With a tasty mix of crispy veggies, crunchy peanuts, carby noodles, and a slurp-tastically delicious tahini ginger dressing, these Peanut Chicken Soba Noodles are both light and satisfying. Ready in 30 minutes or less, these quick and easy soba chicken bowls are perfect for lunch or dinner! (with vegetarian option)
Update: This post was originally published in April 2016. I made edits to the photos and changed some of the written post below to include more information about the recipe.
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About this recipe for soba with chicken
This white girl version of a Thai soba chicken noodle salad yields bowls of yum that are slightly spicy, a smidgen sweet, brightly herbaceous, and packed with nourishing vegetables. The ginger-tahini dressing finishes this dish off with the perfect amount of creamy, silky, smooth deliciousness for a meal that simply knocks it out of the park.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Cold peanut soba noodle bowls just scream spring and summer to me. They are refreshing and cool, light yet hunger-busting, and 100% crave-worthy.
As if that weren’t enough to love, my spicy peanut chicken with soba noodles are also:
- Versatile. These bowls are what I call a “choose your own adventure” meal. You can customize them with whatever proteins and veggies you’re craving, or simply use up all the bits and bobs of veggies that are languishing in your crisper drawer with no particular place to go.
- Quick & Easy. On top of all that fabulosity, these soba noodle chicken bowls take less than 30 minutes to whip together, from start to finish. How’s that for a weeknight wonder?!?
- Meal Prep-Friendly. They happen to taste just as good even after a day in the fridge, and the tahini-ginger dressing will last for up to a week. I highly recommend you make extra of everything (keep the veggies and noodles un-dressed until you’re ready to eat), and nosh on leftovers for lunch all week long.
What are soba noodles?
Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. They became popular in Japan during the late 1800s and they have a strong, nutty flavor. Dried soba noodles look very similar to flat spaghetti, except they are usually light beige to dark grayish-brown in color.
Since soba noodles are made from buckwheat, they are naturally gluten-free, plus they are cholesterol-free and a good source of protein and fiber.
Ingredients for chicken soba
Before you go getting scared off by this *slightly* long ingredient list, remember: you are welcome to swap in any veggies you have on hand, and many of the dressing ingredients are probably already in your pantry.
- Soba Noodles – You can find Japanese buckwheat noodles in the international aisle of most major grocery stores.
- Substitutions: Swap in long noodles of your choice, including ramen or spaghetti.
- Purple Cabbage – I love the vibrant color of purple cabbage in these chicken soba noodle salad bowls, but any variety will work.
- Substitutions: Use green cabbage, napa cabbage, or savoy cabbage. You’re also welcome to use other cruciferous veggies, like shredded brussels sprouts, kale, or even bok choy!
- Carrots – I like to eat rainbow, so I opt for orange carrots for these soba noodles with chicken. But, purple or yellow work great too!
- Substitution: Parsnips are a close swap for carrots. You can also use beets, jicama, celery, daikon, or even water chestnuts.
- Bell Pepper – For slightly smoky, extra sweet flavor.
- Substitution: Feel free to use raw bell peppers.
- Scallions – Use both the white and green parts for the best combo of flavor.
- Jalapeño – For adding some zing to your spicy noodles with chicken.
- Substitutions: For a milder flavor, opt for poblano, green bell, or banana peppers. For a spicier flavor, serranos or habaneros are welcome.
- Edamame – Feel free to use either fresh or defrosted frozen edamame.
- Substitutions: I think green peas, snap peas, or snow peas are probably the closest substitutes, but feel free to swap in the legume of your choice here.
- Cilantro – I’m a big fan of fresh cilantro. Feel free to mince the tender stems and use them, too!
- Substitutions: Thai basil, mint, or even parsley can be swapped in if you prefer.
- Kosher Salt & Pepper – For seasoning.
- Rotisserie Chicken – Any cooked chicken will work, but I used rotisserie for convenience. Remember to pull it while it’s still warm!
- Tahini – For nutty, toasty, creamy deliciousness in your dressing.
- Substitutions: You can also use creamy cashew butter, almond butter, peanut butter, or sunflower seed butter if needed.
- Fresh Ginger – You can almost always find a knob of sweet n’ spicy ginger kicking around in my fridge because it keeps well for a few weeks. Feel free to swap in ginger paste that comes in a jar or tube for convenience if you prefer.
- Garlic – Fresh is best, but I won’t tell if you swap in minced jarred garlic or garlic paste. 😉
- Rice Wine Vinegar – Lightly sweet and deliciously delicate, rice wine vinegar is one of my favorites.
- Substitutions: You can also use white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or champagne vinegar in a pinch.
- Limes – For tart acidity. Fresh lime juice is far superior to bottled, plus I like to serve my soba chicken noodle salad with fresh lime wedges as a garnish.
- Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce – Using low-sodium soy sauce gives you greater control over how much added salt you’re getting. If you only have regular soy sauce, dilute it in a 1-to-1 ratio with water.
- Substitutions: You can also use tamari, coconut aminos, Bragg’s liquid aminos, fish sauce, worcestershire sauce, or miso paste instead.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – For an added kick of heat.
- Substitutions: Feel free to omit it, or swap in the dried chili powder of your choice. You’re also welcome to use a squeeze of sriracha or a dollop of sambal oelek instead.
- Agave Nectar – For some sweetness to balance out the salty, umami goodness in the dressing.
- Subtitutions: You can use any liquid sweetener you prefer including honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or date syrup instead.
- Sesame Oil – For an added hit of toasty goodness.
- Olive Oil – To bind the tahini-ginger dressing together.
- Substitutions: You can also use any neutral-flavored oil (e.g. avocado, grapeseed, peanut) if you prefer.
Optional Variations & Dietary Adaptations
As much as we love this soba noodle salad with chicken, there is plenty of room for you to tweak it to fit your dietary needs and preferences. Here are a few variations worth considering:
- Vegetarian/Vegan – Omit the chicken. If you still want extra protein, consider a plant-based source like tofu, seitan, tempeh, or vegan “meat” products.
- Gluten-Free – While buckwheat soba noodles are naturally gluten-free, soy sauce is not. Swap in Tamari or coconut aminos for a celiac-friendly meal.
- Soy-Free – Use coconut aminos, Bragg’s liquid aminos, or gluten-free Worcestershire sauce in place of soy sauce.
- Grain-Free – Swap in konjac (“Miracle”) noodles, edamame spaghetti, heart of palm “pasta,” or glass noodles.
- Extra Spicy – Feel free to kick up the heat a notch by leaving the seeds and membranes of the jalapeño intact. You can also add more to taste, or swap in a spicier chile like serrano peppers. Feel free to drizzle your bowls with sriracha and/or add some sriracha or sambal oelek to your soba noodle sauce for even more spice.
- Other Potential Veggie Add-Ins – As I mentioned above, this recipe for chicken and soba noodles is totally customizable to whatever veggies you have on hand. Here are some other vegetables that would taste great:
- Green beans or haricots verts
- English peas, snap peas, and/or snow peas
- Broccoli or cauliflower
- Shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce
How to make soba chicken
Just four simple steps stand between you and these tahini soba noodles with chicken.
Cook and Cool Soba Noodles – Cook the soba according to the directions on the back of the package. When the soba noodles are done, immediately drain them. Next, transfer the noodles to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the noodles are cool, drain the soba again and set them aside.
Meanwhile, Mix the Dressing: To the bowl of a food processor, add the tahini, ginger, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, agave, and both oils. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then, pulse until the mixture is super smooth. Taste and adjust the sauce for seasoning.
- Toss the Salad: Add the cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, scallions, jalapeno, edamame and cilantro to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add the cool soba noodles and toss to combine.
- Dress the Noodles: Add in 4 tablespoons of the dressing and toss to combine.
Add Chicken: Divide the soba noodles between serving plates and top with cooked chicken, if using.
Serve: Garnish the soba chicken with peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges and extra tahini dressing on the side. Enjoy!
Expert tips for the best soba noodles chicken
- For extremely fast prep time, buy pre-shredded carrots, jarred roasted red peppers and shelled edamame. You can either purchase a bag of pre-shredded cabbage (or cabbage/carrot coleslaw mix) or use a food processor to shred the cabbage quickly. Another option is to use a julienne peeler!
- The easiest way to peel fresh ginger is using a spoon. Seriously!
- Most of the heat of chile peppers lives in the seeds and white membranes, so remove them for a milder flavor. Be sure to either wear gloves when you’re handling them or wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face or using the restroom. You’ve been warned. 😬
- Pull the rotisserie chicken while it’s still warm, then save the carcass for making broth or stock. Waste not, want not, amirite?
- When dressing the noodles in this soba noodle and chicken recipe, start with 4 tablespoons and toss to combine. Add in more dressing, 1 tablespoon at time, until desired balance of dressing to noodles is achieved.
FAQs: frequently asked questions
What is tahini and what does tahini taste like?
Tahini is simply a paste made of puréed sesame seeds and it has a texture that is slightly thinner than peanut butter or almond butter. Most people know tahini as a distinctive ingredient used in Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus or baba ghanoush, however tahini is a versatile ingredient with tons of potential (think salad dressings or sauces).
Unlike most nut butters, tahini does not have that characteristically sweet flavor. Tahini has a delicate roasted sesame flavor and is slightly bitter and toasty in taste.
Where to buy tahini and how to store tahini?
You can find tahini in the international aisle or condiment aisle of most major grocery stores.
Tahini is a wonderful pantry staple, because it simply needs to be stored in a cool, dry place, like a cabinet or on a shelf of your pantry. Since tahini will separate as it settles, always make sure you give it a few really good stirs before using!
Are soba noodles good for you?
“Good for you” is a subjective term, and I’m not a certified nutrition expert. That said, they’re mostly whole grain, high in fiber, and have plenty of vitamins and minerals, so I feel 100% great about feeding them to my loved ones.
Which is better: soba or udon noodles?
They’re radically different, so it’s hard to qualify one as better than the other! Udon noodles are thicker and springier, and are made from wheat flour. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which is naturally gluten-free, and has a shape more like spaghetti. It’s also a little firmer and nuttier tasting. I personally think they’re both fabulous.
How do I make my soba noodles not soggy?
After draining your al dente soba noodles, it is considered best practice to rinse them in cool water to remove any excess starch that causes them to taste gummy or soggy. Also, don’t overcook them!
Serving peanut chicken with soba noodles
These peanut soba noodles with chicken are perfect for busy weeknights, packed lunches, picnics, and potlucks. I also love making them when it’s too darn hot to do much cooking.
As far as we’re concerned, they’re a complete meal in and of themselves. That said, they pair beautifully with refreshing cocktails like my Strawberry Basil Smash, Spicy Mango Margarita, or Blackberry Bramble!
Storing chicken with soba noodles
- Dressed peanut chicken soba noodles will keep well in a clean, covered container in the fridge for 1-2 days.
- Tahini-ginger dressing will keep in a mason jar or lidded container in the fridge for up to a week.
Alright, friends! I hope you know how much you bowl me over with your support and readership. It means the world to me. Until next time, pasta la vista, babies!
More healthy Asian recipes!
- Thai Mango Salad
- Chicken Noodle Thai Soup
- Thai Chicken Meatballs
- Baked Chicken with Peanut Sauce
- Thai Tacos with Chicken
How to make healthy Thai Tahini Veggie Soba Noodle Bowls recipe👇
Soba Noodles with Chicken
- 6 ounces Soba Noodles (about 2 bundles)
- 1 Cup Purple Cabbage – thinly sliced
- 2 large Carrots – julienned (about ¾ cup)
- 1 small Roasted Red Bell Pepper – julienned (SEE NOTES)
- ½ Cup Scallions (white and green parts) – thinly sliced
- 1 Jalapeno – seeded & minced
- 1 Cup Edamame - shelled
- 3 TBS Fresh Cilantro – roughly chopped
- Cook the Soba Noodles according to instructions on the back of the package. When the soba noodles are done cooking, drain them. Then immediately transfer the noodles to a large bowl of ice water (an ice bath) to stop the cooking process. Then, drain the soba again and set the noodles aside.
- Meanwhile, Prepare the Dressing: Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and season with 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt and a generous pinch of black pepper. Pulse until smooth and combined. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- For the Salad In a large bowl mix together all the salad ingredients except for the peanuts and sesame seeds. Add in the cooked and drained soba noodles. Mix to combine. Add in 4 tablespoons of the dressing and toss to combine. For heavier dressed noodles, add in more dressing, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing to combine.
- Add Chicken (optional): Divide salad between serving plates and top with cooked chicken, if using.
- Serve: Garnish the soba chicken with peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges and extra tahini dressing on the side. Enjoy!
*Dressing will keep, covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
*Roasted red bell pepper is optional, can substitute raw red pepper.
*To roast red bell pepper:
1. Heat oven to high broil and arrange oven rack to top position. Place pepper on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
2. Broil, turning every 2-3 minutes, until charred on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total. *Nutritional information includes everything except optional chicken.