How to Make Udon Noodles

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If you're a fan of thick, chewy noodles, you'll enjoy learning how to make udon noodles from scratch. The noodles take some time to make, but the process is easy.

While ramen has become a mainstream Japanese noodle dish in the U.S., udon noodles deserve attention. Silky, chewy and thick, udon noodles are a slurpable and oh-so-comforting ingredient common to many Japanese recipes.

Growing up, udon was the dish my mom would make if I wasn’t feeling well. She’d make a simple chicken broth, hard-boil an egg, add a few greens like broccoli or bok choy, and pour that simple soup over some tender udon noodles. It was a meal that could be ready in less than 20 minutes but instantly brought me comfort. Today, I’ve learned to make udon noodles from scratch to transform that childhood experience into something more fresh and chewy.

Though my favorite way to enjoy udon is in soup form, it can also be enjoyed tossed in a stir-fry coated with sauce, as a cold salad, or paired with a warm Japanese curry. You can find udon noodles dried or frozen at the supermarket, but they’re not difficult to make at home using flour, salt and water—and a bit of muscle. The process is similar to making homemade Italian pasta.

Be sure to make extra udon noodles to freeze! You’ll be glad to have fresh noodles on hand for a quick meal.

What Are Udon Noodles?

raw udon noodles on cutting boardMegan Barrie For Taste Of Home

Udon noodles are white flour-based noodles that are thick, chewy and silky. What gives udon noodles their characteristic chew is a low water-to-flour ratio. This means the dough is tough to knead by hand—but not impossible—and is often traditionally kneaded with the feet!

If you don’t want to place the noodles in a bag and step with clean socks to press the dough, you can also use a pasta maker or KitchenAid pasta attachment to roll it out. Folding the noodles and smoothing them out a few times is what gives them their silky chew and texture.

Udon vs. Soba Noodles

Another popular Japanese noodle is soba, made from buckwheat flour and typically cut quite thin. Soba has a brownish tint with speckles from the buckwheat and, like udon noodles, can be enjoyed hot or chilled. Both noodles use a careful balance of flour and water, but have very different textures and flavors.

Where udon noodles are chewy and silky, soba noodles are nuttier and heartier, similar to white vs. brown rice. One major difference is that soba noodles are actually quite tricky to make at home because buckwheat flour is delicate to handle. Both noodles pair well with essential Japanese ingredients like shoyu, sesame oil and dashi (made from kombu and bonito flakes).

Udon Noodle Recipe

This recipe makes four servings of noodles.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cornstarch

Tools

Directions

Step 1: Prepare dough

ball of udon noodle dough in a bowlMegan Barrie For Taste Of Home

Mix salt and flour in a wide bowl. Add water and stir with a fork or chopsticks to thoroughly hydrate the dough until it’s in shaggy clumps. Knead the dough until water is incorporated enough to work into a ball.

If the dough is still a little dry after a few minutes of kneading, use a spray bottle to add a bit more water. Once you’ve formed a ball, place the dough in a large plastic or reusable bag and seal. Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

Step 2: Knead dough

After the dough has rested, use a rolling pin to press down on the dough ball in the bag. Try to evenly disperse the dough and roll, rotating 90º to form a circle.

Open the bag and fold the dough in half once, then in half again. Press to form a ball. Reseal the bag and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Repeat this process of rolling the dough in the bag and folding into quarters a total of four times, making sure to let the dough rest 5 minutes in between. The dough should get smoother over time and should not be sticky.

When the dough feels smooth and relaxed, remove it from the bag and place on a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.

Step 3: Cut noodles

raw udon noodle douch cut into noodle shapeMegan Barrie For Taste Of Home

Dust the surface of the dough liberally with cornstarch. Fold the dough in half like a hot dog bun, then in half again the same direction to make an accordion. Using a sharp knife, work from one end of your dough to the other, slicing noodles as thin or thick as you’d like. Recommended width is about 1/4 inch. (They’ll expand when cooked.)

Dust the noodles with a bit more cornstarch to prevent from sticking.

Step 4: Cook noodles

cooked udon noodles in a metal collanderMegan Barrie For Taste Of Home

Set a large pot of at least 8 cups of water to boil. Add noodles to the boiling water and give them a stir to prevent from sticking. Cook noodles for 4-5 minutes until al dente; noodles will float to the top. Give one a taste to see if they’re ready! When the noodles are cooked, immediately pour into a colander and run cold water over top to prevent them from overcooking.

Step 5: Serve

There are many ways to enjoy udon noodles, but here are a few classics:

  • Place a portion in a bowl with warm dashi broth, sesame seeds, seaweed strips and chopped green onion.
  • In the summer, chill the dashi broth and enjoy the noodles cold.
  • Pan-fry the noodles by cooking in a pan with sweet soy sauce and sauteed vegetables.

How to Store and Freeze Udon Noodles

  • For short-term storage: The best way to store leftover cooked noodles is in an air-tight container in the fridge. They should last 5-7 days.
  • For freezing: After making fresh dough, we highly recommend you dust the noodles heavily with flour to prevent them from sticking and portion them into bundles. Then place each bundle on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 30-60 minutes until they’re firm. Transfer each bundle into an airtight container like a plastic bag or reusable container for easy access in the future. Noodles keep about one month (here’s how to avoid freezer burn). When you’re ready to eat, bring a pot of water to a boil and place a bundle of noodles in the pot directly—no need to defrost!

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Megan Barrie
I'm a home cook, instructor, and recipe developer focused on celebrating seasonal, comforting, Japanese-y food. I founded a platform called Seasoned Cook to give people the building blocks to make cooking approachable and enjoyable every day. My recipes are currently featured on Harvest Queen and Taste of Home.