Cold sesame noodles, or ma jiang mian (麻酱面), is a popular Chinese cold noodle dish that's super creamy, savory, garlicky, and just enough sweet and tang to keep your appetite going! It's also topped with julienned cucumbers to keep each bite refreshing and some chili oil to add a fragrant, milld kick. Not only are sesame noodles tasty, it's a dish that you can quickly make in 10 minutes. A great noodle recipe that's easy and refreshing, especially in the summer! Pair these noodles with some Taiwanese fried chicken or chicken karaage and some smashed cucumber salad to complete the meal!
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Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
For the sesame sauce:
- Chinese sesame paste - Chinese sesame paste is made with toasted, unhulled sesame seeds and can be found at most Asian markets. The flavor is more toasted and nutty and the color is usually significantly darker than tahini. But if you are in a pinch, you can use tahini instead.
- Chinese black vinegar - This gives the sauce a bit more color and a mild tang. If you prefer, you can use some regular rice vinegar instead of Chinese black vinegar.
- Soy sauce - We like to add some light sodium soy sauce to add some a little savoriness to the sesame sauce and a little extra color. If you want your sauce to be a little darker, you can even add a up to 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce.
- Toasted sesame oil - To add some extra toasted, nuttiness. You can omit if you prefer.
- Sugar and salt - To help balance out the flavor of the sauce. You could use honey, but the flavor will be a little different.
- Sichuan pepper - Either grind your own Sichuan peppercorn or use the powdered ones. Add as much as you'd like to add some numbing sensation.
- Water - For thinning out the sesame sauce so that it's perfect for coating the noodles.
For the rest of the dish and toppings:
- Fresh cut noodles - We highly recommend using either some thin, fresh cut noodles or hand cut noodles, also known as knife cut noodles. They are wheat noodles with really nice bounce and chew. We have also tried making sesame noodles with udon noodles and linguine. They're pretty good choices as well.
- Garlic - Although most Chinese people will tell you that minced garlic is a must, you can do with or without. It does make a difference though!
- Cucumber - To give the cold sesame noodles some extra texture and freshness in each bite.
- Cilantro, green onion, sesame seeds, and crushed peanuts - These are optional but highly recommended herbs and garnishes.
- Chili oil - Feel free to use your favorite store-bought chili oil or you can use some homemade chili oil. We have a recipe choices so you can choose which one is more suitable for you:
How to make cold sesame noodles
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Make the sauce. Mix together all the ingredients for the sesame sauce until smooth and well combined. Set aside until needed.
🌟 Pro tip: If you've ever tried mixing liquids into sesame paste and peanut butter, you probably know the struggle with the mixture seizing up and not mixing evenly. So we recommend adding the water a little at a time to make it easier to incorporated. It's especially helpful if you are multiplying the recipe and making a larger amount of sauce.
2. Cook noodles. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package instruction, until just cooked. Then drain and rinse with cold water.
3. Assemble. Drain the noodles well and transfer to a serving plate or coupe. Dress the noodles with the prepared sauce, garlic, chili oil, julienned cucumber, and toppings. Mix and enjoy!
- Use wheat noodles like fresh cut noodles and hand cut/ knife cut noodles for best texture!
- Although garlic is optional, we recommend adding trying it with some minced garlic. It adds a nice zing to the sesame noodles.
- Add liquids to the sesame paste a little at a time for easier, even mixing. This is especially helpful if you are making a larger amount of sauce.
These cold sesame noodles are best fresh. As the noodles sit, they will become bloated and lose their bouncy chew.
However, you can make the sesame sauce up to 1 week ahead of time and just keep it refrigerated. Avoid adding any garlic to the sauce or it'll cause the sauce to spoil quicker. The toppings such as the cucumbers, herbs, and peanuts can be prepared ahead of time as well.
In a pinch, yes, you can use tahini instead. However, do note that the flavor of tahini is not the same as Chinese sesame paste. Chinese sesame paste has a toasted, nuttier flavor. So, if you want the most authentic flavor, we recommend using Chinese sesame paste.
Some Chinese sesame paste can be lighter than others. If you wish to make your sesame sauce a little darker, add up to ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of dark soy to give the sauce more color.
If you can't find Chinese black vinegar, you can substitute with some regular rice vinegar.
Cold Sesame Noodles (only 10 minutes!)
- 4 ounces fresh cut noodles more or less to your preference
For the sesame sauce:
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Chili oil
- English cucumber julienned/shredded
- Cilantro chopped
- Green onion thinly sliced
- Crushed peanut
- Mix together all the ingredients for the sesame sauce until smooth and well combined. Set aside until needed.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package instruction, or until just cooked. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water until the noodles are completely cooled.
- Drain the noodles well and transfer to a plate or coupe. Dress the noodles with the prepared sauce, garlic, chili oil, julienned cucumber, and toppings.
- Mix everything together and enjoy!
- Noodles - We highly recommend using Chinese fresh cut noodles or hand cut/knife cut noodles for a bit extra chew. But udon and linguine are pretty good too!
- Chinese sesame paste - If you can't find it, you can technically use tahini. Just note that the flavor will be slightly different.
- *Allergies* If you have soybean or peanut allergy, make sure to read the ingredient label carefully! A lot of brands mix in peanut or soybean.