Easy Spicy Rice Noodle Salad

5 from 7 votes
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Crunchy, spicy and slightly sweet, my spicy rice noodle salad makes a versatile and delightful meal any time! You only need to mix one sauce, to use as both the marinade and the noodle sauce. Even better, the marinade works with all kinds of protein: chicken, shrimp, tofu, you name it! {Gluten-Free, Vegetarian/Vegan-Adaptable}

Homemade noodle salad with shrimp, chicken and tofu toppings

If you’re tired of covering your stockpiled vermicelli with tomato sauce, try taking it in a new direction. My spicy rice noodle salad is the kind of dish you can make your own way for a satisfying way to eat more veggies.

Spicy rice noodle salad topped with tofu

One sauce, two purposes

The sauce is spicy with a touch of sweetness that makes a perfect marinade. Plus, that marinade is also the dressing. That cuts down on prep time and simplifies life. 

Protein of your choice

You’ll use that marinade on your favorite protein. I’ve made it with chicken, steak, tofu, and seafood and I can’t decide which version I loved the most. They’re all so good!

You’ll let your protein soak up the marinade for at least an hour, though if you plan ahead and do it overnight, you won’t regret it. 

Shrimp and other seafood are the only exceptions to this as they only need to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes up to 2 hours. 

Marinating chicken and tofu

Versatile vegetable options 

The rest of this spicy rice noodle salad is also versatile. 

You can use any salad greens you like (spinach, spring mix, etc). And if you really want to make things easier, a bag of coleslaw mix from the supermarket will save you time on prepping the veggies. That method is perfect for any busy night when you don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen. 

Noodle salad with tofu and veggies

NOTE: How to cut purple cabbage

If you plan to use purple cabbage, here is a great way to yield even slices:

  1. Cut the cabbage into quarters
  2. Remove the tough stems
  3. Separate the outer layers and the core (the core tends to be tough)
  4. Cut the outer layers into strips. Cut the inner layers same way, while discarding any tough thick parts
How to cut purple cabbage

Cook your protein

Once you’ve marinated your protein, you can cook it using whatever method you like. I’ve mainly introduced how to pan fry the protein, which is the fastest way. But you can use an oven or an air fryer if you prefer.

NOTE: make sure you remove the marinade from the protein to ensure even browning.

The cooking time for different proteins will vary by method. Check out the footnote in my recipe to see the details for different cuts.

Noodle salad with chicken and veggies

Assemble & enjoy!

Combined all together, the result is spectacularly addictive. It’s all so bright and cheerful in color. Orange carrots, green spinach, and red cabbage create a picture-perfect dish you can’t resist. 

Mixing noodle salad

If you want to make the dish in advance and enjoy it later, that’s perfectly OK, too. If you let the dish rest in the fridge overnight, the noodles will become even more flavorful the next day.

Feel free to double the sauce as well, so you have some leftovers to add to other salads during the coming week. If you plan to make a big batch of sauce, you can use a blender so you can skip grating the ginger and garlic.

I guarantee you that you’ll want to make this dish again and again once you try it. Spicy rice noodle salad is pretty irresistible! 

Spicy rice noodle salad topped with chicken

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Crunchy, spicy and slightly sweet, my spicy rice noodle salad makes a versatile and delightful meal any time! You only need to mix one sauce, to use both as the marinade and the noodle sauce. Even better, the marinade works with all kinds of protein: chicken, shrimp, tofu, you name it! {Gluten-Free, Vegetarian/Vegan-Adaptable}

Spicy Rice Noodle Salad

5 from 7 votes
Crunchy, spicy and slightly sweet, my spicy rice noodle salad makes a versatile and delightful meal any time! You only need to mix one sauce, to use as both the marinade and the noodle sauce. Even better, the marinade works with all kinds of protein: chicken, shrimp, tofu, you name it! {Gluten-Free,
Vegetarian/Vegan-Adaptable}The recipe yields 2 big servings as a main dish or 4 small servings as a side.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Chinese Fusion
Keyword: home style
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings


  • 4 oz (120 g) rice vermicelli noodles (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil , toasted

Veggies (*Footnote 2)

  • 1/4 head small red cabbage , shredded
  • 2 cups spinach , stems removed and chopped coarsely (or other salad greens)
  • 1 carrot , shredded


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (or your favorite chili paste/sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic , grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , grated

(Optional) Protein

  • 1/2 lb (225 g) protein of your choice (chicken, shrimp, tofu, & steak)

(Optional) Garnish

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves , chopped (or micro greens)
  • 1 red chili pepper , thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts , crushed


  • Combine the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well. (*Footnote 3)

(Optional) Prepare the protein

  • Place the protein of your choice in a deep plate. Pour 1/3 cup of the dressing over it. If using tofu, cube or slice the tofu to the desired shape before marinating it. Marinate at room temperature for an hour, or in the fridge up to overnight. If using shrimp (or any seafood), marinate it in the fridge for 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
  • Once done marinating, remove the protein and discard the marinade. Lightly pat the protein dry with paper towels and remove the aromatics (to prevent from burning and help with browning). Pan fry the protein until both sides are golden brown and the inside is cooked through. (*Footnote 4)

Prepare noodles & veggies

  • Cut all the veggies and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Pat the veggies dry with paper towels if they are wet.
  • Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water to cool, then drain them completely. Add the sesame noodles and toss them to prevent clumping.


  • Add the chilled noodles to a bowl with the veggies. Toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss. If you are not making a protein add half the dressing, toss, and taste. Add more according to your taste.
  • If serving with a protein, add the cooked protein into the salad and toss again. Or you can simply serve the protein on the top of the salad.
  • The salad can be served immediately or chilled overnight in the fridge. The noodles will absorb the dressing overnight and become even more flavorful.


  1. Thin rice vermicelli noodles and Pad Thai style rice noodles (what I used) work well. Avoid using the thick type of rice noodles.
  2. To speed things up, you can use 2 cups of coleslaw mix to replace the purple cabbage and carrot. And you can use any salad mix or lettuce (sliced) to replace the spinach.
  3. Alternatively you can add everything (uncut) into a tall cup and mix with an immersion blender to mix the dressing and speed up the process.
  4. For tofu, seafood, and thin steak, you can pan fry the protein with peanut oil for 2 to 3 minutes per side. If you cook with chicken thighs, cook both sides until golden brown, then cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until it’s cooked through, 5 minutes or so. For chicken breast, the best way is to split the breast into two thin pieces before pan frying, so it will be cooked through after you brown both sides. To test the doneness, use a small paring knife to slice the thickest part and the juice should run clear.
  5. The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 4 servings yielded by this recipe using chicken breast as the protein.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 243kcal, Carbohydrates: 35.1g, Protein: 15.4g, Fat: 3.9g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 589mg, Potassium: 490mg, Fiber: 2.8g, Sugar: 7.8g, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

More easy one bowl dinners

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. lindsay Cotter says:

    thanks for having me friend! xxoo

    • Maggie says:

      I should thank you, for sharing such a beautiful recipe! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I’d eat one at 6am for sure! Asians – we eat anything for breakfast! Lindsay, this is sensational, I read every word, thank you for such an informative post. And WOW that noodle salad….totally my kind of food!

    You and Maggie are going to rip up Austin!! 🙂

    • lindsay Cotter says:

      well when you come to states, maybe we should have a noodle party, yes?! haha

      • Maggie says:

        Totally! It will be an awesome party 🙂

  3. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine says:

    5 stars
    Yay for Cotter’s Crunch!

    This salad looks amazing. I never knew rice noodles were actually higher in resistant starch when cold– I love making meals with Asian flavors ahead of time because they are ALWAYS better the next day when the flavors have melded 🙂 Pinning this!

  4. Michelle @ Giraffes Can Bake says:

    This salad looks so good, it’s almost 2am here but I’m craving it so bad!
    Lovely informative post too, I never knew about resistant starch before

    • lindsay Cotter says:

      they are even better at 2am haha!

  5. Gayathri Ramanan says:

    5 stars
    salad looks so colourful and absolutely delicious

  6. Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness says:

    5 stars
    This salad looks amazing. I love all of the ingredients in it.

  7. Priya says:

    5 stars
    Rice noodle salad looks so delicious!

  8. Byron Thomas says:

    Looks wonderful! Makes me very hungry!

  9. Donna says:

    I LOVE cabbage in my salads – and this one sounds fantastic! Love all the extra nutrition information provided too – I feel like I learned something tonight 🙂

  10. Steph @ Steph in Thyme says:

    I’ll have this salad BOTH ways. I loooveee noodles and this sounds so scrumptious. Pleasure to meet you, thanks for sharing this recipe!

  11. Amber | Caleigh's Kitchen says:

    Lindsay ! I had no idea you lived in Austin, and Maggie you will love it. I am going to let yall know next time I go! It’s so awesome there!
    Also, this looks amazing!!!!

  12. Elysila | Haute & Healthy Living says:

    Oh my goodness! This looks sooo good! I want to eat this RIGHT NOW!! Great recipe!

  13. Levan @ MyWifeMakes.com says:

    5 stars
    Amazing amazing amazing!!! I love spiciness with my noodles! Great job Maggie!

  14. Emma Daintrey says:

    5 stars
    Made spicy noodle salad for supper last night. It was fabulous. So quick and easy and super tasty. We ate it watching a National Theatre production while in lockdown. Thanks Maggie, it cheered us up too.

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