I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of soba noodles 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 substitute, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for soba noodles are Korean naengmyeon noodles, which are also made from buckwheat. You can also use buckwheat ramen noodles, whole grain spaghetti, or whole wheat vermicelli. And if you’re looking for something healthier, try faux veggie noodles.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a basic soba noodle salad to put different substitutes to the test.
Soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour, which gives them a distinct nutty taste and a grayish color. They also provide a delightful chew in every bite.
These noodles are usually paired with a cold or warm broth, but you can also use them for stir-fry dishes and salads.
Their flavor is so unique, finding an exact match was challenging. But I did find some decent substitutes that could work in specific dishes.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Homemade soba noodles||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Korean buckwheat noodles||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Whole-grain pasta||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Whole-grain ramen noodles||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Whole-wheat vermicelli||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Faux veggie noodles||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
Common uses of soba noodles
Here are some popular ways to use soba noodles and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For stir-fries and noodle bowls: Whole-grain pasta is a really easy replacement for soba noodles in stir fries. Ramen noodles or vermicelli would also work.
- For salads: whole wheat vermicelli noodles are great in salads.
- In soups: Somen noodles or whole-grain ramen noodles are great soba noodle alternatives for using in soup. You can also use vegetables noodles if the broth is cold.
Korean buckwheat noodles (naeng myun)
Korean buckwheat noodles are the closest thing you can get to soba noodles.
They share the same brown-gray color and nutty flavor, although I found the taste milder than soba noodles.
There is a twist though – the flour is mixed with potato starch, which gives the noodles a chewier and more elastic bite than soba. And when I say chewy, I mean chewy!
These noodles are typically used to make mul-naengmyeon (a Korean cold noodle soup), but you can use them for anything you’d use soba noodles for.
They were nice in my salad, although not everyone will be a fan of the texture. They’re also not super easy to find (you’ll probably have to go to Korean grocery store).
How to substitute: replace soba noodles in a 1:1 ratio with Naengmyeon noodles.
Buckwheat ramen noodles
These are exactly what they sound like – ramen noodles made with buckwheat flour.
They’re not as common as soba, and they can be more expensive.
But if you can find them they’re SUPER similar to soba noodles. They have the earthy flavor and the chewy texture, but with thinner strands.
Big Green and King Soba are two brands that make buckwheat ramen noodles. And both have a “100% buckwheat flour” label, making them great gluten-free options.
Psst… can’t find a pack? You can use regular ramen noodles too in a pinch.
How to substitute: replace soba noodles in a 1:1 ratio with buckwheat ramen noodles.
Whole wheat vermicelli
Want something lighter than soba noodles? Try whole wheat vermicelli.
The thin, delicate strands offer a mild wheat flavor that won’t overpower your dish.
And the noodles are great at soaking up other flavors. They absorbed all my salad dressing, so the milder flavor didn’t matter.
Vermicelli is prefect for serving chilled too.
Psst… if you’re using them in a soup, put them in the soup just before serving to make sure they don’t get too mushy.
How to substitute: replace soba noodles in a 1:1 ratio with whole wheat vermicelli.
Whole-grain spaghetti or fettuccini
It’s easy to overlook something as simple as pasta when you’re looking for a soba noodle substitute.
But this pantry staple will bring a similar, albeit much subtler, nutty flavor to the table.
And to give your spaghetti a springier texture, add baking soda to the cooking water.
Check out Serious Eats’ post to if you want to know the exact science behind this trick, but the quick explanation is that the alkalinity of baking soda alters the mouth-feel of the pasta and makes it more like noodles.
The convenience of this replacement does come with a cost though – pasta isn’t as nice cold as soba noodles are. And my salad was noticeably more filling (not that this is always a bad thing!).
How to substitute: replace soba noodles in a 1:1 ratio with whole-grain pasta, or use slightly less if you don’t want the meal to be too heavy.
Faux veggie noodles
Faux noodles made with vegetables are an an excellent substitute option if you want something 100% gluten-free and low-carb.
Zucchini noodles are one of the most common options and are very easy to make.
I recommend getting a spiralizer if you’ll want to make ‘zoodles’ often, but you can get away with using a julienne peeler too.
I also really like making spaghetti squash noodles.
You don’t need any special equipment. Just roast the squash, and then use a fork to shred its flesh into long, noodle-like strands.
Both these options have a mildly sweet taste that went wonderfully with the my soy-sauce based salad dressing.
Psst… spaghetti squash noodles won’t work in soups, they’re too delicate and would disintergrate.
How to substitute: replace soba noodles in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of faux veggie noodles.
Homemade soba noodles
Making soba noodles may sound daunting, but the process is actually very easy (especially if you’ve ever made pasta).
I recently stumbled upon a recipe from Joshua Weissman, which brings the authentic flavors of soba to your kitchen with only three ingredients: buckwheat flour, all purpose flour, and water.
He makes his own buckwheat flour, but this definitely isn’t needed – just get some from the shop!
Once you’ve made the dough, the easiest thing is to shape the noodles with a pasta maker. But you can also do it by hand, it’s just more fiddly.
And if you’re after gluten-free soba noodles, check out this recipe from The Kitchn.
They suggest making your dough with boiling water to gelatinize the buckwheat starches and help the dough bind together better.
How to substitute: replace store-bought soba noodles in a 1:1 ratio with homemade soba noodles.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above are my top picks for soba noodles substitutes. But there’s more to explore!
Here are extra options you can consider, especially if you already have them on hand:
- Hong Kong-style noodles – these are made from whole wheat flour and eggs, so they won’t have the same nutty flavor. But they offer a delightful springy texture that makes them a fitting substitute for soba, particularly in stir-fry dishes. Their neutral flavor also ensures they won’t compete with your dish’s sauce.
- Yakisoba noodles – despite the name, yakisoba noodles are not made with buckwheat like soba. But they possess a similar chewy texture to soba noodles, so you can use them for warm soups and stir-fries.
- Kelp noodles – a unique, gluten-free alternative. These are initially crunchy and must be soaked to achieve a chewy texture. They work well in both cold and hot dishes, similar to soba.
- Cellophane noodles – also known as glass noodles. These are nothing like soba in terms of flavor, but they have a slightly chewy texture, making them a decent substitute in a pinch. They work great as an alternative for soba noodles in salads and stir-fries.
- Somen noodles – Somen and soba noodles are both typically served in cold broth. But somen noodles are made with wheat flour instead of buckwheat, so they have neutral flavor and a pale color
Substitutes to avoid
Not all noodles are created equal, and not all noodles will work as a substitute for soba noodles.
Two types of noodles I’d avoid are udon noodles and flat rice noodles.
Udon noodles are MUCH thicker and heavier than soba noodles, and I wasn’t a fan on them in my salad. They were too overpowering for the light sauce.
While flat rice noodles have none of the chewy texture and taste of basically nothing. Also flat rice noodles don’t do well cold, they’re very sticky and will clump together making your meal very hard to eat.
Best Soba Noodles Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour + extra 1 ½ tbsp
- ½ cup water
- Combine both flours in a medium-sized bowl. Add the water and knead until your form a dough.
- If using a pasta roller, divide the dough into four portions and feed it through the machine to transform it into long noodle strands.
- You can also roll out the dough by hand until thin and use a sharp knife to cut it into thin strips.
- Boil soba noodles in unsalted water for a minute or two. Immediately rinse with water and use accordingly.