What do you do when you have leftover veg in the fridge, noodles, and a jar of peanut butter in your pantry? You make peanut butter noodles. This easy recipe is gluten-free and vegan and comes together in less than 20 minutes.
The peanut sauce is creamy, salty, nutty, and umami with a hint of garlicky goodness. Because it consists of capsule pantry ingredients, you likely already have everything on hand.
What I love most about this meal is how customizable it is. You can add any vegetables or protein for a more substantial meal or eat the saucy noodles on their own.
- Noodles - any noodles of choice: spaghetti, rice, soba, udon, etc.
- Peanut butter - you can use creamy or crunchy depending on preference.
- Soy sauce or tamari - choose low-sodium so the sauce doesn't become overly salty.
- Rice vinegar - helps to bring brightness and balances out the flavors of the sauce
- Maple syrup - adds a little sweetness to balance out the salty flavors.
- Toasted sesame oil - adds a nice, nutty flavor.
- Sriracha - to balance the flavors without making it spicy.
- Garlic - another layer of flavor.
- Hot water - helps to thin the sauce and make it super creamy
- Salt - to taste.
- Veggies of choice (optional) - I love bell peppers, carrots, purple cabbage, or green onions.
- Cooked protein of choice (optional) - chicken, tofu, shrimp.
- Cilantro, chopped peanuts, or sesame seeds (optional) - for topping.
How to Make Peanut Butter Noodles
Cook your noodles. Make your noodles according to the package instructions.
Make the peanut sauce. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Start with 5 tablespoons of hot water and add more as needed. Taste and add more salt, acid, or heat as needed.
Combine. To a large bowl, add your noodles along with any additional vegetables and protein. Toss with the sauce until everything is well-coated. Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, or cilantro (optional).
Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make these peanut noodles using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- No peanut butter? - Use cashew butter or almond butter.
- No rice vinegar (also called rice wine vinegar)? - use fresh lime juice instead.
- No maple syrup? - Use raw honey or coconut sugar.
- No toasted sesame oil? - Just leave it out.
- No sriracha? - You can also use red pepper flakes, just reduce the amount to ¼ tsp.
- No garlic? - use garlic powder or leave it out.
- Make it gluten-free - use your favorite gluten-free spaghetti, rice noodles, or pad Thai noodles, and be sure to use tamari.
- Make it soy-free - use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
- Make it nut-free - use tahini or sunflower seed butter, but you may want to use more sweetener since these options are more bitter than peanut butter.
I’ve been making some variation of this sauce for years, tweaking the ingredients each time depending on what I have on hand.
Taste and make adjustments as you go: does it need more salt, acid, sweetness, or heat? For example:
- Sometimes I’ll throw in some fresh ginger along with the garlic or I’ll leave them both out depending on what I have or feel like.
- Sometimes I add dairy-free milk like coconut milk along with the water, and other times I only add water.
- I don't always add toasted sesame oil.
- Sometimes I use lime juice and rice vinegar. Other times just one or the other.
This recipe is a base for you to work with, but to get the best flavor, use your tastebuds to help guide you. Make small adjustments until it's reached your desired taste and consistency.
This meal can be eaten warm or cold. If not eating it right away, store the sauce separately and mix it in right before serving. This helps prevent the sauce from drying out.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes
Peanut Butter Noodles
- 8 ounces noodles of choice spaghetti, rice, soba, etc.
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari low-sodium recommended
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 tablespoons hot water plus more as needed
- salt, to taste
- vegetables of choice: bell pepper, carrots, green onions, etc.
- cooked protein: chicken, tofu, shrimp
- sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, or cilantro, to garnish
- Cook your noodles. Make your noodles according to the package instructions.
- Make the peanut sauce. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Start with 5 tablespoons of hot water and add more as needed. Taste and add more salt, acid, or heat as needed.
- Combine. To a large bowl, add your noodles along with any additional vegetables and protein. Toss with the sauce until everything is well-coated. Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, or cilantro (optional).