Ready in 20 minutes these Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles are a filling yet refreshing delight! Full of big, delicious, punchy flavours they make a fabulous side, appetizer, or light meal. They can also be made ahead and taste amazing hot or cold!
A dear friend (hi P!) recently brought over an appetizer which she served in darling mini takeout boxes. As if that wasn’t a huge hit all on its own, the boxes were filled with the tastiest sesame noodles I’ve ever had. The noodles were dressed in a creamy sesame sauce that was full of tangy, salty, and mildly spicy flavours. Chopped peanuts, thinly sliced cucumbers and peppers topped the simple, yet utterly delicious noodle dish.
The recipe for these addictive noodles comes from Shorty Tang and Eddie Schoenfeld restaurants, written up by Sam Sifton for the NY Times. With a whopping 8,000+ 5-star reviews, if you’re ever craving Thai-food takeout that you’re willing to make yourself at home, this is the dish for you.
Delicious warm or cold, this is a one-bowl meal that takes minutes to prepare and tastes both satisfying and refreshing especially when the temperatures start climbing. Though I am notorious for wanting to complicate a dish, there’s something about the simplicity of this one that I absolutely love. It also makes a fun appetizer for any indoor or outdoor gathering. Aaaand it makes wonderful leftovers for lunches, too. I’m telling you, when the heat waves hit, this dish is going to be your lifesaver. Let’s dive into the details, you’re in for such a treat!
Ingredients And Notes
You will likely have most of these ingredients on hand. For the few you don’t, it will be worth a trip to an Asian market. Trust me, buy that jar of Chinese Sesame Paste, you will use it over and over to make these takeout-style sesame noodles.
- Noodles – Fresh (or frozen) noodles are really best here and you can find them at most Asian markets. That said, I tested the dish using dried udon noodles and loved it just as much. Rice noodles will also work which makes the dish gluten free. In terms of thickness, go middle ground for best results—not too thin or too thick.
- Chinese sesame paste – Not to be confused with tahini sauce. Chinese sesame paste is made with toasted sesame seeds and has a richer, more complex flavour. Tahini sauce is made with untoasted sesame seeds. If you can’t find Chinese sesame paste you can use tahini sauce and add a few more tablespoons of toasted sesame oil.
- Peanut butter – Some recipes list it as optional but I love the flavour it adds to the sauce. Try and use an unsweetened, natural peanut butter if possible. If nut allergies are a concern, you can leave it out.
- Low-sodium soy sauce – Here’s our salty, umami flavour.
- Toasted Sesame oil – I can’t recommend toasted sesame oil enough for this dish. Much stronger than regular sesame oil, it adds a very distinct flavour.
- Rice vinegar – Adds much needed tanginess to the sauce. If you can find it, Chinese rice vinegar would be even better and in a pinch, you can use white vinegar.
- Sugar or maple syrup – A smidge of sweetness is really essential here to balance all the flavours.
- Fresh ginger root – You can’t leave this ingredient out, it adds wonderful aroma and sharp-bite to the sauce. Grated is best here or very finely minced.
- Garlic – For more punchy flavour.
- Chili sauce – Garlic chilli paste, Sambal Oelek, or Sriracha all work. Adjust to taste.
- Veggies – This sesame noodle dish is always served simply with just sliced cucumbers. I had a few radishes in the fridge that needed using up so I added them. If, like me, you feel like the inclusion of a few more veggies couldn’t hurt, go ahead and add some julienned carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, or snap peas.
- Chopped peanuts – Optional for garnish.
How To Make Takeout-style Sesame Noodles
This dish comes together so quickly it will become your “emergency throw-together meal”. But it’s so delicious you’ll find yourself making it even when you’re not in a hurry.
- For fresh noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 3 minutes. (when you taste a noodle it should still have a slight chewiness). Drain in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water, running the noodles through your fingers to make sure they aren’t clumping. When the noodles feel cool, drain completely. Transfer to a bowl and toss with a tablespoon, or two of sesame oil.
- For dried noodles: Follow package instructions, proceed with recipe.
- Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and chili sauce.
- Assemble: Pour half of the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to serving bowls, passing around more sauce, sliced cucumbers and chopped peanuts for topping.
Double the sauce! Even if you aren’t doubling the noodles, I highly recommend making more of the delicious sauce. Some noodles will soak up the sauce and feel a little drier than others. Plus the sauce lasts for a week in the fridge and you can use it as a dressing for a cabbage slaw or as a dip for rice rolls, etc.
Thin the sauce if necessary. If the sauce seems a little thick, especially if you chill it, add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin it out.
Wait to dress the noodles. It won’t take long for the sauce to get a bit dry once mixed with the noodles. Dress the noodles only when ready to serve.
Sesame noodles, topped with a few veggies, are filling and satisfying all on their own for a light meal or side. Particularly if serving as an appetizer, keep the additions to a minimum.
If you want a heftier dish, add more veggies, a protein such as poached chicken, crispy tofu, or grilled flank steak. A fried or hard boiled egg would also be fabulous.
Make Ahead And Storage Notes
These takeout-style sesame noodles come together fast but if you need to prepare ahead, make the sauce and cook the noodles. Store each separately in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. When ready to serve, prepare the veggies, toss the noodles with the sauce, and serve with desired garnishes.
To store: Leftovers are delicious cold or at room temperature. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I wouldn’t reheat the noodles or they could become mushy.
More Quick Recipes To Try
- Cashew Chicken and Broccoli
- Black Pepper Chicken Stir-Fry
- Chicken and Noddle Lettuce Wrap with Nuoc Cham
If you give these Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
*Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles slightly adapted from NY Times
Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles
- 1 pound fresh noodles or 1/2 pound dried noodles (*see notes)
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil divided
- 3 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (*see notes)
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium or light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely grated garlic (or finely minced)
- 2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste chile crisp or chile oil, (can add more to taste)
- 1/2 English cucumber seeded and cut into thin sticks
- 3 radishes (or carrots) cut into thin sticks (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
- To cook fresh noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 3 minutes. (When you test a noodle it should still have a slight chewiness). Drain in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water, running the noodles through your fingers to make sure they aren't clumping. Once the noodles feel cool and are well drained, transfer to a bowl and toss with a tablespoon of sesame oil (or a splash more if needed).
- To cook dried noodles: Cook according to package instructions; drain, rinse with cold water and add sesame oil.
- Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, maple syrup (or sugar), ginger, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and chili sauce.
- To finish: Pour half of the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to serving bowls, passing around more sauce, sliced cucumbers, radishes and chopped peanuts for topping.
- Double the sauce! Even if you aren't doubling the noodles, I highly recommend making more sauce. Some noodles will soak up the sauce and feel a little drier than others. Plus the sauce lasts for a week in the fridge and you can use it as a dressing for a cabbage slaw or as a dip for rice rolls, etc.
- Thin the sauce if necessary. If the sauce seems a little thick, especially if you chill it, add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin it out.
- Wait to dress the noodles. It won't take long for the sauce to get a bit dry once mixed with the noodles. Dress the noodles only when ready to serve.