Spicy udon noodles is an easy stir fry recipe made in under 30 minutes. Boasting loads of umami flavor with a ginger-garlic sriracha sauce that’s tossed among doughy udon noodles and ground beef, this one rivals any takeout dish.
Noodle dishes might just be the takeout kind of meal I crave most often. Unfortunately, living in rural upstate NY, the closest place to get anything remotely like that is about an hour away.
I love where we live now but the lack of takeout can wear on you after awhile.
Luckily, last time I was in Whole Foods, Lotus Foods had a sale on all their noodles and I grabbed two of each variety.
The first time the noodle craving hit, I grabbed the package of udon noodles (so happy to have found a gluten-free version of this delicious noodle) and got to work.
The result was a version of this spicy udon noodle recipe and after a bit of tweaking, they’re finally ready to share with you.
If you love doughy, slurp worthy noodles, a spicy garlic umami sauce and lots of flavorful ground beef, this udon noodle stir fry recipe will totally be your jam.
Bonus – it’s quick (under 30 minutes) and pretty easily modifiable to the vegetables you have on hand.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE SPICY UDON NOODLES
For the noodle stir fry:
- udon noodles – use regular or a gluten-free option.
- ground beef – I prefer an 85/15 mix. The fat adds to the savory flavor of the dish. Or, try shaved beef steak instead.
- red onion
- red and yellow bell peppers
- fresno pepper
- fresh ginger
- fresno pepper
- sesame seeds
For the sauce:
- Soy sauce (or swap with tamari or coconut aminos for gluten-free/soy-free)
- rice vinegar
- sesame oil
- minced garlic
- sriracha (or chili garlic sauce)
- brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
ALL ABOUT UDON NOODLES
Typically, udon noodles are made with wheat flour. They’re doughy and delicious as one of the “thicker” Asian noodles.
You can find them sold in a variety of ways from dried, shelf-stable vacuum sealed to frozen. The vacuum sealed (sometimes referred to as udon “cakes”) and dried varieties seem to be the most common in regular grocery stores. Any variety can be used for this recipe just follow the package directions for cooking as they will vary depending on what type you buy.
GLUTEN-FREE UDON NOODLES
If you eat a gluten-free diet like I do, thankfully there are now gluten-free udon noodle options too. These are usually made with rice flours instead of wheat.
I was psyched to finally discover these as I’ve always just defaulted to soba noodle dishes or other rice noodles like I use in these Korean steak and noodle lettuce cups. But being able to enjoy udon noodle dishes again is incredibly satisfying!
UDON VS. RAMEN
If you’re wondering which noodle is healthier, I think it’s pretty fair to say udon noodles are the healthier choice. If for no other reason than they don’t come with the “flavor” packet ramen noodles do.
Sorry to burst the bubble of any ramen noodle bowl lovers, but that packet is filled with a variety of suspect ingredients and any time I use ramen, I just toss it in the trash and create my own seasonings.
Need a good ramen recipe? Use it in this Thai red curry soup instead of rice noodles. So good!
HOW TO MAKE THIS UDON NOODLE STIR FRY
Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the udon noodles. Once boiling, add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef and cook until browned breaking into smaller pieces with a spatula.
Drain some of the excess liquid from the skillet then return to the stove.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute until fragrant and tossed with the beef.
Dump the onion, peppers and cabbage into the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Pour the prepared sauce into the skillet and toss to combine. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken and coat all the ingredients.
Add the udon noodles to the pan and toss until all the ingredients are well combined.
Garnish with the scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Gently toss again before serving.
TIPS & SUGGESTIONS
- Use any vegetables you have. Personally, I love using bell peppers in Asian noodle dishes. They mimic the shape of the noodles and usually go really well with the flavors of Asian sauces. But that said, use what you have on hand. Mushrooms, broccoli and zucchini would all be great in this dish as well.
- Adjust spice level accordingly. Nothing beats that kick of heat from a good spicy noodle dish but if you’re sensitive to spice, simply lower the amount of sriracha used in this recipe and it will tame things a bit.
- Use another type of noodle. Udon noodles are known for their “doughy” mouthfeel and most typically used in Asian soups or a stir fry like Yaki udon or these spicy noodles. You can easily swap out another Asian noodle like ramen (or make this pork ramen stir fry recipe), soba or even Pad Thai rice noodles. If you have egg noodles on hand, try making shrimp lo mein instead.
- Swap out the protein. Instead of the ground beef in this recipe, you can also use turkey, chicken or pork. For a vegetarian version, use tofu or tempeh. I’ve made this with tofu, tearing it into pieces like I do in this BBQ tofu and vegetables sheet pan recipe and it’s still very flavorful thanks to the garlic sriracha sauce.
- Cold water is your friend. If your cooked udon noodles stick together after draining before you add them to the skillet, simply rinse under cold water and they’ll loosen up again. This is especially true for gluten-free varieties as rice flour tends to be quite sticky.
Let me know what you think of this dish. I may be biased but we think it’s the perfect weeknight meal when you’re craving takeout.
Whether you live in an area devoid of a place to make anything like this (me) or just want to create a healthier option at home, these spicy udon noodles are the perfect answer!
MORE RECIPES LIKE THIS SPICY UDON STIR FRY
Spicy Udon Noodles
For the noodles:
- 8 ounces udon noodles use gluten-free brand if desired
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 fresno pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 large red onion thinly sliced
- 2 cups thinly sliced/shredded green cabbage
- chopped green onions cilantro and sesame seeds for garnish
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup soy sauce or use tamari/coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sriracha or chili garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cook udon noodles according to package directions and set aside.
- Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat breaking into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks.
- Drain any excess liquid from the skillet then season with black pepper and add the minced garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the peppers, onion and cabbage to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir to combine with all the vegetables and beef. Cook for 2 minutes until thickened.
- Stir in the prepared udon noodles and toss everything together until fully coated in the sauce.
- Garnish with green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds before serving.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.