I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of glass noodle substitutes to find the best one for every cooking or baking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Rice vermicelli noodles are the best substitutes for glass noodles, along with other thin-strand noodles like ramen or soba noodles. For diet-friendly options, try shirataki or zucchini noodles. And in a pinch, angel hair pasta can work.
I made different batches of stir-fry to test several glass noodle substitutes.
Glass noodles are made from starches of potatoes, tapioca, sweet potatoes, and mung beans. They’re known by several names including cellophane noodles, bean threads, and harusame (the Japanese name).
The noodles are thin and slippery, with a distinct translucent color that sets them apart from other noodles. They don’t have a prominent taste but will easily soak up any added flavors, and they have a less springy texture than other noodles.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||Notes on the substitute||Verdict|
|Rice vermicelli||Thin and neutral-tasting||9/10|
|Angel hair pasta||Cook with baking soda||7/10|
|Shirataki noodles||Low-carb and calorie||9/10|
|Ramen noodles||Cheap and available||9/10|
|Soba noodles||Have a nutty flavor||8/10|
|Zucchini noodles||Tender and delicate||7/10|
Rice vermicelli noodles
Rice vermicelli or thin rice sticks are my go-to substitutes for glass noodles. They’re also thin and have a neutral taste, allowing them to soak up the flavors of the sauce they’re cooked in. And they have a slippery texture that isn’t too springy or chewy.
The difference? They don’t turn transparent once cooked but instead maintain their opaque white color. Despite this, they’ll blend effortlessly into most dishes that call for glass noodles.
All you need to do is soak the noodles in hot water for about 15 minutes, and they’re ready to jump into your wok or pot.
How to substitute: Replace glass noodles in a 1:1 ratio with rice vermicelli.
Angel hair pasta
Angel hair pasta is not an exact match, but it can stand in for glass noodles in certain recipes. The pasta strands are just as thin as glass noodles, but they have a different texture. Instead of a slippery, delicate bite, angel hair pasta is tender but firm.
It’s a solid alternative for soups and stir-fries, but I think they’re a tad too firm for spring rolls.
Pro tip: If you want to give the pasta more of a springy texture, add some baking soda water to the cooking water. This changes the texture of the pasta slightly to better resemble noodles. But don’t let the water reduce too much, or your pasta will end up with a metallic aftertaste.
Note: This option isn’t gluten-free.
How to substitute: Replace glass noodles in a 1:1 ratio with angel hair pasta.
Here’s a unique contender for a glass noodle substitute: shirataki noodles. They’re made from konjac yam, making them gluten-free like glass noodles, and they’re super low-carb. Now that’s what I call a win-win!
In terms of texture, they’re slightly thicker than glass noodles, but I think the difference is barely noticeable. And they have no real flavor.
The noodles come packaged in water and can carry a slightly fishy smell. But don’t let that put you off. Once you give them a rinse the smell will be gone, and they definitely don’t taste fishy.
How to substitute: Replace glass noodles in a 1:1 ratio with shirataki noodles.
Ramen noodles are another thin-strand noodle you can use to replace glass noodles, and they have the advantage of being cheap and readily available.
They have a different texture to glass noodles and are springy and chewy rather than slippery and gel-like. They also have a mild wheat-like flavor, but I didn’t find this too noticeable once the noodles were covered in my stir-fry sauce.
Psst…. here’s a great recipe for you to try out if you’re making spring rolls: ramen spring rolls.
Note: This option isn’t gluten-free.
How to substitute: Replace glass noodles in a 1:1 ratio with ramen noodles.
Another worthy contender is soba noodles. They’re as thin as glass noodle strands but slightly chewier. But the most glaring difference is their distinct nutty flavor, thanks to the buckwheat flour base.
I loved the added nuttiness with my stir fry, and I can see it working really well in salads and spring rolls too.
Unlike glass noodles, you need to boil soba noodles before using them. But it only takes about five minutes. Once they’re cooked, you’ll want to rinse the noodles off before adding them to your dish to remove excess starch. No one wants a gummy stir-fry!
Pro tip: Pure soba noodles made from only buckwheat flour are gluten-free, but nowadays lots of brands use a mix of flours including wheat flour, which contains gluten.
How to substitute: Replace glass noodles in a 1:1 ratio with soba noodles.
Watching your calorie intake? Skip the starchy options and use zucchini noodles instead. They’re slightly thicker than glass noodles but turn tender once cooked. They have a mildly sweet flavor, but it’s subtle enough that it won’t clash with the other ingredients in your dish.
The only caveat with zucchini noodles is that they can turn watery and soggy if you overcook them, so be careful. Add them near the very end of cooking just like glass noodles and make sure to draw out as much moisture as you can beforehand.
How to substitute: Replace glass noodles in a 1:1 ratio with zucchini noodles.
Substitutes to avoid
I came across lots of suggestions for glass noodle substitutes while researching, but there were a few that missed the mark.
Options like egg noodles and udon noodles could work, but they’re noticeably thicker than glass noodles and chewier. The hearty texture is far from the light and delicate consistency you’d expect from glass noodles.
Couscous was another option, but I wouldn’t recommend it. For starters, couscous is not a noodle. It’s pasta made of rolled semolina, which looks nothing like the long, slippery glass noodles. And, most importantly, it won’t absorb flavors in the same way.
Best Glass Noodle Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 100 grams rice vermicelli/rice sticks
- 100 grams angel hair pasta
- 100 grams shirataki noodles
- 100 grams ramen noodles
- 100 grams soba noodles
- 100 grams zucchini noodles
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen glass noodles substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.