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Ready in just 25 minutes, this sesame noodle salad is simple, easy to make, and DELICIOUS. It's - dare I say - my most favorite meal prep recipe during the busy work week! This cold noodle salad is loaded with fresh veggies and homemade sesame ginger dressing that takes just minutes to make!
You Will Love This
- It's quick and easy. If you need a last-minute side dish for that backyard barbecue you forgot about, this is the noodle salad for you! Your friends are going to love it and I can almost guarantee they'll be asking you for the recipe! Looking for more pasta salads? Try my Vegan Peanut Noodle Salad, Creamy Cucumber Pasta Salad, or my Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad!
- The flavors are AMAZING. The tahini, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and soy sauce come together to make the most delicious dressing you've ever tasted. You might want to just drink it straight from the mason jar - it's sooooo good!
- It's perfect for meal prep. This sesame ginger noodle salad is on permanent rotation in my meal prep lineup. I make it at least once a month and I'm always sad when it's gone. The flavors just get better with time and I look forward to eating it all week!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Spaghetti Noodles - I like spaghetti noodles for this cold noodle salad but you can use whatever pasta you've got on hand.
- Red Pepper - Red bell peppers are the sweetest (because they’ve been allowed to ripen longest on the vine), but you can use any type of bell pepper for this recipe.
- Cabbage - Cabbage has a fresh, peppery flavor and purple cabbage adds a beautiful purple color to the noodle salad.
- Carrots - A bag of pre-shredded carrots is perfect for this recipe! They’re usually thicker than you can shred carrots at home on a box grater, so they hold up really well in this dish.
- Edamame - Edamame are immature soybeans, and they pack a lot of flavor and nutritional value. They’re commonly sold in their pods, but look for shelled edamame to save prep time. They're typically located in the freezer section at the grocery store. Just cook according to package directions and then cool.
- Green Onion - Green onions, or scallions, smell like onions when they’re fresh, but the green stalks have a much more fresh, “green” flavor. You could use chives instead.
- Soy Sauce - The umami flavor of soy sauce is the base for this dressing. I like a low-sodium soy sauce for this cold noodle dish because there are lots of flavors and you really don’t need the extra salt.
- Rice Vinegar - Rice vinegar looks a lot like white vinegar, but has a very distinct, somewhat sweet flavor. You can use seasoned or unseasoned rice vinegar. You could use white wine vinegar in a pinch, but you’ll end up with a different flavor.
- Tahini or Peanut Butter - You can use either peanut butter or tahini for this recipe and you’ll end up with a very similar result. Tahini will give you more sesame flavor.
- Brown Sugar - You can use white sugar if you don’t have brown, but the molasses in brown sugar really adds more depth of flavor.
- Ground Ginger - Ground ginger works best for this dressing as opposed to fresh ginger, because it blends in easily and gives just the right amount of ginger flavor.
- Garlic Powder - As above, we want these spices to really dissolve into the sauce, so garlic powder is better than fresh garlic.
- Sesame Oil - Sesame oil rounds out the flavors in this cold noodle salad dressing. It has a strong, distinct aroma and flavor. You can use a good, organic olive oil if you need a substitute, but you’ll lose the nuttiness that sesame oil offers.
Combine salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until emulsified.
Add noodles and veggies to a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad.
Toss to coat evenly.
Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy!
- Make sure you cook your pasta just al dente. Nothing ruins a pasta salad more than overcooked pasta. I always cook my pasta for the minimum time listed on the instructions (sometimes even a minute or two less). This ensures that the pasta still has a bit of a bite and will not become mushy when you add the dressing.
- If you'll be eating this salad as a meal prep recipe, just add half the dressing initially. Then add a little more each day just before eating so that the pasta salad doesn't get soggy and the flavors stay fresh! The dressing will stay good in the fridge for up to 5 days.
This cold sesame noodle salad will stay delicious in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. It'll keep even better if you store the noodles and sauce separately (so the noodles don't get soggy). If you think you might have leftovers that need to stay in the fridge for more than a day or two, try adding the dressing just before serving instead of adding it straight to the whole batch of pasta salad.
Technically, you can freeze noodles for up to 2 months, but I don't recommend it as it can lead to soggy noodles once they're defrosted. These cold sesame noodles taste best when eaten within 5 days of making them!
More Pasta Salads
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
- Greek Chickpea Pasta Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Pasta Salad
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
This post was originally published in April 2018. It was updated in April 2021 to include process shots and detailed tips on how to make the perfect pasta salad.