What is a good substitute for fideo?

Fideo is a thin noodle or pasta that is very popular in Mexican cuisine. It is often used in soups, stews, and other dishes. However, fideo can be hard to find in regular grocery stores, especially outside of areas with large Hispanic populations. If you can’t find fideo locally, there are several good substitutes you can use instead.

Quick Answer

– Angel hair pasta is the closest substitute for fideo in terms of size and texture. It can be used in all the same recipes.

– Linguine or vermicelli noodles also work very well as fideo substitutes. Break them into shorter pieces if needed.

– Thin spaghetti noodles can be broken into small pieces to substitute for fideo.

– Rice noodles or bean thread noodles can be used in soups instead of fideo.

– Very thin egg noodles can be substituted in most recipes calling for fideo.

Angel Hair Pasta

Angel hair pasta is the best substitute for fideo in terms of matching the thin, delicate texture. It is cut into very fine strands, similar to the size of fideo.

Angel hair pasta can be used in any recipe that calls for fideo. The cooking time may be slightly shorter since angel hair is a little thinner than fideo. But other than that, it makes an excellent 1:1 replacement in soups, stews, casseroles, and other dishes.

The main advantage of angel hair over other substitutes is that it has the same delicate, soft texture as fideo. Other pasta shapes or noodles tend to be a little thicker and chewier when cooked.

Angel hair is readily available in any grocery store pasta aisle. It typically comes bundled into bird’s nest shapes. Simply break off the amount needed for your recipe and use it as you would fideo.

Cooking with Angel Hair

To substitute angel hair for fideo in recipes:

– Use the same volume of angel hair pasta as the fideo that is called for. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 ounces of fideo, use 4 ounces of angel hair.

– Boil the angel hair for 2-3 minutes until al dente. It may take slightly less time than fideo.

– For soups, add the angel hair in the last few minutes so it doesn’t get overcooked.

– Toss with sauces, mix into casseroles, or add to stews just as you would with fideo pasta.

The cooking time and method will be almost exactly the same. Angel hair is durable enough to hold up in soups and stews without breaking down too much. The flavor and texture will be very close to fideo, so it makes an effortless substitution in most recipes.

Linguine or Vermicelli

Linguine or vermicelli are also excellent fideo substitutes. These pastas are slightly thicker than both fideo and angel hair. But when broken into smaller pieces, they work very well in place of fideo.

Vermicelli and linguine noodles are around 1/8 inch wide when cooked. They are thicker than fideo, but still thinner than spaghetti.

To substitute vermicelli or linguine for fideo:

– Use the same measured weight or volume of pasta.

– Break the noodles into 1-2 inch lengths before cooking so they are similar to fideo.

– Boil for 2-3 minutes until just tender.

– Rinse briefly in cold water to stop the cooking process.

– Use as you would fideo in soups, stews, casseroles, etc.

Breaking the noodles into short pieces before cooking is key to mimicking the texture of fideo. Without cutting them first, the long linguine or vermicelli noodles would be unwieldy in soups and other fideo recipes. But once broken down, they work beautifully.

The main advantage of linguine or vermicelli is that they are almost as widely available as spaghetti. Linguine and vermicelli can be found in any major grocery store pasta aisle for an easy fideo substitute.

When to Substitute Linguine or Vermicelli

Linguine and vermicelli are ideal choices in any dish where the fideo is cut up into smaller pieces or broken down as it cooks. For example:

– Chicken or beef stews
– Minestrone or vegetable soups
– Spanish or Mexican rice dishes
– Casseroles

They hold their shape and texture well in these types of recipes. The slightly larger size compared to fideo is hardly noticeable.

Linguine or vermicelli probably wouldn’t work as well in soups where the fideo is left in long strands. But in most recipes, their versatility makes them an easy pantry swap for fideo.

Thin Spaghetti

Regular spaghetti noodles can also substitute for fideo if you break them into small pieces first.

Look for spaghetti that is on the thinner side to better match fideo’s delicate texture. Italian styles are typically a little thinner than American spaghetti.

To prepare thin spaghetti as a fideo substitute:

– Use the same measured amount of spaghetti in place of fideo called for in recipes.
– Break dry spaghetti noodles into 1-2 inch lengths.
– Boil for 2-3 minutes until just tender.
– Rinse in cold water to stop cooking.
– Add to recipes as you would fideo.

Be sure to break up the spaghetti first so the pieces are not longer than fideo would be. This helps mimic the texture and makes it easier to eat them in soups and stews.

Spaghetti works well in most of the same dishes as linguine or vermicelli. The classics like soups, stews, casseroles, and rice mixes are all good options. Go for thin spaghetti for the most similar thickness to fideo.

The main advantage of spaghetti is that it’s the most widely available pasta shape. Virtually every grocery store will carry multiple versions of spaghetti. So it may be easier to find than some of the more obscure fideo substitutes.

Spaghetti Texture Differences

While thin spaghetti makes a suitable fideo swap for emergencies, there are a few differences:

– Spaghetti has a smooth, cylindrical shape while fideo is flat and ribbon-like.

– Boiled spaghetti tends to be a little more flexible and rubbery than tender fideo.

– Spaghetti is slightly thicker, even when choosing thin versions.

These variations mean spaghetti won’t perfectly mimic the exact texture of fideo. But the flavor will still work nicely in most recipes. The convenience factor of spaghetti may outweigh the minor textural differences when fideo is nowhere to be found.

Rice Noodles or Bean Thread Noodles

For a gluten-free fideo substitute, rice noodles or bean thread noodles are a good option. Both types are made from rice flour or mung bean starch instead of wheat.

Rice noodles and bean threads have a translucent, almost gelatinous texture when cooked. They readily soak up moisture and flavors from soups and sauces.

To substitute rice noodles or bean threads for fideo:

– Use the same measured weight or volume.
– Soak the noodles in hot water for 5-10 minutes until pliable.
– Drain and rinse.
– Use in soups, stir fries, or other dishes as you would fideo.

The main difference is that rice noodles and bean threads do not need to be boiled. They just need to be soaked in hot water until softened. Then they can be added directly to recipes.

Rice noodles and bean thread noodles work especially well as fideo swaps in soups. They hold up nicely and absorb broth without getting mushy. They lend a similar clear, mild flavor as fideo.

Just be aware that the texture will be much softer and more gel-like than al dente fideo. But for gluten-free diets or Asian-inspired recipes, they make a fine substitute.

When to Use Rice Noodles or Bean Threads

Some good options for using rice noodles or bean threads instead of fideo include:

– Chicken noodle or vegetable soups
– Pho or ramen
– Stir fried noodles
– Pad thai
– Spring rolls
– Rice bowls

They aren’t well suited to recipes where the fideo needs an al dente bite, like casseroles. But their soft, chewy texture works well in wet dishes like soups and stir fries. Consider them for gluten-free, vegan, or Asian-style fideo recipes.

Thin Egg Noodles

Thin egg noodles can also substitute for fideo in a pinch. Look for egg noodles that are no more than 1/4 inch wide when cooked.

Any wider than that and they will start to have more of a flat noodle texture rather than mimicking fideo. Most grocery stores carry a version of thin egg noodles that will work.

To use egg noodles as a fideo substitute:

– Use the same measured amount called for in the recipe.
– Break into roughly 1-2 inch pieces before cooking if the noodles seem longer than fideo.
– Boil for 2-3 minutes until just tender.
– Drain and rinse.
– Add to soups, stews, casseroles, etc.

One detail to watch is that egg noodles are often pre-cut into short strips or squares. If so, you may be able to skip the step of breaking them up before cooking. Just verify they are no longer than fideo would be.

Egg noodles work well in virtually any recipe calling for fideo. They hold their shape nicely in soups and stews but also work well in casseroles and bakes. Their rich egg flavor pairs well with sauces and seasonings too.

The main drawback is that egg noodles have a distinctly different flavor from plain fideo. But if you don’t mind the extra eggy taste, they make an effortless pantry substitute when fideo is missing.

Choosing the Right Egg Noodles

The size of egg noodles can vary widely from brand to brand. Make sure to inspect them carefully before using as a fideo substitute.

Ideally, look for ones that are:

– No more than 1/4 inch wide after cooking
– Cut or broken into short lengths
– Thinner and more delicate rather than wide and flat

Larger, wider egg noodles don’t work nearly as well. They end up having a texture closer to lasagna noodles than thin fideo. Pay attention to the noodle width and cut to find the best match.

Fideo Substitute Recipes

Any of these fideo substitutes can be seamlessly swapped into your favorite fideo recipes. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started:

Chicken Fideo Soup

Instead of fideo, use:

– Angel hair pasta
– Broken vermicelli or linguine
– Thin spaghetti pieces
– Rice noodles

Prepare the soup as directed, simply replacing the fideo with your pasta of choice. Add the pasta in the last 3-4 minutes of cooking so it doesn’t get overdone.

Beef and Fideo Stew

Instead of fideo, use:

– Short pieces of angel hair
– Linguine or vermicelli broken into bits
– Thin spaghetti snipped small
– Bean thread noodles

Everything else can stay the same – just swap out the fideo for one of its substitutes when making this hearty stew.

Fideo Salad

Instead of fideo, use:

– Cooked angel hair pasta
– Cooled rice noodles or bean threads
– Thin egg noodle pieces

Make the dressing as directed and pour it over your fideo substitute noodles. Let chill before serving.

Finding Fideo Locally

If possible, authentic fideo is still the best choice for both texture and flavor in traditional recipes. Here are some places to look for it:

– Mexican grocery stores
– Latin food markets
– International food aisles of major supermarkets
– Online stores specializing in Mexican ingredients

Fideo is produced by a number of common brands like La Moderna, Iberia, and La Preferida. If you have access to stores carrying Hispanic foods, you can likely find fideo along with other pasta shapes and dry goods.

Stock up when you spot it to have it handy for all your favorite soups, stews, rice dishes, and more. Fideo has a unique flavor and texture that’s hard to duplicate exactly with substitutes.


While fideo has its devotees, there are several serviceable stand-ins for times when fideo is unavailable. Angel hair pasta is the closest match, with its delicate thin strands mimicking fideo beautifully. Linguine, vermicelli, thin spaghetti, rice noodles, bean threads, and thin egg noodles can all work too.

The exact texture and flavor won’t be identical. But these substitutes do the job when you’re in a pinch. With a little creativity, you can still enjoy many classic fideo dishes. What’s most important is that the overall size and delicacy matches fideo as closely as possible.

So next time a recipe calls for fideo, don’t worry if you can’t track it down. With angel hair, linguine, or any other thin noodles on hand, you’ll have a number of solid stand-ins for fideo. Get creative with the pasta options you have and enjoy approximating those classic fideo recipes.

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