What Asian noodles have no gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause adverse health effects. Fortunately, many traditional Asian noodle dishes are naturally gluten-free or can be easily modified to avoid gluten.

Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are a staple ingredient across many Asian cuisines. Since they are made from rice flour rather than wheat flour, rice noodles contain no gluten. Examples of rice noodles include:

  • Rice vermicelli – thin noodles used in dishes like pad thai or spring rolls
  • Rice stick noodles – flat, wide noodles used in pho or stir fries
  • Cellophane noodles – clear, extremely thin noodles made from mung bean starch or rice flour

Rice noodles can be used as a substitute for wheat noodles in many recipes. They have a relatively neutral flavor and soft texture when cooked.

Buckwheat Noodles

Despite the name, buckwheat does not contain any wheat or gluten. Buckwheat noodles, known as soba noodles in Japan, provide a healthy gluten-free alternative to wheat noodles. Buckwheat has a nutty, earthy flavor and is higher in protein than rice or corn noodles.

Soba noodles are commonly served hot in soups or cold with dipping sauces. They can also be incorporated into stir fries and other dishes in place of wheat noodles.

Mung Bean Noodles

Also called glass noodles, bean thread noodles, or cellophane noodles, these gluten-free noodles are made from mung bean starch or green bean starch. Mung bean noodles are thin, translucent noodles that are commonly used in Thai and Chinese cooking.

Their texture is elastic and slippery when cooked. Mung bean noodles are great in soups, stir fries, and spring rolls. They absorb flavors very well and add a gelatinous texture to dishes.

Tapioca Noodles

Tapioca noodles are gluten-free noodles derived from cassava root starch. They are opaque before cooking but become translucent when boiled or soaked in hot water. Tapioca noodles are chewy and gelatinous in texture.

Tapioca noodles may also be called cassava noodles or yam noodles. They are a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian and Chinese cuisines. Tapioca noodles work especially well in soups, salads, stir fries, and spring rolls.

100% Buckwheat Soba Noodles

Although regular soba noodles contain some wheat flour, 100% buckwheat soba noodles contain no wheat or gluten. Made from pure ground buckwheat, these soba noodles have an especially nutty, earthy taste.

100% buckwheat soba noodles are harder to find than regular soba noodles that contain some wheat. Check ingredient labels carefully or look in health food stores. Use them just as you would standard soba noodles.

Keladi Rice Noodles

Also called air potatoes or water yam, keladi is a starchy tuber native to Southeast Asia. Keladi rice noodles, sometimes called wun sen, are made from a combination of keladi starch and rice flour.

Keladi rice noodles have a unique, stretchy texture. They are commonly used in soups in Malaysia and Indonesia. Their neutral flavor makes them easy to include in both savory and sweet dishes.

Sweet Potato Noodles

Sweet potato noodles, often called dangmyeon in Korean, are gluten-free noodles made from sweet potato starch and water. They have a delightful chewy texture and sweet flavor.

Sweet potato noodles work especially well in spicy Korean noodle dishes. Try using them in japchae, chapchae, or jajangmyeon. They can also substitute wheat noodles in soups and stir fries.

Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki noodles are unique, translucent noodles made from the konjac yam. They are essentially calorie free and contain no gluten or starch.

Shirataki noodles absorb flavors very well but have little flavor on their own. Their springy, gelatinous texture takes some getting used to. Use them as you would any thin Asian noodle in soups, stir fries, etc.

Seaweed Noodles

Also called sea vegetable noodles, seaweed noodles are made from sea vegetables like kelp, wakame, or sea mustard. Simply shredded and cut, they form gluten-free noodle-like strands.

Seaweed noodles have an ocean-like taste and slippery texture. They make a great salad topping or cold noodle dish base. Soak in hot water to soften before using in cooked dishes.

Zucchini Noodles

Using a spiralizer, it’s easy to turn zucchini into long, noodle-like strands. Zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,” are a creative gluten-free swap for traditional pasta.

Raw zucchini noodles are great in cold Asian noodle salads or soaked in spicy sauces. They can also be cooked briefly to use in Asian-inspired stir fries and soups.

Kelp Noodles

Kelp noodles are made from seaweed extract. They are extremely low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Their taste is mild with a sea-like essence and slippery texture.

Kelp noodles work well in soups, salads, and stir fries. They readily soak up dressings and sauces. Rinse and boil briefly before using to remove any salty taste.

Acorn Noodles

In Korea, an acorn starch noodle called dotori-guksu is a famous speciality. To make these unique noodles, acorn starch is extracted from acorns, then mixed with water and salt.

Dotori-guksu has a definite nutty flavor and chewy texture. It is served with broth or in salads. Look for dried acorn noodles in Korean markets or online shops.

Arrowroot Noodles

Arrowroot is a gluten-free starch extracted from various tropical tubers. When made into a dough with water and salt then rolled flat, it forms clear, gel-like noodles.

Arrowroot noodles, or arrowroot glass noodles, work well in sweet desserts and refreshing cold noodle dishes. They become soft and glossy when hydrated but retain a springy texture when bitten.

Taro Root Noodles

In Hawaii, a traditional dish called saimin features chewy noodles made from taro root. Taro is a starchy root vegetable common in tropical regions.

Taro noodles have a mild, slightly sweet taste that complements saimin’s salty broth. Look for fresh or dried taro noodles at Hawaiian markets and specialty grocers.

Noodles Made from Root Vegetables

Many other starchy Asian root vegetables can be turned into gluten-free noodles, such as:

  • Lotus root – Has a pretty, lacy appearance and crunchy texture
  • Yam – Relatively neutral flavor good for soups and stir-fries
  • Tiger lily root – Earthy flavor and chewy bite
  • Burdock root – Slightly sweet and slippery texture

Spiralize, shred, or cut these roots into noodles. They can be eaten raw but are often lightly cooked to soften and remove any bitterness.

Cooked vs. Raw Noodles

Many of the noodles listed should be briefly boiled, soaked in hot water, or otherwise prepped with heat prior to eating. This hydrates and softens the noodles to the proper consistency.

However, fresh noodles made from vegetables like zucchini can be eaten raw in cold salad dishes. Dried noodles must be cooked or soaked before consuming.

Buying Gluten-Free Asian Noodles

When shopping for gluten-free noodles, carefully check ingredient labels for any wheat-based additives. Look for noodles made from 100% rice, buckwheat, mung bean, tapioca, or other gluten-free flours.

Many mainstream grocery stores now carry gluten-free pasta options alongside wheat noodles. However, for more variety and authenticity, head to an Asian food market to shop their selection of rice noodles, bean thread noodles, shirataki noodles, and more.

If All Else Fails, Try Lettuce Wraps

Not able to find gluten-free noodles for your dish? Use lettuce cups or leaves instead. Soft lettuce like butterleaf or Boston lettuce works well.

Simply scoop your stir fry mixture or other filling into leaves of washed, fresh lettuce. Fold into wraps and eat like stuffed noodles. It’s a fresh, crunchy way to enjoy Asian flavors.

Tips for Cooking Gluten-Free Asian Noodles

Follow these tips for best results when cooking gluten-free Asian noodle dishes:

  • Soak dried noodles according to package directions until pliable.
  • Boil rice and vegetable-based fresh noodles briefly, just 1-3 minutes, so they don’t get mushy.
  • When stir-frying noodles, wait until the end to mix in so they don’t overcook.
  • Rinse off starchy noodles with cool water to prevent sticking and remove any funky taste.
  • Toss noodles with a bit of oil to prevent sticking.
  • For a healthier option, spiralize fresh vegetables into noodles instead of using dried and processed types.

Noodle Substitutes for Restricted Diets

Those restricting carbs, calories, or starch may wish to avoid traditional noodles made from grains, beans, or starchy vegetables. Here are some creative substitutions to try instead:

If avoiding… Try using…
Grains Spiralized vegetables, shirataki noodles, kelp noodles
Starch Shirataki noodles, kelp noodles, zucchini noodles
High carbs Zucchini noodles, cucumber noodles, shredded cabbage
High calories Shirataki noodles, kelp noodles, cucumber noodles

With a little creativity, you can enjoy delicious Asian noodle dishes while avoiding ingredients that don’t work for your diet. Just swap out regular noodles for a lower-carb, lower-calorie vegetable substitute.

Making Your Own Gluten-Free Asian Noodle Recipes

Once you’ve got your gluten-free noodles picked out, get creative with making your own recipes at home! Try out flavorful sauces, proteins and loads of fresh veggies to craft healthy, delicious bowls and stir fries.

Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:

  • Pad thai with rice noodles, chicken, bean sprouts, peanuts and spicy tamarind sauce
  • Vegetable curry laksa with rice vermicelli, peppers, mushrooms and creamy coconut curry broth
  • Chicken noodle soup with mung bean noodles, shiitake mushrooms and basil
  • Korean japchae with sweet potato noodles, beef, spinach and sesame oil
  • Crispy tofu stir fry with buckwheat soba noodles and hoisin garlic sauce
  • Fresh summer rolls with shrimp, rice noodles, cucumber, mint and peanut dipping sauce
  • Spicy dan dan noodles with shirataki noodles, pork, bok choy and Sichuan peppercorn sauce

The possibilities are endless when you begin swapping gluten-free noodles into your favorite Asian recipes. Let the noodles take center stage or pair them with loads of fresh vegetables, herbs, lean proteins and flavorful sauces.

Top Tips for Gluten-Free Asian Noodle Meals

Follow these simple suggestions for putting together delicious, nourishing Asian noodle bowls and stir fries at home:

  • Load up on fresh veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas and bean sprouts for texture and nutrients.
  • Add lean protein such as chicken, shrimp, pork or tofu for satisfaction.
  • Garnish with herbs, spices, scallions, lime wedges or chili sauce for extra flavor.
  • Use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari instead of regular soy sauce for a flavor boost.
  • Top your noodle dish with a fried egg for protein; soft, runny yolks also make a great sauce!
  • Swap peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter for peanut sauce if you have nut allergies.
  • Flavor noodle broths with garlic, fresh ginger and aromatics like lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime.
  • Keep ingredients on hand like rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha to quickly dress up noodle bowls.


From rice noodles to kelp noodles, shirataki to soba, there are so many gluten-free options to choose from when cooking Asian noodle dishes. You don’t have to give up your favorite takeout noodles just because you are avoiding gluten.

Armed with the right types of gluten-free noodles and a few simple sauce recipes, you can easily whip up quick weeknight noodle bowls or more elaborate weekend stir fry feasts. Asian noodles are endlessly adaptable, so get creative with vegetables, proteins and seasonings.

The gluten-free Asian noodle world is your oyster! Now get cooking up some delicious recipes in your own kitchen.

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