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Best substitute for rice noodles | Alternative noodles & pasta you can use

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  July 8, 2022

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Rice noodles are a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, but sometimes you just don’t have any in your pantry.

If you’re looking for a rice noodle substitute, there are several options available.

Best substitute for rice noodles | Alternative noodles & pasta you can use

Texture is an important consideration when substituting for rice noodles. Look for substitutes that are similar in texture to avoid affecting the overall dish.

For a similar texture, look for other thin noodles like vermicelli. This type of noodle is made from wheat flour and has a similar thickness so it works in most recipes.

Another option is cellophane noodles, which are also made from wheat flour.

Cellophane noodles are a bit thinner than vermicelli, so they might work better in soup recipes.

In this post, I’m sharing the best substitutes for rice noodles.

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What are rice noodles and what to look for in a substitute

First, it’s important to know exactly what rice noodles are.

Rice noodles are made from rice flour (maida flour) and water. They’re popular in Asian cuisine because they have a chewy texture and absorb flavors well.

They’re very thin threadlike noodles so they cook quickly.

Rice noodles are used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, and stir-fries.

The flavor is neutral, so they work well with almost any type of dish.

When substituting for rice noodles, you’ll want to look for a noodle that has a similar texture and thinness.

Flat rice noodles are the most common type of rice noodle. They’re about ¼-inch wide and can be found in most Asian markets.

Thus, the best alternatives will also have a longer shape, and flat pasta like fettuccine work really well.

If you don’t need flat rice noodles for your recipe, you can also use vermicelli or cellophane noodles for all dishes.

Stir-fry rice noodles are a bit wider, about ½-inch wide. They’re best for dishes like pad Thai.

Rice stick noodles are the same thing as rice vermicelli noodles. They’re very thin, about ⅛-inch wide.

Thai rice noodles are the thickest type of rice noodle, about ¾-inch wide.

These thick noodles are typically used in soups and curries and pad thai dishes.

Best rice noodle substitutes for your recipes

There are several tasty options you can use instead of rice noodles and rice sticks.

Let’s look at the top choices.

Vermicelli noodles: best substitute for rice noodles overall

Vermicelli noodles are a type of pasta made from wheat flour. They’re very thin, about ⅛-inch wide.

Vermicelli noodles have a chewy texture and are similar in thickness to rice noodles.

They cook quickly and absorb flavors well, making them a good all-around substitute for rice noodles.

Use vermicelli as a substitute for rice noodles

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However, vermicelli is wheat noodles whereas rice noodles are made from rice flour, so they’re not a good choice for those with gluten sensitivities.

In Asian countries, you can find rice vermicelli, which is made from rice flour and has a similar taste and texture to regular vermicelli.

You can find vermicelli noodles in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores or online like these from Mueller’s.

But don’t be confused about vermicelli – sometimes vermicelli refers to Italian pasta made from semolina flour.

The other type of vermicelli is called rice vermicelli and that’s just rice noodles.

Glass noodles: best substitute for rice noodles in soup

Glass noodles are also called mung bean noodles, bean thread noodles, or cellophane noodles and they’re very popular in Chinese cuisine.

They’re made from mung bean starch and have a chewy texture.

Mung bean glass noodles as a substitute for rice noodles

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Glass noodles are clear or pale in color and are about ⅛-inch wide.

They cook quickly and have a similar texture to rice noodles.

Also, they look almost identical in appearance, making them a good choice if you’re looking to maintain the same color in your dish.

You can substitute cellophane noodles for rice noodles in most dishes, but they taste amazing when used in soups.

Bean threads become slippery after being cooked and softened in boiling water. They can absorb all the other delectable flavors in the pan because of their mild flavor.

Glass noodles are a good choice for those with gluten sensitivities since they’re made from mung bean starch.

Mung beans are a type of legume, so they’re naturally gluten-free.

You can find glass noodles in the Asian section of most grocery stores or online like these noodles from Kaset.

Soba noodles: best healthy substitute for rice noodles & best for stir fry

The Japanese noodle, called soba, is made from buckwheat flour and is a good substitute for rice noodles.

Soba noodles have a pleasant nutty flavor and a chewy texture which makes them good substitutes for rice noodles.

However, if you prefer the neutral flavor of rice noodles, these might make your food taste a bit different.

They’re a bit wider than rice noodles, about ½-inch wide. Also, soba are dense noodles but they cook just as fast as rice noodles.

Soba noodles- best healthy substitute for rice noodles & best for stir fry

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If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to rice noodles, then soba noodles are a good choice.

They’re high in fiber and protein and are low in calories.

Also, authentic soba noodles are gluten-free, making them a good choice for those with gluten sensitivities.

Make sure to check the ingredients though, and choose 100% buckwheat soba noodles, like these from King Soba.

Some soba noodles still have wheat flour added, which would make them unsuitable for a gluten-free diet.

Try soba noodles in this quick and easy Zaru Soba recipe

Fettuccine noodles: best substitute for rice noodles in Pad Thai

If you don’t have rice pad thai noodles, you can use fettuccine noodles instead. Fettuccine is a type of pasta made from durum wheat flour.

It’s a bit wider than rice noodles, but it has a similar texture.

Fettuccine noodles- best substitute for rice noodles in Pad Thai

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The reason why fettuccine is such a good substitute is that it’s also a flat wide noodle and it absorbs the sauces and juices well so your pad thai will be very flavorful!

Like capellini, fettuccine is made from wheat flour, so it’s not a good choice for those with gluten sensitivities.

To substitute fettuccine for rice noodles, simply cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

Drain it and then add it to your recipe. It will absorb just about the same amount of liquids.

Barilla is a popular pasta brand that also carries a quality fettuccine.

Here’s an easy pad thai recipe using fettuccine for noodles:

Angel hair pasta: best substitute for rice noodles in salads

Capellini is a very thin Italian spaghetti variety. It’s made from durum wheat flour and has a similar texture to rice noodles.

Angel hair pasta is slightly thinner than vermicelli noodles, so it might work better in soup recipes and salads than stir-fried.

Capellini angel hair pasta as a substitute for rice noodles

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While capellini is a good substitute for rice noodles, it’s made from wheat flour, so it’s not a good choice for those with gluten sensitivities.

Capellini can be found in the pasta aisle of most stores or simply online. I recommend using angel hair pasta in cold foods like salads.

If you usually have rice noodles, use cappellini in the salad because cappellini pasta is thinner.

The angel hair pasta will absorb the flavors of the dressing much better than rice noodles.

You’ll barely notice these noodles are different!

Udon noodles

Udon noodles are a type of Japanese wheat noodle. They’re thick and chewy, making them a good choice for dishes like soup and stir fry.

Udon noodles as a substitute for rice noodles

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While udon noodles are a good substitute for rice noodles, they’re not a good choice for those with gluten sensitivities since they’re made from wheat.

In terms of appearance and texture, udon noodles are very similar to rice noodles but even chewier. That’s why they’re going to absorb a lot of sauce.

When substituting udon noodles for rice noodles, keep in mind that they’re going to absorb more liquid, so you might need to add a bit more broth or sauce to your dish.

Hakubaku makes good organic udon noodles that keep their texture and are easy to cook.

Ramen noodles

Ramen noodles aren’t as similar to rice noodles as some other Japanese noodles but if you don’t have any other choices, ramen is the easiest to find at Asian grocery stores and Western shops too.

Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour and have a chewy texture.

These noodles work well in soups and can absorb heavier sauces too.

I recommend using ramen in soups mostly because they have a similar texture to rice vermicelli and can absorb the flavors of the broth well.

Also read: Is ramen soup? Or is it something else? Here’s what the experts say

Chinese noodles

Mein is the name for Chinese noodles. There are many different varieties, including egg noodles, wheat noodles, and cellophane noodles.

But generally, the term Chinese noodles is used to describe various egg noodles.

Lo mein noodles, like these from Simply Asia, are a type of egg noodle that’s made from wheat flour and eggs.

Chinese Lo Mein noodles as a substitute for rice noodles

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They’re similar in appearance to spaghetti noodles and have a chewy texture but people also use them as alternatives to rice noodles, especially in stir-fried noodles recipes.

Egg noodles are made with wheat flour and eggs and have a chewy texture.

They’re a good substitute for rice noodles in soup recipes, stir-fries, and even pad thai.

Lo mein-type noodles will absorb sauces like soy sauce well.

But the thicker egg noodles are better in soups because they have a more chewy texture and they’re more “hearty”.

FAQs

Can you replace rice noodles with pasta?

The answer is both yes and no, depending on what type of pasta you want to use as a substitute.

Round, short pasta shapes like shells, elbows, and rotini don’t work well as a rice noodle substitute because they don’t have a flat, long shape.

Longer, thinner pasta like spaghetti, angel hair, and fettuccine is a better choice because they have a similar shape.

Pasta is made from durum wheat flour and rice noodles are made from rice flour. They have different textures and will not cook the same way.

However, the wheat vermicelli is very similar to rice noodles, except for the flavor which is a bit more intense.

But other than that, it’s a great alternative.

Learn more about the difference between pasta and ramen noodles here

Are egg and rice noodles the same?

No, egg noodles are not the same as rice noodles.

Egg noodles are made with wheat flour and eggs and have a chewy texture. Rice noodles are made with rice flour and water and have a soft, delicate texture.

Rice noodles are both gluten-free and vegan, in contrast to egg noodles.

They don’t contain any wheat or animal ingredients, which explains why. It is possible to make them with red, white, or brown rice.

Compared to egg noodles, rice noodles contain fewer calories, fat, and protein.

Is fettuccine a good rice noodle substitute?

Fettuccine is a long, flat, ribbon-like pasta that’s similar in shape to rice noodles so yes, it’s a great substitute.

Fettuccine is made from durum wheat flour and eggs, while rice noodles are made from rice flour and water.

However, fettuccine pasta has a mild flavor so it’s a suitable choice for all types of recipes.

Is vermicelli a rice noodle?

There’s a difference between Italian wheat vermicelli and rice vermicelli noodles.

Italian wheat vermicelli is made from durum wheat flour and eggs. It has a chewy texture and is used in soups and salads.

Rice vermicelli noodles are made from rice flour and water.

They have a soft, delicate texture and are used in Asian dishes like soups, salads, and stir-fries.

Rice vermicelli noodles are gluten-free and vegan, while wheat vermicelli is not.

Final thoughts

There are many substitutes for rice noodles, but the Italian vermicelli noodle is the top choice.

It has a chewy texture and can absorb sauces well. It also has a bland taste so it doesn’t interfere with the flavors of the dish.

Other good substitutes for rice noodles include Chinese egg noodles, lo mein noodles, and fettuccine.

Remember, the pasta shape is important when substituting rice noodles. Long, flat, and ribbon-like shapes work best.

Read next: Best substitute for egg noodles | Top 11 alternatives [healthy, gluten-free, flavorful]

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.