I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of rice noodle substitutes to find the best one for every cooking 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.
Chinese egg noodles are the best substitutes for rice noodles. Go with thicker, lo mein noodles for stir-fries and thin chow mein noodles for light soups or salad. Want to keep it gluten-free? Try glass noodles or zucchini noodles. And in a pinch, pasta will work.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made different batches of Pad Thai to put several rice noodle substitutes to the test.
Rice noodles are a staple ingredient in Asian cooking. They come in various shapes and sizes, but every variety has a slippery, tender texture and a neutral flavor that makes them versatile.
They’re the base of your favorite Asian dishes like Pad Thai, spring rolls, and pho.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Chinese egg noodles||Easy and accessible||9/10|
|Soba noodles||Have a nutty flavor||8/10|
|Dried pasta||Okay in a pinch||8/10|
|Glass noodles||Good in cold dishes||9/10|
|Zucchini noodles||Low carb, grassy flavor||7/10|
|Shirataki noodles||Low carb, low calorie||8/10|
|Other rice noodle varieties||If the shape works||9/10|
Chinese egg noodles
Egg noodles are a super easy substitute for rice noodles. They’re cheap, readily available, and you can get them in different sizes depending on the type of rice noodles you’re trying to replace.
To replace flat pad Thai noodles, the best option is wide wonton noodles. And if you can’t find them, I’d go for lo mein noodles. They’re round but have a thick texture that works well will robust sauces.
To replace thinner rice noodles, go for thin wonton noodles or chow mein noodles (otherwise known as hong-kong noodles). These noodles work well in lighter dishes or broth-based dishes.
Note: because of the eggs, the noodles have a springy, chewy texture that rice noodles don’t have. And a slightly richer taste.
How to substitute: replace the rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with Chinese egg noodles.
Next up, we have glass noodles, also known as cellophane noodles. These thin, transparent noodles are commonly made from mung-bean or sweet potato starch, making them a nice gluten-free alternative to rice noodles.
Just like rice noodles, you only need to soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes before using them. And they work well in hot or cold dishes. They worked nicely in my Pad Thai, but they’d be an even better substitute in things like fresh spring rolls or salads.
The most obvious difference between the two noodles was the appearance followed by texture. The glass noodles weren’t as firm as rice noodles and seemed more delicate.
Psst… be careful not to overcook glass noodles or they’ll get soggy and gloopy.
How to substitute: replace the rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with glass noodles.
In the mood to shake things up? Try using soba noodles to replace your rice noodles.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, which gives them a uniquely nutty flavor and a brown color. They have a distinctly chewy texture that makes every bite of these noodles extra satisfying.
The noodles were fine in my pad Thai, but I think they’d work better as a substitue in lighter dishes where their flavor has more of a chance to shine.
Note: Even though buckwheat is gluten-free, some brands also mix in all-purpose flour which does contain gluten. Make sure to look for “100% buckwheat flour” on the packaging if you don’t eat gluten.
How to substitute: replace the rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with Soba noodles.
Got a pack of dried pasta in your pantry? You’re in luck – you can use it in place of rice noodles in a pinch (when you really don’t want to go to the store).
For best results, use a similar shaped pasta to the noodle you’re trying to replace. For pad Thai I went for fettuccine, but for thinner rice noodles spaghetti would be better. You can also get vermicelli pasta which is super thin.
In terms of texture, pasta noodles don’t have a the same slippery feel as rice noodles and have a more substantial feel to them. They also have more noitcable flavor compared to rice noodles, but it’s still very neutral.
Psst… cook the noodles for about 8-10 minutes to reach that perfect al dente texture.
How to substitute: replace the rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with dried pasta.
Here’s one for those on a low-carb, gluten-free diet who still want to enjoy the pleasure of a noodle dish – zucchini noodles. They have a faint grassy taste, but not so strong that it interfered with the flavors of my pad Thai.
The main trick to zucchini noodles, or ‘zoodles,’ is managing their moisture content. Give them a good squeeze before adding them to your dish to keep them from leaking too much moisture. And don’t cook them for too long or they’ll start to break down.
After all, no one wants a soggy Pad Thai!
How to substitute: replace the rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with zucchini noodles.
These are a gluten-free, ZERO-carb noodle alternative you can try. In fact, they’re 97% water, which means they also have barely any calories. And they move slowly through our bodies so they give us a ‘full’ feeling for longer.
The other 3% of the noodles is made up of glucomannan fiber, which is extracted from the root of the konjac plant. The fiber gels when it absorbs water, which is how the noodles are made.
These noodles don’t have any flavor on their own, which really allows your sauces or broths to shine. And you can find them in loads of different shapes and sizes to mimic other noodles.
How to substitute: replace the rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with shirataki noodles.
Other rice noodle varieties
The world of noodles is varied and diverse and there are loads of different types of rice noodles (too many to name them all).
The most common type of rice noodles are pad Thai noodles, which are long, flat, and around 1/4 of an inch wide. You might also see them labelled as rice sticks. But you’ve also got vermicelli rice noodles which are very thin and round.
If a different rice noodle style would work in your dish – go ahead and use it! For example in pho, rice sticks or vermicelli would work.
How to substitute: replace your rice noodles in a 1:1 ratio with another rice noodle variety.
Avoid using udon noodles
One type of noodle I wouldn’t swap for rice noodles is udon noodles. They’re so much thicker than rice noodles and would become too much of a main focus of the dish. I also think they’re too heavy to work in the place of rice noodles.
Best Rice Noodles Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 100 grams other rice noodle varieties
- 100 grams chinese egg noodles
- 100 grams glass noodles
- 100 grams soba noodles
- 100 grams dried pasta
- 100 grams zucchini noodles
- 100 grams shirataki noodles
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen rice noodle substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe