping sauce, chilled broth, or as a salad.
Soba: Soba is a unique Japanese noodle made with buckwheat flour (in addition to wheat flour). This gives them a distinctive texture, nutty flavor, and light to dark brown color. Soba noodles are generally thinner than udon, with a shape more like spaghetti, and are often incorporated into hot and cold soups. Cold soba noodles, served with a flavorful dipping sauce, are a refreshing summertime favorite in Japan.
Somen: Somen noodles are long, smooth Japanese noodles made entirely from wheat. The thread-like noodles will remind Western eaters of Italian angel hair pasta. You will find dried somen noodles in Asian markets. They are typically served cold in Japan, alongside a light dipping sauce called tsuyu, though hot soups with somen are also available in some Japanese cafes.
Ramen: Thin and springy ramen noodles are treated with an alkaline ingredient called kansui, which gives them their signature curly shape, and yellowish hue. (Eggs are sometimes substituted for kansui.) While different regions of Japan all have their own signature ramen dishes, these hugely popular noodles are generally served in a broth flavored with salt, soy sauce, miso, dashi, or pork, along with various kinds of vegetables, meat, and other toppings. You can buy fresh ramen noodles at Asian markets, and grocery stores from Asia to the West sell packaged instant ramen soups and meals as an inexpensive convenience food.
Harusame: Harusame is the Japanese name for cellophane noodles or glass noodles. These noodles are made from the starch of mung beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or tapioca, and turn translucent when cooked. Glass noodles are typically sold in dried form, and soaked in water to reconstitute, for using in soups, stir-fries, or spring rolls. They taste similar to other Japanese wheat pastas, but are slightly softer and heavier in texture than somen.
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Thick, silky, and filling, Japanese udon noodles have won the hearts of eaters around the world. In this tempting vegan and vegetarian soup, the chewy wheat noodles are surrounded by broccoli, scallions, fresh cilantro, and peanuts in an aromatic broth. It's an excellent introduction to Japanese cuisine for kids, and makes a soothing and filling lunch, starter course, or even a light dinner on its own.
02 of 20
Shoyu ramen is ramen noodle in soy sauce flavored soup. The typical curly noodle used in ramen dishes is chukamen, made from using wheat flour and kansui (an alkaline solution). In shohyu ramen, the sauce is tangy, salty, and savory. You can add toppings such as chopped negi (long green onion), boiled egg, cooked chicken, or nori seaweed if desired.
03 of 20
If you are fan of battered and fried tempura, and also love noodles, you're sure to love tempura udon. It's a delicious one-bowl meal of thick and chewy udon noodles floating in a rich umami broth, topped with crispy pieces of fried tempura vegetables and shrimp. It's friendly to Western palates, and the traditional dashi broth is easy to tweak to taste with more or less soy sauce.
04 of 20
Ramen in miso-based soup are called miso ramen. The popular Japanese noodle soup is traditionally served with a variety of garnishes and can be spiked to taste with chili oil (especially great when you are nursing a cold). Our hearty miso broth includes chicken stock and ground pork. Traditional toppings include a hard-boiled egg, chopped scallions, kamaboko (sliced fish cake), menma (pickled bamboo shoots), toasted sesame seeds, mushrooms, and boiled spinach.
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Hiyashi chuka is a bright, cooling, composed salad from Japan. It's a great way to enjoy delicious ramen noodles on a hot summer day, and the noodles can be made well ahead of serving. You build it on a base of chilled ramen noodles, topped with various colorful garnishes. Typically add-ons include sliced cooked ham or chicken, omelet strips, imitation crab, cucumber, tomato, iceberg lettuce, beni shoga (pickled ginger), and slices of nori (dried seaweed).
06 of 20
Slurping cold somen noodles dipped in tsuyu, a concentrated dashi-based broth, you feel your body starting to cool off from the summer heat. It is a favorite dish during the sweltering summers in Japan, and easy to prepare at home in about 15 minutes. Top the dish with grated ginger, and diced scallions, for a refreshing, low-effort light lunch anytime.
07 of 20
Cha soba is a variety of Japanese soba noodles infused with green tea (you buy the packaged noodles that way). This gives the long, slim buckwheat noodles a subtle yet elegant flavor. They are a lovely, light, and refreshing meal or snack when chilled, and served with a cold dipping sauce (such as bottled soba sauce, or soy sauce topped with scallions).
08 of 20
Yakisoba are Japanese buckwheat noodles stir-fried with meat and vegetables, and seasoned with an umami-rich sauce. Yakisoba sauce is commonly available at Asian groceries, so you don't have to make it yourself. Kids in Japan love this fried noodle dish, which also appeals to Western palates, and is a popular food stall and diner lunch order.Continue to 9 of 20 below.
09 of 20
Miso nikomi udon, or miso udon noodle soup, is a rustic Japanese dish of thick wheat udon noodles simmered in a savory miso broth seasoned with dashi, and brimming with various ingredients, such as aburaage (fried tofu ), kamaboko (fish cake), chicken, egg, enoki mushrooms, and green onions. The healthy and light soup is a real treat for noodle lovers. This quick-cooking recipe serves one, but can easily be multiplied to serve a family.
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Enoki and shiitake mushrooms, well-known for their role in Japanese cuisine, mingle with harusame noodles (also called glass noodles or cellophane noodles) in this soothing and simple soup. It is beautiful enough to serve to your most important guests, and can be prepared easily and quickly to accompany a weeknight meal. Make it a vegan meal in one bowl by adding cubes of pressed extra-firm tofu, and using vegetable stock for the soup base, and tamari in place of soy sauce.
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Udon noodles served in hot soup and topped with seasoned aburaage (fried bean curd) are called kitsune udon. The name means fox noodle, which comes from an old folktale. The warming broth with soft, chewy udon noodles is essentially a Japanese version of chicken noodle soup, and makes a heart-warming comfort food when you are feeling under the weather.
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Zaru soba is a cold buckwheat noodle dish spooned onto zaru (a bamboo plate ). It's served with a refreshing dipping soup and some toppings, and is a staple light meal on hot summer evenings in Japan. Feel free to stir some grated ginger or orange zest into the noodle sauce for extra flavor.
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Skinny, thread-like somen noodles are tossed with barbecue pork or chicken, julienned omelet, sliced fish cake, cucumber, and iceberg lettuce in this tasty Japanese fusion dish. It is always dressed in a sweet and sour vinaigrette that tastes complex, but is easy to stir together with four ingredients you can find at any grocery store.
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While you may not think "ketchup pasta" sounds authentically Japanese, we assure you this dish originated in Japan. It's part of Japanese yoshoku cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Western cooking, and is a trendy comfort food among students and office workers alike. This dish, a quick cook-up of pantry ingredients including spaghetti pasta, cured meat, green bell peppers, and, yes, tomato ketchup, is a go-to weeknight dinner shortcut for many in Japan.
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Tsukimi soba is hot soba (buckwheat noodles) with a raw egg topping. The simple dish is traditionally topped with chopped green onions, and sits in a dashi soup broth. These noodles are sometimes eaten on New Year's Eve in Japan, when the long noodles are thought to symbolize a long life.
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Bukkake udon is a very popular and simple cold noodle dish from Japan. Thick, boiled udon noodles are cooled in an ice water bath, and served with various toppings, such as grated daikon radish, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), pickled ginger, tempura flakes, and boiled egg.Continue to 17 of 20 below.
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Tsukemen are also widely known as "dipping noodles." They are a popular Japanese cold noodle dish of chilled curly ramen noodles, served with a dipping soup (typically a chicken stock base, seasoned with soy and mirin), and toppings on the side. They are made for slurping on hot summer days, and the typical toppings (shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, ham slices, cucumber, and halved boiled eggs) read like salad ingredients.
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Rabokki is an insanely tasty fusion food mash-up of Japanese ramen noodles with Korean dukboki, a spicy rice cake. The flavorful and satisfying stir-fry dish is popular street food in Korea, and sure to liven up your weekday dinner routine. Throw it together in just over half an hour, and top with optional hard-boiled egg halves, for a delicious taste of two cultures.
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Nyumen is a soothing Japanese soup of slender somen noodles in a hot dashi broth. While we've kept this easy, six-ingredient version simple, with scallions for topping, you can add any cooked protein (such as shrimp, tofu, chicken, or beef), vegetables (broccoli, green beans, or mushrooms), fresh herbs, or spices to make it a more filling meal.
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Hiyashi yamakake udon, or chilled udon noodles with raw grated Japanese mountain yam (also known as nagaimo or yamaimo) is a traditional Japanese dish enjoyed in the summertime when cold noodles are especially welcome. While the slippery, even slimy texture of mountain yam can take some getting used to for Westerners, it is deeply appreciated in its home country.