Udon Noodles in an irresistible sweet and spicy gochujang sauce with caramelized mushrooms and your choice of stir-fried veggies!

This Udon Noodle Stir Fry is an exotic fusion of Asian flavors with nods to Japanese, Korean and Thai cuisine. It’s made with versatile pantry friendly ingredients, on your table in just over 30 minutes and YOU choose the spice level! This udon recipe is made of a soft tangle of delightfully chewy udon noodles (or any noodles you have on hand will work), caramelized mushrooms and crisp-tender vegetables bathed in a savory, sweet, and spicy sauce, laced with heavy hitting fiery gochuchang, earthy tahini, umami-rich soy sauce, peppery Thai basil (or regular), and aromatic garlic, ginger and green onions.  Serve it up with some crispy crab rangoons or egg rolls for pure taste bud magic.

Asian Stir-Fried Noodles are a favorite weeknight dinner because they’re quick, easy, pantry friendly and versatile.  Don’t miss Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles, Singapore Noodles, Pad See Ew or Korean Noodles.

HOW TO MAKE Udon Noodle Recipe VIDEo

up close of udon noodles stir fried with vegetables in a bowl
showing how to make udon noodle recipe by tossing udon noodles with sauce and vegetables in a skillet

Udon Noodle FAQS

What are udon noodles?

Udon noodles are a delightfully thick, chewy Japanese noodles made from wheat flour, water, and salt.  They are glossy white, flat or round and about two to four millimeters.  They are a mild noodle which makes them incredibly versatile to use in all your favorite dishes.

What are udon noodles made of?

Udon noodles are made from wheat flour, water, and salt.  As such, they are not gluten free.

How to cook udon noodles?

Cook udon noodles just like you would spaghetti. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the noodles and cook according to package directions.  If the noodles are dried, they will likely take between 10-12 minutes.  If they are semi-dried, they will take 8-9 minutes.  To test, grab a noodle with tongs or a slotted spoon, run under cold water until cool, then taste.

Is udon a healthy noodle?

Udon is traditionally made from durum flour, so they have a nutritional profile that’s similar to our American pastas.  They don’t boast very much added nutrition, but can be part of a balanced diet when served in proper proportions.  One serving of udon noodles has about 310 calories, with 7 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 69 grams of carbohydrates.

Udon vs Soba Noodles

When it comes to Japanese noodles, udon and soba are two of the most popular varieties. If you haven’t cooked with both kinds of noodles before, you may be worried they’ll be difficult to differentiate at the store. In fact, they’re both easy to identify even if they’re not clearly labeled:

Udon noodles are made with wheat flour and are glossy white. You’ll find both flat and rounded udon noodles at the store.  The noodles are thicker and much chewier than soba noodles. They’re often served in stir fries and soups.

Soba noodles are long noodles made with buckwheat flour and are brown or grey. They’re naturally gluten-free (udon noodles are not) and are similar in appearance to whole wheat spaghetti. They’re nuttier in flavor than udon noodles and are rarely served in soups. 

Udon vs Ramen

Both udon and ramen noodles are white, long, chewy noodles, but udon noodles are thicker with a more subtle flavor.  Udon noodles themselves are always vegan, but ramen noodles are made with eggs. Ramen also is made with kansui (かん水), a salty, alkaline liquid that gives the noodles their signature chewy, springy texture.

Udon Noodle STir Fry Ingredients

This simple udon noodles recipe features a flavorful gochujang sauce and plenty of stir-fry veggies. Here’s a look at what you’ll need to make this recipe (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

For the Stir Fry

  • Udon noodles: are thicker Japanese wheat noodles with a delightfully chewy texture. You may substitute lo mein, ramen, or even spaghetti, if desired. 
  • Vegetables:  I used cremini mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots and spinach, but feel free to use whatever veggies you love or have on hand.
  • Garlic: use more or less depending on your garlic love. You may substitute 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder in a bind added directly to the sauce.
  • Ginger: adds a fabulous, almost pepper kick. You will need 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, or you may substitute with ¾ teaspoon powdered ginger – but the real stuff is so much better!
  • Green onions: are also used in their entirety – you’ll use the chopped white part in the stir fry and the green tops for garnish. 
  • Thai basil: I recommend Thai basil but you may substitute regular basil if needed. Thai basil tastes like Italian basil but savorier and spicier with a pronounced herbal, anise-licorice flavor and crisp peppery pungency. I have had success finding Thai basil with the pre-packaged herbs at Sprouts otherwise you can find it at your local Asian market. 
  • Oil: use a neutral, high smoking point oil such as vegetable, canola or peanut oil.  Do NOT use olive oil because it can burn at high heat, leaving behind a nasty taste and harmful chemicals.
top view of udon noodles in a bowl showing the stir fried vegetables

For the Stir Fry SAUCE

  • Gochujang (or gochuchang): is a spicy Korean red chili paste that puts other chili pastes to shame. Do NOT substitute with any other chili paste and expect the same results. (See more details below).
  • Oyster sauce: cannot be skipped! It is the base of almost every stir-fry sauce and adds that extra punch of flavor that cannot be replicated with other ingredients/sauces. Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone. You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. Please use QUALITY oyster sauce such as Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman. You truly can taste the difference and will be sorely disappointed with less quality brands. 
  • Tahini: a flavorful paste made from ground sesame seeds. It’s easy to find in the international section of most grocery stores. You may substitute peanut butter.
  • Lime juice: freshly squeezed is best but bottled can be used. The acidity of the lime juice balances the spicy gochujang and earthy tahini. 
  • Toasted sesame oiljust a splash adds an exciting nutty flavor. Make sure to use toasted sesame oil and not regular sesame oil.  Toasted sesame oil boasts a strong nutty aroma whereas light/plain sesame oil is a low-flavor oil used for sautéing.
  • Soy sauce + molasses + brown sugar: the soy sauce provides the saltiness; the molasses provides the signature flavor and the brown sugar provides the sweetness. Do NOT skip the molasses, it is what makes this recipe taste authentic! Make sure to use low sodium soy sauce or your recipe will be too salty.
serving udon noodle stir fry in a bowl garnished by green onions and sesame seeds

How to Make Udon Noodles

This udon noodle recipe is so quick and easy to make! The entire recipe can be whipped up in about 30 minutes and is easy to customize depending on what veggies you have on hand. Win-win!  Here’s a closer look with step-by-step directions (full recipe at the bottom of the post):

Step 1: Cook the Udon Noodles

  • Cook the udon noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. 
  • Drain and rinse under cool running water.  
  • Drizzle with oil and toss to prevent the noodles from sticking together.

Step 2: Caramelize the mushrooms

  • Add mushrooms to sizzling oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.  Stir to coat and spread into an even layer (some will overlap which is okay).  Cook undisturbed until they turn deeply golden brown on the bottom, about 10 minutes.  (You can use this time to make the stir fry sauce).
  • Once the bottoms of the mushrooms are golden, give them a stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are deeply caramelized, about 5 more minutes.
a collage showing how to make udon noodle recipe by caramelizing mushrooms in a cast iron skillet

Step 3: Make the Gochujang Sauce

  • Whisk the stir-fry sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
showing how to make udon noodles by whisking together the stir fry sauce in a bowl

Step 4: Stir-Fry the Veggies

  • To mushrooms, add the bell peppers, carrots, ginger, garlic and the white parts of the green onions. 
  • Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions are softened.
showing how to make udon noodles by stir frying carrots, bell peppers, ginger and garlic

Step 5: Bring Everything Together 

  • Add the stir fry sauce and bring to a simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  
  • Add the noodles, spinach, and basil and toss until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
showing how to make udon noodle recipe by adding udon noodles to stir fry sauce with vegetables

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

  • Garnish with remaining green onions and sesame seeds before digging in!
top view showing how to make udon noodles by garnishing with green onions and sesame seeds in the skillet
  • Don’t overcook the udon noodles. You want the udon cooked to al dente vs soft because it will continue to cook in the stir fry.
  • Prep the ingredients before you start stir frying. Prep the veggies before you start cooking. The stir fry process just takes minutes – there isn’t time to stop and prep ingredients. You can, however, whisk the sauce together while you’re caramelizing the mushrooms, because this takes 10 minutes.
  • Customize the spice level. If you are worried about heat, it’s best to start with less gochujang sauce (about 2 tablespoons) and add more to taste. 
  • DON’T substitute the gochujang. No other chili paste will impart the same nuanced flavor. 
  • Don’t wash the mushrooms. You should never rinse your mushrooms or they will absorb water like a sponge and become waterlogged. Waterlogged mushrooms will not caramelize and instead emerge the dreaded soggy and squeaky.  Instead, clean your mushrooms with a damp paper towel.
  • Sauté mushrooms until dark and dry:  This is the secret to making the best caramelized mushrooms! Allow the heat to draw out their natural juices as they sizzle undisturbed in the pan until the moisture is released and evaporated – this can take a full 10 minutes.  Only once they are browned on the bottom do you start to stir.  Continue to stir until the mushrooms are deeply caramelized – dark, but not burnt, and very dry.  
  • Slice vegetables uniformly. This will help them cook evenly.
  • Rinse the udon noodles under cold water. This stops the cooking process instantly and prevents them from softening too much. 
  • Toss the udon in oil. This prevents them from sticking together as they cool while the veggies are sautéed. 
  • Swap noodles. I love the chewiness udon noodles bring to the stir-fry, but any noodle you have on hand will work such as ramen, lo mein noodles or even spaghetti.
  • Make it more or less spicy. Customize the heat level by adding more or less gochujang to taste. 
  • Mix up the veggies. As with any stir-fry, you can use any veggies you’d like in this recipe. Bok choy, broccoli, snow peas, fresh green beans, and more can be used! 
  • Add protein. Add cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef to your udon noodle stir-fry. See my cashew chicken for how I prepare my chicken.
  • Add tofu. Place firm tofu in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes, then chop into 1-inch cubes.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free noodles (like rice noodles), tamari in place of the soy sauce and gluten-free oyster sauce.  Traditional Gochuchang is not gluten free, so you’ll need to seek out a gluten free version like this one on Amazon.
side up close view of udon noodles stir fried with vegetables showing their chewy texture
  • Protein: Yakitori, Thai Chicken, Korean Chicken, Hawaiian Chicken. 
  • Salad: Ramen Noodle Salad,  Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, and Asian Pineapple Salad.
  • Soup: Tom Yum Soup, Tom Kha Gai, Laksa, Curried Butternut Squash Soup and Thai Noodle Soup.
  • Appetizers: Spring Rolls, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Crab  Rangoons, Chicken Satay, Potstickers, Pork Egg Rolls, Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls and Chinese Chicken Wings.  
  • Fruit: fresh fruit such as chopped pineapple is always an easy, welcome sweet stir fry side. Grilled Pineapple, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Creamy Grape Salad, and Pina Colada Fruit Salad are also fantastic.
up close of udon noodles stir fried with sauce in a bowl with vegetables

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NOODLES AND STIR FRY

  • 8 oz. udon noodles (may sub lo mein, ramen or spaghetti)
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil like canola or vegetable
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, torn
  • 1 cup Thai basil, chopped (may sub regular)
  • toasted sesame seeds and lime wedges for serving
  • Cook noodles: Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cool running water. Lighlty drizzle with neutrel oil and toss to prevent the noodles from sticking together; set aside.
  • Cook mushrooms: Heat 3 tablespoons neutral oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms, stir to coat and spread into an even layer (some will overlap which is okay). Cook undisturbed until they turn deeply golden brown on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile…
  • Make stir fry sauce: Meanwhile, whisk the Stir Fry Sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Caramelize mushrooms: Once the bottoms of the mushrooms are golden, give them a stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are deeply caramelized, about 5 more minutes.

  • Stir fry vegetables: Add the bell peppers, carrots, ginger, garlic and white parts of green onions to the mushrooms and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until the onions are softened.
  • Combine: Add the Sauce and bring to a simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add the noodles, spinach, and basil and toss until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.

  • Garnish: Garnish with desired amount of green onions and sesame seeds.

Tips and Tricks

  • Oyster sauce: Please use QUALITY oyster sauce such as Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman located in the Asian section of grocery store. You truly can taste the difference and will be sorely disappointed with less quality brands.  If you’re allergic to shellfish or are vegetarian, use LEE KUM KEE Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce instead of oyster sauce.
  • Gochujang (or gochuchang): is a Korean red chili paste primarily made from red chilies, glutinous rice, and soybeans with a complex, savory, spicy, sweet heat. Please do not substitute with another Asian chili sauce – they are not the same!
  • Customize the spice level: If you are worried about heat, it’s best to start with less gochujang sauce (about 2 tablespoons) and add more to taste.
  • Mix up the veggies: As with any stir-fry, you can use any veggies you’d like in this recipe. Bok choy, broccoli, snow peas, fresh green beans, and more can be used! 
  • Add protein: Add cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef to your udon noodle stir-fry. See my cashew chicken for how I prepare my chicken.
  • Add tofu:Place firm tofu in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes, then chop into 1-inch cubes.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free noodles (like rice noodles), tamari in place of the soy sauce and gluten-free oyster sauce.  Traditional Gochuchang is not gluten free, so you’ll need to seek out a gluten free version like this one on Amazon.

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