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Udon Noodles Substitute (Top 8 Options)

Are you looking for an udon noodles substitute? Perhaps, you want a different texture or looking for a gluten-free option. No matter your reason, we’ve got you covered! We have compiled the best alternatives to these classic noodles here.

Bowl with cooked udon noodles, broth and vegetables.

What Are Udon Noodles?

Udon noodles come from a combination of wheat flour, water, and salt. These noodles hail from Japan and are very popular in Asian cuisine.

They are white, springy, and chewy. Their shape is usually flat, but some less popular variations are round and ribbon-shaped.

Most of the udon noodles you can buy in the US come directly from Japan. That said, the widely-available ones are dried udon noodles.

Fresh udon noodles are available, but most often, you can find them pre-cooked or frozen. Instant udon noodles are also popular in grocery stores and specialty food stores.

To cook udon noodles, first, you must boil them. After boiling, you can add these noodles to broth, making Kake udon, a hot noodle dish.

You can also use udon noodles in cold dishes such as zaru udon, which is normally served chilled.

Udon noodles texture is firm, so they do well in stir-fry recipes as well.

Best Substitute For Udon Noodles

Each option below provides a unique texture and flavor, adding variety to your meals.

No matter which alternative you choose, be sure to pair it with a tasty sauce or stir-fry ingredients to achieve maximum flavor. With the right combination, you won’t even miss the udon noodles!

Experimenting with different types of noodles can not only make your meals more interesting but also help you stick to a nutritious and varied diet.

1. Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are another popular type of noodles that come from Japan. However, unlike udon noodles, soba is mainly made from buckwheat flour.

Because of this, soba has a noticeably darker hue, a distinct nutty flavor, and a grainy texture. But just like udon noodles, soba can be either served cold or hot, making it a versatile udon alternative.

This difference in taste, texture, and appearance can lend a unique twist to your dish. And not only that – soba noodles are often made gluten-free. Make sure to check the package to confirm.

Since soba is thinner than udon, they cook in less time. Soba noodles need 3 minutes, unlike udon which cooks for at least 8 minutes. Thicker udon noodles need as long as 12 minutes.

2. Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are also a good option for an udon noodles substitute. These noodles are also made from wheat flour, so there is little difference in taste.

Ramen noodles are almost always served hot with soup. So, they also make the perfect alternative to udon noodles in soups.

You have to prepare for changes in appearance, as ramen is curly and thin. It is the exact opposite of udon, which is thick and straight.

Again, due to the difference in thickness, ramen noodles cook more quickly than udon. They only need about 2 minutes, and they’re ready.

This quick cooking time makes them a great alternative when you’re in a hurry. Plus, even when they work best in soups, ramen can step in for udon noodles in salads and stir-fry recipes.

Remember that because of its main ingredient, ramen noodles contain gluten. Skip this alternative if you need something gluten-free.

3. Wonton Noodles

Another worthy udon noodles substitute is wonton noodles. Wonton noodles are thick Chinese egg noodles that you can find in most grocery stores. They’re almost always in their fresh form, so you can find them refrigerated.

Wonton noodles are yellow and springy, and people often use them in noodle soup recipes. There are thick and thin wonton noodles, so you can choose which goes perfectly well with your recipe.

The thin wonton noodles are best for light soups. Meanwhile, the thick ones are perfect for hearty ones with more flavor.

Because wontons are best when fresh, they also make perfect swaps for fresh udon noodles. They’ll work in stir-fry recipes, too.

One thing worth mentioning is that wonton is mostly made from wheat flour and eggs. That said, wonton noodles are not gluten-free. They’re not vegan-friendly, either.

Though, if you look hard enough, you can find a vegan-friendly version, too. Some manufacturers skip adding eggs to cut costs and use dye instead to get the yellow color.

4. Zucchini Noodles

The ultimate vegan, keto-friendly, and gluten-free substitute for udon noodles are zucchini noodles. Also called zoodles, these noodles are long strands of zucchini. They’re processed through a spiralizer or julienne peeler manually.

Zucchinis are mild-tasting, slightly sweet vegetables. They’re good at taking on whatever flavor you cook them with.

The best thing about them is that you can serve them raw. You can slather them with sauce, and your dish is ready. Toss them in warm broth, and you have an instant meal.

The only difference you have to consider is that zucchini noodles are very easy to overcook. And when you overcook them, they’ll lose structure and become mush.

If you are not eating raw zoodles, cook them for 3 minutes only. You can add these noodles to stir-fry recipes; just make sure to work quickly.

Lastly, these noodles are easy to make at home. But pre-made versions are available in stores. You don’t have to make them yourself if you don’t have the time or the equipment.

5. Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki noodles are also called konjac noodles or miracle noodles. These noodles are specially made with glucomannan, a fiber from the konjac plant root.

That said, they are low-carb and suitable for those people on a keto diet. Aside from that, konjac is gluten-free, and so are shirataki noodles.

Shirataki noodles are firm and tasteless. These characteristics enable them to act like sponges, absorbing flavors very well.

That said, they work great for soups and stir-fry recipes. Shirataki noodles are also perfect for eating with sauces and dips.

The substitution will be noticeable, though, as shirataki noodles are white and translucent. Besides that, the texture is similar to udon, as shirataki noodles are also chewy.

The best thing about shirataki? They can withstand high temperatures and long cooking times. That said, overcooking is next to impossible, so cook away.

Besides that, shirataki noodles can replace udon noodles in both hot and cold dishes.

6. Hiyamugi Noodles

Hiyamugi noodles are wheat-based Japanese noodles with a mild flavor. They are usually white. But strands of brown, pink, and green noodles are often found in bundles of hiyamugi noodles.

Hiyamugi noodles are less thick than udon noodles but are not as thin as somen noodles.

You can usually buy them dried, and people commonly use them in cold dishes. Hiyamugi noodles are often served chilled in ice water as a hot summer day treat.

For this reason, they are the best for replacing udon in cold preparations as well. But you should note that hiyamugi noodles are also served hot with sauces and soups.

Like other options here, hiyamugi noodles differ in appearance compared to udon. They are thinner and don’t take as much time to cook. Plus, they are round, as opposed to udon’s flat noodles.

With these differences, your dish is going to have a different look. However, that look might make your dish more interesting and unique.

7. Rice Noodles

As their name implies, people make rice noodles from rice flour and water. Because of this, they are slightly sweet and do not taste like udon noodles.

Rice noodles can come in flat and round shapes and be either thick or thin. But, all rice noodles are softer than udon noodles. They’re widely available, so you won’t have trouble finding rice noodles in your local grocery store.

You can serve them just as you would udon noodles, either cold or hot. How you prepare rice noodles differ from preparing udon noodles, though. Rice noodles are only soaked in boiling water rather than boiled through.

If you are going to serve rice noodles cold, you should soak them until they’re soft enough for your preference. On the other hand, if these noodles are to be part of a hot dish, leave some room. The temperature of the soup or the broth will still cook the rice noodles in the process.

8. Glass Noodles

Yes, you can use glass noodles instead of udon noodles. Glass noodles are made from mung beans and have a slightly different texture than udon noodles. They are also thinner and more translucent than udon noodles.

When cooked, they become soft and slippery, making them the perfect substitute for udon noodles in stir-fries or soups.

However, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly since glass noodles cook faster than udon noodles.

Additionally, you may need to adjust the seasoning of your dish depending on the type of glass noodles used. But overall, glass noodles are a great alternative to udon noodles!

How To Pick The Best Udon Noodles Substitute

When choosing the best udon noodles substitute, you need to consider these three factors:

1. Dietary Restrictions.

Some people look for an udon alternative due to dietary restrictions: gluten-free, low-carb, etc. For instance, wheat-based options like hiyamugi and wonton won’t suit those with gluten sensitivity.

2. Appearance

If you do not want your dish to look different, it is best to use similar-looking noodles to replace udon. Avoid using shirataki and hiyamugi. They look very different from udon noodles and will change the appearance of your dish.

3. Serving Temperature

While most noodles work in both ways, some work best in distinct preparations. For example, ramen noodles work best for hot dishes. Meanwhile, hiyamugi noodles are best served cold.

What Is Special About Udon Noodles?

Udon noodles are springy, firm, and chewy noodles. They are versatile, so you can use them in almost all noodle dishes. Udon noodles are easy to work with, as they do not have a distinct overpowering flavor. You can add them to your recipe without worrying that they will change the flavor profile of your dish.

Can I Use Ramen Instead Of Udon?

Yes, you can use ramen instead of udon. Ramen is one of the many substitute options you have for udon. But you must be mindful that ramen is curly and thin, while udon is usually flat and thick.

Are Udon Noodles The Same As Lo Mein?

No, udon noddles are not the same as lo mein. One of their biggest differences is that lo mein has eggs while udon does not. As a result, lo mein noodles are much chewier.

are udon noodles gluten-free?

The answer to this question depends on the specific type of udon noodles you are referring to. Traditional Japanese-style, wheat-based udon noodles typically contain gluten, so they are not considered gluten-free. However, some manufacturers offer gluten-free varieties made with rice or buckwheat flour.


You have plenty of options when it comes to an udon noodles substitute. Soba, ramen, and wonton noodles are among the best ones. You can try shirataki or zucchini noodles for a different twist on your dish.

Do consider that not all these options are gluten-free and vegan. Plus, some substitutes for udon noodles are best when served hot, while some options shine when served cold.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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