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how to cook stir fry rice noodles | Family Cuisine

This stir fry rice noodles recipe is a quick and easy, healthy dish that you can make in less than 30 minutes. It's great to have on hand for lunch or dinner because it has all the flavors of Asian cuisine but without the added
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Learn how to cook rice noodles for all your favorite stir-fry, soup and cold noodle salad recipes!

cooked rice noodles in a blue bowl

Rice noodles are an essential and absolutely delicious ingredient in almost all Asian cuisines, made from just two ingredients: rice flour and water.

I love rice noodles for their slightly chewy, springy texture. Also because they taste a bit lighter than noodles made from wheat flour.

Cold rice noodle salads often have a salty, umami dressing with a kick of citrus and vinegar, like cold rice noodle salad with peanut lime dressing. Long, thin rice noodles are delicious in soup, and we all love rice noodle stir-fries like Pad See Ew and Drunken Noodles.

Cooking rice noodles is slightly different than cooking other types of pasta. Instead of boiling the noodles, dried rice noodles are simply soaked in hot water to hydrate. If used in a stir-fry, the hydrated noodles are then briefly cooked again in a very hot wok or skillet.

The tricky part about cooking rice noodles is knowing how long to soak the noodles. Keep reading for specific, helpful tips about how to cook rice noodles for all your favorite recipes.

Jump to:

  • Types of Rice Noodles
  • How to Cook Rice Noodles
  • Tips for Perfectly Cooked Rice Noodles
  • Are Rice Noodles Gluten-Free?
  • Rice Noodle Cookbooks
  • More Information About Asian Noodles
  • More Easy Ingredient Prep
  • 📖 Recipe

Types of Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are an ingredient in basically all Asian cuisines. They are sold fresh and dried. In most grocery stores in the United States, dried rice noodles are most common. In Asian markets you’re more likely to also find fresh rice noodles in the refrigerated section.

Each country has a variety of names for rice noodles, depending on the size and shape of the noodles. However, in most grocery stores in the US they are labeled simply as “rice noodles” or “rice stick” noodles.

The main difference between all types of rice noodles is the width of the noodles.

The packaging rarely says exactly what size the noodles are. Luckily, the packaging is usually transparent so you can see the noodles for yourself! The brand “A Taste of Thai” has a good visual of all 4 widths of noodles that they sell.

4 common types of rice noodles

  • Very thin: Similar to angel hair pasta, these noodles might also be labeled as “vermicelli” or “angel hair.” They’re used in this recipe for Singapore Noodles.
  • Thin: About ⅛-inch wide, might be rounded like spaghetti or flat like linguine. Sometimes these noodles are labeled as “Pad Thai” rice noodles.
  • Medium: Often labeled as “Pad Thai” or “Stir-Fry” noodles. The noodles are closer to ¼-inch wide, similar to linguine. Sometimes medium-width noodles are a little wider, more like fettuccine. Used in my easy Rice Noodles with Vegetables recipe.
  • Wide: Similar in width to pappardelle pasta, used in dishes like Pad See Ew.

Although not traditional, you can also find brown rice noodles in grocery stores. Brown rice noodles are very similar in flavor and texture to regular rice noodles. Brown rice noodles can be cooked and prepared exactly the same way as regular rice noodles.

dried rice noodles
Dried Rice Noodles

How to Cook Rice Noodles

There is no single “right” way to cook dried rice noodles. There are several different but similar methods, and when you start cooking rice noodles fairly regularly you’ll settle on a method that you like best.

I’ve also noticed that some brands of rice noodles soften faster than other brands. If you find a brand you like, keep buying that brand and soon you’ll figure out exactly the right soaking time for your favorite rice noodles.

Here is the most common method for cooking dried rice noodles, often the method listed on rice noodle packages:

  1. Boil a pot of water, then turn off the heat
  2. Add rice noodles to the pot, or pour the boiling hot water over the noodles in a wide bowl, covering them completely
  3. Swish the noodles around briefly to separate
  4. Soak the noodles for 6 to 10 minutes, until tender but still chewy
  5. Drain the noodles
  6. Rinse briefly under cold water

Many home cooks and chefs have slightly different methods that they prefer.

Other Cooking Methods:

Hot water, longer soak: Some recipes, like this one for Pad Thai, use hot tap water (not boiling) and soak the noodles for up to 30 minutes. The noodles cook slightly slower, making it less likely they’ll get too soft.

Cold water, longer soak: Use cold water and soak the noodles even longer. This could take several hours or more but you’re less likely to end up with over-soaked noodles.

Quick Boil: Boil the noodles for 2 to 6 minutes, then rinse in cold water. Careful with this method, as the noodles can easily over-cook.

cooked rice noodles

Tips for Perfectly Cooked Rice Noodles

Are Rice Noodles Gluten-Free?

Yes. Check the ingredient label, but rice noodles should only have two ingredients: rice flour and water.

Rice Noodle Cookbooks

There are lot of great cookbooks with authentic rice noodles recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Vietnamese Food Any Day
  • Night + Market
  • Rice. Noodles. Yum.

More Information About Asian Noodles

When I want to learn more about rice noodles and other types of Asian noodles, I love reading these blogs:

The Woks of Life – Chinese Noodles and WrappersCooking with Lane – Rice Noodles vs Vermicelli NoodlesViet World Kitchen – Vietnamese Noodles 101

More Easy Ingredient Prep

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