21 Cold Noodle Salads That Are Perfect for Lunch
Figuring out what to make for lunch every day can feel overwhelming. Instead of settling for the same salad or sandwich on repeat, why not spice things up with a cold noodle salad? They're easy to make, often come together quickly, and can be prepared in advance, which means figuring out what to eat during your 30 minute lunch break just got a whole lot easier.
What makes these dishes so ideal for your mid-day meal is that they're easy to prep in bulk; whip up a large batch at the beginning of the week, and portion them out into individual containers stored in the fridge; a delicious, healthy lunch will always be at your fingertips, and that's true whether you're tossing it in your bag to eat in the office or if you're walking from the living room to the kitchen for lunch. And because many of these recipes are chock-full of fresh vegetables and seasonings, like our Soba Salad with Grilled Eggplant and Tomato, pictured here, they're lunches you can feel so good about eating.
But that's just one of the many vegetarian-friendly cold noodle salads we're sharing. While the cold noodles are the focal point of these dishes, it's almost always the sauces mixed in that make each one unique. Our Cold Sesame Noodles, for example, is made of thick Udon enveloped in a sweet-and-spicy mixture of peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, and crushed red-pepper flakes. It's the type of lunch you'll want to make time and time again.
We have plenty of options for meat-eaters, too. Try our Easy Thai Beef Salad, which comes together in only 15 minutes, and serves two—meaning you'll have two days' worth of lunches planned for the week in one go. Our Chicken and Shredded-Cabbage Salad with Noodles features a mixture of noodles, vegetables, and filling protein, and it gets a kick from spicy serrano chiles. Ahead, explore more of our delicious cold noodle salads that serve as tasty make-ahead recipes.
Soba with Salmon and Watercress
You'll devour this oh-so-elegant lunch in a flash. Toss soba with poached salmon, watercress, buttermilk, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and chives, then chill until ready to eat.
Cold Peanut Noodles
You're going to want to put this peanut sauce on everything, but start by using it as a dressing for whole-wheat spaghetti. Top with shredded bok choy and carrots for a crunchy, nourishing lunch.
Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken and Scallions
Cold noodle salads are a great vehicle for using up leftover chicken. Add some thinly sliced red cabbage, scallions, and a soy-ginger dressing, and you've got lunch!
Asian Noodle Salad with Peanuts and Mint
Seeking a healthy, satiating lunch? Sit down to a bowl of soba tossed with scallions, cucumber, peanuts, mint, and soy-lime dressing.
Soba Noodle Salad
Soba noodles are the perfect partner for crunchy vegetables like cucumbers, radishes, and sugar snap peas. Dress with oil, soy sauce, and fresh lemon juice for a light yet satisfying lunch.
Lighter Sesame Noodles
Our better-for-you version of the takeout favorite calls for whole-wheat spaghetti, a mix of broccoli, bell peppers, onion, and a no-cook sesame-peanut sauce.
Cold Soba Salad with Feta and Cucumber
You only need 15 minutes to assemble this buckwheat noodle salad with lemon vinaigrette. Cucumbers and red cabbage give it crunch, salty feta lends richness, and fresh parsley adds a bright note.
Easy Thai Beef Salad
Take roast beef beyond the sandwich; toss it with cellophane noodles, carrots, mint, and peanuts instead. A zesty curry-lime sauce ties all the flavors together.
Cold Soba-Noodle Salad with Chicken, Peppers, and Cucumber
Using store-bought rotisserie chicken helps this recipe come together super quickly. Shred the meat and toss with bell peppers, fresh basil, cucumbers, soba, and lime vinaigrette.
Soba Salad with Asparagus and Shrimp
Using the same pot to cook the asparagus, shrimp, and soba is a huge timesaver in this quick and easy recipe.
Chicken and Shredded-Cabbage Salad with Noodles and Peanut Sauce
This noodle salad combines all of our favorite things—tender poached chicken, crunchy cabbage and carrots, fiery serrano chiles, gingery peanut sauce, and fresh mint and cilantro. It also makes enough to feed a crowd, so you can have it for lunch all week or bring it to a potluck!
Pork And Soba Noodle Salad
Breathe new life into leftover pork tenderloin by tossing it with soba, carrots, bell pepper, scallions, and hoisin-lime sauce. Want to add even more flavor at lunchtime? Pack some red-pepper flakes and lime wedges.
Asian Noodle Salad
Here's a no-fail lunch we adore. Combine buckwheat noodles with blanched green beans, firm silken tofu, scallions, and a sesame-soy dressing, then chill overnight in an airtight container.
Cold Soba Noodle Salad
If you've got soba, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame seeds in your pantry, all you need to pick up to make this recipe is fresh cilantro. You can also add chili oil for a little heat.
Soba Noodles with Tofu, Avocado, and Snow Peas
Fresh ginger and a serrano chile are cooked with sugar and water as a delicious garnish for this noodle salad, and the resulting syrup takes the soy-lime dressing to the next level. Bonus tip: Roll the avocado in sesame seeds to prevent the surface from browning.
Ginger-Peanut Somen Noodles
You can find somen, thin Japanese wheat noodles, in the Asian section of your grocery store. Dress them with lime-ginger vinaigrette, chill, and garnish with scallions and roasted peanuts—all that's left to do is sit back and enjoy your next-level lunch!
Papaya, Shrimp, and Soba Salad
A bright and tangy dish, this cold noodle salad is just the thing to brighten up your workday. It comes together in 30 minutes, and makes four servings.
Cold Udon with Crab and Cucumber
The briny, delicious taste of the crab, soft udon, and crunchy cucumber come together for a satisfying bite in this cold noodle salad.
Cold Sesame Noodles
Whether served as a side dish or beneath your favorite protein for a unique lunch, these cold sesame noodles are sure to hit the spot.
This recipe makes eight servings, leaving you with plenty of pre-packed lunches for the week, but you could also share this cold noodle salad with a friend.
Japanese Salad with Shiso Leaves, Sake, and Soba Noodles
Deep-fried tempura crumbs add crunch to this delicious cold noodle salad.