This Cold Soba Noodle Salad is my go-to whenever I am craving something light and refreshing for dinner. It’s ready in just 20 minutes or less!
I love the nutty flavor and al dente texture of Japanese soba noodles, complemented with fresh crunchy vegetables and a delicious soy-honey dressing.
It’s a quick and easy recipe! Soba noodles take only 5 minutes and all the other ingredients can be prepped ahead. This cold soba noodle salad recipe is perfect for busy weeknights!
Have you ever tried Japanese soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)? I love their slight nutty flavor and al dente texture.
This soba noodle salad is very simple. You only need a few ingredients: soba noodles cooked al dente, thinly sliced veggies, and a quick homemade dressing. You can customize the mix-ins any way you like!
I like to add grilled salmon, steak, or tofu to make it a meal. My favorite way to serve soba noodle salad is with this incredibly flavorful Baked Miso Salmon.
This soba noodle salad is the perfect for weeknights:
- Light and refreshing, with a lot of healthy ingredients and great texture.
- Quick and easy: The noodles cook in just 4 or 5 minutes!
- Prep-ahead friendly: Prep all your veggies and the dressing 1 to 2 days in advance.
- Complement with a protein of your choice. Salmon is my favorite!
How to Cook Soba Noodles (Buckwheat Noodles)
Cooking soba noodles is very easy! The key is to not overcook them, as they can become too soft very quickly. Simply, bring a large pot of water to a boil (with no salt). Then, cook the noodles for about 4 to 5 minutes until al dente.
Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made with buckwheat flour. They come dried and have a light to dark brown color. They have a slight nutty taste and an al dente texture, slightly firmer than pasta.
Soba noodles are not always 100 percent gluten-free. Most contain 80 percent buckwheat flour and 20 percent wheat flour. 100 percent soba buckwheat noodles tend to have a stronger taste and a firmer texture, and can usually be found in Japanese grocery stores. In this soba noodle salad recipe, I used 80/20 buckwheat or soba noodles.
As always, here are a few helpful ingredient notes. You can find the ingredient quantities and details in the recipe card down below.
- Soba noodles: They take only 3-4 minutes in boiling water. I’d recommend rinsing the cooked noodles with cold water to remove any residual heat.
- Veggies: Cilantro, thinly sliced red cabbage, matchstick or thinly sliced carrots. Use any veggies you’d like!
- Scallions: for the mix-ins and for garnish, thinly sliced.
- Sesame seeds and roasted seaweed for garnish. You can find these in the Asian foods section at most grocery stores or at an Asian grocery store.
- For the dressing: rice vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, ginger.
Making this cold soba noodle salad is super easy! The noodles take only 4 to 5 minutes to cook, and the mix-ins and dressing can be prepped ahead.
Step 1 | Make the dressing
In a mason jar or salad dressing shaker, combine all the dressing ingredients. Shake vigorously until evenly combined and emulsified. Set aside.
Step 2 | Cook noodles
In a large pot with boiling water, cook the soba noodles according to package directions. It usually takes 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they are ready, drain and rinse with cold water to prevent any residual heat from overcooking the noodles. The texture should be a bit al dente and a tad bit firm.
Step 3 | Toss noodles with veggies and dressing
Toss the cooked soba noodles with the prepared dressing, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and scallions. Garnish with sesame seeds, seaweed, and more scallions. Enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
The easiest way to customize this cold soba noodle salad is by using your favorite mix-ins. Basically, you can use your favorite veggies, as long as they are thinly sliced so you can easily toss with the noodles. I like to use veggies that have a little crunch for texture.
Aside from the ones listed in the recipe card, try these:
- Thinly sliced cucumbers
- Thinly sliced bell peppers
- Snap peas
- Sauteed mushrooms
Prep Ahead Tips
The vegetables and the dressing can be prepared 1 to 2 days in advance. The noodles should be cooked the same day.
If you’re planning to take the salad to a gathering or party, add the dressing right before serving to prevent the noodles from getting soggy.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
You can serve this soba noodle salad with grilled salmon, tofu, or beef. Accompany the proteins with a homemade teriyaki sauce. Seared ahi tuna would be a great option too. Or try this Baked Miso Salmon!
Here are other amazing Asian recipes you can serve with this cold soba noodle salad:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles for about 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. There’s no need to add salt to the water. After they are ready, drain immediately and rinse with cold water to remove any residual heat – this will prevent the noodles from overcooking.
Not all soba noodles are. Most are 80 percent buckwheat flour and 20 percent wheat flour. There’s another type of soba noodles that are made with 100 percent buckwheat flour, but they have a different texture and flavor. I used 80/20 soba noodles to make this recipe.
I’d recommend cooking the noodles the same day, but you can prep all the veggies and make the dressing 1 to 2 days in advance. If you need to cook the noodles in advance, make sure to drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water after they are done to remove any residual heat – and add the dressing to the noodles right before serving.
This recipe was published in 2020 and updated in August 2022 to include new photos and information, plus a few recipe modifications.
Tips for Success
- Don’t overcook the noodles, as they can soften too quickly. They only need 4 to 5 minutes in boiling water. As soon as they are ready, drain and run with cold water to completely stop the cooking process. This way, you’ll get perfectly al dente soba noodles!
- If making it ahead, wait until ready to eat to toss the salad with the dressing. This will prevent the noodles from getting soggy.
- This soba noodle salad is highly customizable. Use your favorite veggies or add a protein of your choice. It goes really well with grilled salmon!
Cold Soba Noodle Salad (Buckwheat Noodles)
- 9 ounces soba noodles - also known as buckwheat noodles
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1 cup matchstick or thinly sliced carrots
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced - plus more for garnish
- Sesame seeds - for garnish
- Sliced seasoned seaweed - for garnish
Ginger Soy Dressing:
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 3 ½ tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey - to taste
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Make the dressing: In a mason jar, combine all the Ginger Soy Dressing ingredients. Cover with lid and shake vigorously until evenly combined. Adjust to taste if needed. Set aside.
- Cook soba noodles according to package directions, until al dente, about 4-5 minutes. There's no need to add salt to the water. To be sure, test it after 3-4 minutes to check for doneness. When ready, immediately drain and rinse with very cold water to stop the cooking process. This will prevent the noodles from getting too soft.
- In a large bowl, toss the cooked soba noodles with the cilantro, cabbage, carrots, scallions, and the prepared dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds, more sliced scallions, and sliced seasoned seaweed. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- How long to cook soba noodles: They only need 4 to 5 minutes in boiling water. Once they are ready, drain immediately and rinse with cold water to remove any residual heat.
- Are soba noodles gluten-free? Not all are. Most are made with 80 percent buckwheat flour and 20 percent wheat flour. Check the package ingredients to be certain.
- Prep ahead: The veggies and dressing can be prepared 1-2 days in advance. I’d recommend cooking the noodles the same day. Wait until ready to serve to add the dressing to prevent the noodles from getting soggy.
- Other veggies: Cucumbers, bell peppers, snap peas, edamame, sauteed mushrooms.
- Make it a meal! Try this Baked Miso Salmon, or serve with grilled salmon, steak, or tofu.