Yaki udon is an easy Japanese stir fried udon noodle recipe ready in 20 minutes! Stir fried udon noodles with a savory 5 ingredient yaki udon noodle sauce.
Yaki udon noodles is one of my favorite weeknight meals to make because it's so fast and easy to make! The yaki udon noodle sauce is only 5 ingredients, and the udon noodles are ready to stir fry in under 5 minutes. Throw in any vegetables and protein you'd like because these stir fried udon noodles are super versatile and taste good with just about anything. Also they're ready in 20 minutes, start to finish!
For this recipe, I used ground chicken for chicken yaki udon but you can also use ground beef or pork. Seafood would work as well.
What is Yaki Udon?
Yaki udon is a stir fried Japanese udon noodle dish made with an assortment of vegetables and protein. It's stir fried with a savory sauce made of soy sauce and mirin. This is different from yakisoba because they are made with different noodles. Yakisoba is also a stir fried Japanese noodles dish but the noodles used are much thinner. But this is not to be confused with soba noodles which are actually made out of buckwheat flour.
What is Yaki Udon Made of?
Yaki udon is made using Japanese udon noodles. Udon noodles are a thick, chewy wheat noodles made with wheat flour, water, and salt. However, it's not gluten free like the rice noodles you see in many stir fries. Udon noodles are vegan and dairy free, but always check the ingredients as there can be different additives that vary per brand.
Is Yaki Udon healthy?
Udon noodles are usually made with very few ingredients - wheat flour, water, and salt. As Yaki udon is made with an assortment of vegetables and protein, this can be made into a healthy meal with protein, fiber, and carbs. For this recipe, I used ground chicken for a lighter option. Nutrition information for this chicken yaki udon can be found under the recipe instructions.
Yaki udon is a great way to use frozen udon noodles because they're excellent in stir fries. Frozen udon noodles are great to have on hand for quick meals because they cook quickly, and according to how you cook them, retain the chewy texture of udon noodles pretty well.
For this recipe I used pre-cooked udon noodles you find vacuum packed in plastic. These are typically found in the refrigerated or frozen section of your Asian grocery store. If you have freshly made or dried udon noodles, cook them according to the packet directions but subtract 1 minute since you’ll be cooking them more in the stir fry. Be sure to rinse them in cold water afterwards and drizzle on a little oil if you're not using them right away.
How to Cook Udon Noodles for Stir Frying
These instructions are for vacuum packaged udon noodles (pictured above) you find in the refrigerator or frozen section of your Asian grocery store.
Better to Use Frozen Udon Noodles
If you can, freeze the pre-cooked udon noodle packet ahead of time before cooking. If not, you can use them straight from the fridge as well. But after several experiments, I found that frozen udon noodles have a slightly better texture in this dish. More on this below:
How and Why to Use Frozen Udon Noodles
Using frozen udon helps the udon noodles get that chewy texture they're known for and also prevents them from becoming mushy and overcooked.
Drop your (frozen or unfrozen) udon noodles in rapidly boiling water. Once they’re in the boiling water, the water temperature will decrease and stop boiling because the udon noodles are cold. That’s okay and is a good thing because this prevents them from overcooking, and the water is just hot enough to separate the noodles. Udon noodle texture should be chewy yet soft. Stir the noodles gently until each noodle strand is separated and flexible. This should take 1 - 2 minutes.
Do not overcook your noodles since they already come precooked in the packets and overcooking them will make them too soft and mushy. Try not to pry apart the noodles as this can tear them, just wait for them to separate on their own and give them a gentle stir.
As soon as the noodles separate and become pliable, take them out of the hot water and then rinse them under cold water.
How to Separate Udon Noodles & Prevent Clumping
If you don't plan using them right away, toss with a little drizzle of oil to keep them from sticking together. This should separate the udon noodles and keep them from drying out and clumping together.
How to Make Yaki Udon | Stir Fried Udon Noodles
- Prepare the 5 ingredient yaki udon noodle sauce
- Stir fry together your meat and vegetables of choice
- Add in your pre-cooked udon noodles along with the sauce and stir fry together
Variations on yaki udon:
- protein choices: chicken, beef, pork, tofu, shrimp
- vegetable choices: broccoli, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, snap peas, bamboo shoots
This makes great leftovers and reheats really well. Store leftovers in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I hope you make this chicken yaki udon, stir fried udon noodles! Please share, rate, and comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
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Yaki Udon | Stir Fried Udon Noodles
- Sauce: Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Cook the Udon Noodles
- Remove your udon noodles from its package and add it to a pot of boiling water. Frozen udon noodles can be added directly to the pot of boiling water. Stir gently until your udon noodles are separated and pliable. This should take 1 - 2 minutes. They come precooked so avoid overcooking them as they can get too soft.
- Rinse and drain your noodles under cold water. If not using right away, drizzle on a little bit of oil to keep them from sticking.
- Heat your pan over high heat and add the oil. Add in the ground meat and stir fry for 1 minute before adding the rest of your vegetables. Stir fry together for 2 to 3 minutes and then add in the noodles and sauce. Continue stir frying for about 3 minutes or until well combined. Serve immediately.
✎ Recipe Notes
- Udon noodles - I used vacuum packed udon noodles that are pre-cooked and sealed fresh in individual packets. You can find these in the refrigerated or frozen section of Asian grocery stores. You can also use dried udon noodles. Simply cook them according to their directions and proceed with the recipe.
- Dark soy sauce - you can substitute regular soy sauce if you don't have dark soy sauce but the color will not be as dark. Pro tip: simply reduce regular soy sauce in a sauce pan with a pinch of sugar and a small drizzle of molasses to create a homemade version. Wait for it to come to a boil then turn it off once it thickens slightly.
- Oyster sauce - contrary to it's name, oyster sauce doesn't have an overwhelming oyster flavor, bur rather a sweet, umami flavor that's similar to hoisin sauce or teriyaki sauce. Substitute with: hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, or any sweet & savory brown stir fry sauce.
- Mirin - mirin is a Japanese cooking wine that gives dishes that restaurant quality taste. Substitute with: cooking wine, sake, soju. Non-alcoholic substitute: stock, water with a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.